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Experiment Shows Not Washing Jeans for 15 Months is Disgusting But Safe 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-you-science dept.
dbune writes "Young people who argue with their parents over wearing the same pair of smelly jeans can now cite the work of a 20-year old University of Alberta student who wore the same jeans for 15 months straight. From the article: 'Josh Le wore the same pair of jeans to break in the raw denim, so it would wrap the contours of his body, leaving distinct wear lines. He had his textile professor test the jeans for bacteria before washing them for the first time. The results showed high counts of five different kinds of bacteria, but nothing in the range of being considered a health hazard."

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Experiment Shows Not Washing Jeans for 15 Months is Disgusting But Safe

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  • Reason (Score:4, Funny)

    by kimvette (919543) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:07PM (#34956030) Homepage Journal

    Here's the reason:

    He moved out of his mom's basement and didn't visit home for 15 months. He explained away his stinky jeans as a science experiment. ;)

    • by sycodon (149926)

      I had to sit next to idiots like this in high school AND college.

      • Just using a urinal and having some urine spray on my pants disgusts me. Imagine 15 months worth of just that alone.

        • Just using a urinal and having some urine spray on my pants disgusts me. Imagine 15 months worth of just that alone.

          Urine is sterile - There's no bacteria in it. It does contain compounds that can cause mild skin irritation ("diaper rash") but it's largely harmless.

          • Re:Reason (Score:4, Informative)

            by repapetilto (1219852) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:51PM (#34956826)

            urine is sterile when it leaves your body but it also contains bacteria food so whatever urine gets on grows bacteria.

          • by TheLink (130905)
            I think you miss an important point. There's typically no bacteria in properly cooked food either, but typically still goes bad (unless it's dried/smoked/cured/pickled/frozen/chilled etc).

            It's a matter of whether pathogenic/undesirable[1] bacteria grows significantly better on denim with urine on it, than denim without.

            [1] Some bacteria do not cause disease but they might make stuff smelly or do other unwanted stuff.
          • Just using a urinal and having some urine spray on my pants disgusts me. Imagine 15 months worth of just that alone.

            Urine is sterile - There's no bacteria in it. It does contain compounds that can cause mild skin irritation ("diaper rash") but it's largely harmless.

            I have mod points, but unfortunately I couldn't find a "+1, informative but disgusting" selection.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by maxume (22995)

          Are you sure you aren't misusing a wall?

        • Re:Reason (Score:4, Funny)

          by CatsupBoy (825578) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:22PM (#34958280)
          Reminds me of a Churchill quote....

          Young man (seeing Churchill leaving the bathroom without washing his hands): At Eton they taught us to wash our hands after using the toilet.
          Churchill: At Harrow they taught us not to piss on our hands.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Both of them should have gone to a college that understands germ theory.

            Wash you hands.

        • by kimvette (919543)

          That is thoroughly disgusting. I hope to god for the sake of people who had to sit near this guy that he does not ever eat asparagus. Also, I feel sorry for anyone who had to sit on that seat after him.

          I for one cannot believe the level of bacteria is no higher than jeans washed after only one or two wearings.

        • Sounds like an accuracy issue rather than a hygiene issue. Are you honestly saying you can't use a urinal without pissing on your jeans? Because I use urinals all the time without that ever happening.
          • by Americano (920576)

            It's very unlikely that there is no back-spray that lands on your pants. Taking a leak (and, incidentally - FLUSHING) cause droplets to spray up and out of the toilet.

            Unless you're literally hung like a horse and can stand clear across the room from the urinal, it's virtually guaranteed that some spray will find its way back to your pants.

            We're not talking "pissed your pants" amounts of spray, but do the math over 15 months, and add up the volume of a couple drops a day, splashed at random between your kne

            • by X0563511 (793323)

              Things break down over that 15 months. Add onto that that whatever is living on there is consuming it, and excreting the waste as that lovely smell you associate with it.

              It's not an airtight vault.

        • by Tassach (137772)

          Maybe you should learn to use the toilet without urinating on yourself. Most of us manage to do it well before kindergarten, but I guess there are always a few slow learners.

    • Re:Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sangreal66 (740295) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:29PM (#34956426)

      I don't think the group that buys $300 raw denim jeans really intersects with the "mom's basement" group

      • by icebike (68054)

        I don't think the group that buys $300 raw denim jeans really intersects with the "mom's basement" group

        Or with the groups "has girlfriend" or "wants girlfriend".

      • by Gabrill (556503)

        Even if it's mom's $300?

  • Washing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazzleFrog (537054) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:10PM (#34956066)

    I was my clothes because I want to smell nice. Not because I am afraid of getting sick from them.

    • Re:Washing (Score:5, Funny)

      by sharkey (16670) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:12PM (#34956122)

      I was my clothes...

      You were?

    • I was my clothes because I want to smell nice. Not because I am afraid of getting sick from them.

      My brother uses febreze on his hockey stuff, plus he has a bounce sheet in the hockey bag. Apparently he doesn't need to wash it nearly as often. However, he lives two hours away... downwind... so I can't guarantee this from personal experience.

    • So why don't you just spray it with some deodorant and skip washing?
      • Because to many people, including myself, any overwhelming chemical scents aren't nice either. I often choose non-scented antiperspirants and detergents for that reason. I also don't like candles, air fresheners, etc. but I love the smell of food cooking or real flowers.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Indeed. Also, though it might not be a health hazard per se, the general feeling of dirtiness does effect my well being. I realize that its' probably psychological/stress related, but for example if I wake up on a weekend and don't shower until noon for example (whereas normally I shower before work a few hours earlier than that), I will without fail be starting to develop a bad headache. Just the general bad feeling of being unclean will affect me.

      Same with clothes. I'll admit that once or twice - part

      • by hankwang (413283) *

        if I wake up on a weekend and don't shower until noon for example (whereas normally I shower before work a few hours earlier than that), I will without fail be starting to develop a bad headache.

        Sounds more like caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

        • by MBGMorden (803437)

          Nah, I'm not a coffee drinker, and the headache will fade right away within 15 minutes of taking a shower.

    • Re:Washing (Score:4, Funny)

      by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday January 21, 2011 @03:10PM (#34958114)

      I was my clothes

      And so can you!

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        But don't forget to accidentally yourself, which is a critical component in the transition.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)
      I've heard of clothes making the man, but this is ridiculous.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:20PM (#34956258) Journal
    The salt from your sweat (over time) will build up on the fabric of the pants, and then when you walk it will start to chafe your skin. It can be quite painful.
  • Altered results? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chemicaldave (1776600) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:21PM (#34956274)

    Did he botch the results when he repeatedly threw his jeans in a freezer?

    When his jeans got a bit funky smelling, Le's solution was to put them in the freezer. "There were times when it had a bad odour, like in the seventh month," he said. "That's when I threw it in the freezer and magically when it came out it was odourless."

    I know very little about microbiology, but could that have significantly affected growth rates of all/certain types of bateria or killed them altogether?

    • I know very little about microbiology, but could that have significantly affected growth rates of all/certain types of bateria or killed them altogether?

      Yeah, I'm betting that's the case. Certain types of bacteria can't live in below-freezing temperatures.

    • yes, when the ice crystals form the envelope of water that surrounds your proteins and dna and such is disrupted, causing them to unfold and probably not refold correctly upon thawing. So the cell will not be able to function and die. Also ice is less dense than water so the cell may swell up and burst during the freezing process. Bacteria have cell walls though so they are more sturdy. Likely at least a few would survive. Also when the pants were removed from the freezer all the smelly molecules had low ki

    • by gorzek (647352)

      Some bacteria are killed by cold and others just have their reproduction slowed/stopped.

      In any case, bacteria themselves aren't what produce odor, it's their waste products. Think about that. You stink because bacteria are doing number two all over your body, but especially under your armpits and around your crotch and ass.

      If freezing reduces/eliminates odor, then the waste products of the bacteria are just undergoing a chemical change that makes them not stink anymore. Its effect on the bacteria themselves

    • I bet it made everything in his freezer taste better though!

    • by sjames (1099)

      That could be. However I'm fairly sure that anyone who ever ate ice cream at his place hurled when TFA came out.

  • by confused one (671304) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:22PM (#34956292)
    Article indicated he put the jeans into the freezer when they would start to stink. This would kill some of the bacteria and partially invalidates his test.
    • by sangreal66 (740295) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:27PM (#34956386)

      Doesn't really invalidate his test, since this is a standard technique for people breaking in unwashed raw denim jeans. Presumably he was testing the safety of that practice and not the safety of simply being grimy and never washing your clothes

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:44PM (#34956698) Journal
      What the hell? The test had a sample size of one, just one. Obviously it had no control group to compare it with. It is just an anecdote. Not an experiment, it can not be used to advance any hypothesis. And you find fault with some itsy bitsy thing like throwing it in the freezer? This stupid thing does not deserve a posting in slashdot. May be in some mid-morning talk shows where bored housewives gasp at the idea of not washing jeans for 15 months. It definitely does not deserve your response. And stupidest thing in all this is me taking time to write a reply in the middle of my work day.
      • by Nemyst (1383049)

        Rumors say he attempted to get funding for a larger scale experiment, but surprisingly all his pleas were faced with refusal.

        Science isn't what it used to be...

      • With respect to sample size, similar experiments have been repeated, admittedly in the field under uncontrolled circumstances, several million times over at least the last 5 decades, approximately 100% of the occasions the utility of function of quarters for beer money exceeded the utility function for quarters for laundry money among male college students

    • by Jaktar (975138)

      It might partially invalidate his results but it opens up a whole new market for coin freezing (laundry).

  • ...one data point.

    • I'm not sure about that. I'm pretty sure one of the admins here has been trying a similar test for the last 10 years or so. albeit in 12 month runs by the looks of it. It's kinda hard not to notice that once a year his hair goes from, pretty much, something almost solidified in a helmet to fluffy and you can tell the pattern on his shirt.

      So far he hasn't published anything in a microbiology journal, but I'm sure that when he does, the results of all those twelve-month runs will advance science seriously ;)

  • The article doesn't make it clear if he only wore that single pair of pants every single day, and if not, how often did he actually wear them? I don't think it is even possible for a pair of jeans to be worn 450 times without completely falling apart, so obviously he must have worn other clothes too.

    • Re:Only one pair? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kyrio (1091003) <slashdot&lurkmore,com> on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:43PM (#34956672) Homepage
      I have three pairs of jeans (I had four, but that's a long story). I bought them at the same time, 5-6 years ago. Only one of them ripped wide open at the crotch last year, so now I have only two. I wash(ed) them all regularly.

      Obviously, you're buying shit tier quality jeans.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by reeno49 (1558221)

        I absolutely LOVE that going from 4 pairs of jeans to only 3 pairs of jeans is a long story for you. Honestly... you, sir, just made my cube-dewlling day more tolerable.

        Thank you.

        • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Friday January 21, 2011 @04:25PM (#34959150) Homepage Journal

          It was a dark and stormy night. I had just finished washing jeans #2 which I had bought 4-5 years earlier, and inspected them. Being better than shit tier quality, they were, as expected, still in good condition. Even the crotch was in good condition and showed no signs that it might dramatically fail at some inconvenient time. As is typical for dark and story nights, there was a conspicous lack of sunlight and very high humidity, so I knew the jeans would not dry on the line outside. I put them into the dryer, along with some other clothes, and I was careful to add a fabric softener sheet as well. Just as the dryer started rumbling, I heard the phone ring.

          "Hello?"

          "Hi, Kyrio, this is Reeno."

          I was ecstatic. "Hey Reeno!! Good to hear from you finally! What have you been up to?" I had not heard from Reeno in a very long time. We had a falling out many years ago, over some dumb topic like jean quality tiers or something, but that was all water under the bridge, now.

          "Well, I have been writing a novel."

          "No shit, really?! What's it about?" I was intrigued.

          "Oh, I don't think I can sum it up very briefly. Here, let me read it to you."

          #include "war and peace.txt"

          As Reeno's scratchy voice managed to croak out the final words, I noticed the sunlight shining through the window next to my phone charger (the batteries had long ago failed) and the eery silence that had so long dominated the house after the dryer had finished. What was there to say? I didn't have the heart to tell Reeno that his novel sounded an awful lot like another one written by Tolstoy. It was a very awkward situation -- awkward like realizing that you're not wearing any pants. I went to the dryer and took out good ol' reliable jeans #2.

          "Well, Reeno, that's quite a story. I'm glad you called. But I need to go now. Later, dude!"

          "Good bye, Kyrio," he said, and I pressed the "END" button on the phone.

          Exhausted, I walked out my door into the bright and calm day. A pity; the line would certainly be able to dry my jeans now, but there was no need. That's when I noticed that the storm had blown down the drying line. I bent down to pick up the end so that I could re-tie it, when to my annoyance, there was a terrible ripping sound and the brisk air blew into my crotch.

          "Oh no! Jeans #2! Noooo!!" I wailed. I know that some people buy shit tier quality jeans, so they never grow attached to their garments during their ephemeral lifetimes, but it's different for me. I had these jeans for half a decade! Crying and heartbroken, I ran back into the house and picked up the phone.

          "Reeno! My jeans! I'm down from four pairs to only three," I brokenly told him through sobs.

          "Oh my god! What happened?!"

          "It's a long story," I began, and that's when I heard it. The bastard was laughing at me. Laughing!

          • by Gabrill (556503)

            Well done! I tip my hat to you. Unfortunately, I'd already commented, or I'd mod you up.

    • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

      Maybe it's not wearing the jeans that causes them to be worn out, but overzealous spin cycles in the washer. That may explain why the jeans are still in one piece.

  • I find in a humid client jeans will smell within days. In a dry climate perhaps not for a week. He must have been detectable, downwind, for miles.

    • by kaiidth (104315)

      I find in a humid client jeans will smell within days.

      What job title do you have? I doubt there's a large waiting line for a job that requires you to put on jeans and then spend days immersed in damp clientele.

      • by Plekto (1018050)

        Perhaps he works as a crew member for Discovery Channel?

      • "a job that requires you to put on jeans and then spend days immersed in damp clientele."

        Sounds like a job I once had on a fishing trawler. Jeans were not a problem but finding a jumper that would last more than a couple of trips before the sleves rotted and fell off was quite a challenge.
  • by snsh (968808)
    I guess it depends how you define "safe"
  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by supersloshy (1273442) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:30PM (#34956448)

    Now I never have to leave my parents' basement^W^W girlfriend's house due to health concerns! Take that, mom! Err, hot girlfriend that I definitely have! :D

  • It might be safe, but I would imagine people kept far upwind of him!

  • by Chemisor (97276)

    Clearly, the bacteria were scared off by the smell.

  • He must be fun at parties.
  • Maybe he's a Neil Diamond fan?
  • He's got patches on the patches of his old blue jeans.
    They used to be new.
    They used to be blue.
    And they used to be clean.

  • I mean, wouldn't his junk shrink from putting on stiff frozen jeans?

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday January 21, 2011 @01:59PM (#34956980)
    The U of A is in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. So I guess that 90% of the time his jeans were frozen anyway, not just the short periods in the freezer.
  • Ok, it seems like they're saying "go wear jeans for 15 months without washing, they'll be safe"

    Ok, what if you work in a chicken processing plant.
    What if you work in a laboratory that deals with human excrement.

    Please people, don't start using this study as an excuse...

  • I don't understand this, could someone please give me a car analogy so I don't have to think too hard?
  • I recently read that people don't use soap and shampoo when washing and showering, and yet they were better/fine. Weird.

  • the smell was unbearable after a few weeks
  • Absolutely Beautiful.

    No wonder he has a big smile on his face. And why am I not surprised he is Asian! (denim geek reference)

    I'm interested in knowing what jeans they are.

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