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I've got athlete's foot after having my feet in the same boots for extended periods of time.

How can I disinfect my wool hiking socks to prevent this from spreading and reinfecting my feet?

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you might be able to microwave them – tomfumb Jan 11 at 17:43

Simply throwing them in the wash should suffice, but if you want to be extra sure the fungus dies, you could soak your socks in a 1 part bleach to 10 parts water mixture for ten minutes. Keep in mind that it's not your socks you need to worry about so much as your shoes, they're a little more difficult to clean. Try changing your insoles out, they make special ones which help prevent athletes foot.

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It's not so much your pair of socks, being several pair. There are more than one kind of athletes foot, and the worst kind you really never get rid of. You manage it by assuring you can let your feet (excuse me, and crotch) breath. You do this by having many changes of socks and underwear. I am sorry but no matter what anyone here says, that's really the best response. That worst kind is called tinea cruris. Hope you don't get it, because it really is a chronic infection. – Escoce Jan 10 at 23:22
washing your socks does not really disinfect them. neither the soap nor the temperature are sufficient to get rid of it – njzk2 Jan 10 at 23:42
My pharmacy recommended soaking in this product which is 2.4g/100g dialkyl dimethyl ammonium chlorid, benzyl alkyl-dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorid, unnamed disinfectant and butylphenyl methylpropional, hexyl cinnamal, citronellol for the smell. Didn't help, first time I put them on - wham. Or maybe it was the shoes but I nuked those with Daktarin powder. I got rid of the socks ... Now I preventively apply some isobetadine on the critical places before setting off. – David Tonhofer Jan 11 at 1:04
@DavidTonhofer If it's a serious problem then you may be wise to replace your socks, perhaps even your boots... Something else you can try to aid in your foot treatment is the old army remedy of peeing on your feet in the shower. It's not a miracle cure, but it does help sometimes. Worst case scenario you'll save some dollars on your water bill. – ShemSeger Jan 11 at 1:52
I'm afraid soaking your (as I assume, expensive, because otherwise the question wouldn't have arisen) wool socks in chlorine bleach ruins them, as would boiling them. I'm afraid that it's probably hard to disinfect wool. Perhaps you can use hard UV? There are special hard UV lamps available used to disinfect hard-to-clean places. Edit: Reading the specs it looks as if (logically) UV disinfection woks best/only on non-porous surfaces. – Peter A. Schneider Jan 11 at 4:39

Hot Water - needs to be very hot - 140 F (60C) - reported to kill all, but is not good for wool.

UV Light - hang out to dry in direct sunshine. Products exist that claim to sterilize shoes using UV light and can be used for socks.

Chemicals - Anti fungal Laundry rinse (e.g. Canestan) is effective, Borax etc. Bleach alone does not kill fungus spores.

Your shoes and feet need treatment as much as your socks.

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FWIW. Canestan is not regularly available in the US. – Benzo Jan 12 at 16:30

Chlorine Bleach is not good for wool. Found a solution that worked for me - phenolic disinfectant (Lysol) the web site also suggested Pine Oil (Pine Sol or Lysol Pine Action) Remember to also disinfect towels, shower shoes/sandals, etc as the athlete's foot fungus can spread via laundry basket contact (or gym bag / backpack) also (same address as prior ending with) /disinfectlaundr.htm Best of luck

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I have dealt with this myself. I use wool socks almost exclusively and sometimes a tech liner underneath.

Cheap White Vinegar. Buy by the gallon and keep on hand and foot. Use undiluted or 50/50 lowest.

10% bleach solution is what I use INSIDE my shoes and fan dry thoroughly at least once a season for any shoes I sweat in.

Good luck. Foot AIDS sucks.

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Potassium Sorbate. You may be able to find it at a homebrewing (beer/wine) supply store.

It will work. You'll need to do your research and be careful, though.

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Hi Greg and thx for the idea. Could you please improve your answer a bit? So that not every reader has to google around you could share some more information please. – Wills Feb 5 at 12:14

Rubbing alchohol is also an effective disinfectant.

However, the problem is more general: Wearing socks inside foot boxes on a day in, day out basis is the root.

Recommendations to prevent a recurrence:

  1. Go barefoot more of the time.

  2. When you do get an infection, rub your feet with rubbing alcohol at the end of the day.

  3. Do not sleep in socks. If the weather is cold enough, keep separate day socks and sleeping socks.

On canoe trips I wear 'reef boots' (footwear with rubber soles and neoprene sides) on several week trips. During the day my feet were constantly wet. Once in camp, I changed to dry socks and lightweight runners or sandals. No problems.

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