Wet Socks Hangover Cure: Does It Work?
By James Petra
Updated on March 27, 2020

Will wet socks cure a hangover? It’s actually a surprisingly common question as many around the world believe it’s the cure for ailments such as the common cold.

With so many health claims out there, it’s hard to separate the truth from the myths. Supposed hangover cures are passed down from generation to generation. And let’s be honest, most of them don’t work.

But will wearing wet socks to bed cure your hangover in the morning?

In this article, we aim to find out by looking at all the ways wet socks could potentially help and also see if there is any research available to back up the claims.

So, with the introductions out the way, let’s start taking a closer look at whether wet socks actually cure hangovers.

Health benefits of wearing wet socks

Apparently originating as an old European hydrotherapy spa technique, using wet socks to “cure” disease goes way back.

The theory is that: when your feet are cold, the blood vessels contract which sends nutrients to your other organs. Then, when your feet begin to warm up, the blood vessels dilate, which releases the toxins out to the rest of the body.

Now, it’s important to emphasize that there is no real scientific basis to this and any credible doctor would disagree with this. That said, many people swear by it.

The technique recommended requires two pairs of socks. The first pair being thin cotton socks and the second thick wool socks.  And here’s what you do:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water until your feet turn pink.
  2. Then soak the cotton socks in cold water.
  3. Dry your feet off and then put the cold wet cotton socks on.
  4. Don the dry wool socks over the wet cotton socks.
  5. Get into bed, cover your feet, and then snooze.

Most commonly, it’s used treatment for the common cold. But there’s no evidence that it works. But will it do so for hangovers? That’s what we’ll get into next.

Do wet socks cure a hangover?

To see whether wet socks will work as a hangover cure, we first need to go into how alcohol causes hangovers.

Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes your kidneys flush out excess water. In fact, for every pint of beer you drink, you’ll pee an extra 200mls of water. We’ve all been there, breaking the seal is the bane of everyone’s life.

Secondly, alcohol is metabolized (broken down) in your liver to form a compound called acetaldehyde. This is toxic and your liver does its best to quickly break acetaldehyde down before it causes too much damage. However, your liver can only process a certain amount of acetaldehyde at any given time. Therefore, in periods of over-indulgence, acetaldehyde levels build-up causing havoc on your insides.

Finally, alcohol prevents you from reaching REM sleep. This is the stage of sleep that you need to reach in order to feel fully rested. Ever slept 10 hours after a night out but still feel tired? This is the reason.

So, it’s clear that wet socks will have to achieve a lot to cure your hangover. Somehow it needs to rid your body of toxins, rehydrate you and allow you to sleep better.

Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely that this is a plausible outcome. And, there are certainly no studies that say wet socks cure hangovers, or in fact any ailments.

So sadly, the answer to the question: do wet socks cure a hangover is no.

That said, the placebo effect is a powerful thing. If you believe in something, your mind may just make it happen. The placebo effect is no joke. There are studies which have shown it can have profound positive effects on your health.(1)

Are there any negatives to wearing wet socks for a hangover?

I don’t know about you, but getting into bed with wet socks sounds like my worst nightmare. Aside from the discomfort of wearing wet socks in bed, it shouldn’t have any negative effects on your hangover.

What’s the link with Ron Swanson’s hangover cure?

Ronald Ulysses Swanson is a fictional character portrayed by Nick Offerman from the situation comedy television series Parks and Recreation on NBC.

As a keen whiskey drinker, he claimed that he’s never had a hangover. What was his secret?

Well, wet socks to bed and large pan-fried steak did the trick for him.

And believe it or not, many people have tried this wet sock and steak hangover cure method. Check it out on this Reddit thread.

Anything else to consider?

Hangovers are a clear sign from your body that you’ve had a few too many at happy hour. Making sure you drink within your limits, eating a meal before going out and downing water at every opportunity is all you need to prevent the worst hangovers.

You should also consider sticking to lighter colored drinks with lower concentrations of congeners. Congeners have been shown in studies to make hangovers a lot worse and are found in aged drinks like whiskey and red wine. That’s why these drinks give the worst hangovers!

Wet socks hangover cure – Final verdict

That brings us to the end of our look into using wet socks as a hangover cure.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence to say that it works. The scientific basis that wet socks will cure a hangover also isn’t plausible.

That said, you can always try it for yourself to see if it works. It’ll certainly do no harm so it may be worth a go!

James Petra

James is a beer-loving Biochemist and natural health enthusiast from Hull, which is in Yorkshire, England.

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