The Best Ways to Dry Socks If You Don’t Have A Dryer Handy

Wet socks are simply the worst! But sometimes, you get wet socks and don’t have a dryer available. You could skip the socks altogether and go barefoot in your shoes or sneakers--but that isn’t any better. Older, thinner socks worn wet will make your feet sore, and plush, opulent specialty socks will have their fabrics flattened and spoiled by wearing them damp or soggy.

Plus, your feet are going to slip and slide inside of your shoes or sneakers and that’s uncomfortable and a trip hazard. Then you have a whole new problem to contend with.

Walking around anywhere with wet feet just isn’t good for your health. Not only can you develop a chill that might result in a cold or flu, depending on your immune system, but you could also develop foot conditions such as Athlete’s Foot or any kind of icky foot fungus. Yuck!

>Of course, these scenarios only happen if you’ve been caught in the rain or sunk your feet into some wet sand or mud--but there’s also that occasion when your favorite pair that someone sent you as a special-occasion gift is fresh out of the washing machine and you want to wear them.

You could always just opt to air dry your socks but what if you don’t have that kind of time? The last thing you should do is wear them anyway in your footwear, hoping for the best. You can’t possibly enjoy the way they feel wet in your shoes or sneakers and they’ll dominate all your thoughts.

In this article, we will explore some of the best ways to dry your precious pair of Argyle socks you love to bits, or those stunning Valentine’s socks that bring back the memory of romance, when you just don’t have a dryer handy.

Bust Out Your Blow Dryer

Without a doubt, this is going to be your best bet provided you have a blow dryer handy. If you are staying in a hotel room, chances are there is a blow dryer either attached to the wall in the bathroom or stashed somewhere in a clothes closet or drawer. If you happen to be at home, you don’t need us to tell you where you may have left it after you used it last.

How Do You Use It?

Here’s where you get to use a bit of science. Simply slide one sock over your hand as if you were going to wear it like a glove. Spread your fingers and start waving the blow dryer at your sock-covered hand. Do not hold the blow dryer too close to the wet sock and do not blast away at the highest/hottest setting. Your fingers should tell you that the sock is beginning to dry.

Be careful with special socks that have intricate designs such as fine stripes, since these are created from a clever weave of multiple threads. The heat can begin to fray or separate such threads if the setting is too warm or the heat is applied for too long. Note too, that socks containing Spandex may end up with tiny elasticated snapped threads if the ideal heat is exceeded. (Spandex is used in many high-end socks to maintain shape and give extra elastication). Just go super easy on indulgent, soft, plush socks. 

As the sock dries, slowly pull the dry part off of your hand and continue waving the blow dryer at the wet sock with your fingers spread apart. If we forgot to mention it, while you are doing this, flip your hand over every so often so that you are firing heat directly at the other side of the wet sock as well. Once one sock is dry, repeat this process with the other wet sock. And yes it does feel horrid having a wet sock on your hand--but imagine how it would have been on your poor feet! And nobody wants cold feet either… 

The Public Restroom Move

For desperate situations, you can use the hand dryer in a public washroom if you don’t mind looking like a bit of a weirdo. Seriously, this particular method to dry socks is not for everyone but if you are late for a big sales meeting or a wedding reception and got caught in a downpour wearing your groomsmen’s socks, then this option could save your butt--and foot! 

If you happened to find the groom in the same soggy, sorry situation, then his own socks are even more precious as he's the man of the match, so to speak. Go and hog two hand dryers in the men’s room--pronto! 

But before you set to it, you first have to know what kind of hand dryer you are going to be dealing with.

The Classic High-Mounted Version

Be prepared when you discover that the hand dryer you will be using in this public washroom is one of those older-style models that sit almost eye level on the wall next to the sink or vanity. We say this because these dinosaurs don’t roar much. In other words, there’s not going to be a lot of heat coming out of it and you will have to keep restarting it with an elbow or free hand. This is going to be a feat of patience and agility. 

Just a little note of caution if you’re drying dark, solid-colored socks with a washroom dryer. These appliances are often filled with a fair amount of old dust--they are not a priority on the cleaning roster--so be aware that use of a hand dryer on a really smart pair of dark socks for a special occasion can leave them slightly greyed or fluff-strewn. Give that dryer a good old blast before putting a smart, solid dress sock anywhere near it.   

The High-Tech Rapid Air Model

If the public washroom you have chosen has one of these models attached to the wall at about hip level, you have hit the jackpot. Now, bear in mind this could turn out to be a red-hot super-blaster so test it first without sock in situ. 

However, these machines are usually motion activated so they allow more flexibility. Not only will you be able to get dry socks in a fraction of the time you would with the other hand dryer, but this model will allow you to dry both socks simultaneously which will get you into your meeting or seated at your dinner table a whole lot faster. These mega-blaster units can, however, make lightweight socks take off like a beautiful blue and red sock balloon… so go easy and keep a very firm hold. No man wants to wear socks--dry or not--that have wallowed on the floor of the men’s washroom. Ugh, no.

How Do You Use It?

Slide the wet sock over your hand like a glove, and keep the fingers moving around as you rotate under the warm air. Note that with the high-mounted hand dryer, you will have to hold the sock – with fingers spread apart – as close to the hand dryer heat outlet as possible. 

Hanging the wet socks over this model is not going to work as well as wearing them on your hand. Expect to be here a while as your second sock air dries as it waits for its turn. As before, watch out for keeping special, Spandex-enhanced socks under the hot air for long enough to destroy its delicate elasticity. The softer and better fitting they are, the more likely they could fall prey to overheating. Keep special socks, super fluffy socks or those with intricate patterns or color combos on the move to avoid this hazard.

With the high-tech rapid air model of dryer, such as the ever-popular Dyson Airblade, just slide a sock over each hand like gloves and dip both hands into the dryer chamber, easing the hands up, down, up, down. You should feel the 400 mph blast of air nipping your fingers – you’ve got them spread apart, right? Flip the sock-covered hands over and back so they can get the full force of the high-pressure air getting shot at them. In seconds you will have dry socks.

One more note of caution there; we did say 400 mph. That’s a fair speed. This is not for your very best occasion socks--you do not want any sock misshaping to occur to a fluffy, soft and super-indulgent gift given to you by someone you really care about. 

The Old Apartment Radiator

This is everyone’s old favorite and really needs no guidelines. This habit of radiator-drying socks probably accounts for why socks end up separated--many poor lost ‘soles’ are down the back of radiators, gathering fluff! 

However, if you live somewhere with an old-fashioned heater or radiator, you have an option that may be a bit faster for you than hoping for the best by air-drying them or even using a heat blower. Depending on the age of the building and what type of radiator it is – as in, water or oil – there will be a wait for it to heat up unless you’ve been using it all day to stay toasty and warm indoors.

How Do You Use It?

Let’s assume you have had that heater/radiator running for most of the night or part of the day. It will already be nice and warm. Drying wet socks is going to be a snap. All you do is drape the socks over the radiator, but take your time spreading out and shaping the foot area while damp; this especially applies to socks with a high cotton content since they can look misshapen if you don’t. 

If it’s a convector type of radiator, then the air movement will speed up the process so keep an eye on any especially delicate socks and don’t let them start to burn. Monitor the progress and don’t leave them there for days since you’ll spoil the fabric. The bonus is warm socks to wear!

The other side of the coin here is what do you do if the radiator is stone cold and you’ve just turned the heat up? Well, this would be a good time to take a shower, fix breakfast or do some other constructive activity as you wait for the radiator to get to temperature. In the meantime, drape your wet socks over the radiator and they will dry as it slowly heats up.

The Towel Method

This happens to be a popular method used by cyclists and with a couple of variations, it can also become your go-to way to dry socks; all you need is a bath towel. You can fake it with a hand towel or even a face flannel if you have to, but the bigger and fluffier the towel, the better your results are going to be. Oh, and if you have a blow dryer, this will come in handy as the final step to the Towel Method.

We especially recommend this means for the preservation of the fine fibers in super-stretchy or fine-weave patterned socks, again to treat these more delicately and keep them away from too intense a heat..

How Do You Use It?

The first thing you do is very gently wring or dab extra moisture from the sock over the sink. This is going to get them about a third drier than when you started. Next, lay a fresh towel out on the floor and place both socks in the center of the towel. Don’t just drop them into place, spread them out and flatten the socks so that there is more surface to work with. Then roll the towel up tightly with the socks inside.

Once you have created what looks like a towel rolled up like a cigar, step on it. Only, don’t be gentle here. Put as much pressure as you can on the rolled-up socks by walking on the towel, pressing down as hard as you can. Then unroll the towel to remove the socks. They will now be about two-thirds drier than they were when you first started reading this section and you have not applied any heat. A benefit of this method is that you can--given a towel big enough--dry several pairs at once--even when they are special pairs, perhaps if you’re away from home and need them dry for packing in your suitcase.

The final step to this process involves the blow dryer if you think it’s appropriate. We only recommend this for older socks that are very lightweight and those you don’t really love so much, since this method carries a wear-and-tear warning. 

Here, instead of sliding the socks over your hands like gloves, slip the opening of a sock over the opening of the blow dryer – where the heated air comes out. Your sock should inflate slightly resembling a sock balloon and will dry completely in a matter of seconds. Repeat with the other one and you will have dry socks. Be very careful to not overheat the appliance since you do not want to burn down your apartment block--mind you, at least all the socks would be dry! A few seconds at a time is the way to go.

Can I Dry Socks in the Microwave?

Yeah. That sounds like fun. (Note: we did not say sensible…)

Let’s think about this one for just a moment. Starting with the microwave--the way your microwave oven works is that it applies some kind of magic to objects sitting inside of it. The magic causes molecules in things like food and drinks to vibrate at such a rate that they create heat, which cooks whatever you stick into the microwave from the inside out and fast.

This sounds to us like a super way to cook and kill your best socks. Don’t do it unless you’re ready for a sock funeral, and especially do not try it with your best pair of lovely socks containing polyamide--which can just partially melt and then stick to you--superheated, so they may burn you--when you remove the socks from the offending appliance. Polyamide is a fantastic sock material--like nylon--and helps socks keep their shape and longevity. But it’s not really made for cooking and at best, you’ve gone and destroyed your socks.  

No socks are made of microwavable materials. Sure, you could slide a wet sock over a slab of frozen meat and zap it good with the microwave. But that sounds most unhygienic and since your socks are not microwave safe, they may catch fire, cook that meat from the outside, destroy the meal, ignite the microwave--and blow up your entire house. And at the very least, you’ll have dirty, bacteria-laden socks filled with sausages.

However, a final note here is that if you’re lucky enough to own a dehydrator--used to make raisins, dried fruits etc in the kitchen--these give absolutely perfect and gently air-dried socks and are suited to the most delicate, deep-colored, or themed pairs. But not many folks have a dehydrator so that’s why we did not give it a headline. If you do, you’re in wet sock heaven. 


Wet socks happen. They really do, at all the worst times.  

Hopefully, the information above gives you a couple of hints on how to dry socks if you’re caught out.  

Wet socks are not good for your health and you can get hurt wearing them if you slip. Plus, they will ruin your shoes too. 

We trust you will test the methods listed above to learn the effectiveness of each and hope you never have to resort to using them regularly. Remember, don’t get caught with wet socks and maybe pack an extra pair when traveling so you don’t end up in this situation at all.


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