You probably already know that compression garments—including compression stockings and compression socks—are a great way to promote blood flow, reduce swelling, and prevent vascular problems. Doctors recommend compression stockings for pregnant women, athletes, frequent travelers, and people recovering from surgery. These socks work by exerting gentle pressure on your legs, assisting your veins as they carry blood toward your heart.
Tennis star Serena Williams made international news by wearing compression garments after experiencing a pulmonary embolism; in fact, an article in Texas Medical Center News explains, “The catsuit Williams wore in the French Open  compressed her legs, helped her blood circulate and reduced the risk of clots.” Still, you don’t need to be a professional athlete to benefit from compression. By wearing compression socks, everyone has the ability to support their veins and reduce the risk of blood clots, particularly the harmful blood clots that form in deep veins.
While your socks work hard to improve your health, they normally lose elasticity over time. That’s true of all compression socks, not just the ones we sell. So, what’s the best way to help improve the longevity of your compression socks and allow them to continue benefiting your health? We’ve received many questions about how to wash and dry compression socks. In response, we’ve created these detailed guidelines for getting the most out of your new socks.
When you buy a pair of graduated compression socks or stockings, you'll notice that they come with a label that gives a range of compression, listed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher the numbers within a given range, the tighter the sock will feel and the more support it will provide. For example, a 15-25 mmHg sock will offer more support and will be slightly tighter on your leg than a 10-15 mmHg sock. The two numbers describe the variance in pressure, since graduated compression offers more support near the ankle and becomes looser near the calf.
Non-medical grade compression levels range from light (8-15 mmHg) to firm (30-40 mmHg). Our graduated compression sock offers compression near the middle of the range (15-25 mmHg) and our merino wool compression sock offers (15-20mmHg) for everyday wear. Plus, each sock is tested for compression accuracy in our factory using an industry standard machine. We decided to make our best-selling Companions 15-25 mmHg, a measurement we refer to as “the compression sweet spot,” because that range provides all the benefits of a medical-grade compression sock without being uncomfortably tight.
With any compression garment, no matter how well-made, the fabric will begin to stretch after repeated use over a long period of time. For optimal effectiveness, compression garments need to be cared for so that they maintain elasticity as long as possible. This means that you should be able to wear your compression socks multiple times before washing, and you should learn how to take proper care of your socks.
When to Wash Your Compression Socks
Because Companions (knee-high compression socks) and Allies (ankle-length compression socks) use SmartSilver™ antimicrobial technology, which binds to the fabric of the sock on a molecular level, you won’t have to worry about washing your socks as often. We recommend wearing them 3-5 times before each wash.
Guides, made with Merino Wool, naturally wick sweat and help regulate your foot temperature. Merino wool’s natural antimicrobial properties help prevent odor, keeping feet fresh and your socks clean for whatever your adventures bring. As with our other products, you can wear Guides 3-5 times before each wash.
Our socks are constructed out of high-quality materials that maintain their shape, prevent odor-causing bacteria, and wick moisture. They’ll keep you feeling comfortable and supported all day long. Unlike other brands, Comrad socks do not need to be washed after every wear.
- Launder your socks with like colors.
- Set your washing machine to a cold water, gentle cycle.
- Use a mild detergent without bleach.
- Air dry your socks—by gently removing excess water and hanging to dry.
- Use chlorine bleach or fabric softener.
- Use hot water.
- Use dryer sheets.
Our socks are made of flexible natural and synthetic fabrics that should limit shrinking. With machine washing as described above, our socks retain their elasticity for up to six months.
You may also choose to hand wash your compression socks with cool water and a mild detergent. To do this, fill a small tub or basin with cold water. Add a mild, bleach-free soap to the water. Submerge the socks, mix the detergent around with your hands, then let the socks sit in the soapy water for 5-10 minutes. Next, rinse the socks thoroughly with cold water, removing all soap. Hang to dry.
How to Choose a Compression Sock
When selecting a compression sock, pick out a pair of socks that you'll be able to wear regularly. In order to get benefits from graduated compression therapy, you'll need to commit to wearing your socks whenever symptoms arise. If you aim to prevent varicose veins or blood clots, it’s best to wear compression socks throughout the day or during prolonged periods of sitting and standing. In a review of the existing medical literature, researchers identified patient noncompliance as a major challenge to research. (Chung et al.) Plan ahead; be sure to select a pair of socks that you like and can commit to wearing. If you’re inconsistent with your use of compression socks, you won’t experience sustained benefits. We recommend choosing a sock that’s both comfortable and stylish for this reason.
According to Dr. Gerhard-Herman, in an article, "Get a Leg Up On Varicose Veins," from Harvard Heart Letter, "Gradient compression stockings have gotten a bad reputation because they can be hard to put on," however, "some people feel better instantly once they put the stockings on and may not feel the need for other treatment." So, when selecting compression socks, choose a style and fit that you'll be excited to wear everyday. You should feel your legs pulsing slightly—that's the increase in circulation from the compression. They should feel tight, but not uncomfortable.
Are Compressions Socks the Same as Regular Socks?
You might think that you can buy regular socks in a small size and get the same benefits that you would with compression socks. After all, they feel tight, right?
In reality, there's no replacement for True Graduated Compression. As opposed to regular socks or socks with simple athletic compression, True Graduated Compression is a medical technology that promotes the circulation of blood back toward your heart. In the past, people thought of compression therapy as ugly, expensive, and uncomfortable, but our team at Comrad spent two years developing the perfect compression socks—socks that you actually want to wear. Not only are our socks manufactured to medical industry specifications, but they also look and feel great.
Regular socks have not been proven in hundreds of clinical studies to increase circulation and move lymph fluid. Graduated compression therapy, on the other hand, is the first line of defense in treating a number of vascular conditions.
Ask yourself, “Can my socks be used to treat the symptoms of these medical conditions?”
- Varicose veins and spider veins
- Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Edema (swelling)
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS)
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
- Shin splints
- Plantar Fasciitis
If the answer is no, you may want to consider upgrading to socks with benefits.
Do I Need a Prescription to Order?
Comrad’s socks are not a medical product, so you don't need a prescription to buy them. We harness the beneficial properties of compression technology at a level below prescription strength. When your socks lose elasticity, you can easily replace them by ordering online.
Try our socks for 30 days. If your legs don’t feel more supported and energized, they’re on us.
- Bhatt, Deepak L. “Ask the Doctor: Compression Stockings for Long-Distance Travel?” Harvard Heart Letter, Harvard Health Publishing, Aug. 2014, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/ask-the-doctor-compression-stockings-for-long-distance-travel-.
- Becker, Alexandra, and Shanley Pierce. “Catsuits, Compression Socks and Serena Williams.” TMC News, Texas Medical Center, 16 Aug. 2019, www.tmc.edu/news/2018/08/catsuits-compression-socks-and-serena-williams/.
- Chung Sim Lim and Alun H. Davies. “Graduated compression stockings.” CMAJ Vol. 186, Iss. 10 pp. E391-E398. July 08, 2014, https://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/10/E391.short.
- “Compression socks can help prevent varicose veins.” The Scope, University of Utah, Jan 10, 2018, https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_u6yd3xaw.
- Cornu-Thenard, André, and Pierre Boivin. “Chronic Venous Disease during Pregnancy.” Phlebolymphology, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 138-145, 1 Jan. 2014, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274043255_Chronic_venous_disease_during_pregnancy.
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Get a Leg Up on Varicose Veins.” Harvard Health, May 2015, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/get-a-leg-up-on-varicose-veins.
- “How Long Should I Wear Compression Stockings after Surgery?” NHS Choices, NHS, 18 Dec. 2018, www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/operations-tests-and-procedures/how-long-should-i-wear-compression-stockings-after-surgery/.
- Partsch H, Winiger J, Lun B. "Compression stockings reduce occupational leg swelling," Dermatol Surg. Vol. 30, Iss. 5 pp. 737-743. May 2004, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15099316.