How to keep your compression socks clean: The ultimate guide
There is an issue every compression sock user has to face sooner or later: How do you keep them clean?
Almost everybody I know complains about the price of these items. It is not uncommon to see really good pairs go for over a hundred dollars. At such prices, it would be a terrible waste not to devote time and effort to taking care of your beloved socks.
A pair of compression hosiery is an investment in your health. You should enjoy that investment as long as possible.
First of all, taking care of your pair starts with the correct way of wearing them. Most compression garments can be worn for eight hours the most before the model looses its elasticity and the pressure applied to the leg muscles starts to deteriorate. It is a logical conclusion that after this time you have to take off the socks and wash them. But beware, if you don’t wash the footwear correctly, you are going to do a lot more harm than you would by wearing it for an excess amount of time.
If you plan on wearing them every day, purchase more than one pair. This will give each pair plenty of time to rest between uses, and you won’t have to deal with the pressure of washing them at the end of each day. The exact number of pairs you need will differ based on what you need them for. But as a general rule of thumb, having three pairs will give you enough options for rotation throughout the week. People who wear them at their jobs will need a pair for each day, but at least three pairs. For competitive runners, I would recommend purchasing at least three pairs as well.
Check the tag
The very first thing you should do is take a look at the tag on the inside of your socks. You should find brief instructions on how to wash your pair. You should find answers for the following questions:
- What is the recommended temperature to wash at?
- Which cleaning products are you forbidden from using?
- Can you machine wash them?
Make sure that you follow these instructions, and always launder the item through the recommended method. Skip this step at your own risk.
The general rules of washing
If you want to know more about keeping your hosiery and socks clean, there are some general rules that apply to most products.
Most products don’t react well to being machine washed. It is a rough method, synthetic materials can loose their elasticity as a result of the heat applied. Even natural materials can tear after getting caught on the sturdy inside surface of the machine.
Hand washing is recommended unless the tag of your pair suggests otherwise. Fill the sink with cool water. Mix some special detergent cleaning product into the water. Let the water cover the socks, even move them around with your hands a bit. Let them soak in the water for five to ten minutes.
Don’t use bleach, softeners or other harsh, aggressive additives. Compression socks have a sophisticated chemical makeup and require gentle care.
Rinse the water off the socks. You can squeeze them, applying some gentle pressure to help them dry quicker, but beware of applying too much pressure and potentially tearing them.
When preparing to dry your stockings, always put them in a flat position. Hanging them, or putting them on a flat surface without any wrinkles in the material is essential if you want to use them for a long time.
Never use a drier machine. The heat can destroy the nylon, spandex or other synthetic materials in the socks. Don’t put them on a heater either. Just hang them in a place with sufficient air movement. This will be enough to dry the socks in no more than six hours.
If you are in a hurry, a good trick is to put a fan next to them. This will get them completely dry in an hour.
Ironing is forbidden. The heat of the iron destroys the synthetic materials even more aggressively than a drier.
Don’t put them in a place where sunlight can reach them. This includes drying them in the garden or next to windows.
Although the accessories I am going to recommend are not essential, using them can significantly prolong the lifespan of your compression socks.
The effect of using the right gloves and care products will add up over time.
Donning gloves make it significantly easier to put on compression socks, as they have a textured surface on the fingers and palms. As you grab the stockings, your nails and jewellery are covered, so they are not going to get caught up in the material of the socks, do any damage to it. Not to mention that you will be able to get a better grip of the garment, and pull them up more easily.
If you don’t want to mess around with gloves, then I suggest taking off your rings and other jewellery before touching the socks. Sharp fingernails are not recommended either.
If you had your compression socks for some time, chances are that you will notice a few loose threads in the material. Never cut off these loose threads. If you do, they will continue to unravel, and you will soon have a sock with a big hole in the middle. Such products are unable to apply the desired pressure on the leg muscles.
As I mentioned above, most compression socks are not machine washable. For those that are, I recommend a special mesh bag. Such devices can be closed with a zipper, so the socks are protected. This way they are kept separate from anything that might damage them, like buttons or zippers.
You should consider using a machine washing detergent. If you use a skincare product or moisturiser on your legs while you are wearing the socks, such detergent are the perfect materials for getting them out of the fabric.
If you wash your socks often, you should consider getting a compliance kit. This allows you get the mesh washing bag, a detergent and the application gloves all in one for a cut price.
Let’s recap all the tips and rules essential for keeping your beloved compression socks clean for a long time:
- Don’t wear a pair for more than eight hours without stopping.
- Have enough pairs to get a rotation going.
- Check the tag, and follow the instructions.
- Avoid sharp fingernails or jewellery.
- Use special gloves if possible.
- Hand wash them in cold water. Only a few models can be machine washed.
- Get a mesh bag with a zipper for machine washing.
- Apply special detergent if possible.
- Dry them away from a direct heat source.
- Protect them from sunlight.
- No ironing.
- Don’t cut off loose threads.
- Don’t use bleach or fabric softener.
- Avoid moisturisers and other skincare products.
Do you know of strategies, tactics, tricks not mentioned in the article? Leave a comment below!