Unlike your usual, run-of-the-mill socks, prosthetic socks, shrinkers, and sheaths are made of a combination of high-quality materials. Most of these are made with one or a combination of any of the following: High-tech Lycra, antimicrobial and temperature controlling Coolmax X-static, and breathable mesh. We are definitely not dealing with ordinary socks here, so knowing how to care for these everyday materials properly is a must.
Here are a few tried-and-tested tips to help you wash your prosthetic "stump" socks properly and ensure that they last longer than half a year:
1.) Do not let velcro anywhere near your prosthetic socks
Velcro is the devil's spawn for your socks. It's quick to destroy technical prosthetic fabrics because of the sticky side. In fact, Velcro is also bad for other types of material. It is best to separate them or hand wash products with Velcro one by one.
2.) Just work with the basics
You can use detergent that’s specially made for athletic clothing, though this is not necessary. What’s important in this case is to avoid soap with perfume or any sort of dye, as well as fabric softeners.
Just add your clothes, fill your washing machine with water (make sure to follow the proper proportions as stated in your machine's instructions), then put in the detergent last. This helps prevent residue from building up and eventually clogging your high-performance fabrics.
3.) Be delicate
While hand washing seems to work better when it comes to gently and delicately handle your high-performance fabrics, using a washing machine shouldn’t cause problems, as long as it’s set on a delicate cycle. The regular but heavy setting might be too harsh for your prosthetic socks, and it will destroy them.
4.) Heat is bad
Heat is the enemy of high-performance fabrics. It can damage them and even “bake in” odors. To prevent such a disaster, make sure to wash the socks in either cold or lukewarm water. Also, make sure that there is no soap residue left after your machine is done with the rinse cycle. If you notice any residue, rinse them again with cold water to thoroughly wash them out. Any amount of soap residue squeezed inside your socket is likely to cause chafing and other types of skin irritation.
5.) Hang drying is the way to go
As stated in the previous tip, heat can be detrimental to your prosthetic socks. You may want to avoid using your dryers if you're going to prolong the life of your socks. In this case, hang drying is your best option. But you’re worried that your socks won’t be thoroughly dry by the time you need to wear them, worry not. These high-performance fabrics dry fast.
But if you’re running short on time, here's a small hack that can help you dry your socks faster:
Lay your socks on a towel and roll it up tightly. Apply mild to moderate pressure to squeeze the water out of the socks. Unroll the sheet, and gently pat them to bring them back to their original shape. Proceed to either leave them to dry—turning them once in a while—or just hang them up to dry. However, if you really have to use a dryer, then make sure it's set on low heat.
Do these simple steps, and you’re ensured of longer-lasting prosthetic socks, shrinkers, and sheaths.