“I think the jeans can’t smell any worse. You can’t get them any dirtier then what they already are, it’s like salt; you can only dissolve a certain amount of salt in water before the water can’t take any more in. It’s the same with jeans and smells and bacteria, you can only put so much in there, it can’t get any worse, it can’t hold any more.”
This is the kind of thing that can happen if, as part of a research project, you wear the same pair of jeans for three months without washing them :
“31 people in Melbourne [Australia] were engaged to wear the same pair of jeans for three months without washing them. Transcripts from interviews about their experience were used to draw insights on how individual courses of actions are shaped by collective conventions.”
By such methods, Tullia Jack who is a doctoral student of the Sociology dept. at Lund University, Sweden, has researched alternative laundering practices to make clothing more sustainable (i.e. by not washing them so often).
A full copy of the supporting 102 page thesis (from which the photo above was taken) and which includes details of the wearers’ olfactory responses (both favourable and decidedly unfavourable), may be found here. (Also featured as: Nobody was dirty: Intervening in inconspicuous consumption of laundry routines in the Journal of Consumer Culture, November 2013, vol. 13, no. 3)
BONUS : A video featuring the author from the University of Melbourne.
Related Note: A new paper in The International Journal of Consumer Studies informs about Reducing laundering frequency to prolong the life of denim jeans
“The findings from this study provide compelling evidence to encourage consumers to reconsider their laundering habits in terms of wash frequency as both a means to behave in a more environmentally sustainable way, and to preserve their favourite garments.”