How To Wash Wool Socks: A Simple & Easy Care Guide

By Jodie Morgan

| Updated:

As a wool sock knitter, here are techniques on how to best care for these cozy items.

Blue yarn skeins next to a handwritten price.

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Before starting to clean my wool socks, I always take some precautions:

  1. Turn the socks inside out, which helps remove dirt and debris while protecting the outer surface of the wool fibers.
  2. Sort the socks by colors, separating light and dark shades to prevent color bleeding.
  3. For blended wool socks or merino wool and cashmere, I always check labels for specific care instructions.


When hand-washing my wool socks, I follow these steps:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cool to lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent or wool-specific detergent.
  2. Gently swirl the socks in the water, allowing the detergent to penetrate the fibers. I avoid scrubbing, or rubbing the socks.
  3. After a few minutes, I carefully rinse the socks in clean, cool water, squeezing gently (without twisting) to get excess water out.

Machine Washing

Many merino wool socks and blends are machine washable.

  1. Place the socks in a laundry bag or a sock laundry bag for added protection during the wash cycle.
  2. Use cold water and select the gentle cycle. For the best results, I also add detergent specifically designed for wool.
  3. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener, as they can damage the wool fibers.


Whether I hand-wash or machine-wash my wool socks, I always take the following steps to dry them:

  1. Gently squeeze out any remaining water by rolling the socks in a clean, dry towel without wringing or twisting.
  2. Hang the socks in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, as sunlight can damage the fibers.
  3. Finally, I avoid tumble drying or using high heat on my wool socks, as it may cause shrinkage or damage their texture.

With proper care, my wool socks remain soft, warm, and comfortable.

Caring For Wool Socks

I love my wool socks! Wool is naturally moisture-wicking, odor resistant, and durable. But, it’s also a delicate fabric that requires proper care to maintain its luxurious feel and prevent shrinkage.

By washing them gently, using cold water and air-drying, I can ensure that my wool socks remain comfortable, odor-resistant, and stylish for a long time.

I don’t recommend washing wool socks in a washing machine unless the wool is superwash. Machine washing can cause the shape of the sock change or they can shrink or felt if put in with other items.

FAQs About Washing Wool Socks

How to properly clean wool hiking socks?

When cleaning wool hiking socks, I prefer hand washing them to keep their moisture-wicking properties intact and prevent itchiness. I fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a gentle, unscented soap.

After dabbing the socks with a soaped-up washcloth, I place them in the water and swish them around for a few minutes. Then, I rinse them thoroughly under lukewarm water, making sure all soap is removed. Then I gently squeeze out excess water. Finally, I air dry them flat away from direct heat sources.

What’s the ideal frequency for washing Merino wool socks?

As someone who wears Merino wool socks often, I’ve found that their properties allow them to be worn less frequently between washes.

It’ll depend on the activity, climate, and personal comfort level with re-wearing clothing. For instance, during regular day-to-day activities, I can wear them multiple times before needing a wash.

However, during more intense activities like hiking, I wash them after every use to maintain their moisture-wicking abilities and freshness.

Why do wool socks smell even after washing?

Sometimes, my wool socks may retain an odor after washing. This is due to various factors, such as feet odor, improper washing techniques, not fully rinsing out the soap.

To avoid lingering odors, I ensure that I opt for hand washing and thoroughly rinsing the socks under lukewarm water, removing all soap residue. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before wearing again or storing them.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder) | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Frustrated Teacher Quits In Disgust, Sells The Farm, Moves The Family Halfway Across The World And… Starts Knitting

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