Real Talk: How Do You Wash Your Socks?

By Kay Gardiner
July 31, 2019

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48 Comments
  • Wow! Ann’s pile of socks alone is inspiring!

    I I am very interested in this subject and am glad you have created a survey. My knitting has currently come to a halt because of some shoulder issues which have recently emerged. I hope to be back to the “sticks and string” soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying these posts, as well as posts of the pictures on Instagram.

  • Socks go in a laundry bag on delicate wash. Air dried.

    • Laundry bag is a must, no lost socks here! Temps from 30 to 50 celsius. I handwash the nonsuperwash (with alpaca or cashmere), but they don’t get worn often because of that… I love handknit socks, that is all I have to say!

    • Same here.

    • Yep! I am a great believer of the protective powers of the lingerie bag!

  • Machine wash cold…air dry.

  • Is the survey malfunctioning? I can’t do anything with it?

    • I thought it was broken too but there’s a teeny tiny arrow on the right that you use to scroll down to find the survey questions. Try it again and see if that helps. Good luck!

  • Having trouble getting surgery to open

    • Ahhh survey is not a separate link!

    • It’s already open, just put your cursor in the box and you can scroll through the questions.

  • Terrific q! There is no universe in which i’m gonna baby handmade socks. I’d rather not make them then coddle. I will say that the less-luxe, German yarn is the stuff that lasts through 3 years of constant wash/wear (without darning) but it’s not the most enjoyable yarn to use. Oh, I’ve also had my cashmere moment (these didn’t even hold up to wearing 4 times, indoors, much less washing). I’ve settled on the mid-range, mid-soft sock yarn (like Cascade Heritage) that never shrinks and slightly felts on the bottom of the foot, over time. This year I’ve learned how to do an adorable flap fix for the holes in my socks (which aren’t caused so much by wash but wear) which I do in contrast colours. I feel so make do and mend.

    • I cannot wait for the results! My first (and thus far only) knit socks shrunk after being machine washed on the gentle cycle and air dried. Now they live forlornly in my sock drawer, eyed longingly, but never brought out to dance!

      • I had an unfortunate result in the wash. I gifted them to a knitting friend. She doesn’t knit socks and since she is a knitter, noone gifts her with hand knits. She was beyond thrilled, me too!

    • I’m with you on this. There’s too much going on at my house for stuff to get babies – kids and the mom get the delicate treatment!

    • Machine wash in a lingerie bag and air dry

    • I’m on your train. They are socks! I do like them to last, so I don’t go in for luxury yarns.

    • I also figured out the “flap fix” and always like to use an interesting color for fun. I just wish I wasn’t so hard on my socks, washing is the least of their torments.

  • I highly recommend getting one or two sock octopuses from Ikea. They are so awesome to dry both socks and bras.

    • I call that laundry contraption the socktopus

  • Good sock blockers cure a number of sins and woes. I now have 6 pairs of wooden blockers that are hand made by Alex from Ukraine.

  • I had filled out all the answers before noticing that you are looking for data on SUPERWASH only. Thank goodness I hadn’t clicked to send my info! Skewed data! I’m going to go back and answer everything correctly in the context of my handknit sock subset: superwash.

  • I have knit a few pairs of socks in my 79 years. Something always goes wrong…..too big too small, or top too tight. I just got the sock book and yarn.I will try one more time with your nice book. I love the word socktopus. Wish me luck

    • You can do it! Good luck!

    • It took me several pairs before I was getting ones that actually fit! I think it was Kate Atherley’ s book- it was one published within the last five years- that made me realize I didnt need to make the foot longer, I needed to make the gusset deeper. That changed EVERYTHING in my sock making. I also went from being really into Toe Up, to giving Top Down a second chance, and I find I can get a better fit and stretchier cuff with Top Down! So good luck, you’ll get there!

  • Is Head and Shoulders a “thing”??? Asking for a friend…

    • It’s mostly a joke, but I will confess that when I’m out of Soak wool wash, I’ve been known to use a capful of shampoo to wash a sweater. I figure if it’s gentle enough for my (ahem) color-restored hair, it’s gentle enough for a precious handknit garment.

  • All my socks are some combination of superwash wool and nylon – and I handwash them all. However, I take a really laid back approach to it – I toss them in a bathroom sink of warm water with Euclan (several pairs at a time) and they soak for however long. A few gentle squeezes to mix things up, and then I do rinse by filling the sink with cooler clear water. I then squeeze them out and lay them flat to dry. (I keep a beach towel on top of our dog’s kennel…AKA sock drying central) I’ve been doing it this way for years, and it seems to work well for me.

  • OK, I answered, and truthfully, too! This is anonymous, right?

  • Rarely use superwash.
    However, I have about 15 pair of socks being rotated during the winter. I was told to turn them inside out and then wash. Have been doing that for the 13 years I’ve been knitting them. I use whatever soapy stuff I have on hand: soak, the other one, clothes washing detergent ( gentle one – I have very sensitive skin). So far, only the oldest pair finally died and went to sock heaven.
    Hope this helps.

  • How one launders socks is important, but a good foot cream used daily is critical to preserving those precious socks.

  • I really really want to know why Head & Shoulders is an option for detergent. Is there something I’ve missed totally in my sock knitting journey?

    • Just a joke but I do use shampoo on my handknits when I’m out of Soak.

  • My sock washing style has evolved over the years from hand washing in Eucalan and drying flat, to washing in the machine on gentle and line drying, to throwing them in the with laundry and if I remember pulling them out to line dry, otherwise a little dryer time. I’m talking about superwash, of course! I still have socks that I made 15 years ago, so it works for me.

    • It’s nice to know I’ll still be looking at my beginner mistakes 15 years from now!

  • Best survey ever! Thanks for the chuckles.

  • Hard core machine-washer with regular detergent but I forgot to add they go in lingerie bags.

    • That’s a key detail! I need to know these things!

  • A couple of months after I made socks for all the boys, I overheard my two youngest talking while they were taking a bubble bath together—the older one told his little brother that bath time was a good time to also wash your wool socks and had him run to get both their pairs of socks. Then I heard him go through his steps on how to wash the special wool socks with a bit of shampoo.

    • Hey Kerrianne…first, love the name and second, love that your boys wash their own socks! lucky women who marry these guys someday! 🙂

  • I love to knit socks but live in the deep south so I do not get to wear them ( or any of the other things I knit) a lot. Wash on gentle cycle with woolite and dry on delicate. I have narrow feet so washing and drying in the machine make them fit just perfect!

  • I’m not able to send off the survey. When I press “Done” nothing happens ….

    I wash my socks without a laundry bag with an European washing machine that has a special handwash – wool wash programme. Temperature: 40 degrees Celsius. – It’s a twentythree year old “Miele”… totally “newfangled”…

    I prefer line drying. But my dryer (also a 23 years old “Miele”) has a special programme: “wool finish” that I use before.

    I live in Germany…

    • Now it worked!

  • I forgot to add that I only wash socks when I wash them and soak and then spin don’t agitate, use a lingerie bag.

  • Survey doesn’t seem to be working except for comments. I turn the socks wrong side out and wash with my underwear in the machine. Take them out after the spin and either air dry or put them on sock blockers depending on how many pair I’m doing. I own about six pair of hand knit socks, but only wear them in winter in very cold weather. As far as wool socks go, I only use real sock yarn containing at least 20% nylon or other synthetic fiber. Other wools make pretty socks, but not if you want to keep them any length of time. Also, a friend of mine who makes many pairs of socks swears by using only size 1 or size 0 needles for a long wearing firm fabric.

  • I try to lay my socks flat to dry, but they get dog hair worked into them, and only a tumble in the dryer seems to get the dog hair out!
    What do other pet owners do? I keep my floors swept and my dogs groomed, but still.

    Also: is fabric softener bad for wool? I’ve heard mixed things when it comes to fabric softener and wool socks (handknit and machine made). I do use “eco friendly” fabric softener… As eco friendly as I can, anyways. I don’t use sheets anymore because one of the previously mentioned dogs seems to love eating them. I am starting to amass a dryer ball collection, but I’ve not found them to work as well. Wanted to know how other MDK knitters think.

    • Claudia, I keep neither my floors swept nor my hound groomed, but I have old pine floorboards and soon learned to wear house shoes or crocs or slippers to preserve the soles of my handknit socks 🙂

  • What are so many of you afraid of? Superwash wool is meant to be washed and sock yarns are meant to be stepped on by your feet! At this point, I have more than a dozen pairs of handknitted 80/20 (some indie dyed and some well known sock yarns) socks and a couple of pairs of cotton/bamboo/silk. I put them all in the regular wash in my front load washer with the other laundry, warm water, regular detergent – no lingerie bags, delicate cycles or special soaps. Then, they go in the dryer with everything else. Socks yarns are made to be sturdy because they get used in a very hard manner and they definitely hold up in the washer and dryer. Some of mine are more than 5 years old and are worn, washed and dried at least once a week in the winter months with no problems. Just take the plunge and do it – life is too short to hand wash socks!!!