Wear with Care: Three Ways to Keep Your Compression Socks as Good as New
Purchasing compression socks and support stockings can be an investment of time, money and effort, so of course you want them to last for as long as possible. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prolong the life of your compression socks and stockings.
Here’s everything you need to know about caring for compression garments, from wearing to cleaning to replacing them.
Wearing Your Socks
Generally speaking, most people get the maximum benefits when they wear their compression socks all day, putting them on when they get out of bed in the morning and only taking them off when they return to bed at night. The idea is to put on the support stockings before any swelling can start.
However, if you’re new to compression therapy, you might not be able to wear support stockings all day at first. Start by wearing compression garments for just a few hours at a time, and then work towards wearing them for a full day. Your doctor will be able to best advise you on when and how long you should wear compression garments.
You should change your compression socks every day, as the fabric will probably be covered in dirt and sweat by the time you take them off. Compression fabric stretches to fit your body during the day, which is why should put on a fresh garment each morning. It helps to have at least two pairs, so you can wear one while the other is being washed and dried.
Cleaning Your Socks
Compression garments must be washed after each use, and they need to be cleaned carefully to avoid compromising the material. Here are the steps to properly clean compression garments, first by hand and then in the washing machine:
- Fill a sink, tub or basin with cool water. Submerge the compression socks in water until wet, and then remove.
- Add mild soap or detergent to the water. Some compression sock brands sell their own cleaning products.
- Mix the soap into the water. Place the wet support stockings back in the water and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Rub the stockings to remove any oil and dirt. Pay special attention to any silicon bands, which often attract foreign materials.
- Rinse the garment, then squeeze the material gently to remove any soap. Do not pull the stockings, as this can stretch out the material and compromise the fit.
- Continue rinsing and squeezing the stocking until the water is clear of any soapiness. Press out as much water as possible and lay the stocking out flat to dry in a cool or warm place. Wringing out the stockings or placing them near heat can damage the material.
- If there are any stains on the socks or any dirt trapped in the silicon bands, hand wash these areas first.
- Place the compression socks in a mesh garment bag to protect them during the wash cycle.
- Set the washing machine on a cold or warm cycle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Add mild soap or detergent — or the cleaning product recommended from the sock manufacturer — to the machine. Do not use chlorine bleach or fabric softeners, as these will damage the compression fabric.
- After the wash cycle completes, remove the socks and gently press any excess water from them. Lay them flat in a cool or warm place to dry. Do not wring the material or place the garments near a heat source.
Replacing Your Socks
Even the most well-cared-for compression socks will stretch out and lose their elasticity over time, though having more than one pair and rotating them will prolong the life of the garments. Most manufacturers claim that their compression socks last six months before the material breaks down. Most consumers replace their socks and support stockings every three to six months, especially if they’re wearing the same few products over and over again. Here’s an easy general rule to remember: If the compression garments are no longer difficult to don, then they’ve probably lost their compression qualities and it’s time to replace them.
Taking proper care of your compression socks will lengthen their life and ensure that you get the full benefits of compression therapy. Follow these steps to keep your compression socks and support stockings in top-notch shape.
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry for over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.
Written November 2018 | Page last updated August 2021
The Spruce. “How to Wash Medical and Sports Compression Garments” https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-care-for-compression-garments-2145792