Wool vs Cotton Socks


Wool and cotton are two of the most commonly used sock materials. Some people may not think about their socks’ material when making a purchase. Others may assume there’s no real difference between wool vs cotton socks. But, sock materials can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your socks in certain conditions. 


Sock materials determine a sock’s thickness, insulation, and ability to absorb and transfer moisture. And of course, sock material also influences how the sock feels on your foot.


So, what are the major differences between wool socks vs. cotton socks? Here is everything you should know.

Wool Socks vs Cotton Socks: Different Types

Wool Socks

As you may know, wool is harvested from animals, typically sheep, and then spun into fine threads of yarn. On its own, wool offers excellent heat retention and great moisture-wicking qualities. It’s also a natural product with a relatively long life cycle. So wool socks are highly efficient and cost-effective. They are relatively cheap to manufacture, and thus sell for good prices, and they last a very long time.


Most wool socks are made from a blend of wool and synthetic materials like nylon or spandex. These synthetic materials help make wool socks softer on the skin, without sacrificing any insulating qualities of the wool fibers.


In addition to synthetic wool blends, you might also find merino wool socks. Merino wool refers to a different type of wool, which is thinner and finer than regular wool. These qualities make merino wool socks even better than wool socks when it comes to moisture protection.

Cotton Socks

Like wool, cotton is a natural product. Unlike wool, which is harvested from animals, cotton fibers come from the cotton plant. Cotton is one of the softest fabrics used in clothing, providing incredible comfort for any garment.


Cotton socks, as you might expect, are cherished for the comfort they provide. Cotton is not only extremely soft, but extremely breathable, too. This means cotton socks are a popular choice for warm weather, as they cause less sweating. The less your feet sweat throughout the day, the less likely you are to develop blisters.


While 100% cotton socks do exist, they are not very common today. Instead, most cotton socks today are made with a blend of other synthetic materials. Polyester, acrylic, and spandex are particularly common materials found in cotton socks. These other materials are often cheaper to work with, and can improve the durability and strength of cotton socks.

Wool Socks vs Cotton: When to Wear Them?

Uses for Wool Socks

Wool socks have many uses, depending on the type of wool and other materials used to make them. Because of wool’s ability to retain heat, wool socks are very popular as thick winter socks


Wool socks, particularly merino wool socks, make for great hiking socks and winter hiking socks. There are a couple of reasons for this. 


First, wool socks have very good insulation. This means they keep your feet cool in hot weather, and warm in cold conditions. Second, wool is great at absorbing and wicking moisture. This means it keeps your feet dry during physical activity, which is ideal for avoiding blisters. Because of this, synthetic wool blends are also a popular choice for athletic socks.

Uses for Cotton Socks

Cotton socks are also highly versatile and can be worn in several situations. Cotton socks are very common dress socks because they are so breathable and stylish. In addition, cotton socks are thermal enough to be worn on cold days, but breathable enough for summer days, too.


With synthetic blends, cotton socks also make good hiking and athletic socks. While cotton itself is not great at wicking moisture, other synthetic materials, like polyester, can make up for that. Cotton’s cooling abilities make it a great material to wear during physical activity or when working outside.


Cotton socks are also great for people with sensitive skin. As mentioned, cotton is very soft, and also a natural material. Those who are allergic to other materials can often wear cotton socks without any irritation at all.

Find More Great Deals on Wool Socks and Cotton Socks

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to include both cotton and wool socks in your wardrobe. To find great deals on quality socks, check out Yacht & Smith's full store of all sock types. Or browse Wholesale Sock Deals to shop for high-quality socks in bulk.

If you want to learn more about different sock materials, read our guide to Polyester vs. Cotton Socks.