Antimicrobial Socks: What They Are & Why You Need Them

Antimicrobial Socks: What They Are & Why You Need Them
Updated January 10, 2019

Being plagued with smelly feet can be personally embarrassing and off-putting to those around you. Even while your feet are sealed inside of your shoes, odors can escape and be present in the room.

Let’s face it: no one wants to be that person.

However, there is an easy solution! By simply upgrading your socks to a pair that has been treated with an antimicrobial you can free yourself of any worry or foul scent!

Antimicrobial socks help prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria in the fabric, ultimately warding off unpleasant odors.

The Problem:

Foul-smelling feet, socks, and shoes.

The Cause:

Bacteria. Believe it or not, sweat is not the root cause of body odour, the real culprit is bacteria.

Bacteria that naturally exists on human skin use the components in sweat as a food source.  It’s the waste they produce as they grow and multiply that becomes the essence of that stinky smell.

Want to know more about the specific science behind body odour?  Click here.

Wearing regular shoes and socks can make it increasingly difficult for the sweat on your feet to evaporate, which gives the bacteria more sweat to combine with and a longer period of time to make an impact.

Additionally, increased activity forces feet to sweat at a higher rate, which in turn means bacteria have more opportunities to latch onto sweat and create foul odors.

The Solution: Antimicrobial Socks!

Socks that have been finished with an antibacterial treatment are the fastest and easiest way to solve this issue.

Certain socks have been manufactured with antimicrobial materials which can help kill and prevent the growth of bacteria and can aid in the fight against foot odour.

Do Antibacterial Socks Work?

Yes, they really do!

When you select socks that have been enhanced with antimicrobials, the treated fabric resists the growth of unwanted, odour-causing bacteria.

While your feet will still produce the same amount of sweat, the antimicrobial treatment in the sock fabric prevents the proliferation of bacteria and therefore slows or stops odour-producing growth.

Further down below we discuss how antibacterial socks are tested to make sure they work.

Why Choose Ultra-Fresh or Silpure to Treat Sock Fabric?

  • Can be applied during normal textile finishing processes
  • Compatible with other auxiliaries, such as moisture wicking and cooling features
  • All fiber types (natural and synthetic) can be treated
  • Works continuously and lasts through multiple washes
  • EPA registered, BPR notified and Okeo-tex listed
  • We are a bluesign® system partner

Which Antimicrobial Socks Use Ultra-Fresh?

Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial additives have been used to treat billions of socks around the globe!

Many of the top athletic companies, such as Under Armour for example, use Ultra-Fresh and brand the antibacterial sock treatment under their own name (ArmourBlock).

Others, such as some of the ones listed below, advertise the Ultra-Fresh brand:

  • Puma
  • Peacocks UK
  • Jockey
  • Umbro
  • Fresh-Feet
  • Happyfoot
  • Goldtoe
  • Gildan
Antibacterial sports socks by Puma
Ultra-Fresh antibacterial sports socks by Puma

Find out more about the brands we work with.

How are Antimicrobial Socks Tested?

When looking at a newly manufactured fabric, antimicrobial additives can’t be seen, smelled or felt.

In fact, antimicrobial fabrics look exactly the same as untreated fabrics. So how are antimicrobial socks tested to make sure they work?

Many test methods developed by organizations such as the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC); American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM); International Organization for Standardization (ISO); and Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) are available to evaluate antibacterial performance.

These standardized test methods are often developed for specific types of materials, end-uses or antimicrobial technologies; therefore choosing the correct test method is important.

The most common test method used to assess antibacterial socks is the ISO 20743 (which is similar to the JIS L 1902).  Other methods include the AATCC Method 100 and the ASTM E2149.

Can you see the Difference Between Untreated & Antimicrobial Socks?

The photos below demonstrate the benefit of antimicrobial socks.

Two sock samples, one treated with Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial and the other without an antimicrobial treatment, were tested using the ISO 20743.  The same amounts of bacteria were added to each sample and then incubated at 37C/98F (body temperature) for 24 hours.   Afterwards, both samples were assessed to determine how many bacteria were remaining.

As seen in the below photos, heavy amounts of bacteria were recovered from the untreated sock sample.  In comparison, hardly any bacteria were recovered from the antimicrobial sock.

The conclusion is very simple: fewer bacteria = less unwanted, embarrassing odor.

Antimicrobial socks - fewer bacteria recovered results in reduced odor formation
Bacteria recovered from an Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial treated sock
Sock without antimicrobial treatment
Bacteria recovered from a sock without an antimicrobial treatment








Want to see more comparison photos? Visit our antimicrobial photo gallery.

Want to learn more about how antimicrobials in fabric work?


More Interesting Blog Articles:

Who We Are:

Thomson Research Associates (TRA) is a global leader in the field of antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antialgal, and anti-dust mite treatments (see regulatory information), providing antimicrobial protection to finished products for over 60 years.

We are committed to helping clients deliver fresh, durable, and innovative products by providing antimicrobial additives and treatments for textiles, plastics, foam, coatings, and more.

Read more about us here or contact us for more information.