Diabetes is a condition which can lead to a wide range of health issues and ailments. People affected with diabetes are at a greater risk of losing limbs such as the feet. This is due to the fact that diabetes can cause damage to the circulatory system and the nervous system as a result of high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes neuropathy is a form of nerve damage that can reduce sensation in the feet, causing the feet to feel numb and suffer from a lack of blood. Not only that, but it can also lead to injury of the feet and result in foot injuries going undetected for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
As a result of these circulatory issues affecting the feet of diabetic patients, diabetic socks are often recommended. These socks keep the feet dry, they help boost circulation, they protect the feet, and they can prevent foot injuries in diabetics. Because they’re so effective, they require special maintenance care and attention.
Here’s a look at how to wash and care for diabetic socks.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing
First and foremost, when it comes to washing diabetic socks, you need to make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing them.
Read the label carefully and follow the guidance they provide. Each brand of diabetic sock is different, so be sure to read the washing instructions carefully. Some socks for example, can be washed in a washing machine, whereas others need to be hand washed.
Different types of diabetic socks are also made from different material so will need to be washed at different temperatures etc.
Wash after each use
Even though diabetic socks are designed to wick away sweat and moisture, and help to neutralize harmful bacteria, that does not mean that the socks don’t need to be washed regularly.
The foot is a breeding ground for bacteria, and as your feet will already be at risk as a diabetic, the last thing you want is for you to contract athlete’s foot, a fungal nail infection, or any other infection due to wearing dirty socks.
Wash on a gentle cycle with cool water
Assuming your diabetic socks are washing machine safe, if you do wash them in the washing machine be sure to use a gentle cycle with warm water.
Some people have recommended cold water, though we feel this is not ideal. To begin with, cold water doesn’t fully dissolve the detergent, and not only is it not warm enough to kill bacteria, the cold water could also encourage new bacteria to breed in your machine, especially under the seal.
Set the temperature to between 86F (30C) and 104F (40C) and set the machine to wash the socks on a gentle cycle.
Wash the socks in a mesh bag
Another simple but effective thing you can do when washing your diabetic socks is quickly place them into a washable mesh bag before you switch on your washing machine.
By washing them in a mesh bag you can protect the socks from getting snagged on internal parts of the washing machine drum, which could rip them or stretch out the material, essentially rendering them useless.
Never wash in hot water
While cold water isn’t recommended for washing diabetic socks, neither is hot water.
Hot water can cause the socks to lose their shape, elasticity, and effectiveness, while also causing the fabric to shrink, deteriorate and break down.
High temperatures damage diabetic socks so never wash them in hot water, and never set your washing machine above 104F (40C).
Use a mild detergent
While detergents are important for keeping your diabetic socks fresh and helping to kill off any harmful bugs, germs, bacteria, or odors, the problem is that harsh detergents can damage the socks themselves.
Some detergents out there are packed full of strong and potent ingredients which can cause the fabric and materials in the socks to gradually deteriorate and breakdown after each wash.
When you wash your diabetic socks, just look for a mild detergent which is additive-free.
On the subject of detergents and similar solutions, for the same reasons as above, avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as well.
Hand wash your socks
If you’re worried that your diabetic socks won’t withstand the punishment of a regular cycle in the washing machine, why not hand wash them instead?
Hand washing means that you can be gentle with the socks while getting them clean, fresh, and hygienic in the process.
Simply fill a clean basin, bathtub, or bucket with warm water and add a small amount of gentle detergent. Give a gentle mix until fully dissolved, then slowly submerge the socks and leave them to soak for 10 minutes. Now, give them a gentle rub to remove any oils, soap subs, or impurities, rinse under clean warm water, and set aside to dry.
Never dry in a tumble dryer
Even if the manufacturers state that your diabetic socks are safe to use in the tumble dryer, our advice here would be for you not to do so.
Heat stretches the diabetic socks and causes them to stretch out and lose their shape, which defeats the purpose the sock in the first place. Not only that, it can damage the fabric and material, and thereby reduce the longevity of your socks.
If you do insist on using a tumble dryer to dry them, make sure you choose the gentlest setting and a cooler temperature, and try not to dry them this way after every wash.
Never dry with direct heat
After washing your diabetic socks, it can be tempting to throw them on the radiator or hang them on the washing line in direct sunlight to get them to dry quicker. Avoid this temptation however, as it will damage your socks and render them useless.
Diabetic socks hate heat, so air dry them naturally whenever possible.
Also, try not to hang them to dry as this can cause them to stretch and become misshapen as well. Your best option is to lay them out flat and have them air dry naturally, out of direct sunlight.
Where to find quality diabetic socks
Diabetic socks are designed to be non-binding with a loose-fit, helping to promote mobility, comfort, and support.
The socks help to boost circulation and remove build up of blood, lymph and other fluids that could lead to painful swelling and other complications.
So, if you're looking for a pair of diabetic socks that you can count on to provide you with the comfort and support you need, then look no further than Dr. Segal's. You'll be amazed by the wide range of diabetic and compression socks we have to offer.