How to Clean Smelly Socks

Category Laundry
Soaking socks in vinegar, dish soap, baking soda or borax are all great ways to clean stinky socks. Get more tips on getting socks clean in this page to cleaning smelly socks.


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I keep a glass jar by the sink for my 8 year old daughter's really grimy socks. I quickly rinse the socks out in water and then put them in the jar with dish washing detergent like Dawn and really hot tap water. I am trying the bleach alternative dawn right now. I shake it up and and let it sit all day or for a few hours depending on how dirty they are.

I empty the jar leaving the socks in and fill it with hot water and rinse twice. Then I pull them out and rinse in cold water. I might have to scrub a very little bit and the grime comes out. I squeeze excess water out and dry on a peg by the window. They come out so clean.

I will not use regular laundry detergent because it is so harsh on my hands. The socks have never been whiter, and it is so easy to get them done in a hurry this way. Also when they are strewn around the house I just put one in at a time and wash it this way and then hang it up, before long I will have another one and walla! There is a match. I have heard vinegar in the soap helps, haven't tried that yet.



Source: My obsession to get socks cleaner.

By Robyn Fed from Hampton TN

Comment Was this helpful? 7


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November 12, 2009

I hope someone can tell me what I can soak my sons cotton socks in. He is a lifeguard and his socks always get wet. I have been getting him to put them in a bucket with water and laundry soaker overnight but when I go to do the washing they still smell awful (like swamp water!) so I still have to wash them separately. I have also tried bleach in the water but it bleaches the color out of the black/blue soles of the white socks. Would something like vinegar help? He alternates between three pairs of shoes so they get to dry out fully between wearing.


Kat from Australia


Cleaning Smelly Socks

Just try vinegar in the laundry, about 1 cup. Also, instead of soaking, try spraying with vinegar and let dry then was. You will not get the funny smell when they come out of the dryer. Works for urine smells too. (05/07/2007)

By silkynjoe

Cleaning Smelly Socks

Soaking in baking soda and water might help. Also sprinkle baking soda in his shoes after they are dry might help too. Good Luck! (05/08/2007)

By Vi Johnson

Cleaning Smelly Socks

Try soaking the socks in very hot water and borax overnight. Launder in a very hot wash, with regular detergent and a cup of baking soda. You could try a cup of vinegar in the rinse water, that may help. Beyond that, I can only think of a very, very old fashioned method of cleaning stinky clothing, and that is to boil the socks in a large stock pot, containing water (obviously!), baking soda and a smidge of detergent. Bring the pot to a rolling boil and let boil for 20 min. Let pot cool off before emptying, then launder as usual. I believe boiling will seriously rid those socks of the smelly's! (05/08/2007)


By lesley

Cleaning Smelly Socks

Thank you so much to the lovely people who responded with cures for the smelly socks. I will be trying them out for sure ! It is so heartening to see how caring and helpful people are :) (05/08/2007)

By Kat

Cleaning Smelly Socks

I don't know about soaking or boiling, but have you ever tried adding simple borax to the load when washing them? I use this with my towels to eliminate any wet sour smell, and it works fantastic. (05/10/2007)

By Mary

Cleaning Smelly Socks

I would recommend washing them in warm water but even if there is not a lot of socks use the 'large load' water setting so the water and detergent can really work. Then I would put vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. This works with my hubby's socks. (12/04/2008)


By Dorina

Cleaning Smelly Socks

Try sudsy ammonia. I washed a great looking shirt from a yard sale and to my dismay it reeked when I ironed it (even after I washed it). Use about one cup of ammonia (or more) to a half load of laundry (do not add any other cleaning additives at this time). I also used this trick when my husband was a heavy equipment mechanic. (12/04/2008)

By roadgypsygranny

Cleaning Smelly Socks

Have you tried using Bio Zet laundry detergent? It gets out cat pee smells. I have recently changed back to Radiant though as I have a smelly young man in the house and everyone's laundry sure smells better and fresher now than it has in ages. Maybe a few drops of Nil Odor in the soaking bucket with the socks before they are washed in the machine will help. With my shoe insoles I found that washing them after each wear has helped to reduce the odour to almost nothing now. It is just trial and error. (01/08/2009)


By Julie, Melbourne, Australia

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

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