So you’ve invested in some high quality merino wool socks, worn them a few times and now you’re ready to throw them in the wash. With the right care, your merino wool socks will last for quite some time. We’ve put together this article to share tips and tricks for properly caring for your wool dress socks (also applicable to hiking socks or any other type of merino wool sock) to ensure that they last for as long as possible.
To begin with, merino wool is naturally able to manage moisture and combat odor much more effectively than most other fibers, enabling you to go longer between washes. Cotton socks and socks knit with other fibers absorb moisture and retain odor to a greater extent and require more regular laundering.
Rule Number 1: Avoid lint at all costs!
The absolute worst thing that you can do when laundering wool socks is to wash or dry them with towels, blankets or other lint-producing items. The socks will pick up the lint which becomes nearly impossible to remove from the socks.
Lint-producing items such as towels should not be washed with wool socks.
Rule Number 2: Avoid rough fabrics.
While avoiding lint-prone fabrics when washing your wool dress socks, you also want to avoid rough fabrics such as denim. Washing wool socks with jeans and other rough articles of clothing will accelerate the wear of the socks. We recommend washing them with lighter, less abrasive garments such as shirts or underwear.
Rule Number 3: Bleach is the enemy.
Never use bleach on wool socks; bleach will destroy the merino wool fibers. Fabric softeners and harsh detergents can have the same impact; it is best to use a gentle detergent.
Rule Number 4: Turn the socks inside out.
As merino wool fibers rub against other garments in the wash process, pilling can result over time. Turning the socks inside out helps to protect them from any agitation or friction during the wash process. If the socks are exposed to any lint, turning them inside out will also help in keeping the lint off the visible exterior of the socks.
Rule Number 5: Dial the temperature back.
Premium merino wool yarns are naturally colorfast and shrink-resistant. Our merino wool dress socks are designed to not shrink yet are able to be machine-washed and machine dried. However, it is still important to avoid washing wool socks at a high temperature. We recommend using your washing machine’s “warm” water setting as the highest temperature, with “cool” or “cold” settings also being a great option. Excessive heat speeds up the wear and tear of fibers. Most wool dress socks are knit with not only merino wool, but also nylon and spandex which are also susceptible to damage by excessive heat. A symptom of “overheated” socks is a loss of elasticity, at which point the socks begin to lose their shape. This will also have an impact on their ability to stay up.
Rule Number 6: Dry with care.
Just as when washing your wool socks, you also need to be mindful of heat exposure when drying your socks; we always recommend using the “delicate” setting on your drying machine. An even better option is to air dry your wool socks. If you do not have the time to do this, the best option is a low tumble dry. Again, make sure there are no towels, blankets or other lint-prone articles in the dryer while machine-drying your merino wool socks.
Hang dry wool socks, if possible. If not, tumble dry on a low, delicate setting.
Bonus Tip: Use a laundry bag!
A mesh laundry bag (you can also use a lingerie bag) is another great tool to use when washing wool socks. Simply place the socks (remember to first turn them inside out!) in the laundry bag, then throw it in both the washer and dryer. The laundry bag adds extra protection by preventing other garments and harsh fibers from rubbing against your wool socks. Need a sock laundry bag? Check out our American-made sock laundry bag.
The more care and effort that you place into the laundering process, the longer your wool socks will last.
Interested in premium, American-made, merino wool dress socks?