Alpaca is an amazing, versatile fiber used in a variety of garments like alpaca socks. But, with anything handmade, it’s always important to know how to take care of them. So, how do you wash alpaca socks?
If your socks are 100% alpaca, you should hand wash them, if they are labeled as machine washable then you can wash them in the washing machine.
To wash alpaca socks by hand, turn your socks inside out and fill a sink or tub of hot water. Add a wool-safe soap, gently press the socks into the water and let them soak. Then, remove the soapy socks, refill the tub with hot water, and let them soak again to rinse the soap out. Remove the socks, gently squeeze out excess water, and lay them flat to dry out of direct sunlight.
To machine wash your alpaca socks, turn your socks inside out and place them in a garment bag. Set the machine to use cold water and on the wool cycle or gentle cycle. Add a wool-safe soap or mild detergent; do not use detergents that have stain removers and chlorine bleach. Let the machine run, take your socks out, and lay them flat to dry out of direct sunlight.
Washing alpaca socks can be a tricky business, if you don’t wash them correctly they could shrink and felt. But, I’ll give you detailed instructions so your alpaca socks will be clean in no time. Let’s get into the details!
Table of Contents
- How to Wash Alpaca Socks by Hand
- How to Wash Alpaca Socks in the Washing Machine
- How Often Should You Wash Alpaca?
- Related Questions
How to Wash Alpaca Socks by Hand
I made myself a pair of chunky alpaca sock slippers and they are one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. So, I make sure I take proper care of them because I want to wear them for a long time to come.
Most alpaca socks should be washed by hand, it’s rare for alpaca socks to be machine washable but they do exist.
If your socks are handmade, hand wash them. If your socks are commercially made with a synthetic blend, there’s a chance they are machine washable. Check the label or the manufacturer’s website to be certain.
But, If you no longer have the tag and don’t know for sure, it’s always better to hand wash them.
It can seem like a hassle, but it’s simpler than you think. Let’s get into the step-by-step of how to hand wash alpaca socks.
1. Prepare Water Bath
First things first, prepare the wash bath for your socks.
Take a tub or sink and fill it with hot water. You might be surprised that I’m telling you hot water but you can use hot water as long as you do not agitate the socks in the water.
If you’re nervous about felting or shrinking your socks, you can use cool water instead.
Once you have your sink filled, add your chosen soap. I recommend using a soap specifically made for wool and animal fibers called wool wash. If you want to know about wool wash, check out my post here.
It’s important to add the soap after you fill-up the sink, if you add the soap and then the water, the bath will have a lot of bubbles making it difficult to see the water.
Now it’s time to add your socks.
2. Soak Socks
Now that you have your bath set up, it’s time to add your socks.
Before you do this, I recommend turning your socks inside out. This is not required for proper washing, but turning your socks inside out will prevent the outside of the sock from pilling and getting damaged.
To know more about why you should wash your socks inside out, check out my other post all about it here.
Once your socks are ready, lay them on top of the water and gently press your socks down into the water until they are fully saturated. By pressing the socks down, you limit the amount of agitation which is important to resist felting.
Do not agitate the socks while they are in the water!! Agitation is a sure fire way to felt and shrink your socks.
Once your socks and completely soaked, let them soak in the water for at least ten minutes.
3. Rinse Socks
After your socks have soaked in the soapy water for ten minutes, take them out of the water and gently squeeze out any excess water.
Do not wring the socks! This will rub the fibers against one another and possibly cause felting. Just squeeze them out the best you can.
Now, refill the tub with clean water and press the socks back down into the water to rinse the soap out.
If you used a wool-specific soap, some of them do not need to be rinsed so don’t worry if the soap is not completely rinsed out.
Let the socks soak again for another ten minutes. If you’re not satisfied with the amount of rinse you got, you can rinse them again.
4. Dry Socks
Once the socks are fully rinsed, take them out of the bath and gently squeeze as much excess moisture out as you can again making sure you don’t wring them.
Lay your socks flat to dry or hang them on a drying rack/clothesline. Don’t hang them on a single point as this could stretch them out.
Make sure you put them somewhere away from direct sunlight to avoid damage to the alpaca wool fibers.
Then just let them dry and bam, you’re done! Easier than you thought, right?
This process can be used for any alpaca wool clothes and other handmade items.
How to Wash Alpaca Socks in the Washing Machine
Before you go chuck your alpaca socks in the washing machine: Do not wash your alpaca socks in the washing machine if they are 100% Alpaca!
Just like wool, 100% alpaca could felt in the washing machine even if you use cold water. To avoid that possibility, hand wash your socks in they are not blended with another material.
When in doubt, check the garment label or the manufacturer’s website for care instructions regarding your specific socks.
If they were a handmade alpaca garment, check the yarn label or reach out to the person who made it to get information about how the garment should be treated.
Now that we have that out of the way, here is how you can wash your alpaca socks in the washing machine if the garment labels say you can.
So, here’s everything you need to know about machine washing your alpaca socks.
- Set your washing machine to use cold water and wash your socks on the wool cycle, gentle cycle, or hand wash cycle, whichever one your washer has
- Add a mild soap that is safe on wool and animal fibers, wool wash is the best soap to use. Avoid using detergents that have stain removers or chlorine bleach as this could damage the fibers
- Turn your socks inside out and place them in a mesh garment bag. This will decrease the amount of damage and pilling on the outside of the socks
- Lay your alpaca socks out to dry flat and away from direct sunlight
And done! Just remember to be gentle with your socks when they’re wet. Now, let’s talk about how often you should wash alpaca garments.
How Often Should You Wash Alpaca?
How often you wash alpaca depends largely on how much you wear the item in question and what the item is. Some items, like socks, get more wear and tear and are exposed to more sweat than others.
You should always air out your alpaca garments after you wear them, you can do this by hanging them up or draping them over the edge of something. By doing this you will allow any moisture to evaporate which prevents odors and bacteria from building up in the fiber.
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of approximately how often you should wash an alpaca product.
- Alpaca sweaters (not next to skin): Every 10 or more wearings or as needed
- Alpaca wraps and scarves: Every 10 or more wearings or as needed
- Next to skin alpaca clothing or undergarments(yes they exist): Every 5 wearings or as needed
- Alpaca hats and gloves: Wash at the end of the cold season before you store them or as needed
- Alpaca socks: Every 5 wearings or as needed
These are just approximates and they will vary based on several factors. That’s why at the end of every section I put ‘as needed’.
As needed means if an item starts to smell, has visible dirt or grime on it, or something was spilled on it wash it.
So, an alpaca wool garment you only wear once a year, you may not wash for several years and that is perfectly okay.
Does Alpaca Shrink When Washed?
Yes, alpaca fiber will shrink if washed in a washing machine. But, if you follow the handwashing instructions above, you can safely wash your alpaca socks without shrinking them. For more information about what yarns will shrink when washed, check out my post all about yarn shrinking when washed.
Can Bacteria Grow on Alpaca?
Alpaca fiber is antibacterial which means it is resistant to bacteria growth. This helps it to be odor resistant so you don’t have to wash alpaca items very often. Wool is also antibacterial, check out this post for a full breakdown of wool vs alpaca to learn more about both fibers.
Can You Wash Alpaca With Baby Shampoo?
Yes, you can wash alpaca fiber and alpaca woolen garments with baby shampoo. Baby shampoo is a gentle soap that doesn’t have any stain removers or damaging substances. You can use baby shampoo on all other natural fibres as well.