How To Make Your Socks Last Longer

This is very likely the question of the century. Let’s say that you have a drawer full of socks (hence the term, sock drawer) and you are diligent in rotating which pair you wear and when. You don’t do anything other than wear your socks in shoes when going out and possibly just without shoes when hanging out at home. Still, you find the odd sock has a hole in it or is showing signs of wear and tear. Short of not wearing them at all, how can you help make your socks last longer? In this article, we will take a closer look at several ways to accomplish this. But first, let’s look at how socks are constructed.

Socks – How They Are Created

Several materials are used by manufacturers to create socks. These include cotton, wool, acrylic, polyester, nylon, spandex or olefins (polypropylene as an example). Blending one or more of these base materials with silk, linen, bamboo, mohair or cashmere increases the softness of the socks which translates to how comfortable they feel. Socks come in various colors or have artistic designs on them which are added during the manufacturing process.

The manufacturing process involves an industrial circular knitting machine. The machine, depending on the style, can knit socks that contain up to seven different colors. A pattern is designed with the aid of a sock knitting software program. This is fed to the knitting machine which uses various dyes and raw yarns to knit the socks. The process is automated and monitored to ensure that all socks produced in a particular order are the same throughout.

Socks – Where They Are Created

The majority of the socks in the world – approximately a third of the sock production on the planet – are made in the township of Datang in the city of Zhuji in China. It is affectionately known as Sock City as the factories located there produce 8-billion pairs of socks per year. To put that into perspective, the total annual output of socks is equal to two pairs of socks for each person on Earth each year.

How To Extend The Life Of Your Socks

Below is a list of tips that will assist you in keeping your socks in their best condition for as long as possible.

1 – Hot Or Cold? Ignore What You’ve Been Told

If you’ve been washing your favorite purple socks in hot water because someone wise suggested you do this to keep colors bright and fresh or for some other reason, delete that thought right away. When you wash socks in hot water, it speeds up the aging process by wearing away at the material the sock is made of. The alternative? Use cold water to wash your socks…always. It’s better for them.

2 – Don’t Take Your Socks To The Dry Cleaners

Aside from the possibility of losing a wonderful argyle sock and ending up with a mismatched pair, dry cleaning socks is akin to torturing them. Imagine running a belt sander across the surface of your favorite pair of socks and wondering why they suddenly look a bit on the worn side. Dry cleaning socks is a bad, bad idea. Plus, it’s a bit pricey when other and better alternatives are available.

3 – Flip ‘Em Inside Out For Cleaning

You probably already do this with your t-shirts because you know that it will protect the decal on the front that says you are an awesome person or a sock lover or whatever. Turning your socks inside out before tossing them into the washing machine will effectively clean the sweat that has been collected inside your socks and lint won’t be able to attach to the outside.

4 – How To Prevent Losing A Sock

It’s happened to pretty much everyone on the planet. You wash favorite blue socks with your regular load of laundry and when everything comes out of the dryer and gets sorted…a sock is missing. Sometimes two but never of the same pair. They end up in that strange sock universe that humans will never see. To prevent this from happening, wash socks in a zipped garment bag.

5 – Separate Socks By Color

Again, you are probably already doing this with the rest of your laundry. It is also a good practice to follow when washing socks. Just think of what could result if you washed red and green socks in the same load as your white ones. New socks should always be washed according to color and not tossed into a load with all the rest of the socks. They don’t mind.

6 – Be Gentle When Washing Your Socks

What will be the best thing for your socks once they hit the washing machine is to get washed in the gentle cycle. The main reason for this is that if there is contact made with your socks and other items in that load of laundry, they will gently kiss each other as opposed to fiercely rubbing against each other. The gentle cycle is kinder on clothing and that includes socks.

7 – Keep The Bleach Out Of Reach

Bleach and socks don’t mix. Well, they do if you aren’t paying attention to what you are doing. But generally speaking, bleach and socks should never be seen together. That’s because bleach will eat away at your favorite pair of socks and over time will develop into holes. Socks with holes are not very effective in keeping feet warm and comfortable so do not add bleach.

8 – Skip The Fabric Softener

Sure, it may reduce static cling and make all your other pieces of clothing feel softer to the touch but fabric softener is not going to do the same thing to your socks. What happens when fabric softener works its way into the fabric of your socks is that it will hamper the moisture-wicking properties of those socks. If you lead an active lifestyle this would be a deal-breaker for sure.

9 – Keep Them Mild-Mannered At All Times

When you do toss your socks into the washing machine, provided you’ve separated them by color, flipped them inside out and have them zipped in a fabric bag, use just mild soap to clean them. The harsher the laundry detergent, the more vivid the visual of the belt sander going across the surface of your socks should be. Mild soap is gentle on socks and won’t wear them down.

10 – Stay Away From The Ironing Board

Yes, you can iron the clothes you would typically drag a steaming hot plate of metal across. Socks are not included in that list. Here’s why: the heat of the iron will damage the sock material. The first few times it’ll be microscopic damage you won’t be able to see but enough damage to create a weak spot that will wear down quicker than undamaged parts of that sock.

11 – Hang ‘Em High

Drying socks is the easy part. Just hang them on a drying rack and leave them alone for a while. If you are in a rush and need a pair of socks quickly out of the washer, you could toss them in the dryer on low heat. The downside to this is that any heat from a dryer (even low, so plan ahead) will shorten the life span of your socks simply by eating away at the fabric and wearing it down.

12 – Another Drying Tip To Wring Your Hands Over

Here’s one habit that may be a tad on the difficult side to break. Do not wring your socks dry. Sure, it may do a great job of removing most of the water being held within the fabric but when you wring socks you also stretch that fabric in ways it is not meant to be stretched. In other words, wringing socks is one of the fastest ways to damage them and stretch them out of shape.

13 – Store Socks Flat

If you have been folding your socks into balls or flipping them inside each other before tossing them into your sock drawer, you have to stop doing that. The best way to store socks is to lay them flat. This is of particular importance if you are storing them for any length of time. Balled up or folded together socks lose their shape as time goes by. Sock puppets, anyone?

14 – If You Pre-Soak, Do It With Cold Water

If you’ve made it this far you already know that washing your socks in cold water, on gentle is the smart way to go. Now, if those socks happen to be especially dirty and require a pre-soak, be sure to do that with cold water. Remember, hot water will impact the material your socks are made of and that will cause breakdown and weak spots that can become holes over time.

15 – Keep Your Feet In Good Condition

You may not think of this one often but it is a good tip to keep in mind. When you regularly trim your toenails you reduce the possibility of excessive wear of your socks. Long, sharp toenails can tear at the fabric in the “toe box” area of your socks and that area can develop weak spots that turn into holes. You can prevent this from happening by taking care of your toenails.

16 – Buy Good Quality Socks

Sometimes you have to consider that you do get what you pay for. With socks, the cheaper the price, the poorer the quality, which translates to socks that won’t last very long. However, if you want socks that will last, all you have to do is spend a little more on top quality socks. The word “quality” should be your clue that the better it is, the longer the socks will last.

In Conclusion

Socks are an important part of any wardrobe. This is why it is important to own several different pairs in different colors and patterns. To be able to enjoy wearing socks for as long as possible, proper care is required. Socks are made from various materials that are durable and long-lasting. However, some of the habits we have picked up over the years related to the cleaning, storage and general care of socks can speed up their deterioration.

Two of the main culprits that can cause damage to socks are heat and stretching. Both of these will create wear and tear much faster than if the socks are not subjected to these conditions. By following the guidelines noted above, you should be able to enjoy your sock collection for a very long time. Keeping your socks in good condition may take a little extra care but the result makes it worthwhile. After all, if your feet are warm and happy, you will be too!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.