How to Wash Merino Wool Socks

How to Wash Merino Wool Socks: Longevity Tips

You love your merino wool socks and wear them often - especially during winter as temperatures cool down and you’re forced to bundle up. And because you love these thick winter socks so much, you want to do everything possible to care for them so they stand the test of time. 

However, washing Merino wool socks is different from cleaning other types of garments. This fabric is ultra-sensitive to heat and agitation. If you don’t know how to wash merino wool socks properly, you could shrink them or damage them after just a few wears - that’s the last thing you want.

That’s why we will guide you through the proper process of washing merino wool socks today. We’ll touch on how often to wash merino wool socks, too. Because, as you’ll soon find out, you can actually wear these socks multiple times before washing them. 

We have a lot to cover, so let’s start with a simple question that circulates in our community: Do you need to wash Merino wool socks?

Do You Need to Wash Merino Wool Socks?

Why are we making such a fuss about how often to wash merino wool socks - or how to wash merino wool socks in general? It’s because wool is a very delicate material, and you need to take precautionary measures to keep it intact.
Following the same protocol for merino wool socks vs cotton socks could spell disaster for your merino wool garments. While 100% cotton shrinks too, it’s not to the same extent. To understand why that is we need to take a deeper look at the merino wool fibers themselves.
These fibers are unlike any other: you now know they can fight odors, but they also have thermoregulation properties - meaning they keep your feet warm on cold days and cool on hot days. Pretty cool, right? 

However, these very same properties contribute to the delicacy of this type of fabric. The wool fibers are tightly woven together - and can lose their strength by coming into contact with heat, agitation, or worse - both simultaneously. 

And, as you know, those are the two elements you’ll find in any washing machine and dryer. Even washing merino wool socks on cold subject your garments to tumbling around and coming into contact with other clothes - slowly but surely taking a toll on your socks. When it comes to socks specifically, merino wool is incredibly delicate. And because you worked hard to find the best toddler wool socks or adult wool socks, it’s only right to take proper care of them!

In addition to all this, fewer laundry cycles are good for our planet. You are probably already familiar with the amount of water and energy used to do a load of laundry. If you can stretch your clothing further between washes, you can feel good about doing your part to minimize your footprint on the planet. So, taking care of your Merino wool socks correctly is crucial for several reasons:

  • Ensures Longevity: Proper washing and drying techniques can significantly extend the lifespan of your socks, allowing you to enjoy them for years.
  • Retains Comfort: Merino wool is renowned for its softness. Correct care helps maintain this softness, ensuring your socks remain comfortable against your skin.
  • Preserve Shape and Fit: Proper washing methods prevent shrinkage and distortion, ensuring that your socks retain their original shape and fit perfectly every time.
  • Maintains Performance: Merino wool naturally wicks moisture and regulates temperature. Proper care preserves these properties, keeping your feet dry and comfortable in various conditions.
  • Prevents Damage: Using gentle detergents and appropriate washing cycles prevents damage to the delicate wool fibers, maintaining the quality and integrity of your socks.
  • Supports Sustainability: Proper care extends the life of your socks, reducing the frequency of replacements, contributing to a more sustainable wardrobe and reducing waste.

How Often to Wash Merino Wool Socks

The question of how often to wash merino wool socks is tricky. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. The frequency depends on your unique habits and circumstances:

  • Duration of Wear: How long are you wearing them on your feet per use? If you put them on to run errands for an hour or two and then promptly take them off when you arrive back home, your recommended frequency for washing Merino wool socks will vary from someone who wears their socks at work for 8 hours.
  • Activity Level: What are you doing while wearing them? If you’re lounging around the house watching TV or doing some work, your socks won’t get nearly as dirty or stinky as if you wear your socks while hiking or playing in the snow. And, if you’re layering socks for winter, you don’t need to wash the outer layers as frequently as the inner layers.
  • Climate: What’s the climate like? Cooler temperatures inherently mean your feet aren’t getting as sweaty as they would in warmer temperatures. As such, how often you wash Merino wool socks varies in summer vs. winter.
  • Personal Comfort Level: What is your comfort level for re-wearing clothing? Even after discovering the natural hygienic properties of merino wool, you may still be skeptical about re-wearing the same socks more than once. We totally get it. With that said, some of us have no shame wearing our socks a few times before washing them - especially considering how long this keeps them intact.

Let’s get into what you came here for: to learn how to wash merino wool socks properly.

Merino Wool Socks Washing Instructions: Step-by-Step Guide

washing merino wool socks

There is no worse feeling than taking your garments out of the dryer and preparing to fold them, only to discover you’ve shrunk or damaged them beyond repair. The good news? We’re here to help you avoid this frustrating feeling for good. Follow our advice on washing merino wool socks and you’ll keep loving them for years to come. First things first:

Step 1: Read the Care Label

Part of what makes figuring out how to wash Merino wool socks properly tricky is the differences between manufacturers. You may find different recommendations if you compare our Merino wool socks to another brand's ones. That’s because specific formulations vary. So, default to the recommendations on the specific care label on your garment. If you can’t locate one, that’s okay—the advice we provide below is universally accepted!

Step 2: Turn Socks Inside Out

This protects the outer layer of the sock, which is more prone to damage during
the washing process.

Step 3: Handwashing vs Machine Washing

There are two approaches to washing any garment: by hand or by machine. There is an obvious trade-off here. 

While handwashing is undoubtedly more labor-intensive and time-consuming, it is the safest, most gentle approach to cleaning your garments. Using the washing machine puts the process on autopilot so you can focus on other chores or get some much-needed relaxation. But the tumbling of your washing machine can agitate the socks and stretch the tiny merino wool fibers out.

When you’re in a rush, you can wash your socks in the washing machine in the most gentle setting possible with cold water. However, we recommend handwashing when possible. It only takes a few minutes and will keep your socks intact for years and years to come. We’ll provide both washing methods below:

  • How to handwash Merino wool socks: Fill a basin with cool or lukewarm water and add mild detergent. Submerge the socks, gently agitate them with your hands, and let them soak for about 10 minutes. 
  • How to wash Merino wool socks in the washing machine: Place them in a mesh laundry bag and set the washing machine to the most gentle cycle with cold water. Add a small amount of mild detergent and avoid using fabric softeners or bleach. Once the cycle is complete, remove the socks immediately.

Step 4: Rinse the Socks Under Cold Water

Hold each sock under cold running water, gently squeezing the fabric to ensure all the detergent is washed out. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear and free of suds. This step helps maintain the wool’s natural properties and prevents any potential skin irritation or fiber damage from leftover detergent.

Step 5: Press Out Excess Water

After rinsing, gently press the socks to remove excess water. Lay the socks flat on a clean towel and press down on them to absorb the moisture. Avoid wringing, twisting, or scrubbing, as these actions can damage the delicate fibers of the merino wool.

Step 6: Air Dry the Socks Flat

The drying phase is actually where the most damage can occur to your socks - so pay close attention to the recommendations below.

We recommend letting the socks air dry on a flat surface. This can take a while—especially in colder climates—so budget the rest of your socks accordingly! Avoid hanging the socks to dry, as the weight of the water will cause them to stretch and distort the fibers.

Whatever you do, avoid heat. It can damage the fibers and cause shrinkage. If you are in a time crunch (we know that feeling!), you can tumble dry the socks on low heat.

Final Thoughts on How to Wash Merino Wool Socks

Taking proper care of your Merino wool socks ensures their longevity, comfort, and performance. By following the correct techniques on how to wash Merino wool socks, you can prevent damage, maintain their softness, and preserve their unique properties. Remember, a little extra care goes a long way in keeping your favorite socks in excellent condition for years to come.

We hope this article helped you feel more confident in caring for your merino wool socks. If you want to stock up on new and fun styles, explore the selection we have available at Q for Quinn! We also have merino wool socks for toddlers so the entire family can get in on the fun. 

At Q for Quinn, we don’t just have the best winter socks for men, women, and children alike. You can explore other types of socks in our catalog - like 100 percent cotton socks, eczema socks, seamless socks, organic cotton underwear for women, and more! Q for Quinn is your one-stop-shop for all things gentle, natural garments for you and your loved ones.

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