Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living


These Are The Best Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Socks

Image by Cottonique
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Socks might seem like the most insignificant part of your wardrobe, but they can make a huge difference in your comfort throughout the day. If your feet tend to get itchy when you wear colorful synthetic socks, it’s time to pick up some pairs made with natural fibers and skin-safe dyes.

Plastic-based socks don’t just leave your shoes smelly. In addition to trapping odors, the azo-benzene disperse dyes used on polyester are known skin sensitizers, and can be carcinogenic when absorbed through the skin (which is especially an issue with socks, as they migrate to your skin even faster when you sweat in them.)

But don’t worry–switching to certifiably safe socks doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lose the fun patterns. Our list of non-toxic socks includes both undyed and colorful options for every level of sensitive skin (and style.)

Natural Materials: If you’re sensitive to synthetics or have skin problems, the best thing you can do for feet is to wear socks made from 100% natural fibers. Most socks have at least some elastane for stretch, so finding pairs without any synthetics are really rare and hard to find. However, there are a couple of brands on this list (Cottonique and Arms of Andes) that pull it off. Aside from these brands, it’s safe to assume the socks contain at least a small amount of synthetics that probably won’t cause irritation, but we’ve noted the ones that contain 20% or more.

Merino and alpaca wool make fantastic socks because they’re naturally odor-resistant and moisture-wicking. Check for labels from the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) which ensures it was harvested without mulesing, a painful technique where the skin is cut off the sheep to protect them from blowflies laying eggs in their skin. Organic cotton, Tencel, linen, and bamboo viscose are comfortable and breathable options too. If you aren’t sensitive to synthetics, you can go with a blend that contains recycled materials such as nylon and polyester, but we still recommend opting for ones made with majority natural fibers.

Non-Toxic Dyes & Finishes: If you have a sensitivity to dyes, you’re in the right place. Several brands on this list have a selection of undyed socks that embrace the natural colors of the fibers. For socks that are dyed, look for certifications from Oeko-Tex and labels from bluesign to be sure that the dyes and finishes used don’t contain hazardous substances. You can also look out for brands with a restricted substances list, which shows they pay attention to their chemical management.

Traceable & Ethical Supply Chain: Check if the brand manufactures ethically by looking for transparency in its supply chain. If it doesn’t share the locations of its supply chain partners, you can also look for certifications from Fair Trade, WRAP, and B Corp.

Sustainable Packaging: While socks are relatively small items that don’t need much protection, some brands still use heaps of plastic to package them in. To reduce waste with your new socks, look for brands that use compostable or biodegradable packaging, or recycled and recyclable materials. You can also check for certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be sure the paper and cardboard used were sourced responsibly.

 

1. Harvest & Mill

What we love: Harvest & Mill makes dye-free organic cotton socks in natural colors. Its non-toxic and unbleached cotton is grown, spun, and knit in the U.S. to shorten its supply chain and support domestic farmers. It repurposes or recycles all of its extra fabric, and uses compostable packaging.

Our Review: Our sensitive skin tester loves that the dye-free socks are a natural color, and are super cozy and breathable. The crew-style socks come up far enough to protect her ankles when she wears boots, and they don’t add any pressure to the areas around the cuffs. Even though they’re thick cotton, they feel lightweight.

Price Range: $11-$12 for single pairs, $33-$66 for packs.

Available in: Most countries.

 

2. Subset

What we love: Formerly known as Knickey, Subset is a Brooklyn-based PFAS-free brand that makes Fair Trade and Oeko-Tex-certified organic cotton socks. Its cotton is from an organic farm in India, where it’s also ginned, spun, dyed, and sewn.

Our Review: Our sensitive skin tester was a little surprised that these socks were so thin. She hasn’t worn them for a full day yet, but she already knows they’re not something she would usually wear. She did say they would be perfect to pair with a tight-fitting shoe, though, and feels like a dressier sock. Fortunately, she didn’t react to the cuff, as the elastic seems to be embedded well enough into the fabric that it doesn’t reach her skin.

Watch out for: Subset’s socks contain 24% synthetics.

Price Range: $12.

Available in: The U.S., Australia, Canada, and most European countries.

 

3. Paka

What we love: Paka is a certified B Corp that makes durable but lightweight socks out of majority alpaca wool and Tencel. Its moisture-wicking and odor-resistant socks are dyed with Oeko-Tex-certified dyes and spun by Peruvian artisans. It uses biodegradable and compostable packaging.

Our Review: Our sensitive skin tester absolutely loves these socks. They’re really thick and keep her chronically cold feet warm regardless of the weather. They’re also perfect for hiking long trails in the winter. While they do get a little itchy after a while, she thinks it’s because of the physical nature of the alpaca wool rather than any kind of reaction. She recommends them for any place with harsh winters.

Watch out for: Paka’s socks contain up to 50% recycled synthetics.

Price Range: $20-$24 for single pairs, $48-96 for bundles.

Available in: Worldwide.

 

4. Arms of Andes

What we love: Arms of Andes is one of the only brands that makes socks without any synthetics in the mix. Its 100% alpaca fiber slipper socks are sourced from free-range alpacas. Its Oeko-Tex-certified socks are lightweight but well insulated, plus they’re soft and moisture-wicking. The brand works closely with co-op farmers in the Andes to design and make its garments, from sourcing to sewing. It sends its orders in compostable packaging.

Price Range: $20-$25 for single pairs, $65 for packs.

Available in: The U.S., the EU, and the UK.

 

5. Cottonique

What we love: One of the only brands that makes completely synthetic-free socks, Cottonique specializes in 100% cotton allergy-free apparel. Its socks are Latex-free, bleach-free, and hypoallergenic with covered seams to prevent rubbing. The brand works closely with dermatologists to ensure its products are truly safe for sensitive skin. It sources its organic cotton from farms in India, manufactures in the Philippines, and uses compostable packaging.

Price Range: $16 for single pairs of thigh highs, $16-$21 for packs.

Available in: Most countries.

 

6. Boody

What we love: Boody is a Sydney-based brand that makes socks ranging in thickness for everything from relaxing to working. It uses Oeko-Tex-certified organic bamboo viscose from India, as well as organic cotton and recycled nylon. The brand upholds a code of conduct and works with WRAP-certified facilities in China, Vietnam, and India.

Price Range: $9.95-$17.95 for singles, $54 for bundles.

Available in: The U.S. and Canada.

 

7. Kotn

What we love: Kotn is a certified B Corp that builds lasting relationships with local Egyptian cotton farmers and engages in direct trade with them to maintain fair prices. Its socks are made with organic cotton and Oeko-Tex-certified dyes. Its supply chain is completely traceable, and it uses recycled and recyclable packaging.

Watch out for: Some pairs contain up to 20% synthetics.

Our Review: These socks are fantastic. Not only do they feel good, but they complete an outfit well and look quite professional.

 Price Range: $10-$18 for single pairs.

Available in: Most countries.

 

8. Quinn

What we love: Quinn’s garments are designed for folks with eczema and made to last. Its selection of organic cotton non-toxic socks includes dye-free, lightweight, and mid-weight options. Its socks are designed in Canada and ethically made in Oeko-Tex-certified factories in Portugal and Sri Lanka.

Watch out for: While its cotton is GOTS-certified, it’s unclear where it’s sourced from. Some pairs contain up to 20% synthetics.

Our Review: Our tester tried the undyed cotton ankle socks and the mid-weight merino wool ones. Both pairs were extremely comfortable and breathable, but the ankle socks did tend to slide down a bit. The merino wool socks had an extra-thick heel that makes it warm and cozy for both hiking and relaxing at home.

Price Range: $15 for singles up to $75 for packs.

Available in: Most countries.

 

9. Cariloha

What we love: This certified B Corp makes hypoallergenic socks from bamboo viscose and organic cotton. Its Oeko-Tex and Fair Trade-certified bamboo is sourced from China, and it uses FSC-certified paper packaging.

Watch out for: It’s unclear where it manufactures.

Price Range: $10-$15 for singles, $30-$45 for bundles.

Available in: The U.S., Australia, and Canada.

 

10. Dedicated

What we love: Dedicated makes Fair Trade organic cotton socks with bold patterns. Its cotton suppliers are WRAP-certified, and you can see where each pair was made on the product page.

Watch out for: Its socks contain up to 25% elastane.

Price Range: $9-$59

Available in: Worldwide.

 

11. Darn Tough

What we love: Darn Tough’s socks, which are made in Vermont at its family-owned mills, are designed to be comfortable and durable, are made with RWS-certified merino wool in fun and colorful styles. It uses Oeko-Tex-certified materials and regularly tests for hazardous substances in accordance with its restricted substances list. It uses FSC-certified recycled paper, compostable bags, and vegetable-based inks in its packaging.

Watch out for: Its socks contain up to 50% synthetics.

Price Range: $15-$35 for singles, up to $84 for packs.

Available in: The U.S., the UK, and the EU.

 

12. From the Ground Up 

What we love: This brand makes anti-microbial merino wool and polyester socks in a wide selection of patterns. The RWS and bluesign-approved socks are especially designed to be thick and supportive enough to keep you comfortable on hikes.

Watch out for: It’s unclear where it sources its materials from or where it manufactures. Its socks contain more than 50% synthetics.

Price Range: $20-$50.

Available in: Most countries.

 

13. Nisolo

What we love: Nisolo is a certified B Corp known for its quality leather shoes, but it also has a cute and comfy line of socks to go with them. The socks are made in a family-owned mill in North Carolina with upcycled cotton, linen, wool, and recycled polyester. It traces its supply chain and seeks to pay everyone in its supply chain a living wage. Its packaging is made with recycled materials.

Watch out for: Its socks contain up to 70% synthetics.

Price Range: $15-$20 for single pairs.

Available in: The U.S., Australia, Canada, and most European countries.

 

14. Swedish Stockings

What we love: Swedish Stockings makes knee-highs and ankle socks in options including classic, supportive, colorful, and patterned. They’re made in Italy with Oeko-Tex-certified materials including bamboo viscose, organic cotton, organic wool, recycled polyester, and virgin and recycled elastane.

Watch out for: Some socks are fully synthetic.

Price Range: $19 for ankle sock bundles, $22-$45 for single knee highs, and $50-$90 for knee-high bundles.

Available in: Most countries.

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