How To Wash Socks By Hand – Top 10 Ways!

I know what you’re thinking, “why would anyone want to hand wash stuff when you’ve got the trusty old washing machine?” Yet, sometimes it’s best to fall back on the old ways.

Especially with certain clothing that is too delicate to be thrown into the washer, say a pair of socks. These things need the gentle care of your own hands. Plus, depending on your machine, it can be quite a hassle scrubbing stubborn stains off of them.

There’s no way around it. Socks will get dirty, and the white ones even more so. Soaking up sweat and dirt is their job, and they carry the stains as battle scars.

Let’s not even talk about the stink.

Thing is, throwing them in the washing machine won’t do the trick. The socks might come out clean, but the sparkle won’t be there like before. This is why there is no way around hand-washing them.

So, hop in and find out the top ways to hand wash socks. It won’t even feel like a chore anymore (maybe a little).

Table of Contents

Ten Ways to Clean Dirty Socks

clean dirty socks

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best whiteners for dirty old socks. Just add a spoonful to the water with a detergent of your choice. Yeah, you’ll still need detergents.

The vinegar isn’t a substitute. It’s more like an agent. It works its magic by mixing with the detergent to make it melt better. Most times, detergents get stuck to the fabric and cause a dull texture. So, it doesn’t rinse properly during the wash.

Adding vinegar to the equation solves this problem. Next, rinse with some water, and there you go: white socks shiny as new.


2. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is a natural form of bleach that works wonders to clean your dirty laundry. For white socks losing their sparkle, it’s perfect.

Take hot water and add some lemon juice to it. Then soak the garments in the mix for half an hour before getting them out. Now, you need to brush the socks gently with a brush before you wash them with water.

Afterward, dry your socks and see the difference. Their whiteness will brighten up your day.

Lemon juice

3. Spray cleaner

This one might come as a surprise, but countertop spray cleaners provide great results. It’s a no-brainer if you think about it. Countertop cleaners can get rid of the toughest of grease and stains. So, surely they are up to this task, too.

Spray your socks with it and let them soak for 10-20 minutes. After that, dip them in hot water before wringing them with your hands. You can add detergent to your water. It’s okay even if you don’t.

Spray cleaner

4. Bleach

Like I told you, lemon juice itself is a type of mild bleach. So, imagine how strong actual bleach is. Soak the dirty socks overnight in a mix of water and bleach. The next morning, take the socks out and brush them using your hands with a pinch of detergent.

Then rinse off with hot water. Dry them out in the sun. The fresh socks will look crisper and brighter than ever.

5. Baking soda

Baking soda is another item that you probably have in your cupboard already. The solution is to make a nice mix of baking soda and regular detergent powder. Then add it to water and let the mix sit for some time.

After a couple of minutes, dip the socks into the mix. Scrub them gently in the mix with your hands. Don’t get carried away, though. Be gentle with the scrubbing.

Then rinse the pair and let them dry. The result, nice and cleans socks. No stain or smell.

6. Mild soap

If you’re working with wool socks, this is it. Look nowhere else, because this is your solution. In fact, it’s best to avoid bleach or fabric softeners with a woolen cloth as they can mess up the delicate fabric.

All you need is some normal or cold water. Soak the socks in it for a couple of minutes. Take them out and turn them inside-out before using a mild soap. Then, rinse off the soap using water.

Always remember that, for wool, a hand wash is always better than the washer.

7. Boiling

People give hand washing a bad rap because they think it’s hard work. The truth is it can be effortless if you want it to be.
Put a pan on the stove with some water and your socks, and boil it. Add a little detergent, bleach, or some liquid cleanser to the mix. Give it about 15-20 minutes.

Then, drain the water in the sink and refill the pan with tap water. After 5-10 minutes, take out your socks to dry.

8. Dishwasher liquid

Okay, so this one might not make any sense at first, but trust me, dishwasher liquid is great with dirty socks.

Rub the liquid into the stains smoothly with your hands. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Once you’re done, flush with water. Dry out your socks, and be amazed at how wonderful they look.

9. Chemicals

Let’s say you’ve tried all of the above, there’s nothing you haven’t tried. Yet, you’re not satisfied with the results. You might be thinking, “is it even possible?”

Here’s how we can take things up a notch: chemicals. Now, many chemicals can help with the process. But, as you can tell, some are more toxic and dangerous than others.

That’s why I prefer methylated spirits. Don’t be fooled, it is still very dangerous. In fact, this thing is highly flammable. So do take caution.

It also happens to be excellent at taking stains out, leaving not a single trace behind. Dab a small amount into a piece of cotton and apply to the stains. Be careful to wash out the chemical thoroughly from the clothing.

10. Bath soap

If you’re looking for the quick and easy, bath soap works just fine. Fill your kitchen sink with water and soak in the socks. Then rub with bath soap before cleaning them with a brush.

Give the socks one last whirl in the water before draining. Rinse off, and voila! Clean socks as good as new.

Final Verdict

I’m sure you weren’t expecting some of the things that were on the list here. I know a few of them may seem unusual, but they’re here because they work.

Well, there you go. Now you have no more excuses for dirty socks! Don’t forget to share with other poor souls still looking for the perfect hand wash technique for socks.