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

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the thank-you-science dept.

Canada 258

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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Reason (3, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956030)

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. ;)

Re:Reason (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956234)

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

Re:Reason (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956418)

That is the most accurate term for these people.... Idiots.

They are proof that higher education does not make you smart.

Re:Reason (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957774)

At first I figured you were obviously trolling ... but now I gotta ask: why, exactly, would you classify "these people" as "idiots"?

Re:Reason (2)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956610)

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

Re:Reason (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956694)

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 (3, Informative)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956826)

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

Re:Reason (1)

Philomage (1851668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956958)

Not only urine, but mere sweat contains uric acid and so the jeans must have developed that distinctive ammonia based "stale urine" scent.

Urine being sterile or not, still stinks. And old urine stinks more.

Re:Reason (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956998)

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.

Re:Reason (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957330)

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:Reason (0)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957958)

"Oh my it disgusts me" - you sound like a total pansy - try being on punk rock tour for 18 months it will toughen you up

Re:Reason (4, Insightful)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956426)

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

Re:Reason (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956588)

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".

Re:Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956788)

Raw denim jeans can be had for as little as 20 bucks.

Washing (4, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956066)

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

Re:Washing (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956190)

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.

Re:Washing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956872)

Febreze on hockey gear just masks the odor -- it doesn't get rid of the source of the stench.

I've never washed my gear, but it doesn't stink. I hang it up to dry after games, and every 4-6 months, I dunk it in a bath of Mirazyme before hanging it to dry.

Re:Washing (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957186)

Sports equipment is a bit different. When you use it, you're often sweaty and smelly anyways, so a little extra stench isn't all that hard to tolerate. When I played football in high school I only washed my practice jersey and pants about once per week too.

Re:Washing (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956594)

So why don't you just spray it with some deodorant and skip washing?

Re:Washing (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957112)

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.

Re:Washing (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957094)

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 - particularly in college - I've been in a rush and just threw on a pair of jeans or socks that I wore the day before (never did exceed 2 wearings though). Without fail, I would be not feeling well by the end of the day. Again, probably stress related, but still.

Re:Washing (2)

hankwang (413283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957964)

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.

Asian people (-1, Troll)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956150)

They can be very smart, very cute, very hansom, very nice, very fuckable or... very strange.

Re:Asian people (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956270)

Why do you need an ethnic qualifier on that?

Re:Asian people (0, Offtopic)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956952)

yes, because white people can't be very fuckable or very nice, black people can't be very smart or nice, latinos are never hansom (sic), asians however, can always be all 6....

Re:Asian people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34957556)

yes. QED.

Scientific Method (1)

ryu1232 (792127) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956156)

I want to see his control group.
What was the bacteria content when he first bought the jeans?
How many other people tried them on before he bought them ?
What did he wash them with initially ?
Did he wear the jean continually for 15 moths, or did he take them off daily?
Where were they stored when not in use? This experiment can only be valid if they were stored nightly, scrunched up in a ball on the floor of an un vacuumed dorm room.

Re:Scientific Method (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956262)

This is a job for the Myth Busters! We need a jean control group and 36 pairs of sterilized Levi 501s, STAT!

I only wear mine at work, sitting in a clean chair (more or less), and swap them out every other day for a two week period. Unless food or dirt stains appear, then they get washed again. 15 months of daily wearing without a research grant? That's just nasty.

Re:Scientific Method (1)

WhoEvrIwant2b (1165497) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956636)

Got to love the publicity of a study with a n of 1. Seriously how is this considered research? A. the bacteria would probably survive the freezing, it is more the molds that would die off and lower the smell. B. Five different kinds of bacteria can be five strains of E coli when he forgot to wipe or five nasty varied ones. C. Why no enumeration on the bacteria? There could have been 1 or millions. Really the biggest thing would be how much moisture was in them when they were stored for the night. I wonder if when he froze them he had an auto defrosting freezer that takes the moisture out of the air? Also definitely a nasty study that I think they should force on all first year bio students to up their N values. They are not going to get laid anyways.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956170)

I'm so ashamed to be from Calgary right now.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956802)

Speaking as a Torontonian, you ought to be ashamed be from Calgary all the time.

Re:Wow (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957568)

Speaking as someone who used to live in Toronto, given the results of the last set of mayoral elections, I'm pretty sure Toronto should be one of the most ashamed populations in North America outside of Peterborough.

It is bad for your health in a different way (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956258)

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? (3, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Altered results? (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956614)

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.

Re:Altered results? (2)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956638)

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 kinetic energy and so less of them were diffusing off into the air making them difficult to smell. Finally water vapor would condense on the pants then evaporate as they warmed up, carrying some of the bacteria and smelly molecules with it which is kind of like washing and drying clothes without any detergent.

Re:Altered results? (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956686)

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 is a separate issue, although with fewer bacteria there will obviously be fewer smelly byproducts.

Re:Altered results? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34957468)

Isn't it the same as going outside during a cold winter day?

Questionable testing method (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Questionable testing method (3, Interesting)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

Re:Questionable testing method (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956698)

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.

Re:Questionable testing method (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957576)

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...

Re:Questionable testing method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34957206)

The test was for not washing jeans. He didn't wash them. What's next; you're going to invalidate the test because he wore underwear instead of going commando? Or because he avoided eating curries?

Re:Questionable testing method (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957982)

wonder if would have been better to put it in the oven for a bit instead of the freezer...wrt killing bacteria and reducing smell

Re:Questionable testing method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958174)

Considering they have found bacteria a mile below the ice caps, I would doubt a freezer which cools down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit would have much effect.

So now we have... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956294)

...one data point.

I'm not sure about that (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957454)

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 ;)

Only one pair? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956326)

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? (3, Informative)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956672)

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:Only one pair? (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956956)

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.

Re:Only one pair? (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957266)

Just look at the amount of lint in the dryer lint filter. And just as much comes out of the washing machine if you put a lint trap on the discharge hose.

Certainly qualifies for Geek of the Year (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956420)

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.

Re:Certainly qualifies for Geek of the Year (1)

kaiidth (104315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956678)

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.

Yay! (5, Funny)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958004)

Your mom is your girlfriend?

congrats (1)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956506)

on your custom made wear lines. your jeans are now super fashionable...oh but wait it took so long to break in your jeans that now it's no longer super fashionable to have custom made wear lines. put the jeans away and wait another year for the fashion cycle to deem them super fashionable again.

Sure... (1)

Arctech (538041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956526)

Maybe you can smell like a hobo and not be a public health hazard, but... you still have hobo-stank all over you.

Onion Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956530)

Reading the title in my RSS feed, I thought it was an onion article.

Bacteria is not the only issue (1)

MalikyeMoon (1600085) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956782)

Aside from common sense, there are other issues that may arise from unwashed pants. Fungal problems are among the first that come to mind. Ever seen a boy with 15-month jock itch spread over his legs?

Healthy? That depends... (1)

swarm (71375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956814)

Healthiness depends on what you do in them. They could become very unhealthy quickly if he wore them while disposing of medical waste, sewage, or fast food leftovers.

Is he waiting around to be a millionaire? (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956858)

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.

Alberta is cold (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34956940)

University of Alberta student

Something tells me that if he had conducted this experiment a few hundred miles south and spent any reasonable amount of time outside he would have had different results entirely.

Gay or just a dork? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34956968)

"They're called skinny jeans...they're kinda in right now."

"They're kinda not"

Edmonton is Fscking cold most of the year (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Edmonton is Fscking cold most of the year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34957620)

dude,
first off -- yes it gets cold in Edmonton, in the WINTER time. Edmonton is not Antartica.

Second, I think we can safely assume that he DID NOT LIVE OUTDOORS or was OUTDOORS ALL THE TIME, even if it was freezing outside. The heat from his body would prevent his pants from freezing.

results non conclusive (1)

alta (1263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957498)

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...

And the tragedy is... (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34957664)

...that even today, even on slashdot, people can't say "anecdotal evidence" and dump this result in their own personal /dev/null.

I want to see a few hundred pairs of jeans worn by all sorts of people with different personal habits and occupations -- some who wear underwear, some who don't, some who shovel horse manure for a living, some who work construction in the hot, sweaty south. I'd bet that 20% of them would end up with that colorful affliction known as "crotch rot" -- any of various fungal infections -- and of course this would instantly become chronic as they'd constantly reinfect themselves. Then there are the various mites that would be living on the sloughed skin cells packed into the weave, the bacteria (harmful or otherwise) fed by the trapped sweat and spilled food and drink and french fry grease wiped off on the thighs, and...

...what if you got actually sick while wearing them, or got lice, or...

Even in the dirty old dark ages, they would wash clothes once or twice a year. Just yuk. And "bad science" yuk at that to draw a conclusion from an N of one.

rgb

Tons of fascinating research going on and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34957882)

the media picks up on some kid with bad hygiene and calls it science. /slowclap

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