Are pantyhose busting your budget?
How to Protect Pantyhose from Runs and Snags
TDS Reader Contributors
Pantyhose Budget Buster
There is one budget-buster that I "run" into on a constant basis - how do you help keep pantyhose from running/snagging? While this may not seem like a big deal to some people, I probably spend $20 or more per month just on pantyhose (easy!). I must dress professionally daily for work, and I rarely seem to get more than one wearing out of a pair of pantyhose - regardless of whether it is a "cheap" or a more expensive pair.
I've tried the hose advertised by companies as "irregulars" that claim the only problem is in, say, the color dye lot. But my fingers went right through those hose as I was putting them on.
I would like to hear practical advice from others about how to increase the lifespan on pantyhose.
One thing that I've found that helps with the nylon expense -- put lotion on your feet and legs just before putting the pantyhose on. The hose doesn't catch on hangnails or dry skin and is much less likely to run while putting them on.
Prevent Pantyhose Runs
I find it hard to keep a pair of pantyhose intact more than a time or two. I always buy the cheapest kind, since I haven't noticed any difference with the more expensive ones (although I have had good luck with the Hanes irregulars, bought through the mail). Where do your runs start? If they start at your toes, always buy the toe-reinforced kind. If you run them putting them on, try to roll them up and then slide them over your legs. (My mom wore cotton gloves to keep her nails from causing runs.) The only long-lasting pantyhose are the thicker ones. Especially in the winter, try the heavier weight hose or tights, if you can, since they last much longer. Or start wearing tall boots - it sounds silly, but on days when every pair of hose has a run, I pull on a long skirt and tall boots, and no one can even see my legs.
Wear Dark Tights
Last year I decided I was sick and tired of spending so much money on Panythose. I bought a pair of black tights and a pair of navy blue ones. I wore these when ever I could with a short black skirt or dress. I saved so much it wasn't funny. I hope this can work for her.
I also had to dress professionally for many years and was able to save in the following ways: First, I never found any difference between "designer" hose or the local supermarket brand. Unlike Nancy, I was able to mail order good quality hose advertised as irregulars. I would suggest that you try a couple of other companies. The real savings comes with the "bulk" buying of such hose so wait until you find a good company and buy a dozen or so at the same time. When you find the brand you like, settle on one color. Then when you get a run in one foot or leg, just cut that leg off (at the pantyline) and pair it with another. One pair may have to be turned inside out in order to have a right leg and a left leg. In other words, what you are wearing is two pair of pantyhose--each with only one leg. I also had success in wearing black tights instead of pantyhose. The initial outlay was higher, but I got many more wearings out of tights. Finally, at times I could wear pantsuits instead of skirted suits; and I never wasted an "intact" pair of pantyhose on a pantsuit. If I didn't have hose with a run to wear underneath, I wore knee highs which are much cheaper.
Put Them On Carefully
One thing I find really helps to add life to my pantyhose is how I put them on. Instead of pulling at them to get them up my leg, I scrunch them from the hip to toe and then gently work them up my leg. There is less chance to put my fingernail through them or pull a run in them.
If you do get a small hole in an inconspicuous spot, use a little clear nail polish around the hole to keep it from running more. I've reused many a pair of stocking this way.
Buying the right size is also important. If you are in between sizes, buy the next size up instead of the smaller size. There will be less tugging to get them on.
There are some pantyhose that have lifetime warranties. If you were to purchase a pair and it runs, send it back! Make them honor that warranty.
I have found the "perfect" panty hose. I am the manager of a very busy and physically demanding toy store. I, too, have struggled with this problem for years. Hanes has introduced a new line of hose called "Resilience". They not only look and feel great, but also resist snags very well. I have accidentally run into things that would have snagged or put a hole in all other hose, but not with these. I even wear them on shipment days and give them a good beating. I am yet to have a pair disappoint me! Each pair has lasted me an average of 10 uses. That's pretty remarkable, especially considering how hard I am on them!
Use Two Pair
Cut off the offending leg (of the hose:-)) just below the reinforced panty section.You'll soon have enough ones to make twos.You wear two pairs of hose, but each with only one leg. To make this easier buy your hose in the same shade, multipacks are usually cheaper anyway.
- Wear a pair of mini-gloves when putting on your pantyhose. I have found this cuts way down on snags. You can find mini-gloves for cheap at just about any store when the weather gets cooler, or pick up a pair at a garage sale. Keep them in your pantyhose drawer so they're handy.
- Don't give up on buying the "irregulars" by mail-order. Try a different company. I buy from the L'eggs or Just My Size catalogs and have not been disappointed with the quality.
- I've heard that freezing your pantyhose before you wear them the first time extends their life. I've done this and it seems to be true, but I don't know why!
- Instead of pantyhose, try thigh-highs! I mail-ordered a pair from the JMS catalog recently, for the first time. They were more of a support hose than I was used to wearing, but that seems to be an advantage in that they are almost "industrial strength"--very difficult to run and snag. They are more comfortable than pantyhose, I find, and because you are not always pulling them up and down, there is less chance for runs and snags.
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Know Your Hose
I too wear hose daily and have found a few tips to be helpful in prolonging the wear. First, wash them before wear. Place them in a lingerie bag, use a mild detergent, in COLD water, gentle cycle and fabric softener in the rinse. Then hang to dry. Somehow this seems to strengthen the fibers and the fabric softener adds in not only softness, but maintaining shape.
Additionally, watch what you are buying. If you purchase hosiery that has at least 15% lycra or spandex in the blend, you will usually get more wear for the dollar. Hosiery is made of nylon and by adding the lycra or spandex to the blend it provides a little extra soft support and in some blends, for example Microfiber (registered trademark), it provides a very soft feel. Plus, I have found the Microfiber blends last far longer than all others I have tried.
One other fugal note, the more expensive the hose, doesn't mean the better, nor the cheaper the worse. There aren't really that many manufacturers of hosiery in the U.S. Many plants actually manufacture the same product with various names and price points. I have found that by shopping in off-price department stores (Marshall's , TJ Maxx, Steinmart) I can pick up hosiery (DKNY, Calvin Klein, Hanes, Evan-Picone) found in department stores for far less and they aren't irregulars.
You can even get some pretty good deals online too. One place I have used is onehaneplace.com. It is the web site for HANES. The site allows you to check out their line of hosiery and purchase online. They even have assistance in helping you decide which hose is best for you (size, wear, etc). Earlier in the year they had a 50% off sale. It was a great time to stock up, plus they deliver straight to your door.
Buy Heavier Hose and Lots at a Time!
I also went through a phase where I was going through a pair of hose a day. But I found that if I wore a heavier type of hose it usually lasted longer. The "ultra sheer" type were usually in runs before I even got out the door.
For the most part all of my hose for the last 4 years has come from Leggs, Hanes, Bali outlet stores or Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls; when they have hose on clearance, I usually buy $40-50 dollars worth at once. Be willing to dig in big bins, I found that I could buy tights cheap by buying them in the summer. I bought 40 pairs of "off white" or "cream" colored Slenderalls. If the hose are on sale, I buy them whether I need them or not since I know I ALWAYS need them. Some of the same outlet stores have better bargains than the others, you just have to shop around.
Four Solutions for Pantyhose Runs
I had the same problems a couple of years ago, and I can recommend several things that helped me.
- Be sure your toenails are trimmed and filed. Some people let their nails grow wild. (You'll see what I mean if you check out the feet you see in sandals at the mall.) Following a podiatrists instruction, the nail should be clipped straight across, and even with the end of the toe. Then, I always file my toenails to make sure there is no chance of sharp corners.
- Wear shoes that have ample room in the toe. We women torture ourselves for fashion. Go for comfort and quality when buying shoes. Also, sometimes the insides of your shoes get rough from sharp toenails poking through. Perhaps its time for new shoes.
- Try "light support" type hose. I've tried these in the past year just to improve circulation, but I was amazed when I couldn't wear them out. They have a slight sheen, and they can help your legs (and especially your feet) to feel much better by the end of the day. The first time you put them on, they're a little tight, so be sure to buy the correct size or you'll be miserable.
- This seems elementary, but you would be surprised at the number of people who don't have more than one pair of pantyhose. I suggest at least two, and rotate them each day. This lets the fabric rest and regain elasticity which is important in keeping those nylon threads together.
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Wash Hose First and Wear Gloves
I have always hand washed my hosiery in a mild soap before the first wearing. The type recommended for baby woollens is ideal. I then roll them in a towel to remove excess water and air dry overnight. I hang them on a towel rail inside my hot water cupboard so my bathroom dosen't look like a war zone.
Special Wash Helps
I've found two things help panty hose last longer. First, before I ever wear a pair, I wet them, squeeze out most of the excess water, put them in a bag and put them in the freezer. I can't remember where I read this tip, but I've seen it several different places. I just thaw them and dry them out before wearing. I've been doing this so long I can't remember the before and after tests I made.
I also use Hosery Mate, a no rinse cleaner. The bottle claims that it doubles the life of your hose. I don't know if there are other brands. You only use maybe a 1/4 oz at a time for 2 pairs of hose. I just rinse mine in the sink and drip dry. I think washing them in the washing machine, even in a lingerie bag, is harder on them than hand washing.
Not to get too personal here, but check your hands for roughness and snagged fingernails. They're murder on hose. I also put my hose on after a good dose of hand lotion. You might wear gloves when putting on your hose if it's a problem.
Hosiery Mate Testimonial
I live far away from my dear frugal mother, so several years she sent me a bottle of a product called "Hosiery Mate." It's a wash for pantyhose that really prolongs the life of the hose. You use a capful to a sink of water, they say for 2 pairs of hose, but I'm cheap and usually do 4 or 5.
Back in the 80s, I collected patterned pantyhose and tights and had some favorites. I had a couple of pairs of tights for 10 years--honest!! the elastic waist bands eventually deteriorated but the stockings did not run.
"Hosiery Mate" is manufactured by The Hosiery Mate Co. You'll find them at HosieryMate.com.
Mary's frugal daughter
I have that problem, too. It seems like they raise the price of panty hose daily!
One thing that I have tried is putting a new pair of panty hose (in the package) in the freezer for 24 hours after buying them. They will last a little longer than usual and they do not freeze.
Another "cure" I have heard of (but never tried) is soaking a new pair of pantyhose in salt water (don't rinse them) for a day and than letting them dry. I haven't tried this because the non-rinsing part seems like it would make the pantyhose rough? I don't know but if you try this one and it works I'd sure like to hear about it!
Immediately Hand Wash
I too used to run through pantyhose until I discovered a trick. Right when I got home from work, I took off my pantyhose in the bathroom and *immediately* put them in the sink to hand wash. I never laid them down, I just washed them one pair at a time, the minute I took them off. I couldn't believe the difference. I ended up wearing the same pantyhose day after day.
Buy Correct Size
First and foremost, if you are putting your fingernails through them, maybe your nails are too long. Not a happy thought, if you have beautiful long nails, but they can be murder on hose. Another thing to check is that you are wearing the correct size. I'd been wearing the same size for my entire adult life and suddenly started having problems. I finally gave it some thought and looked at the weight chart, and oops! I'd gained 20 pounds, size B wasn't gonna cut it any more!.
Two other ideas for extending the life are: 1) Wash the pantyhose before you wear them for the first time [I have a friend who swears by this.] and 2) Put them in the freezer over night before you wear them for the first time [heard that one and read it in a couple of tips columns].
In my case the size and the fingernails save me the most. I can generally get about 10 days of wear per pair of hose. I buy Sheer Energy, they have spandex in them and are a little sturdier than "silkies."
Reviewed December 2017
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