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How to Wash Ski Socks: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated on February 22nd, 2021 at 11:00 pm

How to wash ski socks

Machine wash merino wool ski socks inside out on a gentle program, cold, or a maximum of 40 degrees. Use a mild laundry detergent, no bleach, and no softener to keep the fibers and functionality intact. Air-dry the socks on a flat surface to maintain the shape and fit. Tumble dry is possible, but can reduce the lifespan of the socks. You can ski in the same pair of socks for a couple of days before you need to wash them.

The composition of ski socks can vary, so always check the care instructions on the label.

Your socks may not be as big an investment as your skis or boots, but you still need to care for them properly. You’ll be able to get the most use out of your socks with the right care methods. Find out more about how to wash ski socks below.

How to Wash Ski Socks: Merino Wool

The majority of wool ski socks (including Smartwool) are made of Merino wool.

If you’re wondering how often to wash Merino wool socks, the answer could be less often than you think. You can wear Merino wool several times before you need to wash it.

The wool fibers absorb the bacteria that cause odors, so bacteria won’t grow on the surface of the sock fibers. Your socks don’t start to smell as quickly.

Wool socks breathe easily and wick moisture away from the skin. They work with your ski boot liners to keep your feet warm and dry.

Washing Wool Socks

When you do need to wash your socks, a few simple steps will keep them in good shape longer. Turning the socks inside out before you wash them prevents them from pilling.

Don’t wash wool socks with fuzzy things like towels as fuzz will attach to the wool.

If you wash your socks with anything that has a zipper, close the zipper first. An open zipper can snag your sock and make a hole.

Wash your socks in cool water because hot water can shrink the wool. You can wash some wool socks in warm water, though, so check the care label.

Use a mild detergent. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener on Merino wool—bleach will damage the wool fibers.

You don’t need fabric softener because Merino wool is naturally soft. In addition, fabric softener coats the wool, which makes it less able to wick moisture and regulate temperature.

Drying Wool Socks

You can tumble dry most Merino wool on low. However, air drying will extend the life of your socks. Air drying also reduces your environmental impact.

Lay the socks flat to air dry. Hanging wool socks while they’re wet can distort their shape.

How to Wash Synthetic Ski Socks

Synthetic ski socks can be made from a variety of materials like nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Synthetic blends like nylon-polyester are popular.

Some skiers choose synthetic socks because they’re allergic to wool or have especially sensitive skin. Other people just prefer the feel of synthetic socks. 

The synthetic yarn has many of the same characteristics as Merino wool, like moisture-wicking and heat retention. Many synthetics have an antimicrobial coating to help prevent odors.

No matter what the composition of your synthetic ski socks is, turn the socks inside out before you wash them. Following the care instructions will give you the best results, but here are some general guidelines.

You can wash nylon socks in cool water with mild laundry detergent. Line dry them or put them in the dryer on low.

Polyester or polyester blend socks do best with the permanent press setting. You can use cool or warm water. Don’t use hot water because it can damage the polyester fibers.

Regular or heavy-duty laundry detergent is fine for polyester.

You can air dry polyester socks or use the dryer on the permanent press setting. If your washing machine and dryer don’t have a permanent press setting, the synthetics setting is a good substitute.

Washing Wool-Synthetic Blend Ski Socks

Many wool socks are actually a blend of wool and synthetic materials. Fiber blends maximize durability, stretch, and moisture-wicking. Particular blends can meet the specific needs of some skiers.

Treat a wool-synthetic blend sock-like wool. Wash your socks on a gentle cycle in cool water. You can dry them in the dryer on low or lay them flat to air dry.

Should I Hand Wash My Ski Socks?

Machine washing your ski socks is typically fine as long as you follow the care instructions. However, if all you need to wash is your socks, you can save water and energy by washing them by hand.

To hand-wash wool socks, fill a basin or the sink with enough cool water to cover the socks. Mix in a mild detergent. Put the socks in the water and let them soak for five minutes.

Rinse with cool water until the detergent is washed off.

To remove the water, don’t twist or wring the socks. This will cause them to stretch out and lose their shape.

Put the socks on a towel and roll them up so the towel absorbs the water. Unroll the socks from the towel and lay them flat to dry.

You can use basically the same method for hand washing synthetic or wool-synthetic blend socks. If you have polyester socks, though, use regular detergent.

Why Not Cotton Ski Socks?

You may wonder why we don’t have instructions for washing cotton ski socks. Cotton doesn’t wick moisture like wool and synthetics.

When your feet sweat in cotton socks, the sock traps the moisture next to your skin. Your feet get cold, and you could suffer frostbite in more extreme conditions. Wet feet also make you more likely to get blisters.

Cotton is an inexpensive option, but the increased comfort and safety of wool or synthetic ski socks are worth the investment.

Getting the Most From Your Ski Socks

Properly washing, drying, and storing your socks will help you prolong their life.

Wash and dry your socks one last time before you put them away for the year. Storing them flat helps them keep their shape. Vacuum-packed bags or boxes are a good way to protect your ski clothes until it’s time to hit the slopes again.

Now that you know how to wash ski socks, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your socks. For more useful tips, check out our other ski gear articles.