Set your washing machine to a small wash load, gentle cycle and warm water and let it fill. Add laundry detergent to the water and let the machine agitate for a couple of minutes. Stop the cycle, open the lid and peek inside. You should see sudsy water waiting for your socks.
Toss the socks in. If you have any other wool washables like a sweater, mittens or a hat, toss them in too. Roll up your sleeves and stick your arms into the washing machine. Move the socks around in the water by hand for two or three minutes. Think of yourself as a human agitator--this is the gentle way to agitate your socks.
Soak the socks for 15 minutes. Read a magazine while you wait for your socks to soak.
Turn the machine ahead so it drains the water. Fill the machine again with warm water, and stop it before it agitates.
Add fabric softener to the water, and move the socks around again for a few minutes.
Soak the socks again for another 15 minutes. Finish your magazine while you wait.
Turn the machine ahead again so that the water drains out.
Pull the soggy socks out of the washing machine, and squeeze them gently.
Hang the socks from the clothesline to dry. If you don't have a clothesline, hang them from a coat hanger with clothespins.
Fold your socks, and put them away in a drawer.
Use a fabric shaver to shave off pills from your socks. These are those tiny balls of yarn on the socks that make them look old and worn.
You could do the same washing technique in a sink or with a dishpan, too--perfect for washing only one or two pairs of wool socks.
If wool drives you crazy with itching, wear thin cotton socks under the wool socks.