Friday, January 4, 2013

Madewell Secret Denim Trick {interesting}

Every once in awhile, Madewell's "madewell musings blog" blog offers really interesting insight into their inner workings. Their "Shh…a jean secret our denim team swears by" post is one of the more questionable ones:
Shh…a jean secret our denim team swears by:
Though it may sound strange, we say don’t wash your jeans. What to do instead? Pack them in a plastic bag and freeze them for a day or two. All unsavory elements will disappear—and your beloved blues won’t have faded or shrunk in the process (like they would in the wash!).
According to some fans on Madewell's Facebook page, this tip is only good for selvedge or raw denim. Also there seems to be some conflicting views on this tip's usefulness. Below are some excerpts from fans:
  • "Surprisingly works really well! Works with smelly shoes too. Getting the bacteria under the freezing point kills them and ta-da! No more smell!"
  • "Putting them in the freezer is a way to continue a natural wearing down process to achieve the most genuine wear marks possible with fade this is not caused from soap or washing-machine irritation-intended to preserve the fit entirely as they mold to your body over time. It neutralizes the odors, kills bacteria and will leave the jeans fitting like you put them in, just really cold and less smelly. It does not matter if they are raw or selvedge. Selvedge denim is just regular denim that was cut on a different/special loom- which makes the washing differences irrelevant. People origianally began doing this to preserve raw denim to not shrink them or ruin the saturated dye. Which is the common goal here."
  • "Here's the thing though, freezing bacteria and viruses doesn't kill them. It preserves them. Hence why they freeze specimens in labs."
This "secret" sounds kind of gross and unsanitary. I always wash my pants *and* jeans when I first get them from a store (and even online). Call me old-fashion, but it just seems like the right thing to do. (Actually, if I am particularly paranoid that day... I put them in the dryer on the rack with the heat on for 40 minutes. Then I wash them.) But who knows, maybe this is another way to "clean" jeans???

While on this topic, for those who pursue this technique... How do you explain the random pair of jeans in the freezer to the other members of your household? I can imagine a small child excited to get a cool refreshing popsicle during the hot Summer months, surprised to find instead nothing but Madewell's latest denim line on preview in the freezer. ;)

What are your thoughts on this washing-not-so-much-denim-technique? Do you personally employ the tip? If so, how are the results? Would you recommend this washing alternative for jeans?

32 comments:

  1. I just don't think it kills the bacteria. I do wash my jeans as little as possible, and when I do, I always turn them inside out.

    I only wash my jeans when there is a stain or it's just been way way way too long, haha. Rarely do my jeans actually smell (unless I've been in a bar or smelly restaurant).

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  2. I agree with Phoebe! I get at least 3 good days out of my denim before washing it - mainly because I don't want it to fade. Our fridge is chock full with chicken, fish, pork…I'm not throwing my clothes in there!! LOL

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    1. Same here. Maybe it's my European habit, but I'll wear the jeans multiple times in a week, or even multiple days in a row, before I wash them.

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  3. I'm with you--call me old fashioned, but I think it is MUCH more sanitary to wash the jeans. I can't remember much from micro class, but I think freezing cold enough would kill some types of bacteria but not others that form endospores. In the hospital, when certain types of bacteria are identified, you have to wash your hands (rather than use hand gel)because you need the soap, water, and friction to get the bacteria off. I recently watched a tv show where people were asked to give lint samples from their jeans. I was suprised that they found high bacteria counts in most peoples lint. Though like Phoebe, I wash my jeans as little as possible to preserve them. :) Another interesting thing Ive heard about is freezing your wools/cashmere to kill moth larvae. I actually do think this would be good to do when buying preowned to avoid inviting the moths into your wardrobe.

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    2. Most of these pests live in homes and unless your home is below freezing for at least a couple days then occasional exposure, like going outside for a few hours won't do much. Also bugs will go where it's warmer, especially in the winter if they won't survive in the cold otherwise. I usually freeze my items for a week, sometimes more. This also works with carpet beetles too, another hazard to wool.

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    3. Freezing might kill larvae but I don't believe freezing kills moth eggs. If that were the case we would not have any moths in Canada, the eggs would die over the winter. It gets a lot colder here than it does in the typical freezer.

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    4. Moths live in the middle of the forest and meadows too, they aren't all living in homes. At least not in the countryside here where houses are few and far between and you can only get there on a dirt bike or long hike.

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    5. Well it works on all the items I've frozen and many articles written state similar results :)

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  4. I have never heard of this but I don't see how it would really work well long term, clothes accumulate dirt from our bodies which can't be frozen off.

    I actually freeze my wools and cashmeres and store them carefully in the off season, even during the season as well. Freezing any new wool isn't a bad idea, even if it's brand new, you never know what was around it during storage, who may have brought it home and returned it etc. I do this especially with any thrift store finds and warehouse sale items. You freeze them in baggies for 48 hours at least, remove and warm to air temperature and freeze again.

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  5. What about using high heat to kill bugs? I saw on TV that they use heat over 140 degrees to kill bed bugs.

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  6. I treat my denim like wool garments. I never wear the same piece consecutive days but I do wear each piece multiple times before cleaning. Skin cells slough off in garments and clothes absorb natural body oils as well as some products like lotion. Freezing won't remove that residue, they need to be washed periodically.

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    1. Yeah, it's not just the bacteria. I use lotion every day and the idea of walking around for too long in a buildup of my own oily dead skin cells gives me the willies.

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  7. Not sure if it's accurate but I read online that freezing the larvae for several days below 18 degrees should kill them. I think the chest freezers get that low, but maybe not the average household freezer. Hmmm...maybe those deep freezers would kill more bacteria from your jeans. I don't know though, I'd be worried I'd destroy the integrity of the fibers in a subzero. I'd say if you're really worried about your jeans, handwash them in a fancy soap like Eucalan in tepid water and then air dry. :D

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  8. This is a common technique among denim fanatics. If you've bought raw jeans from A.P.C., this is what they recommend you do....although they recommend "airing" out your jeans rather than freezing them. They say it has to do with molding the denim to your body and it's true that washing does affect the shape of the jeans, especially if they're raw denim.

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  9. I always wash my new clothes. I always think that since it is mass produced, those article of clothing are most likely lying on the floor in some factory, being stepped on, etc or the persons may not have washed their hands while handling the clothing. The new clothes just looks *new*. Sale items need a good washing too. Who knows how long it's been on the racks being pawed over, tried on, and on the floors, etc...it's just gross. My husband never washes his new clothes and it's just gross.

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  10. This is not a new tip, like Caille says this is -one of- the big ways denim fantatics will care for their denim. APC and Seven for All Man Kind bloggers are all over this all the time.

    Washing, especially Colored jeans (even inside out) will make the color fade. No matter the detergent or the method (it's the agitation that'll get it). The freezer method isn't the only one, and http://www.rawrdenim.com/2011/03/how-to-wash-and-clean-your-raw-denim-tips-instructions-video/ has a couple of other ways including a soak in the bathtub way.

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  11. i just pictured my sons looking for popsicles and saying "i can't find them because of the jeans in the freezer!". LOL. definitely an interesting tip.

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  12. Lol. Um. No.
    The the little OCD person in my head won't let me do it. Like Alexis, I wash my jeans before I wear them. Same with underthings and tees and heavily dyed pieces and anything my head tells me to.

    Oh. Eww. I got gooseflesh just thinking about all the bacteria and residue build-up. Granted I do go awhile before giving my good jeans a wash. I might try the bathtub soak that Di mentioned though.

    I spray all my woolens with cashmere spray as soon as I receive it and at least once a month. I don't need that larvae drama in my closet. I think that I'm going to try the freezing method during the summer, as back up.

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  13. I also wash everything before I wear it. It's not just the ick factor of clothing being tried on and handled; many fabrics are processed using formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals. If my denim fades, so be it. I'd much prefer wearing faded denim to wearing filthy clothes.

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  14. If my jeans were in the "traveling pants" club, I'd wash them more often. But they're not. I'm not worried about germs. Or larvae, which honestly I've never even thought about...until now. Thanks. I wash them...but I don't over wash them.

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  15. Can't imagine going to that much trouble. My clothes can't be that high-maintenance. I wash my jeans after 1 or 2 wears, they aren't high-end denim, though. Sweaters are trickier, I like to wear something thin and easily washable under them so I don't sweat in them so I don't have to wash them as often.

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  16. I wash my jeans always before wearing them to remove any excess dye that might transfer to furniture or other fabrics I am wearing. Now, basically, I remember Tim Gunn or some other fashion guy:) saying basically your legs don't sweat (much) and I know mine don't so I can easily get 4-5 wears out of a pair of jeans as long as I don't stain them...esp. when just wearing around the house for a few hours after work. It takes a few wears to get them soft and comfortable anyway. Couldn't wash after just one or two wears for a few hours at a time after work. Wouldn't make sense.

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  17. Interesting post. Like others I don't spend enough on denim to worry about preserving the color. (Gap, BR and even JCrew on sale is usually under $50). I notice that even after multiple washing the darker colors still transfer color so to me that is more important. Plus the ick factor, here in Colorado, you need lots of lotion so I want my jeans to be clean. I wash mine after most wearings, inside out, cold water, low dryer.

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  18. This is why the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems exists, heh heh. Wouldn't dream of going to so much trouble for a pair of jeans. Wear a few times, throw in the washing machine, repeat. Hygiene wins the day, every day.

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  19. This post is one that I must comment on. I'm a nurse currently working on a graduate degree; I state this only to let you know that I have an extensive background in microbiology and pathophysiology. Common everyday bacteria and viruses that cause illness cannot be killed by the temperatures that most of our freezers are set at. Also, one of the main reasons to wash clothing is to rid them of the body oils that have transferred from our skin to the clothing...and freezing clothing only solidifies those body oils inside the fibers of the fabric. Even if you are meticulous about never spilling on your jeans, you never sweat a drop in them, you're not around children's dirty hands,and you don't get near a bug-infested bed your jeans will still be covered in bacteria and viruses that are picked up just from being in public. Not to mention the natural body oils we all produce (which also contain bacteria). Please take these factors in to account when making the choice to freeze or wash your jeans.

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  20. At first, this idea excited me, because I hate throwing pants in the wash/dryer and then having the fit I had spent at least 8 hours on washed away if the jeans are particularly slim fitting. But, I agree with some other commenters, I don't think it would do much of anything but solidify and preserves some nasties. I'm a messy girl, I need some good old soap and water.

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  21. I have confessed on this blog that in generally I try to go as long as possible between washings or trips to the cleaner, particularly for tailored garments. But I certainly can't imagine freezing my jeans in order to avoid washing them! I'm not a germophobe in the least but this still seems very unappetizing, and it would take up a lot of room that could be used for Trader Joe's frozen chocolate croissants.

    And maybe I am buying the wrong size or type of jeans, but I find that jeans are often too loose at the end of the day and fit better after a trip through the washer and dryer. Of course, I am an hourglass with some thigh issues so jeans never fit me well anyway. If I could find the denim Holy Grail maybe I WOULD do all kinds of crazy things to protect them!

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    1. But of course one has to leave room for TJ's choco croissants LOL. This tip has "ick" written all over it. I don't know about the rest of you, but the jeans that I've bought since the econ downturn have not maintained their shape beyond one day's wear. I always wash mine after a day (or 2 days max) to regain their shape.

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  22. Somehow this tip reminds me of all those faintly unsavory suggestions about what to do with your torn or snagged pantyhose. Of course my favorite "emergency" tip was to fill your freezer full of underwear and pantyhose in the summer, to be worn to cool off in when the AC fails.With of course a crisp white shirt.

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  23. I can definitely understand the doubt .... However, I have used this technique for years with raw and selvedge denim mainly and the denim is in even greater condition than ever. Machine washing denim, especially raw and selvedge, is awful for the product and eliminates the purpose of denim. Give the freezer a try. It is odd at first but believe me it is the best way to reserve your favorite blues!!

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