Where to Find Missing Socks

Photo: Lucius Kwok

For years, especially when my children were younger, I had little time to chase down lost socks. So, in progressive order, I kept a bag, a basket, and a drawer designated for singles. Every few months, or more frequently if I had a new batch of missing mates, I would sort through the socks looking for matches. (See also: 9 Ways to Help Your Clothes Last Longer)

Occasionally, this approach worked. The lost sock appeared and I tucked a newly restored pair back into a sock or underwear drawer.

But mostly, the large pile never diminished. Successful reconciliations were typically outweighed by fresh separations.

Of these, there were socks that I didn’t particularly like, ones that weren’t stretchy enough or had become too stretchy or extended beyond mid-calf or fell too far below my ankle. Still, I persisted with my mostly fruitless efforts.

Among the spare socks, though, was one I loved. It was soft and moisture-wicking and had a cool design, and soon after acquiring the pair for a great price, one of the mates disappeared. This baffled me because my sons were now teenagers and keeping up with stuff was generally easier. I hung onto my hope that the sock would resurface, until one day, I decided to get rid of the pile that had not been matched for at least a few years.

A couple of days later, my youngest son decided to clean up his room, closet, and clothes drawers. He gathered all the stuff that he no longer wanted or needed plus a few odds and ends that had landed in his room accidentally. In this latter group was the mate of this favored pair of socks.

Where to Look for Missing Socks

This series of events made me realize that I should be looking for socks, not just waiting for them to appear in the normal course of day-to-day life. As a result, I have discovered several places socks like to hide.

Inside Someone Else’s Dresser Drawers

Search not only in designated sock and underwear drawers but look in all drawers.

In the rush to put up laundry, you may inadvertently separate a sock from its mate. Consequently, it is safely but obscurely stowed in the wrong place.

Inside the Washer Drum

Peek inside the washer and see if you can find a stray sock. You don't have to take apart the machine or any major components.

A small sock may have gotten left behind when you moved newly washed clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Beside, Between, or Behind the Washer and Dryer

Look in these places: beside the washer and dryer, between the washer and dryer, and behind the washer and dryer.

Socks are often dropped when you move laundry from the dryer into a basket or as you remove and fold clothes, towels, etc. The same happens when you transfer wet laundry from the washer to dryer. A few items may slip from sight.

Under a Sofa or Chair in the Den

Peer under furniture in your den. Lift the skirts of sofas and chairs to see whatever small items are hidden underneath. While you are inspecting the surroundings, check under the cushions to see what you may find.

I often sort clothes in the den while watching television or talking with my kids or husband. Also, sometimes one of us will take off our shoes and socks in the den before moving them to the bedroom for the evening. In these cases, a sock may accidentally get tossed and pushed underneath or inside of a piece of furniture.

Under a Bed

Make yourself eye level with the floor in your bedroom and note what's under your bed. Unless you are a neatnik, you will likely see some small items, such as pencils or pens, safety pins, or socks.

Generally, I take off my shoes and socks in my bedroom, and then place them in their proper places. Occasionally, a sock will get pushed under the bed or another piece of furniture, such as a side table or dresser.

Clinging to Another Piece of Clothing

Inspect your sweaters for socks stuck inside or clinging to the fabric. You might also check other clothing as well as sheets and blankets that may have socks hidden in a crevice.

Some of my socks, particularly thin ones made of polyester or a polyester blend, cling to clothing in the drier months. On a few occasions, I have noticed that a particular sweater seems bulky or fits oddly, and then discovered that a sock is tucked in a sleeve. Now, I check clothing as I put it away.

In the Lost Sock Pile

Examine your sock bag, basket, or drawer.

Sometimes, you'll overlook the missing mate because there are so many socks in your pile. Every once in a while, create subgroups by color, purpose (casual, dressy, athletic), and family member. You may notice a match when you have time to scrutinize what you have already compiled.

Inside the Washing Machine

Remove the agitator or take apart the machine and study the inside of the washer.

I have never looked inside the inner workings of the washing machine but have read that socks may be hidden there. I have certainly wondered about such an occurrence because socks do seem to go missing soon after being laundered.


Finding a sock outside may be a long shot but walking your grounds or visiting your back yard may turn up a missing item.

If you have a dog, he may be grabbing your socks when inside and then carrying them outside.

In the Toy Bin

Go through your kids' toy bin to see what misplaced items are there.

Just as a beloved pet can remove socks from their intended location, a small child may also take socks from one place to another. Or they may take off socks wherever they feel like it and then when they clean up, they pile everything — toys and stray socks — into the bin.

On the Floor Next to the Laundry Basket

Scan the area near the laundry basket.

Sometimes a sock falls out or doesn’t make the laundry basket. As a result, one sock gets washed and dried while the other languishes. Eventually, the two will end up back together but speed up this process by checking the floor next the basket or laundry hamper’s standard location.

How to Prevent Missing Socks

I have read that there are ways to prevent missing socks. For example, you can wash them in a lingerie bag or clip them together before placing them in the washer. Or you could buy socks that can be snapped together.

My approach has been to purchase multiple pairs of the same kinds of socks. This solution doesn't prevent missing socks per se but helps with pairing them quickly and easily. Even if you misplace a sock, you will still have plenty of matches to wear.

Where have you found missing socks?

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Where to Find Missing Socks

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Guest's picture

I don't really have a sock problem, but on Saturday I finally found a pair of sweat pants that were missing for six months in a stack of towels in the closet.

Julie Rains's picture

Yikes! I can definitely see that happening at my house, esp. after the family gets involved in folding and putting up stuff while watching television. Sorry they were gone for a while but glad the sweat pants resurfaced.

Guest's picture

I've definitely found missing socks in the kids toy boxes!!!

Julie Rains's picture

I wish I had figured that out (that socks get put up with the toys) earlier!

Guest's picture

We keep one of our laundry baskets in a closet inside the bathroom. On the floor are a couple of other items (the scale and a couple of cleaning things) and every so often, a sock will get hidden by one of the other items.

Julie Rains's picture

I still don't understand how socks can slip out of baskets so easily but it sounds like that happens to everyone. Thanks for sharing!

Andrea Karim's picture

I recently found a sock inside of my jeans. How I managed to walk around all day with sock on the inside of my pant leg is beyond me.

Andrea Karim's picture

Ugh, not sure how I managed to type a comment without using actual English grammar. Please forgive.

Julie Rains's picture

If you are like me, you probably noticed that something was different but never dreamed that it was a stray sock.

Guest's picture

I have the problem where my cats are sock thieves. They'll take them and hide them in odd places.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for sharing! I suppose any type of pet (not just dogs) could be responsible for moving items around the house.

Guest's picture

You mentioned that socks could be inside the washer, but you did not mention inside the dryer, and that is a very likely spot. Think about the way the dryer often works: The drum turns, but at the end of the drum opposite the door is the back of the drum and it usually does NOT turn. Aha! What does that mean? that there is some sort or gasket between the rotating drum and the fixed back. And, what happens over time is that a gap can develop there. I found this out when I partially dismantled a dryer to replace a different part, and I found a dozen single socks at the bottom of the dryer, under the drum...along with some sexy thongs and panties that had obviously belonged to the former owner of the condo & dryer. The thongs weren't much use to me as I'm not a cross-dresser. But it was lovely to find those socks!

Taking apart a dryer is not that difficult if it is a front loader. It could be little more complicated than taking out some screws and removing the back.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the tip! I am not very visual or mechanical (and none of my research uncovered a dryer connection) so taking apart the dryer hadn't occurred to me. We just had to replace a 15 year-old dryer so there is no telling how many socks were contained there.