Purchasing compression stockings or compression socks 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.
Compression garments of all kinds, from compression stockings to compression arm sleeves and even inelastic wraps, will maintain their effectiveness when treated and washed as recommended. Here is everything you need to know about caring for compression stockings and socks.
Why Take Care Of Compression Stockings and Socks?
Taking the right care of your compression socks can extend their life for continued effectiveness and comfort.
How Often Should You Clean Compression Garments?
In General, most people get the maximum benefit when they wear their compression socks all day, putting them on in the morning and taking them off before going to bed at night. The basic idea is to put on the compression stockings before any swelling can start.
However, if you are new to compression therapy, it might be a little uneasy for you to wear the stockings all day long, so we recommend you start wearing compression garments for a few hours at a time to get used to it. However, your doctor will best advise you on when and for how long you need to wear your medical compression stockings.
The rule of thumb is to wash your compression socks after every use. Firstly, wearing the garment for several hours at a stretch can cause bacteria to fester, causing odour and even rashes on the skin. Cleaning them daily will help maintain hygiene and cleanliness. Secondly, as you wear the stockings, the fabric stretches out and takes the shape of your leg. Washing them helps the socks regain their original elasticity and thus their compression.
How To Wash The Compression Socks?
Caring for your compression stockings entails a little commitment. However, the technique and products you use have a significant impact on how long your stockings last.
We recommend hand washing your compression stockings separately from other clothes. This allows you to be very gentle and ensure that loose threads in the fabric do not get caught in hooks or zips of different clothes.
Steps to wash your compression stockings by hand:
- Fill a bucket or tub with cool or lukewarm water.
- Add a few drops of mild detergent or soap. Ensure that it is free of harsh chemicals, bleach, or fabric softener, as these can wear out the fabric much faster. We recommend choosing a product especially made for cleaning compression stockings, such as the Sigvaris Washing Solution.
- Submerge your compression garment in soapy water and let it soak for 5-7 minutes.
- Gently rub the stockings against your palms. Do not scrub or brush the garment.
- When done, rinse the compression socks until the water becomes clear.
- Ball up the garment and squeeze the excess water out from your socks.
If you are unable to hand wash your compression garment and machine washing is your only option, then here are some best practices to follow:
- Place the compression stockings in a mesh garment bag to protect them during the wash cycle.
- Set the washing machine on a cold or warm cycle and add a mild detergent suitable for machine wash.
- Ensure that the detergent is free of fabric softener, harsh chemicals, and bleach, which can damage the fabric.
- After the wash cycle completes, remove the socks and gently press any excess water from them.
How To Clean The Silicone Grip-Tops On Thigh Length Compression Stockings?
Thigh-length stockings come with a grip-top with silicone dots. This band needs to be treated with special care. Over time, the silicone may begin to lose its grip. Using a washcloth dipped in warm soapy water to gently clean this band from time to time will give it some extra life.
How To Dry Medical Compression Stockings?
The way you dry your compression socks can be just as important as how you wash them. After washing, don’t get tempted to dry them in a hurry. Hasty drying techniques such as ironing or blow-drying can damage the elasticity of the fabric and ultimately shorten the lifespan of your socks. It is also not advisable to hang them up using a clothespin to stretch them out of shape.
Best way to dry your compression socks:
- Dry the stockings indoors, away from direct sunlight
- Lay on a flat surface, never hang
- Air-dry under a fan
The best process to follow to clean your compression stockings correctly would be to hand-wash your socks after you take them off at night and lay them flat to dry overnight under the fan.
Other tips and tricks that can help extend the life of your compression stockings:
- Always wear rubber gloves while wearing and taking off your stockings. The gloves will provide a good grip on the fabric, allowing you to wear it correctly and adjust it as required. Gloves also protect the material from getting caught in your nails, preventing tears and pulls.
- Do not apply lotion or creams on your legs before wearing compression stockings. These can deteriorate the garment’s fabric much quicker and make it harder for you to put on the socks.
When to replace your compression stockings?
Even with the best care, the elastic fibers in your compression stockings will inevitably weaken and stretch out over time. Depending on how regularly you wear your stockings, you will need to replace them every 6-7 months to ensure that you continue to get the correct compression.
Here’s how you can tell that you need a replacement:
- For example, you have gained or lost weight, this would mean that the circumference of your legs has changed, and you need a different size.
- The medical compression stockings are much easier to put on than before and are not as tight as they used to be.
- The fabric has tears or runs or has become thinner and worn out in certain areas.
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 garments and support stockings in top-notch shape.