How To Wash Socks – Best Guide For 2023

Take Care of Your Socks

Socks may be the most underrated apparel out there. Yes they keep our feet warm, and yes they prevent blisters—but there’s so much more to these foot-cozy bits of fabric than meets the eye.

A high quality and well washed sock helps anyone put their best foot forward, from the moment it’s slipped on till the instant it’s taken off. Socks are on the surface functional and practical, yet pairs like these men’s crazy socks can add pizzazz to any outfit.

Rather than simply tossing socks into the washing machine with the rest of your laundry, try cleaning them with care. Following our tips on how to wash socks will ensure that your socks come out fresh, vibrant and ready to face, or rather, foot another day.

How to Wash Socks in a Washing Machine

Follow four simple rules when machine washing your socks, and they’ll come out near as immaculate as the day you bought them.

  1. Always flip socks inside out before tossing them into the laundry. This technique ensures they’ll be thoroughly cleaned, since most odour-causing bacteria builds up inside the sock. Turning them inside out will also keep them lint-free.
  2. Separate socks by colour and style. Take care not to let a dark or colourful sock slip into a load of whites as the colour may bleed and stain the entire load. For instance, if you mix red socks with white pairs, you’ll likely end up with a pink sock collection.
  3. Fill your washing machine with mild detergent.
  4. Wash socks in cold water on a gentle cycle setting

Steps 3 and 4 protect your socks from snags, runs and fading. These steps on how to wash socks also prevent them from coming out of the laundry misshapen and sad looking. 

When it comes to white athletic socks, you have a bit more leeway. Feel free to toss them into the machine along with a load of white towels. To keep them in their original dazzling shade of white, add a capful of bleach to the load and wash in hot water.

Where dark or colourful dress socks are concerned, it’s safest to steer clear of bleach or detergent containing bleach. Washing with bleach can result in staining and discolouration. Stick to a cold water setting as opposed to hot, which can lead to shrinkage, wear, and tear.

When you shrink a pair of no show socks, which are tiny enough as they are, you’ll end up in a wrestling match trying to put them on. Tossing compression socks in the dryer is even worse—the breakdown of fabric causes them to lose their compression effects, and their snug fit can end up uncomfortably tight. 

Have your socks ever gone MIA during laundry day? Washing machines are notorious for sucking the odd sock straight out the drainage pipe along with dirty water. Many missing socks have reportedly been discovered outside the washing machine drum or caught up in the motor. How they ended up there is anyone’s guess. 

By following these simple tips on how to wash socks, you can save your favourite pairs from forever disappearing into sock limbo.

  • Before tossing them into the washing machine, fasten sock pairs together with a clothespin. They can be both washed and dried this way. Not only will this practice keep them from vanishing—it’ll save you from hunting through a pile of laundry for socks and their mates.
  • Prior to washing, tuck your socks into a mesh laundry bag. This technique will keep them from going AWOL during the wash cycle. 
  • If you don’t own a mesh laundry bag, never fear: you can easily make your own from an old pair of pantyhose or any other loosely knitted garment.

The two most common reasons socks get thrown in the trash is either due to lint accumulation or because of a missing mate. By following our tips on how to wash socks, you can avoid both of these typical sock dilemmas.

How to Wash Socks by Hand

To avoid long-term damage, socks made from delicate material, such as cashmere, silk, and Merino wool socks, should most definitely be hand-washed. If you ever find yourself without use of a washing machine, any sock can be hand-washed in a pinch. Just follow these steps:

  1. Fill a sink with cold water.
  2. Add in some mild laundry detergent, or you can improvise with dishwashing liquid, if laundry detergent is not accessible.
  3. Turn socks inside out for a thorough cleaning. 
  4. Allow socks to soak for at least 5 minutes. For an especially dirty batch, allow to soak for up to 30 minutes.
  5. Swish socks around in the soapy water to loosen up grime.
  6. Drain sink and rinse socks under cold running water until no longer soapy.
  7. Avoid scrubbing, twisting or wringing as this can result in runs, snags and stretching.

For larger sock loads, swap out the sink for a tub and you’re ready to roll.

How to Air Dry Socks 

While most socks can easily be tossed into a dryer, socks of quality fabric will catch lint if included in a regular load of clothes, towels or sport socks. Additionally, heat from a dryer gradually breaks down sock elasticity and eventually leads to stretching.

Socks made of delicate materials should be allowed to air dry. Any sock, no matter the style or fabric can be air dried as opposed to machine dried. Air drying socks will keep them looking and feeling great and will most definitely extend their lives.

Air drying socks may seem simple enough—but there’s a secret to removing excess water from freshly laundered socks.

  1. Lay wet socks out flat on a clean towel and roll up tightly.
  2. Press down on the towel to remove excess water.
  3. Hang damp socks on a clothesline or clothing rack to air dry.

If you don’t own a clothesline or a clothing rack, then simply drape the socks over the edge of a tub or shower rod. 

If its just one of those hectic days and you’re low on time, toss your socks into the dryer on a gentle and low-heat setting. This is the least harsh method for machine drying socks.

How to Wash Socks With Stains 

If you don’t feel like purchasing a stain remover, you can go with some tried-and-true home remedies.

 How to Wash Socks With StainsStain Type: Key Ingredient Directions Red Wine: Salt1. As soon as the spill happens, blot the stain to get as much wine out as you can. You don’t want to rub the stain, just dab at it. 2. Soak your sock in cool water to prevent the stain from setting in. 3. Cover the stain with enough salt so that the stain is covered. The salt will start to turn pink as it pulls the stain out.  4. Rinse the stain out with hot water. Grass: White Vinegar 1. Mix warm water with plain white vinegar.  2. Rub at the grass stain with this mixture. 3. Rinse the stain out with hot water. Ink: Hair Spray1. Spray the stain with hair spray. The alcohol in the spray will help break down the ink. 2. Let the sock, ink, and hair spray combination sit for several minutes. 3. Rinse the stain out with hot water. 

After any of those stain treatments, go ahead and wash the item as planned.

An all-purpose, generic stain remover can easily be concocted using items from your kitchen cupboard. Mix 1 part liquid dishwashing detergent with 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and allow stained garment to soak before washing as usual.

Alternatively, you can add 1 cup of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of powdered dishwasher detergent to your regular laundry detergent. This combination is particularly helpful for removing dirt stains, and it also helps brighten up white socks.

Should You Dry Clean Socks?

In your quest of learning how to wash socks, you may have wondered if dry cleaning is a good option. Emphatically no, for a few reasons. First, dry cleaning can be costly. The washing methods we have so far outlined are much more wallet friendly than taking your socks to be dry cleaned.

In actuality, dry cleaning is not good for your socks. The high heat used in dry cleaning will have the same adverse effects as the dryer you have at home: the elasticity of your socks will break down and they’ll end up stretching in a manner that is both unattractive and uncomfortable.

If you were to get your socks dry cleaned, you would really only be paying to have your socks destroyed. Completely nonsensical.

Make Your Socks Last

The way you choose to wash and dry your socks can be the deciding factor in how long your pairs last. Take pride in your socks, the way you do with your favourite premium brand sneakers or a cashmere sweater.

How to Wash SocksDo’s Don’ts Wash socks in cold water on a gentle setting Put socks with delicate materials in the dryer Use mild detergentPut socks in the dryer on high heat Flip socks inside outScrub, twist, or wring out wet socks Separate socks by colour and styleDry clean your socks 

Launder your socks the way they deserve, and you’ll save them from snags and runs, and from becoming stretched out and misshapen. Regardless of how well you care for your socks, eventually all good things come to and end. Learn all about what to do with old socks.

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