How to Wash Smartwool Socks in 4 Easy Steps

Unlike other types of socks, Smartwool socks can be worn multiple times before they need to be washed. It’s important to clean your socks the correct way since wool materials can become damaged if it’s done the wrong way.

When it’s finally time to make them clean again, follow these simple steps on how to wash your Smartwool socks!

Smartwool Socks Cleaning

What To Avoid

Before you begin washing your socks make sure to make a mental note on which things should be avoided.

I’ve made a list down below for what could harm or ruin your Smartwool socks.

  • Bleach
  • Fabric Softener
  • Hot Water
  • Clothesline Drying

Smartwool Washing Instructions

Now that you know what should be avoided, you can continue with these four steps for washing.

1. Turn the Socks Inside Out

Most products that are made with wool should be turned inside out before they’re cleaned. This is the safest way to clean them to avoid piling or other issues.

Since it results in cleaner and nicer looking socks, make sure to do this step before getting your Smartwool socks wet.

2. Machine Wash on Gentle

After the socks are inside out the next step is to run them through the washing machine. Choose a gentle cycle and use either warm water or cool water. Hot water should be avoided since it could damage the socks or cause them to shrink and need to be replaced sooner.

One thing that should be avoided is using any fabric softeners or bleach. Both cleaning materials aren’t good for Merino wool, but mild soap should be fine to use when washing.

You can also hand wash the socks if that’s your preferred way to clean them. Either way works well but hand washing requires more manual work.

3. Tumble Dry or Air-Dry

Most socks with Merino wool can safely be tumble dried on the lowest setting for your dryer. You should first check the label to make sure your pair of socks can be put in the dryer.

I prefer to air dry my Smartwool after washing, and I do this by laying them on a flat surface for a few hours. Hanging your socks might cause them to stretch out and change how they feel and fit on your feet.

4. Put the Socks Away

Some people prefer to roll up with socks when storing them away, but I think it’s better to leave them flat out. This can help them keep their shape and fit, although it does take up more space in your drawer.

Storing the socks flat will also help extend the life of your Smartwool socks!

How Often Should You Wash Smartwool Socks?

Because the material naturally absorbs odor-causing bacteria resulting in less-stinky socks, you may be able to wear your Smartwool socks a few times before washing.

By only washing your Smartwool socks when you truly need to, you may prolong the life of your socks too. Try washing your socks every 2-3 uses for best results.

Should Smartwool Socks Be Inside Out?

Turning your Smartwool socks inside out is key to the longevity of your socks. The inside material of your socks is more durable, so it can withstand the washing machine better than the material on the outside.

By making sure you wash your socks inside out every time, your Smartwool socks should last at least 2 years.

Should Smartwool Socks Be Cleaned Separately?

As a rule, you should always separate your laundry into light and dark colors and wash your delicates in a small laundry bag or as a separate load.

Ideally, washing your Smartwool socks together in a small load is best.

If you are going to combine your socks with other laundry, make sure to place them inside a laundry bag and wash them with colors.

Does Fabric Softener Ruin Smartwool Socks?

While using fabric softener won’t completely ruin your Smartwool socks, it will inhibit the material’s natural ability to regulate temperature and prevent odor.

Fabric softener works by soaking into the fibers of your clothing to soften them. With a natural fiber like Merino wool, the fabric softener actually affects the socks’ ability to wick away odor and moisture.

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Can You Bleach Smartwool Socks?

Never bleach Smartwool socks because the chlorine in bleach will destroy Merino wool.

You can remove stains in your Smartwool socks by dabbing a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water on the stain and allowing it to soak.

Smartwool Socks In The Dryer

It is recommended to air dry your Smartwool socks by laying them in a single layer on a flat surface rather than hanging them on a drying rack or putting them in the dryer.

If you are pressed for time and would like to put your socks in the dryer, make sure that you have the dryer set to tumble dry on very low heat.

Hand Washing Smartwool Socks

Hand washing is a great option for Smartwool socks. If you don’t often find yourself with a full load of socks or delicates to wash together, you can hand wash a few pairs in the sink easily since they are relatively small in size.

If you hand wash your socks, the same rules apply as if you were washing them in a washing machine. Use a mild detergent, cool water, and lay flat to dry if possible.

Do Merino Wool Socks Shrink in The Washer and Dryer?

Washing and drying wool clothing can be tricky at times. Throughout the years, I’ve shrunk more merino wool base layers than I care to admit. It doesn’t take long for a careless mistake to ruin your wool clothing.

Looking back I can’t remember ever shrinking a pair of merino wool socks. So I decided to reach out to a few of the biggest Merino Wool Sock companies to see if their products shrink in the dryer.

So do merino wool socks shrink in the dryer? Some brands of merino wool socks will shrink, but most have been treated to withstand machine washing. Companies like Smartwool and Darn Tough preshrink their socks, but it’s still a good idea to wash in cold water and let them air dry.

Whether or not your merino wool socks will shrink depends on the brand and how your socks were made. In this article, I will explain how to figure out if your socks will shrink in the wash.

Table Of Contents

My Favorite Merino Wool Sock Brands (These Won’t Shrink)

  • Darn Tough Hiking Socks (Longest Lasting): Darn Tough socks are by far the best merino wool socks on the market. They are by far the most durable wool socks on the market, but boy are they expensive.
  • Smartwool Socks (Most Comfortable): Smartwool socks might not be as durable as Darn Tough socks, but they’re way more comfortable. At a fraction of the price of Darn Tough socks these are the perfect balance of price/durability.
  • People Socks (Budget Option): People socks are warm and comfortable for around the house, but they won’t handle heavy use. They’re not bad for the price, but they won’t make it through your average workweek or camping trip.

Do Merino Wool Socks Shrink?

Think about what company made your socks. If they were purchased from a name brand company like Smartwool, Darn Tough, People Socks, etc, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Most major manufacturers preshrink their socks and treat them so that they can be machine washed.

Problems could start to arise when washing socks of unknown origin. It all depends on how the socks were treated and the quality of wool used. High-quality socks with premium wool should not significantly shrink in the wash.

I need to clarify that I’m not talking about slight shrinkage. After your socks stretch from normal wear they will most likely shrink down to normal size in the wash.

It’s kind of like how jeans always feel tight after coming out of the dryer. They feel tight for a bit then they stretch back to normal. So they don’t really shrink, they just reset back to their original size. It just gets rid of all that bagginess that develops with wool after regular use.

I highly recommend separating your wool socks and running them on a gentle cycle with cold or warm water. Try to avoid using hot water, because it might shrink wool. After the socks are clean, either tumble dry on a low setting or lay them out flat to dry.

What Did Smartwool Have to Say?

Here’s what the customer service department at Smartwool had to say when I asked if merino wool socks shrink.

“As long as the proper washing and care instructions are followed the product should not shrink. We recommend you wash your products in cold or warm water on a gentle cycle and air dry for the best appearance or tumble dry on low heat. We suggest to turn your items inside out when washing. Do not bleach, or iron and do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets.”

Smartwool Customer Service Department

So according to Smartwool, your socks shouldn’t shrink if you follow the safe washing directions. They recommend only using cool/warm water and the low heat dryer setting.

This leads me to believe that it’s generally safe to wash/dry merino wool socks, but heat could potentially shrink the product.

What Makes Merino Wool Shrink?

I’ve often wondered why some wool garments shrink and others don’t. After a little bit of research, I finally figured out the cause. It all boils down to how the clothes were treated and what they’re made out of.

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Most merino gear is treated to withstand a washing machine. They don’t even need to use anything to preshrink the wool. All it takes is a little bit of hot water and artificial heat.

After they go through that preheating cycle they should be able to withstand a typical laundry cycle. It’s still a good idea to avoid heat, but not entirely necessary.

So what causes wool to shrink? Moisture, heat and a little bit of agitation will shrink wool. The rough untreated wool fibers hook onto each other and tighten up. It’s kind of like how your hair gets frizzy on humid days.

Can Marino Wool Socks Go In The Washer and Dryer?

You can really go a long time between washing wool socks. Merino wool has anti-microbial properties so you don’t need to wash the socks after each use. They won’t smell and the bacteria can’t reproduce. So you shouldn’t have to throw your socks in the wash as often.

For the most part, yes merino wool socks can go in the washer and dryer. Just make sure you check the manufacturer’s care label. Some products just weren’t designed to go in a washer and dryer. I get into figuring out if socks can go in the wash in the section below.

How To Wash Merino Wool Socks

Turn your merino wool socks inside out to prevent damage.

Set the washing machine to the gentle cycle and machine wash in warm or cool water. Hot water can shrink wool so avoid the hot water cycle.

Choose a mild soap that doesn’t contain bleach and fabric softeners. You can use regular old laundry detergent, but I prefer detergents made specifically for wool. I prefer the feel of Nikwax Wool Wash over Woolite, but it’s hard to find in stores and expensive. Laundry detergents made for wool clothing makes your socks feel so much softer than regular detergents.

You can tumble dry your socks on a low heat setting, but most people just let their socks air dry. I just take mine out of the washing machine and set them on top of the washer. Come back in a few hours and they’re perfectly dry ready to be put away. Be careful hanging wet wool! It can stretch out the wool and distort the shape of your socks.

How-to: Will My Merino Wool Socks Shrink?

Here’s a 4 step approach to figure out whether or not your merino wool socks will shrink in the wash.

What Brand are They?

Try to figure out the brand name of your socks. Clothing manufacturers know how annoying it can be to have clothes shrink in the washing machine.

Almost every major brand preshrinks their socks so you won’t run into problems. Just be careful when purchasing your socks. I usually stick to Darn Tough socks for work/hiking and Smartwool for general all-purpose use.

You get what you pay for with merino wool. Don’t even bother with cheap generic house brand socks. They rarely last for more than a day or two before getting holes.

How Old Are The Socks?

If you’ve purchased the socks in the past couple of years they should be fine. Modern wool socks use specialty “Superwash Wool” designed to withstand normal wash cycles.

They just use high-quality wool with fine fibers, instead of the loose fibers found on older socks. So they don’t bind up and contract in the wash.

Check The Washing Instructions

The easiest way to check whether or not your socks will shrink is to check the wash instructions. If there are no special wash/dry instructions then you should be good to go.

Unfortunately, you probably threw away the washing instructions the minute you put on your socks. If that’s the case check on Amazon to see what people said in the reviews. Check the search box at the bottom of the page where people ask questions about the product.

How Do Your Merino Wool Socks Feel?

Do your socks feel scratchy or are they smooth to the touch? If the wool feels smooth and soft to the touch it’s most likely Superwash wool. This means that it should not shrink in the wash.

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How To Wash and Dry Merino Wool Socks

As great as wool socks can be, it can be a difficult task when it comes to cleaning them. If you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re wondering what’s the best way to clean merino wool socks? No worries, in this article I’ll cover what steps you need to take to clean your wool socks, as well as what to avoid to prevent any common damages.

How Do You Wash Merino Wool Socks?

Merino Wool socks are best cleaned by machine washing them in warm or cool water on a gentle cycle. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener as the wool material fibers can be ruined or damaged. After washing, you should turn the socks inside out and tumble dry them on a low setting.

Now that we know which steps to take when cleaning merino wool, let’s get into the details and figure out how to keep your merino wool safe and long-lasting.

How To Wash Merino Wool Socks

Steps To Clean Merino Wool Socks

Even though there’s worry about cleaning wool without it shrinking, the step by step guide is very simple to learn. Follow these four steps below to get the best cleaning procedure while also avoiding any problems that could damage your socks.

  1. Turn the socks inside out
  2. Run the washer on a gentle cycle with warm or cool water
  3. Only use mild soap for cleaning (avoid bleach & fabric softener)
  4. Air-dry or tumble-dry the socks on a low setting

The two main things to avoid are liquids that mess with the fibers and high heat. Just keep it simple and follow these steps to keep the garments looking and smelling brand new!

How Often Should You Wash Merino Wool Socks?

One great thing about wool socks is that you can get away with wearing the same pair for a couple of days before needing to throw them in the washer. The fibers in the wool provide odor prevention that absorbs even the strongest of odors.

Since odors are masked within your Merino socks, most pairs can be worn multiple times before it’s suggested to clean them. This is ideal and allows you to keep the socks looking new for longer with less cleaning effort.

I’ve found that it does depend on the brand and strength of the socks. Darn tough socks are one brand that has an exceptional ability to remain cool and dry even after hiking or camping all weekend.

So how often do merino wool socks need to be cleaned? It depends on the brand, but most wool socks can be worn 2-3 times before having to be washed and dried.

Do Merino Wool Socks Shrink?

When someone first gets wool socks they often wonder , does merino wool shrink? To prevent any shrinkage there are some important guidelines which I’ll be going over now.

Wool material can be known for shrinking in high temperatures like in the dryer or if left out in the sun. If the socks you have are already tight then the best way to dry them off after washing is to leave them out to air dry.

The second best option is to throw them in the dryer, at the lowest temperature that you can. Since merino wool can easily shrink at high temperatures, never use high heat in the dryer and avoid leaving them out in the direct sunlight.

Can You Dry Merino Wool Socks?

It takes more time, but the recommended way to dry merino wool is to air dry the material. Leaving the socks hanging or laying down overnight helps to prevent the socks from shrinking or breaking down from high heat.

Instead of hanging the socks, I always suggest laying them out flat on a table or other hard surface. This will keep them from stretching out while they dry, and it won’t take up much space inside the house.

If you’re limited on time the other option is to tumble-dry them on a low setting. As mentioned before, high heat is what causes shrinkage and damage to the wool fibers. As long as the socks remain inside out on the lowest setting, there won’t be any issues to worry about.

Summary – How To Wash Merino Wool Socks

There are three simple steps that you need to follow when washing Merino wool socks.

  1. Turn both socks inside-out
  2. Machine wash on a gentle cycle with warm water
  3. Air-dry or tumble-dry on the lowest setting

Avoid dry cleaning and focus on drying the material correctly and you won’t have any problems with the socks getting smaller or breaking down. Not using a dryer is also ideal since it will extend how long your socks will last.

Thankfully, washing and drying merino wool socks isn’t a complicated process, but it is an important one to follow. Limit the heat applied and keep your socks nice and clean for years!




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