Wool socks are great. Unfortunately, when subjected to a washing machine and tumble dryer, the result is damaged fabric: distinctly feeling worn, pulled, and scratchy.
So, I gathered supplies and tried a few systems. The current -ible is the result of a few iterations. As a result, my wool clothes feel much better and will last a long time.
Step 1: Fan + Shelf
The air drying system:
Wire tiered shelf (23"W x 13"L) - big box hardware store
Box fan (20.5" sq.) - hardware store
Plastic boot tray (34 7/8"W x 17"L) - Bed Bath & Beyond
The photos also show how two shelves are joined by hose clamps and paper to protect the finish. The only difficult part of the build was ensuring the boot tray would fit the footprint of the shelf's vertical poles. Mats come in different designs, so this is a hit or miss depending on what's available.
Step 2: How to Wash
Plastic containers to wash/rinse/store socks - Staples
Water filter - supermarket
Wool Soap (Nikwax) - outdoor gear shop
I do a full rinse before a wash cycle. It's amazing how smelly plain water can get by doing a cycle, which means the water itself is a great cleaning agent. One capful of soap for a large load. For each cycle, move all items from one bin of dirty water to the next bin of clean water.
Rinse (warm), soap (warm), rinse (warm), rinse (cold), rinse (cold).
Use full-length, rubber dish-washing or utility gloves.
Step 3: Let It Dry
The lazy technique: the wet bulk of everything can be left to drip without any preliminary sorting. This will effectively do about 70% of the drying, but it will be necessary to line up the items (or rotate) for a complete dry in a reasonable amount of time.
Step 4: Additional Thoughts
The quantity of clothes shown in the photos is stretching the capacity of the one-fan dryer: one sweater, two t-shirts, and about a dozen pairs of socks. This load took about 36 hours to completely dry because I did the lazy unload and one more rearrange on the drying rack. In general, aim for a complete dry time of 24 hours, though it takes several days of wet for other smells to start. For more capacity, a large rack with multiple fans would work.
On rust: I haven't seen any yet over the course of a few months. The powder coating is holding up fine.
This build incorporates an air filter for indoor air quality. I don't know why anyone would buy an overpriced plastic housing for an underperforming fan and tiny filter: a box fan with a 20x20 filter works much better. Any modification is simply unnecessary for this combination of fan/filter: they fit perfectly.
Of note, this design was inspired by the culinary technique of using a fan to dry wet food. There are a variety of measures to prevent browning after washing herbs or leaves: adding vinegar to washing water, towels and more towels, sun-drying, etc.. Using a fan is time/space intensive for bulk applications (lots of lettuce), but is very useful for smaller quantities (almost any home application). An easy way to accomplish this is to fit together a swiveling fan and a colander of wet product. Take care not to over-dry vegetables since they will shrivel. The aim with vegetables is to reduce moisture, not eliminate it. Spin dry first, then 20-30 minutes under the fan, making sure to toss a few times for even evaporation.
Technical note: I changed the gamma of the photos since the shelf and mat are black.