The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

How Long Do Socks Last? Signs of Wear and Tips for Increasing Sock Longevity

Posted by on Monday, August 7th, 2017

Here’s the deal: you can buy wholesale socks as cheap as $1 a pair. To put it into perspective, that’s $48 for 48 pairs of socks. What more could you want, right? But you get what you pay for. Dollar socks aren’t going to wick away sweat as you’re wearing them all day. They might feel slouchy and fail to grip to your feet. They are probably thin and decidedly unsportsmanlike. As NYC podiatrists and foot specialists, we’re going to tell you the truth: sadly, those $20 socks are that much better. If you want your feet to be cool, comfortable, fungus- and blister-free, then you need to invest a bit more money into the socks you choose. The next logical question is, how long should pricier high-performance socks last? And how can one make their socks last as long as possible?

What's the normal lifespan of a pair of socks?
What’s the normal lifespan of a pair of socks? Image Source: Pixabay user tookapic.

Are My Socks Too Old?

Look for the following signs that it’s time to replace your socks:

  • Do your socks look limp?
  • Is the elastic band stretched?
  • Are there holes in the toe?
  • Have you recently suffered blisters or new calluses?
  • Do you notice the sock material rubbing against your feet?
  • Does it feel like your socks lack the old cushy padding they used to feature?
  • Do your socks appear “pilly,” with little balls of fabric showing up on the exterior?

If you answered, “yes” to these questions, then sounds like you need a new bunch of socks! Continuing to wear these old threads puts you at risk of not only pesky blisters, abrasions, corns, and calluses, but also more serious issues like chronic foot fungus infections and non-healing ulcers.

How to Increase Sock Longevity

If you want your new socks to last longer, follow these tips:

  • Never wear socks more than once between washings. Buy several pairs so you can alternate between them.
  • Don’t wear socks on carpeting without shoes, according to the makers of SmartWool.
  • Reassess your shoe size if you’re getting unusual wear patterns on the tops or sides of the socks, rather than on the bottoms.
  • Don’t use fabric softener, which will ruin the shape and conforming abilities of your socks and decrease sweat-wicking capabilities.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed to avoid holes in the toe area.
  • Lay socks flat when storing them. This way, they retain their proper shape and form.
  • Wash your socks with similarly colored laundry to maintain color vibrancy.
  • Put your socks in a garment bag to prevent them from getting lost.
  • Keep wool socks in an airtight plastic container with a lid, along with cedar, to protect them from pests.
  • Do not iron, bleach, or dry clean your socks.
  • Turn your socks inside out.
  • Do not line-dry your socks. Tumbling helps restore the padding.
  • Be sure your socks are dry before putting them away. Dampness breaks down material and compromises elasticity.
  • Clip loose elastic and material rather than pulling or unraveling by hand.
  • Using two hands, gather the sock up to the toe before putting your foot inside.

It’s important to keep in mind that the way you wash your socks should depend on the material. Wool socks wash on a gentle cycle with mild soap in warm water, tumbling dry on low. It’s recommended that you wash acrylic socks the same way as wool, but they can withstand a little more beating in the wash. Nylon socks should be washed in cold water with other nylon items to prevent pilling.

How Long Do Socks Normally Last?

As you may have suspected, the lifespan of socks varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. At worst, a good compression sock may only last six months. SmartWool says their socks should last about one year if worn once a week. Wigwams come with a two year product guarantee. Other top brands—like Darn Tough, LL Bean, Lands’ End, and Eddie Bauer–offer lifetime warranties on their socks. This means that if they wear out or you don’t like them, you can send them in for a replacement pair! Regardless of the specific brand you choose, however, it’s important for your foot health to invest in high-quality socks and take good care of them. If you have any other questions for an NYC podiatrist, book your appointment with The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.