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How to Wash Smelly Socks in the Washing Machine?

We’ve all been there – you take off your shoes after a long day and get a whiff of something funky. Upon closer inspection, you realize it’s coming from your socks! Not to worry, washing machines nowadays are equipped to handle all kinds of smells and stains, including smelly socks. With the right techniques and products, you can get your socks fresh and odor-free in no time.

Assess the Damage

First, take a close look at your socks and identify the source of the smell. Are there visible stains? Do they feel stiff or crunchy? Take a whiff – what does the smell remind you of? Sweat has a distinct acidic odor, while bacterial buildup from wearing shoes all day can make socks smell like ammonia. Mold and mildew also give off a musty, unpleasant scent. Once you pinpoint the culprit, you can tailor your washing method accordingly.

Presoak Tough Stains

If you notice set-in stains, it’s best to presoak socks before washing. This helps break down deposits and dislodge lingering bacteria. Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and add a stain-fighting booster. OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover and Carbona Stain Devils #9 are excellent at eliminating organic stains and funky odors. For extra cleaning power, add a splash of distilled white vinegar – its acetic acid cuts through residue.

Let socks soak for at least 30 minutes, gently massaging any stained areas to work the solutions in. For super stinky socks, you can soak them overnight before throwing them in the wash. The longer the presoak, the better! Just be sure to drain sinks or buckets so socks aren’t sitting in dirty water.

Use a Laundry Sanitizer

Laundry sanitizers work wonders at neutralizing funky sock smells and disinfecting fabrics. Look for one that contains activated oxygen, which destroys a wide spectrum of bacteria and odors. Popular picks like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer and Clorox Oxy Magic Fabric Sanitizer kill up to 99.9% of germs that cause stinky sock syndrome.

Be sure to check the product label for correct dilution ratios. Add the recommended amount to your washing machine’s detergent dispenser or directly into the drum with your socks. These solutions are very concentrated, so accurate measurement is important. And since sanitizers do their job in the wash cycle, there’s no need to presoak socks beforehand.

Choose the Right Detergent

While sanitizers target the root of smells, always wash stinky socks with a quality laundry detergent as well. Look for enzymes in the ingredients list – these natural proteins break down odor-causing grime. Tide Odor Rescue and Persil ProClean Power-Caps attack set-in odors and leave socks fresh.

The temperature you wash socks in also affects detergent cleaning action. To activate odor-eliminating enzymes, wash socks in warm or hot water. Cold water won’t effectively dissolve detergent or allow enzymes to penetrate fibers. Knowing your washer model, follow care label guidelines to select the optimal water temp.

Skip Fabric Softener

It might sound counterintuitive, but avoid using liquid fabric softener when washing smelly socks. Why? Softeners leave behind a film that traps odors over time instead of rinsing them away. Residue can also hinder moisture wicking, making socks more prone to bacteria buildup. Ditch the softener and add white vinegar to the rinse cycle instead. Its cleansing properties remove soap scum so socks stay fresh longer.

Check Washer for Buildup

If you notice socks coming out of the wash still smelling funky, the issue could be your machine itself. Smelly residue, mold and mildew can accumulate in washers over time. This is especially true with front-loaders, as excess moisture lets germs flourish.

Deep clean your washer monthly to keep undesirable smells at bay. First, give the drum a scrub with hot water and bleach to kill bacteria. Target crevices and the rubber gasket with an old toothbrush. Next, run a rinse cycle using two cups of white vinegar – it neutralizes alkaline detergent buildup. Monthly maintenance keeps washers fresh and sock-friendly.

Maximize Drying Effectiveness

Proper drying is just as crucial as washing when it comes to odor elimination. Damp socks left balled up or piled together give smells a chance to return. After washing, thoroughly shake out each sock before placing loosely in the dryer. This allows air to circulate completely.

Dry socks on a medium or high heat setting – low heat won’t effectively evaporate moisture. Toss in a couple clean tennis balls too. As they bounce around, socks get evenly dried without bunching up. Run the dryer for 5-10 minutes longer even after socks feel dry. This ensures every trace of moisture gets zapped.

Try Natural Deodorizers

For an extra odor-fighting boost, add natural deodorizers to your laundry routine. Products like soda crystals, borax and super washing soda lift deposits that cause smells while brightening dingy socks. Essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree also have antimicrobial benefits.

Place your chosen deodorizer in the drum before adding socks. Oils can go directly on smelly spots too. Just remember – a little goes a long way since these agents are highly concentrated. Always spot test new mixes to avoid fabric damage or skin irritation. With some trial and error, you’ll discover the perfect refresh combo!

Stop Smells Before They Start

The best defense against stinky socks is preventing buildup in the first place. Rotate socks instead of wearing the same pair two days in a row, allowing them to fully dry out. Sprinkle antibacterial shoe powder inside shoes after wearing. And don’t forget to wash socks after just a couple wears – they’re exposed to a lot of bacteria and sweat!

With the proper prep, products and maintenance, you can stop sock smells at the source. Say goodbye to funky feet for good with these washing machine cleaning tips. Just throw on your fresh socks and funky shoe dance your way through the day!