White socks make for pretty leg markings, but only when they are clean and keeping them clean can feel like a full time job. There are a number of methods to make white socks sparkle, however many of them involve harsh detergents and other products that could prove harmful to both you and your horse.
No Effort, No Reward
Horses skin can be sensitive, especially the light skin under white fur, that means using gentler products and a little more elbow grease.
I did some research to find out how people keep their horse’s socks clean. Shocking what some people will do, so I put together a list of the 9 best whitening tips, and 5 tips I found that should absolutely be avoided.
Here are 9 great ways to restore a clean sock, really folks, anything you use should be so mild you don’t need gloves. If it’s bad for your skin, it’s bad for theirs.
One of the best tricks to keeping socks clean is to shave them close, this eliminates old, stained hair and makes for easier cleaning. Be sure you use clean, sharp clippers and don’t shave them close enough to knick the skin.
2. Baking Soda
Mix it with enough water to make a paste and use a stiff brush to scrub the leg. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then rinse. Repeat until clean.
Apply directly to a cloth and rub over stained areas, as it pulls up the stain continue to rotate the cloth every time you re-apply. Vinegar is also handy to help repel flies.
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Apply directly to a cloth and scrub stains, rinse well and repeat. When using alcohol, be sure that your animal has no abrasions or cuts because it will sting (and the leg may move swiftly as a result!) As an added benefit the alcohol will clean wounds.
5. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are a show secret, they have a knack for pulling up stains. Opt for organic & biodegradable options to ensure there are no additional chemicals.
If you must scrub with soap, use a mild, environmentally friendly glycerine soap and a toothbrush. Apply soap directly to toothbrush and scrub wet socks in a circular motion, rinsing frequently.
7. Microfiber Cloths
A simple finishing tool, microfiber cloth will take off any loose dirt and pull skins oils to the surface.
Another show secret is cornstarch. Apply directly to clean white sock, then brush off excess with a soft brush. Be sure to do this step prior to applying hoof dressing or you’ll have a mess on your hands.
An obvious tactic, be sure to wrap clean legs with standing wraps if they need to sit overnight prior to a show.
Here are a few methods for keeping socks white which should be avoided. Not only could they be harmful to your horse’s skin, they could be harmful to you as well.
1. Laundry or Dish Detergent
These products were developed to get stains out of clothing and tough grease off of dishes, not to take stains off living flesh. Only use mild vegetable soaps that are biodegradable and made specifically for sensitive horse skin.
2. Stripping Shampoos
Be sure you read the label of any “whitening” shampoos you intend to use, many of them contain harsh stripping agents that run the risk of skin allergies & inflammation.
3. Shoe Polish
Again, not meant for living flesh. Polish carries a warning about dyes and chemicals it contains that can be absorbed through the skin.
5. Baby Powder
Can be dangerous if inhaled, so why bother? Use cornstarch instead.
If you are interested in learning more about healthy horse care in general, be sure to check out my care section.