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How to keep feet warm in winter: smart tricks for staying cosy when temperatures drop

No one likes being cold. Especially not having numb toes. Beat the frost and learn how to keep your feet warm with these top tips from Mumsnet users.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Dec 13, 2022

a pair of stripes socks on a wooden surface

It's the most wonderful time of the year… isn’t it? You can understand why many people aren’t looking forward to the coming cold season. With temperatures dropping and the costs of heating soaring, many are going to struggle to keep warm this winter. From investing in the best electric blanket to snuggling up with the best hot water bottle, a lot of Mumsnet users are recommending cost-effective solutions that help them keep warm in the long run, along with general tips for retaining heat in your home.

Recently, an Arctic blast has hit the UK, forcing many people to make hard decisions about staying warm in cold weather without cranking up the central heating all day. The health risks of extended periods of cold are manifold too. At cooler temperatures there’s an increased chance of stroke and respiratory infections, as well as falls or other kinds of accidents due to reduced dexterity. This is a particular worry for the elderly. More generally, chronic pain tends to be worse at lower temperatures, meaning keeping warm in the winter is a top priority.

Since we feel the cold in our extremities first, one body part often afflicted is our feet. So, to help you keep those tootsies toasty, we have scoured the best of the Talk forums to find out Mumsnet users' top tips on how to keep feet warm in winter. From investing in the best women's slippers to budget solutions that don't cost a penny, here's what you need to know...

How to keep feet warm: 10 tips from Mumsnet users

Woman in slippers

1. Socks are everything

When you are trying to keep your feet warm, a lot comes down to your choice of material. Many people assume that layering or thick socks are the best solutions for keeping feet warm. But in fact, this can increase pressure on your feet by cutting off the circulation to your toes. Wool is a great insulator, and can trap heat effectively leaving your feet warm, dry and toasty. You can also opt for hiking socks, particularly if you need to fit them under tighter shoes and are looking for something less bulky.

Even if you can’t invest in a new pair of socks, make sure you wear an old pair instead of going without as being barefoot can cool feet down quickly.

What Mumsnetters say

“Get some ski/snowboarding socks and slippers that are like furry boots that come up past your ankles. Tuck PJs into socks. Not sexy, I grant you that, but it keeps me warm.” Notgrumpyjustquiet

“[Get] battery-operated socks and gloves. Like mini electric blankets!” WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant

2. Cover up hard floors

Rugs not only improve the decor of your house by sprucing up your living space, they also help insulate you from the coldest surface: the floor. A key way to keep feet warm is to keep them off the floor. Not to mention, it is much nicer to walk around on soft surfaces.

Not got a rug to hand or the budget to buy a new one? You could also use leftover off-cuts of a carpet for a DIY mat under your work from home desk.

What Mumsnetters say

“I make sure there is carpet or rug underneath my desk and wear slippers.” CaptainCarp

“Rugs or carpets will be warmer than laminate.” PigletJohn

3. Keep your core warm

Blanket on woman on sofa

It may sound counterintuitive, but keeping your overall body temperature up is a key way of keeping your fingers and toes warm in winter. Your extremities feel the cold first because your body reduces their blood flow when the temperature drops. So layering up and staying active will help keep feet warm in winter.

Many Mumsnet users have been singing the praises of the best blanket hoodie and, for little ones, a kids' blanket hoodie this year as a low-cost way to keep the body warm at home. Alternatively, layering up in jumpers can help.

What Mumsnetters say

“It's also important to keep your core warm or your body will constrict the blood vessels in the extremities to minimise heat loss – this will make them feel colder.” IndomitabIe

4. Keep moving

This can be a challenge if you work a desk job, but it’s easier to stay warm than get warm after being cold. So, if you can, moving around is a key way to keep feet warm this winter. Moving helps encourage blood flow around the body. Move around at least once an hour and also try to avoid sitting for extended periods. If you do sit, try and keep your feet elevated, as the ground is the coldest point to keep them at.

What Mumsnetters say

“Keep moving about - a four minute HIIT workout can keep you warm for a couple of hours.” NewToWoo

5. Wear good quality slippers

Woman wearing slippers

The same principle applies as with laying rugs on the floor – one of the most crucial things you can do to keep feet warm is to insulate them from cold floors, so going barefoot is a no no during the colder months. Many users recommended UGG boots for wearing around the house, while some opted for a pair of the cosy, sturdy slippers to keep their feet warm. 

What Mumsnetters say

“Wear really warm footwear, and make sure it is well-insulated from the ground if your floors are cold.” LadyofMisrule

6. Invest in some high-quality winter boots

On the topic of footwear, if you're heading outside, you probably want to be thinking about outdoor shoes too. Along with kitting yourself out with one of the best winter coats for women or even a heated gilet, a good pair of shoes is a cold weather essential.

Your shoes are the first barrier of protection for your toes against the cold, so key to how to keep feet warm, is making the right footwear choice. You want something that will protect against moisture too, so waterproofing is essential. Winter boots with thick soles are ideal. Some Mumsnet users also opt for a fleece-lined version of the best wellies too. 

What Mumsnetters say

“A few years ago, I decided I wasn't having cold feet any more. Bought myself some proper Canadian snow boots (Sorel) from Snow + Rock.” IndomitabIe

7. Keep your footwear dry

Shoes on doormat

Make sure you clean and dry shoes after coming in from outside. Also be sure to change into dry socks and footwear afterwards. It’s easy to underestimate how much your shoes and feet cool down when you go outside – part of knowing how to keep feet warm is knowing how to keep them dry.

What Mumsnetters say

“As soon as you get in the house, take off your outside shoes and socks.” bonzo77

8. Use a foot warmer or other heated products

Whether you're working from home in a draughty house all day or want a way to heat up your feet quickly when you get back from an icy walk, a targeted foot warmer or a pair of heated slippers could be an ideal option.

They can be cheap to run too – using specific foot warmers is a great alternative to turning the heating up, leaving your feet warm and your bills significantly lower. Many Mumsnet users also recommend using the best heated throw to stay warm and toasty – they cost pennies to run and you can tuck your feet up under them on the sofa. 

What Mumsnetters say

“My feet are always cold whatever the weather and a foot heat mat was a game changer for me!” noscoobydoodle

“I bought a heated faux fur blanket/throw for the sofa a few years ago. Game changer, I love it.” Igloo71

9. Warm up your socks

Socks infront of fire

This is an inventive trick with some sound logic behind it, and you don’t just have to use a hairdryer. A great way to keep feet warm in winter is to put socks on the radiator (if it's on already), give them a brief tumble dry before you put them on, or even wrap them around a hot water bottle to get them snug before you get into them.

Just bear in mind that you will need to consider the energy use of the heating method you're using – a quick blast of the hairdryer or using a hot water bottle will likely be the most cost-effective ways of heating your socks.

What Mumsnetters say

“I'm always cold, so I warm up my socks with hairdryer before putting them on. So nice and toasty. I also have slipper you warm up in the microwave so my feet stay toasty.” Fluffyears

10. If all else fails, dunk your feet in warm water

It might sound a bit bananas, but soaking your feet in warm water promotes circulation and it relaxes you. This can be especially helpful when you’re about to go to bed and you don’t want cold feet keeping you up at night. Soaking them is one quick way to keep feet warm this winter – just make sure you dry them off straight away and pop them straight into cost socks so they don’t cool.

What Mumsnetters say

“I always have freezing feet in winter. I have resorted to soaking them in a bucket of hot water before bed.” ButtonLoon

Why do we get cold feet?

When you go out in the cold, you may notice your feet and hands are the first places that start to feel it. We’ve all experienced numb toes and they are not nice. Since your feet are furthest from your heart, when your body constricts blood flow to the vital organs when cold, it’s the feet that suffer. 

There’s health benefits to keeping your feet warm too. Research has linked cold feet to a weaker immune system response – making people with habitually cold feet more susceptible to illness. The simple reason for this is reduced blood flow. When your blood flow constricts to stay with your vital organs, you miss out on white blood cells which help fight off diseases.

How to keep your body warm

There are several ways of keeping your body warm without sending your bills skyrocketing. Start off by investing in the best thermal underwear for women, and then think about what you'll layer on top. Wearing several thin layers traps air between them, which will help keep you warm. You can also wear scarves and hats to prevent heat loss through your head and neck.

Stay active to aid circulation throughout the body too and, if you’re struggling, you can always use a hot water bottle to warm things up.

It may also be worth considering extra insulation to keep your house warmer too – finding and installing the best draught excluder and the best thermal curtains for your home are both great ways to conserve heat and keep cold draughts out.

How to keep your hands warm

Like your feet, it’s important to keep your hands dry if you want to keep them warm. If you’re out and about, it’s useful to wear waterproof gloves. You also want to minimise the gaps between your clothing and your gloves, so pulling your sleeves down can help with this.

If you’re feeling the cold in your hands, give those fingers a wiggle too! Moving them around helps to encourage blood flow.

Another way to keep your fingers toasty is by using one of the best hand warmers – Mumsnet users are big fans of this method and you can pick budget ones up from as little as £4. 

What Mumsnetters say

Wrist warmers are life changing. I wear them all the time and they make such a difference to how warm your hands are.” CMOTDibbler

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