Doing laundry is as simple as sorting it into colours, chucking in the machine, and coming back when it’s done, right? Well, not always.
Some items are best washed at specific temperatures to maintain colour, remove stains, or cut through oil-based build-up.
So, on that note, let’s look at what temperature to wash socks. We’ll discuss the most common materials for socks, but you can always use this information for less common fabrics too.
What Temperature Should You Wash Socks At?
While the answer to this question depends on the specific materials, the general consensus is that you should wash your socks at 60 degrees Celsius.
This is because socks fall into the category of underwear and go on a fairly sweaty part of the body. As such, 60 degrees Celsius is best because it helps kill bacteria.
That said, you can wash your socks at a lower temperature if you use a laundry detergent that contains disinfectant. With this sort of product, you can drop your washing temperature as low as 30 degrees Celsius.
Can Socks Be Washed at 40?
Washing at 60 is best for underwear, bed sheets, towels, etc. However, running a 60-degree wash just for socks and pants might seem a bit impractical when you’re washing the rest of your clothes at lower temperatures. So, can socks be washed at 40?
Socks can be washed at 40, but bear in mind this temperature isn’t high enough to kill bacteria.
It’s worth noting that, unless you’ve been walking somewhere very dirty without shoes on, this won’t be harmful bacteria on your socks.
Instead, it’s the bacteria that breaks down components in sweat to make your feet smell.
It could be argued, then, that washing your socks at 60 degrees isn’t necessary. You absolutely can wash your socks at 40 (or even 30), but they typically won’t come out as clean.
That said, there are some benefits to washing socks at lower temperatures:
- High temperatures can affect the elastic fibres used to make socks stretchy.
- Similarly, washing synthetic fibres (such as polyester) at 60 degrees can risk damage. While the risk is fairly low, it can lead to more microfibres coming off the socks.
- You obviously shouldn’t wash wool socks at high temperatures. Anything above 40 degrees can cause them to shrink.
Generally, you should be fine to wash socks containing polyester and elastic at 60 degrees.
Bear in mind, though, that higher temperatures can shorten the lifespan of both materials, so use a lower temperature if you want to preserve your favourite socks.
What Cycle Do You Wash Socks On?
Socks can be washed on a normal cycle if they’re cotton or polyester. The agitating motion of washing machines can affect elastic components on larger items (such as fitted bedsheets or elasticated waistbands), but this isn’t an issue with socks. The elastic is woven directly into the fibres, so there’s less risk of it stretching.
However, if you have socks made of wool, or stockings, or anything that isn’t a standard sock, consider washing them on a delicate cycle.
If you’re in doubt about the best cycle for your socks, wash by hand in cool water. The advantage of socks is they’re small, so you can easily hand wash them in a sink.
The bottom line is that socks are best washed at 60 degrees to kill bacteria. However, washing at 30 or 40 degrees is fine if you have a suitable washing detergent for killing bacteria.
Whatever temperature you decide to use for your socks, make sure you do so after every wear to keep your feet fresh!
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.