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The Myth of the Frozen Jeans

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Levi Strauss advises freezing your jeans to kill the germs that make them smelly, thereby saving the water you’d use in washing them.

Don’t bother, says Stephen Craig Cary, a University of Delaware expert on frozen microbes, who wrote to us from Antarctica.

Most of the bacteria on your jeans probably started off on your own body. Since these critters are happiest living at the temperature of human skin, “one might think that if the temperature drops well below the human body temperature they will not survive,” Cary writes, “but actually many will. Many are preadapted to survive low temperatures.” And it takes only one survivor to repopulate your jeans when they warm up.

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