How to Care for Hand-Knit Socks While Traveling

I recently returned from a springtime trip to Boston. As you might expect if you’re familiar with the area, it was cold. And wet. Luckily, I had packed my handknit socks. I’ve written before about how much I love wool socks, but this trip really sealed the deal for me. My toes stayed warm, cozy, and snug even in the snow (yep, it snowed on April 4).


But there are also a couple factors in traveling with my cozy socks that I don’t encounter at home. For one, city living means more walking and more grime than my socks are usually exposed to. For another, staying in a hotel meant I didn’t have access to my usual laundry equipment. So I had to spend some time thinking about how I was going to take good care of them. Here are some tips and tricks in case you, too, are taking your handknit wool socks on the road.

General Rules for Sock Care

- Always wash your handknit socks in cold water or lukewarm water. - Be sure to use a mild detergent to remove anything soiling your socks. - When you wash socks, be sure to set them somewhere to dry that is away from direct sunlight.

Get creative with where and how to wash your socks

The important thing is to not let grime sit too long on your socks. The longer it sits, the harder it’ll be to remove. While you might have access to a washing machine, odds are you’ll be handwashing your socks. You can wash your socks in the sink in your hotel bathroom. Remember, use cool water, not hot! If you’re flying and can’t bring large bottles of detergent with you in your carry-on bag, you can get little packets of wool wash by Soak. You can also use hotel shampoo (I usually just do that).

Take advantage of hotel amenities to dry socks

I like to roll up my freshly washed, still-wet socks in a spare, dry towel to squeeze out the excess water. Stepping on that rolled up towel can really get out every last bit of moisture. Then, I shape them and either lay them flat to dry, if there’s a space to do so, or drape them over a hanger. You don’t need to use sock blockers.

Try to minimize wear at pressure points

Because of the way I land when I take a step, my socks get a lot of wear at the outside edge of the heels. Sometimes, that’s just unavoidable.​ But there are also some ways to reduce the wear and tear. I wore boots on particularly wet days, bu​t when it was dryer, I wore my Birkenstock clogs​ around town. They leave me with lots of room in the toes and no friction against my heels.​

Wearing your hand-knit socks on vacation can involve a little more planning than just wearing them at home, but with a little thought and the right care, you’ll make sure you always have a couple clean pairs on hand. Travel is stressful enough. No need to add cold toes to the mix. P.S. – Want to just have the key points of this blog post boiled down into a simple video? I’ve got you covered.

Curious to learn more about knitting or to dig deeper into washing socks while traveling? Click on through for tutorials, free patterns, technique tips, and more.

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