Freezing clothes: does it really work?

Hand in orange glove opening refrigerator

I’m sharing this because at first my friends thought I was crazy, then they tried it and it worked for them too.

Hand in orange glove opening refrigeratorTried what exactly? Well, instead of taking my clothes to the dry cleaners, or putting them in the wash, I freeze them.

Just to be clear. I don’t mean my full-on loads of washing. Mainly the things I’d dry clean and jeans.

I started doing this after I read an article that said you shouldn’t wash expensive jeans because they fade and you shorten their life.  And I’m in good company – apparently Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said that he hadn’t washed his Levi’s 501s for a year.

It doesn’t get rid of dirt, but actually it’s often that they’re not as fresh as I’d like rather than dirty anyway.

On top of that, I don’t like that jeans feel tight on the first wear after washing.

And I’ve come home from a restaurant smelling of the food and found freezing got rid of odours in otherwise clean clothes. So, this freshens them up and is supposed to get rid of some of the bacteria, or as much as washing.

I’ve been doing it for ages now. I’ve tried it with jumpers, dresses, tops and jackets – my freezer drawer’s not big enough for coats. I was a bit nervous the first time I tried this with one of my nice dresses – not as hardy as denim – but it worked fine so I tried experimenting with other fabrics.

What the science says…

This depends on what you read. I read an article about an experiment where a student’s non-washed jeans were compared with jeans worn for only three days. Both had the same amount of bacteria. It concluded that it’s not hazardous to health.

Some say that any bacteria is dormant rather than killed, so the clothes will be the same as before when they warm up. Personally I haven’t found this, they’ve been fresh and crisp.

Lot of blue jeans, jeans stackedThen again, I read that washing doesn’t remove all bacteria either – it’s hardy like that. Bacteria, skin cells, and sweat are transferred to our clothes from our own body but skin microorganisms are generally not hazardous to ourselves. But there are situations when your clothes must be sterile.

So I think common sense is important. I always wear undies with my jeans, I don’t have smelly pits and I don’t come into contact with anything hazardous or full of bacteria.

Here’s what I do:

  • Double bag clothes: in plastic bags, squeezing the air completely out of the package and sealing the bags.
  • Put the bag in the freezer. I put them in a drawer which I don’t put food in. My husband was a bit worried once when he came across my clothes and didn’t feel that they should be in the same drawer as food.
  • Leave them there for a week. I’ve done it for as little as a day for a top I needed for a night out and it was fine but I like to leave them longer than that.
  • Take them out, hang them up and let them air.
  • If there’s an odd spec of dirt, I get rid of it with a face-wipe and make sure it’s completely dry before freezing.

I wouldn’t try it with very delicate fabric like silks, but if you do and it works let me know!

Of course this isn’t for you if you love the smell of your washing powder and fabric softener. But I’ve saved myself washing, ironing and money getting things dry cleaned.

Have you done this? Or would you try it? I’d love to know how you get on…

Deborah Garlick

About Deborah Garlick

I'm the founder of Henpicked. I love reading the wonderful stories and articles women send us - I read every one. I've learnt so much and hope others enjoy them too. I believe life's about being happy and that we're here to help one another. And that women are far wiser than they often realise, so let's stop putting ourselves down. I'm passionate about helping women live better lives by educating on the facts about menopause. I'm a menopause trainer at Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and one of the authors of Menopause: the change for the better.