There is no faster way to fuck up a pair of denim than washing them frequently. Washing machines and jeans are far from soul mates, but just how often should you wash them? It’s an open-ended debate, but according to a couple of top industry folks, less often than you might think.

“I never wash my Levi’s. They’ll fall apart. I love them broken in,” American designer Tommy Hilfiger recently told a TMZ reporter. Carl Chiara, Director of Brand Concepts and Special Projects for Levi Strauss & Co., shared the same sentiment in a Wall Street Journal interview. “The less people wash their jeans, the better their jeans become. Denim really does shape to people’s bodies, and when you wash a jean you lose some of that shape.”

Now, we’re not sure if never washing your jeans is a viable option because they do begin to smell over time … we’re sure even Gisele has a pair of funky denims lying around her palatial chateau. But how often should you wash them? According several fashion and design websites, it looks like the frequency most people agree on is about after five wears, or every six months.

  • Realsimple.com: “After 4 to 5 wears.”
  • Stelios Phili, GQ: “I try to go about 6-8 months before washing my jeans.”
  • Blogger Dr. Denim: “Most denim lovers will wear their new jeans six months before the first washing, then three months before a second washing.”
  • Anderson Cooper: “Literally, the same pair of jeans every day … [washed them] maybe twice in six months.”
  • Todd Shelton: “Denim jeans will withstand long periods of wearing without needing to be washed. In fact, jeans can be worn for days and in some cases weeks before needing to be washed.”
  • Palle Stenberg, Nudie Jeans: “Denim is a fantastic fabric. Aside from maybe leather, it’s the only fabric that gets better looking the more you use it. After six months, the jeans acquire a really beautiful patina. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I’ve washed a pair of jeans.”

So there you have it: only wash your jeans when you absolutely have to.