Of all undergarments subject to wear and tear, socks take a real beating. Socks rub against shoes, they're subject to violent washing machine encounters, and they're made of somewhat flimsy material. It’s not uncommon to see holes form in socks within the span of a few months.

The sock industry probably appreciates a high sock turnover, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can prolong the life of your socks—both dress and athletic—with just a few simple steps. Here’s how.

How to Wash Socks

Sock breakdown can begin the moment you toss your smelly clump of cotton in the washing machine. Socks need gentle handling in the wash cycle with cold water. More importantly, they need to be air-dried, not machined-dried, to prolong their usefulness. (Repeated trips in the dryer can weaken the elastic.) You can also turn your socks inside-out before washing to prevent lint from accumulating on the exterior. For drying, you can also pick up a sock rack for about $10 online.

Don’t Use Socks as Slippers

If you kick your shoes off when you get home and proceed to walk around in your socks, you’re compounding your sock wear issues. Socks are intended to provide comfort and cushioning when worn inside a pair of shoes. They’re not designed to be footwear. If you want to walk around the house, opt for slip-resistant socks made of more durable material.

Taking Care of Your Feet Will Take Care of Your Socks

Notice how holes in socks develop around toes and the heels. Sure, they’re impact surfaces, but they’re also places where poor foot maintenance can produce tears. Overgrown toenails or rough heels can wear down the fabric. Try to keep your nails trimmed and your skin smooth to prevent friction.

Socks that offer thicker material around these areas can also help. But no matter what kind you buy, practicing the three steps above will likely keep you from having to go sock shopping every few months.

[h/t SocksRock.com]