One of the basic rules of staying warm in the wintertime is keeping your feet warm by wearing the right type of socks, but if they are made from delicate fabrics, do you know how to wash wool socks and care for them properly?
Wool is one of the most delicate natural fabrics and, like all other natural ones, it implies special care to prolong its life and prevent breaking, cutting, or losing its texture in time. If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to increase the lifespan of your socks, here is everything you need to know about the topic.
Why wear wool socks?
Wool socks bear many benefits, and the number one is that you don’t have to wash them as frequently as regular cotton or cotton-blend socks.
Since we are talking about a natural fiber, wool ensures maximum air ventilation and breathability for the skin, which means your feet won’t tend to overheat and smell that bad. Plus, when you’re going on vacation, you won’t have to pack as many wool socks with you, allowing for more room in your luggage.
If you let your socks air for the night, chances are you can wear them again the next day and still feel fresh and comfortable as if you would wear a brand new pair. The secret lies in the wool’s fibers that will absorb extra moisture and odors at the same time.
However, when it does come the time to wash your socks, here is what we recommend to make sure the fibers won’t cut or damage during the process.
Can wool socks be washed in the washing machine?
The first thing to do when it comes to your wool socks is to turn them inside out. Most wool types and wool-blend socks come with soft fleece linen to keep you warm during the wintertime, so this step will make sure the part of the fabric that gets in contact with your skin will be properly cleaned and bacteria-free.
The good news is that, even though wool is a sensitive fabric, you can wash your wool clothing items, including your socks, both by hand or using a washing machine. If you prefer the latter, make sure you use the most gentle setting.
Don’t forget to also opt for a milder detergent or shampoo that is not as harsh as the one you normally use. This will keep your wool socks softer for a longer time and will prevent the fibers from deteriorating in time.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to always use cold water (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) when washing your wool socks to prevent shrinking and color fading.
Keep in mind that most wool products available for sale today (whether we’re talking about wool-blend fibers, merino Wool, cashmere, and others) are not pre-shrunk, and washing them with hot water will most likely ruin them or make them impossible to wear the next time.
Once the washing machine is done, roll your socks gently to remove any excess water. Remember that wet wool fibers are even more delicate, so you must be gentle.
As we previously mentioned, the best way to look after your premium socks is to let them dry naturally. Place them in your backyard or balcony away from direct sunlight and allow them to sit for a couple of hours (depending on the temperatures outside) until they are completely dry.
It is only natural for the fibers to contract a little bit after washing, but they will usually expand and return to their natural size once you wear them again.
How to wash different types of wool blends
Not all types of wool can be machine-washed, and this is why you need to carefully read the instructions on the product and make sure you follow them step-by-step to avoid causing damage to the wool fibers.
Merino wool socks
Merino wool is amongst the best types of wool you’ll find on the market and, probably, the most expensive also. It is luxurious, soft, and delicate, feeling almost as someone would hug you and keep you warm when the temperatures drop.
The good thing about Merino wool is that it won’t allow your feet to overheat and sweat, preventing odors at the same time.
Although this type of wool can be washed in the regular washing machine, we do recommend manual cleaning. Fill a basin with warm water, enough to cover the socks. Again, don’t forget to use special wool detergents or soft cleaning solutions that won’t damage these sensitive fibers.
Submerge the socks into the water and allow them to sit for around 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly using clean, warm water to remove any traces and residues of detergent. You can squeeze the socks to get rid of the extra water, but don’t twist or wring them. After, roll the wool socks into a clean towel and allow it to absorb excess water. You can let the socks dry naturally or spread them on a dry surface.
If you choose to put the socks inside the washing machine, make sure it has a gentle cycle option or one that is suitable for knits. If you can choose the water temperature, always opt for cold or warm water instead of hot.
Blended wool is a mixture of wool and other fabrics, often synthetic ones. Although there are various proportions in which wool can be found in the mix, the most popular choice when it comes to socks is 80% wool and 20% synthetic fibers.
In this case, hand washing remains the best option, and the process is similar. We recommend using mild detergents and tepid water and treating the spots before washing.
When you’re trying to get rid of spots, avoid scrubbing so that you don’t damage the fabric. Use up and down blotting motions instead, and then rinse all the detergent. Air-dry the socks on a flat surface.
If you prefer washing the socks in the washing machine, always choose the wool cycle in the appliance as it has less agitation. Don’t forget to also opt for the very short spin cycle and only use mild detergents and cold water.
Angora wool socks
Produced from the fur of the fluffy Angora rabbit, angora wool is soft, thin, and has a very silky feel. It is lighter but warmer than regular wool and can come in a variety of colors, which makes it one of the most popular types of wool available on the market.
The main difference between Angora wool and other types of the same fabric is that we don’t recommend washing it in the washing machine. The agitation can cause the fibers to shrink or damage them, especially in the long term.
To keep your socks clean, fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a small cup of mild detergent, preferably liquid. If there are any traces of stains or odor, you can add 3-4 cups of white vinegar. Submerge the wool socks in the water and allow them to soak for at least 20 minutes. Don’t forget to turn the socks around every 5 minutes or so to loosen the dirt and finish cleaning them faster, without too much effort.
Amongst the most luxurious fabrics in the world, cashmere is an all-time favorite of the royals and the rich. It comes from cashmere goats and has a fine texture. It is almost as soft as silk and feels amazing on the skin and won’t cause any itching like other types of wool that are harsher.
Both light and strong, cashmere has been used for centuries to keep people warm thanks to its powerful insulation properties.
Washing cashmere wool socks is easy. Fill the basin with lukewarm water and then add a small amount of mild, sensitive detergent. Swirl the socks and allow them to soak in completely for around 5 minutes. Remove the socks from the water and rinse any traces of detergent left with fresh water.
As with many other types of wool, we don’t recommend wringing or twisting because the action might feel too harsh and might cause damage to the fabric.
If you don’t want to wash them manually, first turn the socks inside out. Place them in a white cotton pillowcase to protect the delicate fibers and then put the pillowcase inside the washing machine. Use cold water and soft, liquid detergents, as well as the delicate cycle. Some washing machines may also have the option of “Hand Wash”, which is great for tricky fabrics like cashmere.
Similar rules apply to Australian wool socks, which means you can either wash them by hand or place them in the washing machine and select the right cycle.
Final tips for looking after your socks
For those of you who were thinking about tumble drying wool socks, don’t. The process causes wool pilling, and you’ll end up destroying your precious socks.
Do not use bleach either as this substance is too harsh and will permanently burn and damage the wool fibers.