Save Our Socks

Research indicates you will likely lose more than 1,200 socks in the laundry during your lifetime. The sock-stats may be shocking, but here's how to stop the sock-loss cycle.

You know the drill. You put a load of clothes in the washing machine and by the time you pull them out of the dryer an hour and a half later, one of your socks has vanished like a plane into the Bermuda Triangle. Where the hell did it go?

You aren’t the only person with a drawer full of widowed socks. According to a recent study, the average person loses 1,264 socks in the wash in their lifetime. That works out to 16 pairs a year, or about $3,200 worth of socks by the time you die. Keep doing the math and you find Americans are losing up to $10 billion in socks every year.

Ten. Billion. Dollars.*

But never fear, science is here. A pair of British scientists say they’ve solved the mystery of vanishing socks, and they’ve come up with a mathematical formula to predict the probability socks will disappear in the wash. It’s called the Sock Loss Index.

According to statistician Geoff Ellis and psychologist Simon Moore, socks get lost in the wash due to a combination of factors including the size of the load, the number of socks in each load, the amount of attention you’re paying to doing the laundry and how much you like doing the laundry.  

Simply put, if you wash huge loads of clothes and and you really hate doing laundry, you’re going to lose a boatload of socks. This is because you won’t notice when a sock falls behind the radiator where your dog will find and eat it because you were trying to get the damn laundry done as quickly as possible and get back to playing World of Tanks on your phone.

Other fun facts from the lost sock study: Colored socks are more likely to disappear than white ones. And men are far more likely than women to lose socks because they really, really hate doing the laundry and don’t try very hard to keep them together. Shocking, right?

So what to do? Here are five simple ideas for never losing your socks again:

  1. Pin your socks together with a safety pin before you put them in the wash.    Consider it the Buddy System for hosiery. You also won’t have to fold them when they come out of the dryer.
  2. Wash all of your socks in a single, separate load.
  3. Wash socks in a mesh laundry bag. The ones for lingerie work nicely.
  4. If you are male, PAY ATTENTION WHEN YOU WASH CLOTHES. Laundry sucks. Get over it.
  5. And the simplest solution of all: Don’t wear socks.

*This number assumes all 318.9 million Americans wear and lose socks.