When outdoorsy people hear the phrase, “slip into something more comfortable,” they probably envision pulling on their favorite pair of wool socks. These reliable, sweat-wicking beauties are well-loved, but many people aren’t sure how to care for them to extend their life and keep them in top shape.

Get started on giving your woolies the care they deserve with these tips:

Washing Your Wool Socks

Wool is antibacterial and antimicrobial, so it won’t require washing as often as other fabrics. If your socks aren’t soaked with sweat or lake water from portaging, you may be able to air them out and wear them again. According to Smart Wool, merino wools can absorb up to 30 percent of their dry weight before your feet feel any wetness. This is due to the fibers’ unique wicking properties that use your body heat to encourage evaporation.

If you’re not sure whether to hand or machine-wash your wool, start by reading the product label. Here you’ll find what settings to wash it on or whether it’s necessary to clean the garment by hand.

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Whether you can toss your wool socks in a washing machine will depend on the fibers. If your pair is made from virgin wool, it will either require hand washing or the gentle cycle with wool-specific soap. Wool socks that have been treated to prevent shrinking are made with “superwash wool” and can go through the washing machine on a warm or cool cycle.

Top tip: always turn your socks inside out to prevent pilling and prolong the life of each pair. Avoid bleach and fabric softener because these products are too harsh.  Many camp soaps will be perfectly fine for wool as they’re biodegradable and won’t harm the natural fibers, or the surrounding environment!

Wool Sock Drying Tips

It’s best to line dry all of your wool items, from your favorite base layer to your coveted pairs of wool socks. Place these items on a laundry line and clothespin them into place; you don’t want them blowing off into the lake while camping or taking off in a swift wind. No clothesline? No problem! Dry your socks over a laundry basket, hang them over your shower curtain rod, or even place them under a rock on the deck so they don’t blow away.

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Top tip: Make sure your pets can’t get to them if they have a penchant for nibbling wool!

Storing Wool Socks

When wool socks are balled around one another, they can stretch and become misshapen. Instead, lie them flat in a plastic box to allow the fibers to relax naturally. Add a little cedar to the container to prevent moths from taking an interest, and to give them a delicious smell.

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Top tip: When you put away your warm clothes for the summer, make sure to keep out one or two pairs of wool socks for camping trips since wool goes great under sandals during late night bonfires.

Whether you pledge allegiance to a certain wool sock brand or just pick whichever has the coolest patterns and colors, these tips will help you care for your wool socks for years to come.

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