How to Wash Compression Socks: Step-By-Step

Washing compression socks

When you find a good thing, it’s vitally important to take care of it!

You probably already know how good compression socks can be for your health and comfort if you’re using them to help muscles heal, recover from surgery or promote circulation. Compression socks are now also becoming a go-to solution in the world of sports medicine.

Many people are starting to wear compression socks while running in order to receive the benefits of increased oxygen delivery to muscles, improved blood circulation and reduced vibration levels.

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How Often Should I Wear Compression Socks?

Wearing compression socks isn’t a one-time thing–the best results come for people who wear them preventatively every day, or at the very least during their regular workouts.

Consistency is key when it comes to wearing compression socks.

Doctors and the medical community agree that wearing athletic or medical compression socks daily is important if you want to obtain the ultimate benefits.

How to Best Care for Compression Socks

You may be wondering how to care for your compression socks if you’ll be using them on a daily basis for things like working, running errands, just walking around or working out.

The first thing to know right off the bat is that it is recommended that you wash your new compression socks before wearing them for the first time.

Following are some smart practices to follow to ensure that your compression socks are always clean, ready and in the right shape when you need them:

Why Frequent Washing is Important for Compression Socks

You may be wondering how often to wash compression socks if you intend to wear them regularly. Daily cleaning is recommended as a way to preserve the integrity of your socks and keep potentially harmful bacteria away. Just like when you wear normal socks, you want to keep your feet clean, tidy and free of smells by changing your socks each day and washing them between uses.

frequent washing is necessary for compression socks

In addition, for compression socks to be able to keep their shape and do their job, they absolutely need to be washed every day.

You shouldn’t panic if you begin to notice that your socks are losing elasticity and rigidity after several hours of being on your legs. Even compression socks made from high-quality materials may begin to stretch out after being worn for 12 or more hours during a work shift or daily routine. This is all simply part of the design and wear-cycle of compression socks!

Washing your socks can essentially help to set the clock back to zero when it comes to restoring elasticity. In order to keep from having to wash your socks out every night, you’ll want to be sure you have more than one pair so you can rotate them.

Why Wash Your Compression Socks Every Day?

You may have concerns that washing your compression socks too frequently could cause them to wear out prematurely. The opposite is actually true!

Washing compression socks that have been worn for a few hours restores elasticity. Maintaining optimal elasticity is important because it will ensure that you’re actually experiencing adequate and proper compression levels.

In addition, oils and sweat can easily build up on the interior side of your socks. Anyone who uses compression socks for running or long shifts at work already knows just how strained a pair can become after just one wear.

It turns out that the oils and sweat that get trapped in your socks from both vigorous running and day-to-day activity can cause the fabric to wear down to the point of tearing and ripping.

Of course, oils and bacteria that become trapped can also put you at risk for rashes, breakouts and skin ulcers if you’re not careful about creating a clean and sanitary environment in the space where your skin meets the fabric of your compression socks.

It may seem counterintuitive to hear that washing your seemingly delicate compression socks frequently is the key to preserving them. But when you purchase high-quality, expertly designed compression socks, washing them should certainly not cause them to fall apart quickly.

Socks that offer a compression level of 20-30mmHG and nylon-spandex mix are able to give you support for the long haul. You should never be afraid to wash your compression socks because you’ve compromised on quality!

The bottom line is that cleaning compression socks regularly should not harm them when done properly. Of course, taking the time to learn how to clean compression socks the proper way is essential. Keep reading for tips for how to wash compression socks in a way that will keep them in top condition for as long as possible.

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How to Wash Compression Socks

Keeping compression socks clean can be a bit of a commitment because not all brands are able to be thrown into the washing machine. Compression socks may need to be washed by hand (or in your machine in the delicate/hand wash cycle) in order to preserve their integrity.

Here’s a look at the best practices to follow when washing your compression socks in the machine:

  • Carefully blot any stains or dirt patches that appear to be trapped on the surface of the socks by hand before placing them in the machine.
  • Use cool water.
  • Place your socks in a mesh garment bag or lingerie bag before putting them in the machine to prevent any snagging.
  • Only use the gentle cycle.
  • Hot water should never be used on compression socks! Opt instead to use cool or warm water.

You also have the option to simply wash your compression socks by hand in a tub, sink or basin. You will want to make sure that whatever fixture or basin you use is completely clean before you wash your socks.

Here are some best practices to follow when washing your compression socks by hand:

  • Soak your socks in a tub, sink or basin filled with cool water.
  • Gently rub out any dirt or oil that you see.
  • Avoid stretching your socks too vigorously as you submerge and lather them.
  • Gently rinse the socks until the water squeezes out clear from any soap or detergent.
  • Avoid wringing your socks!
  • Simply squeeze out the water before rolling the socks in a dry towel to create a gentle drying process.
  • Never pull your socks during the cleaning process. This can cause an imperfect fit the next time you try to wear them!

Best Detergent for Washing Compression Socks

Of course, you will need to use detergent when cleaning your compression socks to ensure that oils and bacteria are removed during the washing process. However, your ordinary laundry detergent may not be ideal for use with your compression socks.

Remember that it is never necessary to use fabric softener with compression socks.

Skip any harsh detergents that contain additives, fragrances or built-in fabric softeners. These ingredients can weaken and degrade the integrity of your socks.

In addition, any detergent containing chlorine bleach can cause the fibers in your socks to disintegrate. You’re really going to want to find a very gentle detergent or mild soap for use with your socks.

Many free-and-clear detergents are available that are essentially free from any dyes, fragrances and artificial chemicals. The benefit of using a high-quality detergent for compression socks goes beyond just preserving your socks. You will also avoid placing any residual chemicals and dyes from low-quality, harsh detergents so close to your skin when you put on your compression socks following a wash cycle.

Drying Your Compression Socks

Don’t hang compression socks like this to avoid stretching.

The way that you choose to dry your compression socks can be just as important as how you wash them. You may feel a temptation to try to dry your socks as quickly as possible because you want to be able to put them on again. However, hasty drying techniques can ultimately shorten the lifespan of your socks.

The preferred way to dry compression socks is through air drying. The ideal setup for drying compression socks would be to turn out the interior side of your socks before placing them on a towel over a drying rack.

You may find that simply hanging your socks directly on top of your drying rack will actually cause stretching. And since retaining the shape of your compression socks is highly critical to their function, it’s worth making the extra effort to dry them properly.

Avoid placing compression socks in the dryer or even near direct heat.
This includes heat from radiators inside your home.
Even direct sunlight could possibly compromise the fit and integrity of compression socks.
The only proper place to dry compression socks is an indoor area with minimal heat and sun exposure.

An Excellent Way to Make Compression Socks Last Longer

When you’ve invested in the price of compression socks, you certainly want to make sure they last as long as possible!

The best way to do this is to buy more than one pair so you can alternate their use, wash and dry them after each use and make them last a whole lot longer. Plus, with the adorable styles and colors available today, you’ll want several pairs that can go well with whatever you are wearing.

The two biggest takeaways when it comes to how to clean compression socks are gentleness and consistency. You have a lot of freedom to wash your compression socks regularly as long as you use a gentle approach that includes cool water, non-harsh detergent and avoidance of heat. Cleaning your compression socks the right way after each use is the best way to get all of the benefits they can offer!

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Resources Used:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27106555
https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/actionset/compression-stockings-how-to-use-them/tn8048.html
https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-care-for-compression-garments-2145792
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1864/09f31997a16ab62f11fa4b5c64701f758911.pdf

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