Reasons Why White Socks Change Colour (Colour Examples)

White socks are always hard to keep clean and that crisp white colour. Most people would have experienced change of colour in their socks at some point, but what do all of these colours on white socks mean?

Here Are The Reasons Why White Socks Change Colour

White socks that change colour have different meanings and this includes when they turn:
Yellow: Due to shedding skin, or chlorine bleach while washing
Orange: Sweat or dyes from washing
Pink: Mixing red colours in while washing, or inks or makup leaking in the wash
Black: Dirt or washed with dark colours
Grey: Dirt or washed with darker colours
Green: Fungus or contact with green grass
Blue: rubbing inner sole of shoe is blue causing socks to turn blue

Below we have listed every colour that people experience on their white socks, explaining the reasons why this happens. We have also put together a good cleaning guide that you can follow to implement into your laundry routine. Thanks for reading.

Reasons Why White Socks Turn:


White fabrics are particularly vulnerable to discolouration because they’re so pale, so it’s common for white socks to turn yellow over time. If you’re noticing that your socks are becoming yellow while you wear them, it could be due to calluses or thick, waxy skin on your feet. Constant friction between your feet and the soles of your shoes or the ground causes the skin to rub off on the socks, giving them a yellow hue.

Your socks can also start to turn yellow if you are overusing chlorine bleach in your white clothing washes. Chlorine bleach is a great way to encourage stubborn stains to shift off of fabrics, but using too much of it can actually cause yellow marks on white socks. If you pour the bleach directly onto your white socks, yellow stains will likely appear a lot earlier.

White socks may also turn yellow with age, though this will be a very gradual process. You’ll be able to see a clear difference between new socks and much older socks, so if your socks have gone yellow with age it might be time to purchase some new ones.


It’s not as common for white socks to turn orange, but it can happen. One cause could be that dyes are spreading onto the socks if you’re mixing up different coloured laundry loads. Orange marks could be caused by dyes from brown, red, or orange garments leaking onto your whites.

Sometimes, your socks might be turning orange while you wear them, especially if your feet sweat a lot. Sweat stains begin as yellow, but as they darken, they might take on an orange tinge, which will be much more noticeable. If your socks smell bad when you take them off and also have orange stains, it is most probably due to excessive sweat from your feet.


It’s not uncommon for white socks to turn pink in the washing machine either. Red garments bleed very easily onto whites because they are often made with a dye called ‘direct dye’, which spreads more easily in hot water. If any white socks get mixed in with your red laundry load, they will be tinged pink.

Red dyes can sometimes be ‘held’ by the washing machine, which means that leftover dye that has bled from red clothing gets stuck to it after you take the clothes out. Then, when you put your white socks in, the red dyes mix in with the water and bleed onto them, turning them pink. To prevent any dyes from getting stuck, you should clean out your washing machine regularly.

White socks may also turn pink due to loose items that might fall out of clothing pockets in the machine, such as lipsticks or pens. White socks most commonly become pink due to red leaks, so you should always check your machine for items that might have been dropped inside before you put a new load in. If any dyes, makeup or ink leak onto clothes, white socks will take the worst of it and become pink.


It’s very common for white socks to darken over time, and if they turn black it can be due to a variety of reasons. One of the most likely is that you’re mixing your washes and putting your white socks in with black clothing items. Dark colours always bleed onto whites in the washing machine, so if you’re mixing them up together, your small white socks are likely to take the most discolouration.

Another common reason for black marks on white socks is dirt, especially if you wear them around the house a lot without cleaning the floors. Even the smallest amounts of dust and dirt can cause streaky black marks across the bottoms of your socks, so it’s best to either keep your shoes covering them or only wear white socks on carpets.

Putting on white socks when your feet are dirty could also cause them to start turning black. A build-up of dirt on either the inside or outside of your socks will cause noticeable black patches, which will only become worse over time. You need to wash your white socks after every wear to keep them clean and fresh.


Socks will often turn grey before they turn black. This could be due to mixing dark colours with white loads of laundry, which will cause the white garments to go light grey, then dark grey and finally black. They will likely be grey for a long time before they turn black, so you might be able to reverse the process of discolouration and turn them white again.

White socks that have gone grey could also have been impacted by the everyday wear and tear that your feet go through. Remember, your socks are stuck to your feet, so as your feet sweat, cause friction and walk across different surfaces, your socks absorb things in response. It’s common for the soles of white socks to become grey quickly, but you should get them washed as soon as you can.


Brown marks on white socks will be very visible, so you should be able to tell what’s causing them. One likely cause is mud, which can easily get onto your socks if it gets inside your shoes. Try to avoid wearing white socks if you often go for outdoor walks or hikes because wet mud can be a pain to remove from them.

Your socks could also be turning brown due to constant wear, which exposes them to sweat from your feet, friction from the insides of your shoes and any other dirt that they might come into contact with on your floors. Dirt can be washed out, but brown stains look unsightly and can also cause your socks to smell bad.


It’s harder for white socks to become green, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens. One less likely but still possible reason could be that you’re wearing your socks on grass without shoes, as some people do during summer. These grass stains can be washed off with some hot water and detergent, but they’ll be very visible on your socks until they are.

Socks could also turn green due to harsh detergents or dyes from brightly coloured clothes leaking onto them. If you own any green or blue garments, always wash them separately from your whites because their fabric dyes could end turning your white socks a pale green colour during the cycle.


Finally, you may also sometimes notice your white socks turning blue. It’s common for white garments to become blue in the washing machine due to excessive fabric softener or other detergents. Many of these liquids are blue in colour, so if you overfill the compartment, they will then leak over your white socks during the cycle and could tinge them a different colour.

If you own any blue shoes, you might also notice blue stains on your white socks after you take the shoes off. The dyes from the insides of your shoes can rub off on your socks over time, and blue is quite a potent colour that will show up clearly on white fabric. You should try to wear darker socks with darker shoes to avoid this becoming a potential problem.

Best Ways To Stop Your Socks Discolouring

Wash laundry loads separately

The easiest way to keep your white socks white is to only ever wash them with other white garments. You should never mix whites with any dark items of clothing because dark colours bleed onto lights in the hot water and discolour them. If you separate your laundry loads properly, you’ll remove the risk of them turning a different colour.

Clean your socks after every wear

Of course, most people wash their socks after they’ve been worn, but it’s important to remember to clean them thoroughly even if you haven’t worn them for very long. Sometimes, small bits of dust or dirt aren’t very visible, but it doesn’t take long for them to build up and leave dirty marks that are harder to remove. The cleaner your socks are, the whiter they will stay.

Use mild laundry detergents

Sometimes, discolouration can be caused by the laundry detergents that you use. Chlorine bleach, for example, contributes to the likelihood of yellow stains on white socks. Any harsh product will show up as a stain on delicate white fabrics, so it is always best to use gentler alternatives.

Try not to over wear your socks

Socks are for wearing, so it’s strange to think about it being possible to ‘overwear’ them. However, if you’ve only got a few pair of white socks that you’re constantly rotating between, you might notice the effects of friction, sweat, your skin, dirt and constant spins in the washing machine appearing quite quickly. To preserve the condition of your white socks, buy some more pairs and throw away the pairs that are very old or stained.

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