Why Your Socks Go Missing in the Wash (& How to Prevent It)

August 21, 2019 by Burnzie Welles

We’ve all been there – you get to the end of a round of folding laundry, and you’re left with three or four solo socks, their partners nowhere to be found. It’s mind-boggling, it’s frustrating, and it seems like it’s about as certain as death and taxes.

So if there isn’t a monster inside your washing machine that lives on a steady diet of socks, what does cause lost socks in the dryer or washer? If you’ve caught yourself wondering, “Where do socks go?” one too many times, this might put an end to your frustration.

Here are some reasons your socks might go missing in the wash.

1. You’re overloading the machine.

There are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t overload your washing machine. One big reason is that your clothes simply won’t come out as clean, because the washer will have a hard time distributing the detergent efficiently. This can not only lead to a need for a second wash, which is a waste of energy but can also strain your machine, possibly impacting its lifespan. Similarly, overloading your dryer makes it harder for the machine to dry your clothes properly.

But did you know overloading your laundry machines can also contribute to lost socks? An overstuffed load in a front load washer can push small items like socks to the edge of the washing machine drum, causing socks to get trapped behind it, or sucked into the washing machine pump or drain. They can also get stuck under the agitator in a top-load washer

2. Dryer static is sticking your socks to other clothing items.

That’s right – the “monster” behind lost socks in the dryer is often just static cling. Dryer static can cause small items like socks to get stuck to sleeves or pant legs. If you’re not paying attention, you can easily miss these tag-alongs and end up being the person pulling a stray sock out of your sweater during that Monday morning meeting.

3. You’re just not looking hard enough.

Even if you’re careful about your load sizes and are religious about using dryer sheets to reduce static cling, it’s just really easy for small, loose items to find their way into hard-to-see spaces during your laundry process. Beyond getting stuck to or inside other items of clothing, socks can stick to the drum – especially on the top or bottom of a front load washer, which can be hard to see at a glance. They can also simply fall away from the load as you transfer laundry from a machine to a hamper or vice-versa.

Tips for Preventing Lost Socks in the Dryer and Washer

 Don’t overload the machine. First, always check your machine’s owner’s manual for guidance on your machine’s capacity. An average machine can handle between 12 and 16 pounds of laundry. If you want to check your load by weight, you can put it in a mesh bag and weigh it before adding it to the machine. You can also use the hand test – in a front load washer, fill the machine with the desired load. Then, over the top of the laundry, reach through the drum and place your flattened hand against the back of the machine. If you can’t fit your arm through, your machine is too full, and you should remove some items.

 Keep socks together. You don’t want to completely stuff one sock inside the other because they won’t get properly cleaned that way, but you can at least fold the top of one inside the other, leaving the feet loose. You can also use special sock clips, or put all your small, easily lost items in a mesh bag. Finally, you may want to keep a separate bag or hamper for socks so they don’t get lost among bigger items during the beginning of your laundry process.

 Always check for socks. There is a psychology to lost socks in the dryer and washer, and it may just come down to poor attention to detail. It turns out many “lost” socks can be retrieved by just a little more vigilance in the laundry room. After removing clothes from the washer or dryer, check the drum to see if a sock got stuck in the gap and is sticking out. Also, check carefully inside larger items of clothing, and even behind or underneath machines or in hard-to-reach crevices around the laundry room.

Have more questions about how to get the most out of your laundry appliances? The Howard’s blog has all the information you need to keep your home running, straight from the experts.

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