Why You Should Wash Your Socks More Than Boris

Why You Should Wash Your Socks More Often Than Boris Johnson

New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is known for his unkempt fashion sense — baggy suits, tousled hair, and rumpled dress shirts. Adding to that are his socks, which are often colorful. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Johnson is a fan of socks because they are opportunities to display his personality.

They are, he said, his “one concession to fashion.” He even has a favorite place to shop for socks: north London’s Chapel Market

In fact, Johnson likes socks so much, he is known for wearing the same pair of socks for several days in a row. Recently the British press noted that Johnson wore one pair four straight days, evidenced by press photos taken during interviews each day.

The socks in question are distinctive — They are emblazoned with the image of King Ashurbanipal, ruler of the Neo-Assyrian empire from 668 to 627 BC. The British Museum sells them in their gift shop. During one of the four days, it appeared that Johnson wore one of the socks inside out.

Be Like Boris?

His media team insists that Johnson owns several pairs of the one sock. But if that’s not true, it does raise the question: How often should one wash their socks?

The consensus among experts: Socks should be washed after every use. But it may depend on what your sock is made of.

The American Cleaning Institute, an advocacy group for the U.S. cleaning products industry, says that underwear and socks should always be cleaned after a single use. The only items that can wait for washing after repeated use are pajamas, bras, suits, jackets, and jeans.

Yet research shows cotton socks may have the advantage over polyester. A 2014 study by Ghent University in Belgium found that bacteria are more likely to sit on polyester than on cotton. Which means that socks made of the synthetic fabric will smell far worse after one wearing.

The authorities on this issue are the foot doctors. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) says some of the worst foot ailments are related to the presence of microorganisms. The most common is Athlete’s Foot, a fungal infection that is also known as ringworm of the foot.

The APMA recommends changing socks regularly to decrease moisture, especially if you perspire heavily. (Acrylic socks, the kind sold by Elite Sports Socks, has much greater moisture-wicking properties than cotton or polyester.) 

So for hygiene’s sake, it is probably better to not be like Boris. Buy more socks because wearing the same pair every day is going to lead to something very itchy and smelly.

Your feet will thank you.