4 Proven Ways to Avoid Losing Socks in Laundry

April 09, 2020 7 min read

We know WHAT happens but we have no earthly idea HOW it happens. We’re talking about laundry day and those times when you know for a fact that two identical socks went into the laundry machine. However, when it is time to fold the laundry, only one sock is present and accounted for. What happened? Where did that sock go? What can I do to stop this madness?

Losing socks in the laundry is the great equalizer of modern times. It happens to everyone. No matter who you are or how you do laundry, you are just as likely to lose a sock in the laundry process as anyone else. It is truly an equal opportunity scourge.

In all seriousness, though, losing socks in the laundry is a very common problem and is incredibly frustrating. Many of us have socks we love and losing one of them is no fun. What makes it all the more maddening is that it makes no sense! But, even though no one seems to know how socks go missing in the laundry, there are a few steps you can take to help stop this annoying phenomenon. Here are four simple proven methods to combat this all too common problem.

Method One: Pair Them Up

If you really want to keep two things together, what do you do? You use a piece of equipment that will literally fasten the two objects together. For important papers, you use a staple or a paper clip. For two pieces of wood, you use a nail or a screw. Taking this concept and applying it to your socks is a great way to keep them together.

Physically fastening socks together can help you lose fewer of them when doing laundry. Taking the time to simply clip them to each other by using a clothespin or a safety pin is an easy and effective method of making sure that your purple socks stay with their purple partners and your green socks stay with their green mates for the duration of the laundry ride.

The problem with this method is the upfront time commitment it takes. Sitting around clipping dirty socks together is not something many people are willing to do. You can justify some of that time commitment by knowing that time spent in the front will save time on the backend. Even when paired socks come out of the dryer, they don’t necessarily come out together. Instead of spending time searching for the matched set, they are right there and ready to fold.

The other problem with this method is that almost any type of fastener you use to clip socks together has the potential to cause damage. If you use some kind of clip to hold the socks together it can cause friction at the point of connection and lead to holes. If you use something like a safety pin, you have to put a tiny hole in your socks each time you do it which can also cause damage.

Pro: Physically attaching socks together is a fairly foolproof method to keep them with their partners.

Con: Prepping the socks can be time-consuming and tedious and can lead to damage in the long run.

Method Two: Bag Them

The second method to consider to prevent sock loss in laundry is to put all the socks for a given load into a mesh or laundry bag. There are several different types and sizes of laundry bags available and most are relatively inexpensive. By putting all your socks (in pairs) into the laundry bag and then putting the entire bag into the laundry machine, you can guarantee that they all stay together throughout the entire process. This is an especially good method for taking special care of socks that you absolutely love or that have sentimental value such as socks you received as a groomsmen gift.

If you decide to go this route and purchase a mesh laundry bag, there is an added bonus. The bag has multiple uses in addition to being a place to keep your socks safe and together. The bag can be handy for other garments as well. The bag can save clothes with straps or hooks from being stretched or damaged. It can also keep delicate pieces of laundry safe from the harsh cycles of a washing machine or allow you to more easily pull certain garments out of the general laundry prior to drying them.

Watch out for mesh laundry bags with drawstring!. These strings can easily get tangled in other clothes or the machine itself, leading to problems of another sort that are larger than your lost sock problem. The best mesh laundry bags have zippers as opposed to strings. Also, be careful not to overload your bags. If the bags are too packed and the socks (or other garments) can't move around they may not get entirely clean in the wash or they may come out of the dryer still wet.

Pro: Quick and easy method that also gives you a versatile laundry tool to use with other garments.

Con: Some bags can get easily tangled; overstuffing can make socks less likely to get clean or dry.

Method Three: Isolate Them

This method is the most controversial of the bunch but some people swear by it and declare that it leads to much less frequent cases of losing socks in laundry. This involves doing a load of laundry that consists exclusively of your socks.

Has the following ever happened to you? After you take your laundry out of the dryer, you fold your clothes as usual. At the end of the laundry basket, you realize one of your socks is missing its match. You get rid of the sock. A few days or weeks later, you go to put on a sweater and, lo and behold, inside is that missing sock!

The benefit of doing a load of just socks is that you do not run into this issue which is one of the most common reasons for losing socks in laundry. In many cases, socks end up getting stuck inside other garments. If there are no other garments in your load, this will never happen.

Unfortunately, cleaning laundry this way is seen by many as a big waste. Unless you are doing laundry for a large family that wears many socks, chances are your “sock load” will be very small. Doing small loads like this will waste water and energy. This is bad for both your pocketbook and the planet as a whole. To be an eco-friendly laundry person, you want to maximize your loads as much as possible. This is the opposite of that.

One more hidden issue with this method is that, while it does stop socks from getting stuck in another piece of laundry, there is still a chance your socks can get lost in other ways. They can still get stuck in the mechanism and disappear or stick to the wall of the machine and get separated that way.

Pro: You will not lose socks because they are stuck in or on other garments.

Con: This can be wasteful if you do not have a ton of socks and you can still lose socks in mysterious ways.

Method Four: The Sock Orphanage

This last method actually has nothing to do with the laundry, per se, but it will ultimately help you avoid losing socks in the laundry over a longer period of time. The idea of a Sock Orphanage is that you can keep an area in your laundry room where orphaned socks can hang out in case their other half shows up in a later load. If a sock gets stuck in the machine or, as discussed earlier, shows up inside a pair of pants or a sweatshirt, you will know exactly where its orphaned partner is and you can reunite them so they can live together happily ever after.

When you maintain a Sock Orphanage in your laundry room, there is an additional benefit along with your newly found ease of reuniting socks when the errant party is found. It also helps you organize your sock drawer and keep it free of clutter. Having orphaned socks in your sock drawer will cause a mess and block you from having the joyfully organized drawer you deserve. There is nothing worse than having a single argyle sock or a single striped sock taking up space in your sock drawer.

A Sock Orphanage is a great idea and there is very little downside, other than the small amount of space it takes up in your laundry room. But, here is a corollary rule: Don’t keep your socks in the orphanage forever. There is a good chance that sock #2 will never show up and you don’t want to have the solo sock hanging out for a long time.

Reuniting the lost with the faithfully waiting party might feel good, but so does repurposing socks in fun and interesting ways. There are dozens of ways you can use single socks; keeping one in an orphanage for a long time stops you from doing this. And, what’s the worst that can happen? You repurpose one and the other shows up? In that case, just repurpose the second as well! You don’t want to miss out on all the awesome second acts your socks can have such as being used for cleaning purposes, art projects, protecting items, or keeping things together.

Pro: Keeps loose socks out of your sock drawer and allows them to be reunited later.

Con: Takes up space in the laundry room and may delay you from repurposing the orphaned sock in a great way.


Nobody likes losing socks in the laundry but for most of us, it is a normal part of life and the laundry experience. The good news is, it does not have to be this way. There are a few simple techniques like the ones listed above that will help you keep your socks together more often and replace socks you love less often. This is something that everyone is interested in achieving.

Each of these methods has pros and cons, but all are valid ways to protect your socks and keep your pairs intact. In the past, this may not have been as big of a deal because socks were (almost literally) a dime a dozen. Today, people pay much more attention to their socks and look for ones that provide both comfort and style. With ever more people are invested in keeping their socks in better condition for longer and keeping them together, these methods are rising in popularity now. Try them and save yourself from the dreaded Laundry Day anguish of a missing sock!

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