How to Wash Compression Socks for Optimal Performance


Compression socks or compression stockings are specialized compression garments designed to improve blood circulation, prevent swelling, and alleviate discomfort in the legs, making it vital to understand how to wash compression garments to ensure they maintain their supportive and therapeutic properties.

Here at Sockrates, we have years of experience in the custom sock manufacturing industry and have created thousands of quality custom compression socks.

So yes. You can 100% trust us for expert advice on how to wash compression socks properly, ensuring they continue to deliver optimal performance.

Let's get into it.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Properly Washing Compression Socks

A couple of people wearing compression stockings as compression therapy to increase circulation
Wash your compression socks regularly for optimal performance

Knowing the right washing techniques is key to maintaining the elasticity, support, and longevity of your compression stockings or socks.

As we mentioned, a compression sock is specialized hosiery (fancy word for sock) that applies gentle pressure to promote blood flow from the legs to the heart.

This graduated compression, strongest at the ankle, helps reduce discomfort and prevent venous disorders.

If you don’t wash them properly, they can lose their elasticity and performance qualities, leading to tears, damage, and loss of compression.

Regardless of whether you’re an experienced user or a newcomer to compression therapy, adhering to appropriate washing methods is fundamental to preserving the optimum condition of your socks.

Machine Washing Compression Socks: A Step-by-Step Guide

A family washing preparing to wash their laundry in a washing machine
Knowing how to wash compression socks is vital if you need compression therapy

The process of washing socks becomes straightforward when you stick to a few foundational guidelines.

With the right detergent, gentle cycle settings, and using a mesh garment bag, you can keep your compression socks clean and in top shape.

We have a blog dedicated to how to wash cotton socks, but let’s delve into the specifics of how to wash compression socks.

Choosing the Right Detergent

Choosing an appropriate detergent for your compression socks is key to preserving their elasticity and support.

Stick to a mild detergent without any extra additives, avoiding Woolite, dish soap, chlorine bleach, fabric softener, and cleaners made for wool.

Opt for a simple color detergent without brighteners, which can block the pores of the fabric and potentially harm the compression properties of the socks.

Some of the best brands of mild laundry detergent for washing your compressions include:

Utilizing a mild detergent safeguards your compression socks from harm, ensuring optimal performance.

It's worth noting that some compression stockings and socks can be crafted with eco-luxe or merino wool.

In such cases, it's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions and use a wool-friendly detergent to maintain their quality and longevity.

In any case, avoiding bleach and fabric softeners is good practice as they can compromise the integrity of the socks whether they're made from merino wool, mercerized cottons or synthetic fiber blends.

Gentle Cycle Settings

When you're machine washing compression socks, opting for the delicate cycle with cold water or cool water is crucial to avoid deterioration.

Washing them in cold water or cool water helps maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan.

Using a regular cycle can ruin the sock fibers, making them less stretchy, and alter their appearance.

Many washing machines have various wash settings like “Delicate,” “Hand Wash,” or “Wool” designed to be gentle on delicate items like compression socks.

Make sure to check your washing machine user manual or specs to see if it offers a gentle wash cycle.

Using a Mesh Garment Bag

To protect your socks from tangling and damage during machine washing, using a mesh fabric garment bag is a recipe for sock-cess.

Simply place your socks inside the bag and secure the opening to prevent them from falling out.

The use of a mesh laundry bag guarantees your compression garments come out from the washing machine and dryer in the same pristine condition they entered.

A Mesh laundry bags are also helpful to keep your pairs together so you don't end up with the dreaded missing sock pairs!

Hand Washing Compression Socks: Tips and Techniques

A person wearing compressing stockings during physical activity as part of compression therapy
Use a gentle wash cycle to maintain the socks elasticity and therapeutic properties

If you favor a manual approach or just to take extra care and not use a washing machine, using a hand wash technique serves as an effective substitute.

Just like with machine washing, there are tips and techniques to hand wash your compression socks that you should follow to ensure your socks stay in excellent shape.

Selecting the Right Soap

When you hand wash compression socks, it’s crucial to use a mild soap or detergent to maintain their elasticity and support just as you would with machine washing.

Avoid using cleaning agents like dish soap, as it can damage the material and reduce the effectiveness of the socks.

Brands like Mediven Medi-Care and WIN Activewear are excellent choices, but you can also use a mild laundry soap as long as you avoid chlorine bleach, and other harsh chemicals.

With mild soap, and warm water, you can safeguard your compression socks from harm while thoroughly cleansing them, guaranteeing continued support and comfort.

Soaking and Rinsing Techniques

Given the close-knit relationship between compression socks and the skin, and their inherent nature, these socks can fall victim to unpleasant odors and stubborn stains despite their commendable moisture-wicking abilities.

That's what makes the right soaking and rinsing techniques important when you manually wash your compression socks.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by filling a small tub or sink with cold, soapy water. Avoid using hot water.
  2. Soak your socks for 5-10 minutes to loosen any dirt and oils.
  3. Gently massage the socks to clean them.
  4. Rinse the socks thoroughly with cold water to remove all soap residue.

After soaking and cleaning, rinse your socks thoroughly under cold water, ensuring you remove all soap residue.

Be careful not to wring, stretch or twist the socks, as this can damage the sock fibers and affect their compression properties.

Instead, gently squeeze out excess water before moving on to the drying process.

It’s worth noting that using hot water or warm water is not recommended for this step, as it could cause shrinkage or damage to the socks.

Drying Compression Socks After A Hand-Wash

A pair of compression garments hanging on a clothesline after being hand washed, as part of the process of how to wash compression socks and Drying Compression Socks After Hand Washing
You can air dry your compression socks and get great results

Once you’ve finished washing your compression socks by hand, it’s important to air dry them properly to maintain their shape and function.

Gently squeeze each sock to rinse out as much water as you can, being careful not to wring or twist the socks.

To dry your socks, simply hang dry them up or lay them flat in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

This method guarantees clean, dry compression socks that are prepared to offer the requisite support.

Caring for Different Compression Sock Materials

A person hanging preparing their washing machine for a tumble dry
Always wash compression socks in cool water or cold water

Different compression sock materials require specific care instructions to maintain their performance and longevity.

Always check the label on your socks for guidance on the best washing and drying practices for the specific material.

Comprehending the specific care requirements of your compression socks’ fabric aids in maintaining their form, function, and overall quality.

With proper care, you can enjoy the benefits of your compression fabric and socks and extend their lifespan.

How Often Should You Wash Compression Socks?

An Athlete wearing compression hosiery
The graduated compression of the socks can help in physical activity

For preserving their pressure levels and colors, we recommend cleaning your compression socks, either in the washing machine or hand wash, after each use or following every 3-5 wears.

A regular wash routine keeps the fabric clean and fresh, ensuring they feel comfortable each time you put them on and continue to help prevent blood clots, swelling and other side effects.

Factors such as the lifespan of the socks, dirt and odor buildup, washing method, avoiding harsh chemicals like bleach or fabric softener, and following manufacturer’s care instructions can affect how often you need to wash your compression socks.

Adhering to the suggested washing schedule ensures your socks remain in superior condition, and ultimately maximizing their effectiveness.

Drying Compression Socks: Best Practices

A close up of a person wearing custom compression socks as part of a formal outfit and compression therapy
With Sockrates you can have the benefits of compression socks mixed with style

The best way to dry compression socks is to:

  • Hang them up and let them air dry, which helps maintain their stretch and function
  • Avoid using tumble dry, as the heat can damage the material and weaken their compression properties.
  • If you must use a dryer, opt for low or no heat settings

Being mindful of how you dry your compression socks is that small detail that makes an impactful difference to preserving their integrity and ensuring peak performance.

Storing Compression Socks for Longevity

Remember, taking the time to store your compression socks correctly is a loving act of care that helps keep them in great shape and fully functional.

Instead of folding or rolling them, lay them flat in a dry, cool drawer that's odor free.

This advice also applies to compression stockings, ensuring their effectiveness and longevity.

Storing your compression socks in a cool or warm place can help their lifespan and guarantee their continued support and benefits.

When to Replace Your Compression Socks

Compression socks should be replaced every 3-6 months to maintain optimal pressure and support.

It's recommended to wear compression socks consistently to help reduce the chance of your legs getting blood clots, but the compression should last up to 750 to 1000 kilometers of walking.

Keep an eye on your socks for signs of wear, such as elastic fibers wearing down or changes in their appearance.

Timely replacement of your compression socks guarantees the sustained delivery of the support and comfort you depend on.


To sum it all up, properly washing, drying, and storing your compression socks is essential to maintain their elasticity, support, and integrity making sure you make the most of your purchase.

By following the tips and techniques we've outlined, you’ll can be sure your socks continue to deliver optimal performance and provide the comfort and benefits you need.

Ready to up your compression sock game with an epic custom sock design?

Start your custom sock journey with Sockrates today. Our expert designers will create custom socks that you'll love to wear and take care of.

Here’s to happy feet and healthy legs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do compression socks need to be hand washed?

Hand washing compression socks is important to ensure dirt and oils are removed from compression fabric and the elastic bands, which maintains their integrity and elasticity.

It also helps to keep them free of bacteria and keeps them from being overlooked in the washing machine.

How long do compression socks last?

Compression socks typically last between 3 to 6 months with regular use and proper care.

Their lifespan can be extended by following appropriate washing, drying techniques (like air dry vs. using a dryer), and storage procedures.

However, it's recommended to replace them within this timeframe to ensure they continue to provide optimal pressure and support.

What not to do with compression socks?

Avoid applying lotion or oils right before wearing compression socks, don't wear them at night, don't place them in the dryer or near a heat source, don't alter them, and don't wear the same pair indefinitely.

Additionally, make sure not to wear any jewelry that could snag or tear them.

How often should compression stockings be replaced?

For optimal compression and support, replace and wash your compression socks and stockings every 3 to 6 months and wear a fresh pair each day.

How often can I wear compression socks?

Compression socks, which provide graduated compression, can be worn daily, especially if you're using them for medical reasons such as improving circulation or preventing blood clots.

However, it's recommended to have more than one pair to alternate between wears and allow for proper cleaning.

Remember, the socks should be washed after each use or every 3-5 wears to maintain their compression properties and cleanliness.

Can you machine wash compression socks?

Yes, you can machine wash compression socks - just remember to use delicate and cold water settings and replace them every 6 months.

Also, remember to air dry your socks after washing, as using a dryer aka tumble dry, can damage the material and affect their compression properties.

Can I use regular laundry detergent to wash my compression socks?

It's best to use a mild cleanser without additives to protect your socks' elasticity and support, so regular laundry cleanser without any special additives would be fine.

Avoid Woolite, chlorine bleach, fabric softener, bleach and cleaners made for wool.

To stay updated on all the latest sock styles and tips on how to wash compression socks, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.

Article Written By
Samuel Moses

We offer custom socks of all types and sizes (baby to adult) and lengths (no-show, ankle, crew, knee-high, and over the knee). We pride ourselves on being authentic Italian custom sock manufacturers with the highest level of quality and service for our customers. Try us out today!

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