Okay, I'm convinced —
“Socks are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of fabrics and colors but of detergents and fabric softeners; a journey into two cavernous monsters whose boundaries are that of the unknown. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop, The Twilight-Sock Zone!”
What happens to socks once they enter the laundry room? I find this to be one of the life's greatest modern-day mysteries! Is it "Close-Sock Encounters of the Third Kind" where single socks are being abducted for one-footed aliens? Could there be little sock elves with big noses that need schnozz warmers? I'm going with 'The Twilight-Sock Zone' theory that claims the missing socks are just traveling through another dimension of time and space — a parallel sock universe, if you will — that is beyond our comprehension.
I realize far greater persons than I have pondered the mystery of the missing sock match. It has been the subject of several books; inspired a spoof website from appliance manufacturer GE called LOSS (Laundered and Orphaned Sock Society); spawned the marginally more earnest Bureau of Missing Socks site; and has even appeared in comedy routines as Jerry Seinfeld's schtick.
Laundry is one of the most loathed household chores known to humankind because it's endless. There is no such thing as an empty laundry basket or 'being caught up' with the laundry in a family of five. Not only that, the nemesis known as the missing sock match is a constant headache for the most accomplished of launderers. Inevitably, our 'lone sock' basket always grows bigger than all of our 'in circulation socks' collections put together. More disturbing than that though, we never find the majority of socks that go missing; leaving us with a hoard of unmatched socks always on hand — or should I say, always on foot! When my children were little, we upcycled many surviving socks to create sock dolls and puppets; however, those activities could only go so far, and there were still a plethora of lone socks!
What started me thinking about this most recently? Well, for the first time, in a long time, with our children out of the house and no longer 'borrowing' our socks all the time, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves and invest in several pairs of sorely-needed new socks. Money was no object in return for quality socks in awesome colors. We found the perfect sock company! Darn Tough, located in our home state of Vermont. The thing that makes Darn Tough socks so fabulously fun are the colors and designs. The thing that makes Darn Tough socks so fabulously functional is durability — backed up by a 100% lifetime warranty. If any one of their socks fails, all you need to do is return the pair of socks to Darn Tough for a new pair of your choice. Trust me, they mean it. Recently, my husband returned four pairs of six-year-old socks with worn heels to Darn Tough — no questions asked, they gave him four brand new pair. Of course, the trick here is keeping the socks in pairs because the one thing Darn Tough doesn't warranty is a vanishing sock. Truth be told, had we not lost so many single socks over the past six years, my husband probably would have received forty brand new pairs of socks the other day!
Oh! And by the way, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd...
So as I mentioned, my husband and I just invested in ten pairs of Darn Tough socks each — and at 15-20 bucks a pop, that's no small investment. I was so excited to have all these great new socks to choose from every day; however, I'm afraid my elatedness was short-lived. In just a matter of three weeks, we have already had two single socks bow out of the line-up and take their place among the missing! This happening made me so angry and brought the question, "Where do all the missing socks go?" to the forefront of my mind with such velocity that I decided to do my due diligence and research the phenomenon in hopes that I would be able to locate the newly-gone-missing socks.
The research led me to a relatively mundane Google search: "Where do all the missing socks go?"
Sadly, the answers that I discovered were, even more, mind-numbing than the Google query itself. I could find no proof of aliens, elves, or an alternative sock warp. The answers I came upon aren't nearly as humorous as Jerry Seinfeld's explanation of the sock trying to escape to a life free of smelly feet by clinging to a sweater — although that was the one closest to the truth that I found.
So you too would like the great mystery solved? Drumroll, please!
The real potential reasons your socks go missing in the laundry are:
1.) Both with and without the help of static electricity for clinging, socks like to hide in other articles of clothing (such as pant legs and blouse sleeves) and linens (especially the corners of fitted sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers). The good news is that you'll locate many of these rogue socks. Like the time I was at a cocktail party with my hubs, and suddenly felt something fuzzy in my silky blouse — I reached up into the sleeve and pulled out a rogue Sponge Bob sock!
2.) In front-loading machines, small articles can become caught between the tub and the drum (usually near the top). Sometimes those items don't stay there; they slip between the tub and the drum, working their way down, and get sucked into the drain pump. They either stop in the pump, or they drain out with the wastewater. For top-loading machines with an agitator — lone socks can also work their way into the space between the plastic agitator cover and the inside agitator mechanism.
3.) In the dryer, socks can get sucked into the filter or vent ducting. Checking for socks in your ducting is equally (actually more) important for fire hazard prevention too.
4.) And finally — a quite logical explanation — the socks never made it into the washing machine as a pair in the first place. The errant sock could be hiding just about anywhere, and your guess is as good as mine! It could be in a toy box, under a bed, between couch cushions, in an unpacked athletic bag or suitcase, in the car, in an old boot — it literally could be anywhere!
So knowing that the laundry machines are often the sock-eating monsters, what are some sock-laundering suggestions from the manufacturers of said monsters?
LG: “When unloading the washer, check under the door seal for small items, like socks and undergarments.”
Maytag: “Wash small items such as infant socks in mesh garment bags.”
GE Appliances: “Try also to sort items according to size. For example, do not dry a sheet with socks or other small items.”
Maytag: “When unloading garments, occasionally check under the colored seal/below the rim at the front of the tub for small items.”
Samsung: “To prevent object from getting stuck in your washing machine… Put your socks and smaller items in before larger clothing items towards the back of the drum.”
Well, okay, it's all too little too late to protect my recent $400.00 investment in Darn Tough, but from this point forward what can I do to ensure a happy life with paired socks?
As some of the manufacturers suggest, invest in several mesh garment/lingerie bags, and use them when washing socks and other small launderable items.
Either go the high-end route using iron-on nametags and sew-on labels or spend a dollar and get a laundry marker to designate a specific marking for each member of the family. This technique won't necessarily prevent the loss of socks, but it will make sorting and matching an easier task.
Buy all the same socks. This method makes the sorting and matching way easy, and you'll always have pairs of socks — as long as you lose them in multiples of two. If you need to be able to differentiate ownership, choose bulk packs of socks by colors, logos or designs specific to a size or member of the family. Or — you can always 'identify' them as outlined in the above suggestion.
You could treat your socks as disposable and wear a new pair every single day. Although this is the ultimate fool-proof solution to missing socks, it's not for the faint at heart and does take a unique individual to pull it off. I certainly don't recommend it for anyone with a household budget or those of us concerned about the impact of unnecessary waste on our environment.
Hold the pairs together throughout the whole washing/drying cycle with some sock keepers, such as SockPro or Sock Cop Clips – or as I now try to do, just roll your sock cuffs together before putting them in the hamper.
Organize your odd socks in a particular spot, so if their mates do reappear, you can quickly match them back up again. We have a special basket we call our 'lone sock basket.'
Make it work for you and wear mismatched socks! It’s actually trending right now; probably, because socks are expensive and missing socks are such a modern-day phenomenon! Believe it or not, several companies are deliberately making mismatched socks: Check out SockSwap, LittleMissMatched and Solmate Socks — just to name a few.
When all else fails, and you still have mismatched socks lying around, create something crafty out of them! For some really clever ideas, check out Pinterest.
How do you manage socks at your house? Please comment below.