The Truth About Cotton Socks

To help you make an informed decision about what socks to buy, we have put together this article that shows the good and bad things that you can expect when buying a pair of cotton socks. 

Cotton socks are the most purchased type of socks in the world today, and we sell beautifully designed and manufactured cotton socks, so why would we tell you about the negative things? We want you to know everything about what you are purchasing and decide to put together a pro and cons list because you must be aware of everything before making your purchase. 

We know that when you purchase a pair of cotton socks from us that you will be fully aware of what to expect when wearing your new fashionable cotton socks. We also know and appreciate that you know we will be donating a pair of cotton socks to a homeless person for every pair of socks you purchase. 

The negatives of cotton socks:

Every material will have negatives, but you rarely hear about them on sites that sell socks. We want to share with you these negatives so you can make sure you understand what you are buying and choose the right type of socks for whatever activity you are doing. 

  1. New materials keep your feet drier than cotton. The majority of the new "high tech" socks are manufactured from some combination of polyester, nylon and lycra. The materials have been blended so that they wick moisture from perspiration away from our skin to the outside of the sock.

Cotton does not have the same wicking properties, and once wet, holds moisture directly against your skin. The advantage of wicking moisture away from the skin is the decreased risk of blisters and skin infections. 

  1. New materials support your feet better. For example, cotton socks are produced roughly in the shape of a foot but essentially are nothing more than a layer of material between the skin of your feet and your shoes.

Synthetic socks can be manufactured for specific functions, such as supporting the arch and improving circulation. This results in feet that, besides being drier, are less fatigued at the end of the day or after exercise.

  1. Synthetic sock materials can be manufactured in any colour and still have the same advantages. Cotton and, therefore, cotton socks are naturally white. Cotton socks that are any other colour than white have been dyed that colour. These dyes can be toxic and further increase the risk of skin infections, such as athlete's foot fungus. With synthetic, polyester-based sock materials, we have many more fashion choices without giving up function. 
  1. No seams. The seams on synthetic-material socks are much thinner. We've all worn that cotton sock with the big wad of material on the seam that irritates the toes as soon as we put a shoe on. 

The new high-tech socks are made from a much more delicate weave, so the seam problem essentially never happens. This is especially important for athletes at risk for blisters and patients with diabetes who can develop a foot ulcer from a sock seam pressing the wrong spot. 

  1. More expensive, especially organic and combined cotton. Unfortunately, cotton socks are more expensive due to the process of manufacturing them. This can be reduced by the company selling the socks if they can bulk buy, but that only helps a fraction of the cost per pair of cotton socks. 

  2. Become heavier when wet. Due to the retention of fluids in cotton socks, as stated above, they tend to become heavier for the wearer. However, cotton as a fibre is very absorbent, so understand that they will get heavy and cause problems with your feet if they get wet. In addition, the additional water adds issues when you walk, causing rubbing, chaffing, and be uncomfortable.  
  1. Can shrink when washed in hot water or machine dried with heat. Have you ever put on a pair of socks after being in the washing machine or drying machine and feel they are a bit tighter than before? Cotton socks can shrink due to hot water or hot air so try to put them in a cool wash and dry them on a radiator.  
  1. Cotton Socks are the reason everyone has smelly feet. If you're like most people, most of the socks in your drawer are made from cotton. Unfortunately, while cotton socks are very popular, they're certainly not the best choice for fighting foot sweat or odour.  

Cotton is one of the main reasons people complain of sweaty, stinky feet! Even though cotton feels like a light and comfortable material, moisture absorbed by cotton fibres doesn't evaporate back into the air outside the sock! Cotton fibres retain heat instead of insulating (like wool), and that heat creates bacteria and odour. This sweat, bacteria, and odour is absorbed by cotton and doesn't go away until you put them in the wash.  

The positives of cotton socks. 

So that seems like many negatives about cotton socks. But wait, there is a reason they are the most popular socks purchased in the world today. Here are the pros of cotton socks: Cotton socks function best for everyday use with casual shoes or sneakers. However, if you plan to physically exert yourself or expect your feet to become wet or sweaty, you will want to avoid 100% cotton socks.

  1. Can dry quicker than other materials. Cotton socks dry exceptionally quickly. In fact, no other material can dry faster than those made from cotton. If you ever get wet feet when out and about, knowing that you can take off your socks and dry them again quickly is a significant benefit for purchasing cotton socks.  
  1. Very lightweight material that absorbs moisture well. Cotton absorbs moisture very well and is a highly lightweight material ideal for the everyday use of socks. 

  2. Cotton socks are tremendously soft. The perfect mix of cotton will feel incredibly soft on your feet. While some socks may feel like they constrain your feet, the correct type of cotton combined with an excellent fitting pair of socks will feel great on your feet.

  3. Cotton holds colour quite well over time. While cotton doesn't keep colour as well as polyester, it will still be relatively long-lasting. As a result, your cotton socks will be safe after many wears. Over time and proper care, your pair of cotton socks will look as vibrant as when you bought them. 
  1. Cotton is more breathable on your feet. It will be less irritating on your skin, and your feet will also sweat less. This is a huge consideration when choosing your socks. Ensure that if you're in a room-temperature environment, you'll likely sweat in a pair of polyester socks. However, you might not sweat at all in a pair of predominantly cotton socks. 
  1. Cotton is is a good choice for sensitive skin. Cotton is more of a 'natural' and not chemically-derived fibre, especially relative to polyester. If you're an individual with sensitive skin, polyester might be an irritant. Make sure you wear cotton on your bare skin if you have sensitive skin. 
  1. Easy to wash in a machine or by hand. Cotton is quick to dry, so when you need to wash in a machine or by hand, you can rest assured that your socks will be dry quickly afterwards. 

A simple guide for washing your socks is:

  1. Separate your socks
  2. Turn inside-out and organise into pairs
  3. Wash in cold water, gentle cycle, with light detergent
  4. Turn right-side out
  5. Hang Dry
  6. Fold and put away 
  1. Cotton socks are durable. There is a reason cotton socks are the most common purchased socks available in the market today, which is down to durability. Everyday use of cotton socks with shoes, loafers and casual shoes are where most people use cotton socks. However, if you are looking to do exercise, cotton socks are probably not the ideal choice due to how they wick sweat and retain water.  
  1. Cotton is environmentally friendly. Cotton is a proven winner in being all-natural and environmentally friendly when it comes to the materials that socks are manufactured. Cotton and Bamboo are two of the most biodegradable clothing material in the market today. 

It is straightforward to make compost for your garden plants using old bamboo cotton socks. Shred the socks into tiny bits and add them to your mulch. It might take a couple of months for them to decompose, but they are perfect for the overall health of your plants.

You find this hard to do, or perhaps you do not have a garden to make the compost. However, you still have the option to send your old bamboo cotton socks to recycling companies that can do it for you. These companies specialise in recycling the materials in a clean and greenway.

So there are the pros and cons of cotton socks. There are lots to think about, and every material will have pros and cons. However, with all socks knowing what you are buying, we believe in wholeheartedly because if you know what you are buying, you can work around the downfalls. Cotton socks are still by far the most purchased material available today. 

Bamboo socks are softer than pure cotton socks, and synthetic socks do not cause smelly feet, but each of the materials has pros and cons. The key is knowing what material is best for what activity. 

Understanding what your socks go through, you can appreciate what homeless people must go through with little or no washing facilities at their disposal. When speaking to homeless people, we often hear that they don't have enough socks or their feet have problems due to their socks. This is why we started the initiative to donate a pair of socks for every pair purchased on Kindsox. We aim to give away over one million pairs of socks to homeless people this year, and any awareness of our mission is very much appreciated. Either share this article or purchase a pair of socks from the Kindsox.com website.


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