How to Wash Compression Socks and Keep Them Looking New

By Alecsa Stewart

You may be new to using compression socks, either for keeping your lower limbs fresh and nimble on long flights, standing up all day, or for helping you recover from injury. You might be preparing your first big hike in merino wool compression tights, or starting to use them for running. In all cases, the question of how to care for your new socks is important to look into so you make the most of them and keep them as long as possible. 

How to wash compression socks and how can you care for them so they retain their elasticity and pressure levels for as long as possible? 

In this article, we’ll look into machine and hand washing alike, what the best detergents are and how often you should wash compression socks for best results. We’ll also cover when you need to replace them – a necessary step in the socks’ life cycle. 

Compression socks on a hike

How to Wash Compression Socks and Stockings  

In case you wear compression socks for running or hiking, you will be keen to wash them quite quickly and often to make sure they don’t retain odors and stay fresh and nice to wear. However, there’s no need to treat those socks any differently from those you might be using against varicose veins or edema. Ultimately, good quality compression socks should retain their properties for a decent lifespan, as long as they’re not exposed to any harmful substances during washing. Here's how to wash yours. 

Machine Washing Compression Socks  

For most fabrics, wash your compression socks after each time you wear them. Our Merino Wool Compression socks are odor resistant, so they can last slightly longer than other fabrics. The easiest way is to machine wash them, on a delicate cycle with cold water. You will want to avoid throwing them in with heavily soiled items you would wash in hot water, because extremely high temperatures won’t be beneficial for the compression in the material. 

A machine wash on maximum 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) will be enough to get your socks clean again, even after a long run.  

Hand Washing Compression Socks  

When traveling or if your washing machine is broken (it happens!) the easiest thing to do is to hand wash your socks with cold water in a sink or even the bath tub. You could even soak them for 20-30 minutes in cold water with detergent, then rinse them out if they’re not particularly dirty.  

Fabrics like Nylon or moisture-wick Nylon will then dry really quickly, so you should be able to wear your socks again the follow day.  

Choose the Right Detergent  

It’s important not to overly complicate matters when you wash your compression socks. A simple color detergent without any brightener agents will work a treat. Don’t use any tough action detergents or stain removers because these could harm the fabric of your socks.  

Avoid Bleach  

Similarly, chlorine bleach will likely damage the fibers that make up compression socks. This can result in losing their elasticity, making them less fit for purpose. It could also lead to discoloration, ruining some lovely patterns.  

Consider Fabric Type  

If you have any doubts about washing your compression socks, check the label and the fabric type. Our range of socks includes materials like merino wool (especially sensitive), Nylon and moisture-wick Nylon, or cotton. While cotton compression socks could be fine with a warmer wash, it’s best to always refer back to the label and care instructions, as well as to the advice we’ve included above.  

How Often Should You Wash Compression Socks?  

An important question linked to how to wash your compression socks is around the frequency of the washes. Most people prefer to wash any type of socks after every use, whether that’s immediately or simply in the next washing machine load available. 

There is no need to hurry and wash compression socks as soon as you’ve worn them. We do, however, advise to wash yours after each wear. This will keep the materials clean and fresh, ensuring they are comfortable to wear every time. Your socks will retain their pressure levels, acting on your lower limbs to avoid the creation of blood clots and other side effects. They’ll also look great, with more vivid colors that last longer.  

Is it Bad to Wash Your Compression Socks Every Day?  

You should wash your compression socks every time you’ve worn them, especially after wearing them for a long time. No harm will come to them from being washed often, as long as you stick to these tips: 

  • Wash your socks by hand or in a washing machine on a gentle cycle, in cold water (maximum 40 C / 100 F); 
  • Don’t tumble dry compression socks; 
  • Don’t use bleach or tough action detergents; 
  • Don’t use stain removers.  

Additional tip: If you’ve been out for a run or a hike and sweat a lot in your compression socks, or if your socks have got wet in the rain or puddles, it’s a good idea to first air them out before storing them in a bag and taking them home. Keeping the socks even a little bit wet will keep unwanted odors and makes them harder to clean.  

The Best Way to Dry Compression Socks  

To avoid any damage to the material, the best way to dry compression socks is to hang them up and let them air dry. If you’re able to hang them outside, the wind and fresh air will dry them relatively quickly (especially in the case of moisture-wick Nylon socks). They’ll also smell amazing! 

If you can’t air dry your socks outside, no need to worry. Compression stockings or socks will air dry just fine indoors. Both indoors and outdoors, compression socks will keep their shape and size for longer if left to dry naturally.  

Avoid using a tumble dryer with your compression socks, as this can cause them to shrink and no longer fit you well.  

When to Replace Compression Socks  

Finally, you may be wondering when you will know if it’s time to replace your compression socks. Simply put, it’s when the pressure you’re looking for is no longer there. Normally, if you wear compression socks every day, you should replace them after three to six months. This will ensure that you are getting the best results from wearing your socks and feeling great while you do so.  

With proper care, your compression socks can be your great ally when it comes to keeping your feet and lower limbs in shape, avoiding unwanted conditions such as edema, and feeling light and fit. Simply follow these tips and you’ll have no trouble holding on to yours for as long as you need them! 

When your socks are clean, you will want to fold them and put them away. Here is a quick video we made on how to properly fold compression socks.

Shop stylish and functional compression socks online at Vim & Vigr.


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