How We Solve the Puzzle of Missing and Mismatched Socks

Recently, I’ve seen some viral stories of people who finally figured out where missing socks had ended up. The answer to the mystery of disappearing socks seems to be this: the washing machine ate them.

That may be true in some cases.

But disappearing socks have a long history, that started long before washing machines were invented.

Women in all of history, in any culture where socks are used, have been dealing with disappearing socks since socks were invented.

Our family has a unique way of solving this problem, and I thought to share it with you today.

I came up with this solution to help out my husband, long before we had kids.

My Husband’s Disappearing Socks

When I moved from Ecuador to Mississippi to join Marco after we got married, I noticed he had lots and lots of socks. There were all different colors and different styles.

I said “you must be a sock collector.”

He said, “It’s my mom, whenever she goes shopping she buys me socks.”

He had two drawers full of socks. Half of them didn’t have a match. I used those for cleaning, since there was nothing else that could be done.

My husband would get very frustrated trying to find matching socks to fold and put away as pairs, so he just threw them in the drawer. Then he got very frustrated every morning trying to find two socks that matched to put on to go to school or to work.

How Our Family Solved this Problem

I asked him if he preferred simple socks or socks with patterns, like most of the ones his mom (whose love language is gifts) had bought for him. He said he hated socks with patterns.

I went shopping for him and found some very high quality socks. I got a dozen pairs of black socks for work, and a dozen pairs of white socks for school and for working out. When I got home I set aside all the socks he’d had before and put them aside to donate. I threw all the black socks in one drawer and all the white socks in another drawer.

After doing his laundry, all Marco had to do was to find all black socks and throw them in the one drawer and find all the white socks and throw them in the other drawer. When he was getting ready for work, all he had to do was open up the drawer with the black socks and pick any two at random, because they all matched. Whenever he was getting dressed to go work out all he had to do was open the drawer with the white socks and pick any two.

Since the boys were little, I did the same for them. When they outgrew old socks we got them a dozen new pairs of socks.

I assume some socks may have been eaten by washing machines over the years – or gone to the mysterious place where disappearing socks end up, wherever that is – but we have never noticed.

It Still Works, After 26 Years

Marco has thanked me many times over the years for helping him solve his problem with socks. When I asked him to proof-read this article for me, he said, “It still works, after 26 years!”

Back in the day, he also had to ask his mom to please not buy him any more socks, because he had too many. The problem with that was that the way she expresses love is by giving gifts. So when socks were no longer an option, she switched to lamps… but that’s a story for another day.

Have You Found a Solution for Disappearing and Mismatched Socks?

I understand our family’s way to solve the issue of matching socks may not work for everyone, especially for someone who sees socks as a fashion statement.

Have you found a solution for the problem with disappearing socks?

Share with us below.


  1. Mary Pendleton-Hoffer

    I wear “trouser” socks, and am able to tie them together before washing. I think they get as clean as the loose ones, and I don’t have to go digging . . . I also have a small net garment bag for bras that I ausencia for socks, esp. the small no-cuff ones.
    And is IS true that the washing machine can “eat” socks! I found the mate to one of those small colored socks in the wash six months after it went missing – it was bleached in stripes, and I guess it had been held hostage in the bleach dispenser all that time!

    • Mary, tying them together is a great solution! And also the bra net for the smaller socks. I’ve seen photos of socks being stuck in the gaskets around the door of front loading dishwashers. A couple found dozens of socks caught under the drum!

  2. My husband is color blind so when we got married we bought a high boy for him that had 3 small drawers side by side. His business socks were rolled up the drawers in alphabetical order
    Black-Blue-Brown. He knew that his shoes were either black or brown so he was always able to pick the right socks to go with his shoes/suits.

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