Where do missing socks go? 3 secrets to keeping pairs together

Most, if not all, of us have experienced the dreaded missing sock phenomenon. Two socks go into the washing machine (seemingly) together. Then after the clothes emerge from the dryer and are being folded … missing sock alert!

So where do missing socks go? There are many theories floating around the Internet about how socks disappear, including alien abductions, black holes and leprechauns. While these ideas are, well, interesting, the truth is that socks really don’t vanish into thin air. I mean, there is the real possibility they’ve gotten tangled in the agitator of the washing machine (to investigate this theory, click here), or statically trapped inside another garment. However, I’ve found that the No. 1 reason socks end up lonely is due to a flawed organization system on our part. I’ve also discovered (through trial and error) that there are three easy ways to fix that system and ultimately end up with more happy sock couples in the future.


1. DON’T place any socks in a sock drawer without a match.

I have four people (plus a dog who doesn’t wear socks, thank goodness) in my home. If I kept each person’s missing socks in his/her individual sock drawer, I would then have to travel around to each person’s drawer every.single.time. I did a load of laundry to check for pairs. This is an inefficient and time-consuming method and one that most folks would quickly give up trying to maintain. There’s a better way!

2. Designate ONE basket or bin where ALL missing socks are placed. Keep this bin near where laundry is typically folded.

I have one basket where I keep all missing socks from everyone in our family. Each time I do laundry, when I’m done folding, I check missing socks against what’s in the basket. It takes about one minute and I come out with a few happy pairs every time. Socks without pairs go back in the basket. The key is to keep this basket near where the laundry is folded because, let’s face it, we’re apt to skip this step if it’s too inconvenient to fetch the mother load.

3. Consider spreading out laundry duty throughout the week.

I know many of you are probably in the “10 loads on Saturday” crowd when it comes to laundry duty. I was, too, for many years. The problem was that I hated laundry duty but I loved Saturdays, so the two were always at odds with each other. Instead, I’ve found it much easier – and more maintainable – to do two loads of laundry each weekday.

How does this help keep socks together? First, it improves the odds that I’ll actually see the bottom of our laundry hampers each week, and lonely socks won’t be left lingering at the bottom forever. Secondly, it increases the likelihood that I’ll fold all the loads I’ve washed and check the sock basket for potential matches.

I realize these steps are pretty simple and probably won’t entirely eliminate all your missing socks. (Sometimes, it’s just time to say goodbye. :)) But I can say from experience that practicing these steps regularly will immensely reduce your number of missing socks. We currently have less than 10 missing socks for our entire family.

Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping sock pairs together?

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Shawna says:

    Good tips! About 3 years ago, my fairly new washer stopped working and when the repair man was done, he gave me approx. 5-6 single socks… He said “When they say that the washing machine eats socks, they aren’t lying..” He also preceed to tell me that small items such as socks will go over and underneath the wash tub and go out the drain with the water… He said that it’s best to put your socks in a mesh wash bag… I was suprised that this humorous “wives tale” was actually true! Who knew!

  2. sheryl says:

    I keep all the old and single sox in a bag to put on my hands for dusting and cleaning, then just toss them.

  3. Donna Gibson says:

    Sometimes missing socks wind up in leg pants, or the corner of bedding. I, too, keep a basket on the dryer for single socks that can be matched up later. Sometimes, the single socks are single because I toss out one with a hole in it. But a similar sock can be matched out later with another single. When hanging laundry outdoors, I match as I hang them and clip the pair together. This makes a simple way to take down when they are dry. When my son was in a college dorm, he bagged his dirty clothes separately from his socks. Thus, he had over 90 pairs of socks, which meant that he didn’t do laundry for nearly 3 months or when he came home on a holiday or break! That was an interesting puzzle to match up when he came home! But he got away with doing his own laundry! LOL!

  4. Good suggestions. Don’t you just hate it when you finally give up and throw the “lone” sock away, and the very next week, it’s mate shows up from seemingly nowhere?

  5. Teresa W says:

    I keep a jar with safety pins near my clothes hamper and pin the socks together when I take them off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *