Solved: Where Do Socks Go? Washing Machine Dryer Laundry Missing Socks


Have I ever told you about the time my lost sock travelled halfway around the world with me and back?

It was back in 2014, I just graduated college and decided to take 2 months off to go to Europe. 

A 2-month long vacation meant constantly doing laundry. 

Whether it was at a coin-operated washer or hand-washing in the hostel bathroom, I kept a careful eye on my socks and underwear. 

Missing even one piece of sock or underwear meant one less piece would go into the rotation.

So, you must understand my bewilderment when I got home and found my lost sock from high school when I was unpacking my suitcase.

I went to a private high school, all of our school uniform socks were adorned with our high school crest.

I haven’t seen that sock since, well, high school. 

So, that just begs the question... 

Where do missing socks go? Where do they “hide” out? And, why do they randomly reappear?

Where Do Socks Go?

There doesn’t see to be a definitive answer to this age-old mystery. 

So, do washing machines actually eat up the sock? 

Or, is there a sock fairy that picks up loose socks and leaves a dollar under your pillow?

Or, perhaps socks have a mind of its own and stays hidden from us because they don’t want to be worn?

Let’s explore some theories!

So, Why Do You Lose Your Socks?


i. Responsibility

When you were still living under your parents’ roof, who was guilty of making their mom do their laundry? I know I was! 

When my mom did my laundry, they were always fresh, creaseless, and folded flawlessly. 

Whenever I couldn’t find a T-shirt or a pair of jeans, the first place I would always go to, was mom. 

“Mom, where is that sweater I threw in the wash last week?"

Without a doubt, the same question would be asked of missing socks.

It was always the socks. 

But now, as a (responsible) adult, I don’t have the luxury of having mom locate my missing socks anymore. 

Let me tell you one thing, I have been spending a lot more money on new socks ever since moving out. 

ii. Human Error

Is it just me or do socks seem to always sneak its way around unlikely parts of the house?

The back of the sock drawer, or beneath the washing machine seem to be common places to uncover single lost socks.

But, what about behind the kitchen oven, or under the TV stand? 

Believe me, I’ve found them in even more unlikely places before.

My only guess is that they were dropped on its way to the wash and kicked around and stayed hidden until next year’s spring cleaning. 

iii. You Just Don't See

You are so certain that the blue striped sock you were looking for this morning was not in your sock drawer. 

But they show up again at night when you’re looking for something else in that drawer. 

My theory?

These sneaky things probably don’t want to be picked up in the morning to be worn by icky feet. 

Where and When Does This Lost Sock Mystery Happen?

There are so many steps in the process of getting your dirty socks clean again. 

From the dirty laundry bin to the washer, then to the dryer or drying clothes line...

So many opportunities for a blunder to arise!

Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios. 

i. Washing Machine Related

washing machine

#1 From the Dirty Bin to the Washing Machine

As you’re moving your dirty laundry to the washing machine, you take a brief stop in the kitchen to turn down your pot of boiling soup. 

When you plopped down your laundry basket, you didn’t realize one of those pesky little socks fell out and got kicked behind the trash bin. 

#2 Picked up From the Washing Machine

I don’t always pick up my clothes from the washing machine with a laundry basket. 

If my laundry basket is still full of last cycle’s clean clothes which I haven’t put away yet, I will grab my clean clothes with bare hands and move it onto the couch or bed.

I find this is the easiest way to lose your clothes especially the small pieces.

#3 Wall of the Washing Machine Drum

A good hiding place for socks is inside the wall of the washing machine drum. 

When they’re wet, they can easily stick to the sides of the drum. 

If you have a front load washer and they’re hidden on the top of the machine drum, it’ll most likely be hidden from vision. 

So, what happens to it? 

It gets washed again in the next cycle and gets separated from the other sock. 

If it was stuck to the drum of a laundromat washing machine, you can say goodbye to it forever. 

#4 Gap Between Wall and Washing Machine

Another great place to hide, since who will look here?

Chances are if you’ve dropped a T-shirt or a larger piece of clothing here, you’ll see it. 

But, what happens to socks? 

If you dropped one between this gap, most likely it’ll stay there for quite some time. 

ii. Dirty Clothes Basket

#1 Did it even make it into the wash cycle?

You are so certain you threw those smelly old socks into your dirty hamper, but are you sure you didn’t fish them out to throw them out instead?

Or, perhaps when you threw it in, one of the sock didn’t make it in and was lying on the bathroom floor the whole time?

iii. Dryer Related

#1 Wall of the Dryer Drum

Just like the washing machine drum, the wall of the dryer drum seems to be a magnetic for odd socks.

When they’re staticky, they will easily stick to the sides of the drum. 

Next time you fish your wet laundry out of the washer for drying or your dry laundry for folding, make sure to take a close look at the drums of the washer and dryer machines. 

#2 Dropped on the Floor When Moving From Washer to Dryer

When a sock gets dropped on the floor and doesn’t get noticed and picked up right away, it usually gets kicked around until it finds a good hiding place. 

Once it’s there, it’s almost impossible to find it again unless you’re actively searching for that specific sock. 

#3 Gap Between Wall and Dryer

If you have your dryer and your washing machine lined up side by side, like I do at my house, you’ll probably find a lot of odd socks along the back wall...

iv. Clothesline


#1 When You Carry Your Clothes to the Clothesline

I know some people prefer drying their clothes in the sun over the dryer. 

There are so many benefits to it, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are an efficient way of killing off bacteria. 

Drying wet laundry out in the sun is also an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to the dryer machine.

When you carry your clothes to the clothesline, you might drop them around different parts of the house as you make your way to the backyard. 

If you didn’t realize you’ve dropped it outside, chances are a curious little animal might pick it up and take it with them. 

They probably don’t intend to give it back.

#2 While You Are Drying Your Clothes, You Drop It

If you’re drying your clothes out on your apartment balcony and you drop it down a few floors onto someone else’s balcony, chances are you won’t be able to get it back.

#3 While You Are Picking up Your Cloth You Drop It

Your clothes are dried and it’s time to pick them up. 

Again, if you drop a sock outside onto your lawn as you’re bringing them back inside, chances are something, someone, or a furry creature might come for it.

#4 The Wind Blew It Away

You’ve made sure you didn’t drop any of your clothes while bringing them out and you’ve also made sure you didn’t drop any on the ground as you were drying them. 

Heck, you even counted the pieces as you were loading them into the washer, and you count them each time you bring them to a different location.

You’ve done a fine job of accounting for each piece of clothing. 

But, light pieces like socks, might get blown away by heavy wind. 

#5 Stolen

Yes, some people do actually steal laundry. 

Who knows? 

Maybe one of your neighbours has been eyeing your fancy Sock Alley socks each time you come out to dry your laundry.

Where and When Does This Lost Sock Mystery Happen?

i. Washing Machine Related

#1 Bottom of the Washing Machine

Beneath the washing machine is a likely place to find lost socks. 

They get kicked around and once it goes underneath the washing machine, it’s difficult to retrieve. 

#2 Wall Behind the Washing Machine

I don’t know how it makes its way to the back wall, but that wall seems to be a magnet for odd socks.

A likely place to search if you’re on a quest to locate all your missing socks.

#3 Gap Between the Wall and Washing Machine

A treasure trove of lost socks since this gap is usually narrow and deep. 

No one really looks here, as often as they should for lost clothing pieces, which allows the number of odd socks to slowly accumulate here.  

#4 Floor

Because they’re small, light, and easily escapes our vision, socks often get dropped onto the floor as we’re moving them to different places. 

Or, if you are the type to take off your socks and leave them on the floor when you come home from work, the floor is another likely place to start your search.

ii. Dryer


#1 Bottom of the Dryer

When we replaced our dryer, we found a bunch of odd socks. Some socks had been there for so long, I had already threw out the other one and forgot they even existed. 

#2 Wall Behind the Drying Machine

Look along the wall of your washing machine and drying machine. 

Are these machines purposely trying to keep us from finding our socks? Because they seem to always be a cluster of odd socks behind this back wall.

#3 Gap Between the Wall and Drying Machine

The gaps, open spaces, and floor in the laundry room is the number one place to go search for odd socks. 

I guarantee you’ll find so many socks here, you’ll probably save some money from buying a new 5-pair pack.

iii. Bathroom


#1 Dirty Clothes Basket

Maybe you thought you lost them, but you just haven’t done your laundry in a long time so it’s just sitting on the bottom of your laundry basket? 

If you’re looking for a specific pair of socks, maybe the bottom of the clothes hamper is a good place to look.

#2 Floor

If you have a lidless laundry hamper, you’re probably guilty of throwing your dirty clothes into the hamper from a distance. 

I know I am. 

Since I don’t have good aim, the accumulation of clothes outside the basket and on the floor is sometimes more than the clothes inside the dirty hamper.

Even if you do have good aim, you’ll probably find some small odd pieces around the floor of the dirty hamper if you throw your dirty clothes in from across the bathroom.

iv. Bedroom


#1 Closet

I don’t usually keep my socks in the closet, but I have found a sock inside the pocket of a cardigan before. 

How it ended up there, I have no idea. 

#2 Dresser or Cupboard

I keep my socks in a dresser drawer. 

If the drawer is too full and I force it to shut, some odd pieces must fall from the back of the drawer into the bottom of the dresser. 

I’ve found some odd socks here and there around my dresser when I reorganized my drawers.

#3 Floor

Who is guilty of taking off their socks and leaving them on the floor before going to bed?

My husband and I both are!

We are also guilty of not putting them into the laundry hamper the following morning.

So, you can imagine how many pairs of dirty socks we have on our bedroom floor...

v. Other Places

#1 Outside

If you dry your wet laundry outside, try retracing your steps and searching the route you take to get to your clothesline. 

You might find some odd socks here and there. 

#2 Laundromat


If you do your laundry at a laundromat, pay close attention to dropped pieces. 

There’s a higher chance you’ll be able to recover them if you notice it right away.

#3 Inside a Towel, Other Shirt, Pants, etc.

Since they’re small, they can easily get caught up in the inside of another clothing article. 

Check the inside of larger pieces.

Is it bunched up inside a towel? Or perhaps, rolled up inside a leg of your pants?

How Often Do You Lose Your Socks?

For me, I would say I lose 1 sock per month. 

That’s 6 pair of socks in one year!

This number is probably higher for people who do their laundry at a laundromat since the chance of recovering lost pieces is much smaller. 

So, How Can I Avoid Losing My Socks?

Want to stop replacing your missing socks? 

We’ve got a few secrets to let you in on...

i. Always Wash in Pairs

When I have a large pile of laundry, I tend to separate the laundry into two different cycles to be washed on different days. 

When I separate my laundry, some socks get separated and end up not being washed in the same cycle. 

This increases the chance of losing one since they were washed in different cycles. 

If you can, always wash the socks together. 

Try to keep your load light by washing a little more frequently so that each pair of socks can be in the same load together. 

(A good piece of advice for me too).

ii. Wash Socks Only

I know some friends who wash a load of socks only. 

They think dirty socks are the most filthy thing in their laundry hamper and don’t want it mixed with their other laundry.  

Besides separating dirty laundry from even dirtier laundry, this is also a fantastic idea for keeping socks together.

This will allow you to quickly pick out missing socks right away.

iii. Lost and Found for Socks

I have a section in my sock drawer for odd socks where I put lone socks in. 

When I discover a missing sock, I will try to pair it up and reunite it with the lone sock from the missing sock box. 

If there isn’t a match in the missing sock box, it gets stashed away there until I’m able to find its buddy. 

This is a great way to match off missing socks, rather than throwing them away.

iv. Have 1 Kind of Socks

No judgement here, but this is the most boring way of avoiding odd socks since you will always be able to find a pair.

In a hurry in the morning? 

Try your luck and grab any two socks from your sock drawer.

They will 100% always be a match.

Simple and efficient, but a drawer full of all-black or all-white colour socks will get boring fast.

v. Use a Washing Net

Another effective idea, wash all your socks in a large mesh bag. 

When you load your washer, make sure all your socks are already in pairs before placing them in the bag. 

This will ensure that nothing gets dropped when you’re fishing out your wet clothes for drying.

This will also ensure that nothing gets stuck on the drum of the washer.

What to Do With Odd Socks?

You’ve tried all the techniques above and you’ve searched in all likely places. 

But, you still have a bunch of odd socks.

Are they destined for the trash can?

We would argue, not yet.

Odd socks can serve as a variety of useful functions. 

i. Floor Mopping

Odd socks make good rags, use them for floor mopping.

If you need a larger piece, you can sew odd socks together, or cut them in half so they open up and lay flat.

Please make sure your sock is clean though, you wouldn’t want your whole kitchen floor to smell like dirty socks.

ii. Shoe Keeper

Socks belong in shoes, even if they are missing their better half. 

If you have some shoes that need to be filled with stuffing to retain its shape, try filling it with an odd sock!

iii. Cover of Chair Legs

Just because your odd sock can’t be used on your foot, doesn’t mean it can't be used on another leg. 

Use four of your odd socks as a chair leg cover. 

iv. Cover of Table Legs

Similar to chair legs, you can use your odd socks for table legs.

Furniture leg covers are great since they protect your floors when chairs and tables are being moved and pushed around.

The Verdict

Were you able to find your odd sock in one of the likely locations we’ve listed?

Were you able to match off any odd socks from your missing sock box?

Let me know how many pairs of socks you were able to uncover!

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