Experiment: Does Freezing Your Jeans Clean Them?

Written by Marc | 18/02/2014



No you didn’t read that wrong, freezing a pair of jeans is said to be an effective way to clean them! If you are buying a great quality pair of jeans like Levi, G-Star Raw or Edwin at Mainline Menswear then you are going to be buying quality, so you don’t want to put them in the wash and have the colour drained or the material distorted. That’s why a few experts have come up with the idea of washing  jeans via the freezer, so we thought we’d test it out.

Do your jeans feel the same after a wash?


It is a widely accepted fact that washing denim causes it to shrink, fade or sag, and to add to this many brands now advise against washing to prevent messing with the grain of the material. It has been suggested in the past that a safe alternative is washing jeans with clean cold water and air-drying them as if not to distress the denim like hot soapy water seems to do, but if you try this with your expensive pair of indigo or raw denim coloured jeans you will likely find the colour still runs significantly.

With no immediate guarantee the washing machine won’t turn your ideal dark slim-legged jeans into spray on skinny faded ones- it might be worth trying the experiment for yourself.

The Idea

A handful of experts and big names in the denim industry have supported the idea of leaving it unwashed to maintain its quality. Most jean brands now instruct their wearers to wash as infrequently as possible and only in cold water, Tommy Hilfiger thinks jeans should never be washed and Levi Strauss started the notion of freezing jeans in 2011 when they added the instruction to do so to their stone–washed denim brand. Since then many have tried it and disagreed on the effectiveness such as FHM and Elle magazines, so the best way is probably to try it with your own unique pair and analyse its effectiveness.

Apparently freezing the jeans kills germs responsible for odour on your clothes whilst not forcing the jeans to lose their characteristics like they do in the washing machine. The process will not rid them of dirt, dust or stains and it won’t bring your stretched jeans back into shape, but it should stop them from shrinking, losing colour and falling apart.

To clean your denim like this you first need to find a large zip lock plastic bag to fit your jeans in, then you need to neatly fold them and place them in the bag, before pushing all of the air out and sealing it. When you’ve done this you can let the temperature of the freezer do its job.

Try your own experiment using this guide

How to Freeze Your Jeans from Apartment Therapy Media on Vimeo.

My Experiment

With this in mind I bagged up my own pair of light-coloured jeans and carefully positioned them between the ice cream and fish fingers in my freezer- something didn’t seem right about this.

They needed a good wash and had a couple of stains on, which I obviously didn’t expect to miraculously vanish, but placed them in all the same. When I took them out again nearly two days later I was first surprised that the texture hadn’t changed and they weren’t brittle as I had expected, they were in fact just very cold, but warmed to room temperature again very quickly.

About an hour later I took them out of the bag and gave them a smell. It didn’t give the immediate fresh scent that the washing machine does, and visibly nothing looked too different. However I then tried them on and I must admit they felt crisper as if they had been washed and seemed to regain some of their newly-bought snug fit.

It might look bizarre, but does it really work?

The Verdict

I couldn’t forget the stains which were still quite evident or the lack of a clean smell, so as somebody who seems prone to staining jeans freezing will never be a happy alternative to the washing machine for me. I can live with a bit of fade for the sake of the side effects of using a washing machine.

Whether it was just my imagination making me feel like the jeans were crisper after the freezer experiment or not isn’t certain in my mind but for anyone who is careful with their clothing or manages to keep them stain-free, it is probably worth trying this method because it certainly won’t compromise the design or authenticity of your jeans.

How do yours feel after freezing them?

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