Organizing Socks

From the hamper, to the washer, to the sock drawer, there are several places that socks can lose their match. The mystery of missing socks will likely never be solved, but there are ways to increase the probability of being able to find two socks that go together, even in a large household. This is a guide about organizing socks.

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A picture of a pair of socks.
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The one item I never put into a dryer is socks, because they always seem to shrink in there. So instead they get hung on the washing line on good days, or indoors on a foldaway airer on rainy days. Either way, this makes for a good opportunity to sort socks into pairs at an optimum time.

It's a job I am sure that most of us hate, but if you do it as you hang them up it is an absolute breeze to sort out which matches what. Then very simply bunch the pairs together as you take them down once they are dry. Have a shoe box or something similar for odd socks and keep them in there for a few weeks in case their partners turn up on a subsequent washday.

socks on folding drying rack
    Sorting Socks into Pairs
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    Buy socks that are all alike. I store them without folding them into each other also. They stretch out faster if you fold them into a ball. The advantages to this practice: no matching-up socks and when one wears out, gets a hole or gets lost you have automatic replacements.

    You can still buy socks of different kinds. I have white socks for tennis shoes and dress socks, but the whites are all alike and the dress socks are all black and alike. I think this saves money in the long run.

    By thriftyvicki from Dallas, TX

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    We're constantly losing one sock in a pair. I started keeping unmatched socks in a bag as I put laundry away. Every time I'm putting a load of laundry away, I check the unmatched sock bag in case I can find a sock to match the "new" unmatched socks. Sure enough, I'll be able to match up one or two pairs while two or three pairs of unmatched socks go into the bag. Don't ask me why the bag is growing but at least I'm matching some socks instead of throwing them out before I find their partner.

    By Denise from Whitby, ON

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    I bought the net type washing bags for lingerie and delicate things. Each person in the family has a sock bag. The dirty socks are put in each person's bag, then I wash them and dry them in the bag. Then the bags are given to each person, so they can put up their socks. If a sock is missing, then you know the person it belongs to needs to look under the bed, etc., until they find the sock. It has kept most all those wild socks corralled, and we don't have as many strange pairs as we used to have!

    By Elaine from OK

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    One of the best ways I've found to organize my socks is using these sock drawer organizer boxes from HomePro Goods. You can use them in several ways depending on the thickness of your socks and season.

    A sock drawer organizer filled with socks.

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    Instead of using those plastic over-the-door shoe organizers for shoes, I use mine to organize our socks! After taking the socks out of the dryer, I just roll them up and place a pair in each pocket of the shoe organizer (I do this with pantyhose and knee-highs too).

    Organizing socks with an over the door shoe organizer.

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    My three year old loves to play matching games. So when I am sorting and folding the laundry, I plop a large pile of socks in front of her to match up. She thinks it is a game and I get my laundry chore done faster!

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    With three kids in elementary school at the same time, keeping up with socks was not working, I got three packs (6 pair each) of white socks on sale that fit everyone.

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    To prevent losing socks in washer and dryer, pin the pair together with safety pins.

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    I keep sock pairs matched so they are worn the same number of times, by numbering them when I take them out of a package. Starting with #1 on a pair, after washing simply match up the numbers.

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    Tips for easy sock sorting...

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    I bought one of those mini square plastic baskets that look like a small laundry basket and placed it on the closet shelves above our hanging clothes. I use it for socks instead of a drawer, it frees up drawer space.

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    When my children were home we could never match socks for each person. So I decided for my husband and son that one person got the solid white crews/tube sock and the other person got socks with stripes.

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    Organizer for Kids Socks. I have recently discovered that there actually is a solution for mismatched baby and kid socks! No more lonely socks hanging out at the back of enormous dresser drawers.

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    When doing laundry, often we get socks that have gone bad and need to be tossed. Yet, it seems like they always wind up back in laundry.

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    I keep a cork board hung up in the laundry room. Each time I fold socks I take the strays and pin them up to the board. Next time I have strays, I check the board which usually has the match.

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    If you place the socks at the bottom of the wash load, they are less likely to be thrown over the top of the washer and pumped out with the water. I read this tip somewhere years ago, and I have raised three kids and a husband using it with very few lost socks!

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    I use the dividers in glass bottle beer cases as sock dividers in my drawers. These dividers work just as well as the commercially sold ones in the organizational stores, but they are free. By MaryME

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    I was tired of losing socks in the wash so I came up with an easy idea to keep them together. I safety pin together my sock pairs! Most households have safety pins lying around, so put them to good use!

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    In 44 years of being a wife and mother I can honestly say I have never lost socks in the wash. I taught husband and kids to fold socks together when they took them off. I only put pairs in the machine and always at the bottom of the machine.

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    This is a great tip that I have found works very well. Place a small basket on the top of the dryer, one for each family member. When the clothes are dry, you can throw each member's socks in the basket.

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    Each family member has a different color sock; 4 boys, my husband, and myself. Makes it easy to sort. Black, gray, white, gray with a stripe, and gray with a colored heel.

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    Socks! The washing machine must eat them. Buy several pair of the same make, model, and color and not only do you save time sorting laundry, but if one goes bad or missing, you still have back-ups and an extra.

    When they get a hole, cut off the top part and sew on as knitted cuffs on long-sleeve shirts or sweats when the sleeves are too short.

    By kemperjl from Gilbertsville, NY

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    I often buy several pairs of the same color of socks so that if one sock of the pair wears out, there will still be several mates.

    By Judy

    Answers:

    Buy Matching Men's Socks

    I do the same thing for myself. Every winter I buy about 10 pairs of the same black sock and then I don't have to worry about matching up. (10/25/2009)

    By mulberry204

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    I have two small boys and while sorting socks, I find that although they wear different sizes when rolled they all look like the same size. I roll one boy's toes tucked in and my other boy's socks toes out of the "ball". I can put them in the correct drawer without much thought and each knows at a glance if they have the right socks.

    By Leigh Ann Stephens

    Answers:

    Sorting Children's Socks

    Same in my family, one person have size 6 anklet while others have size 8 low cut. I solve this problem by washing the same types in one load and different in others (06/11/2006)

    By Edgar

    Sorting Children's Socks

    We have 8 people in our family and seven are male. I have tried everything with the sock problem. I do them all now, kids just won't and can't do it well. I make piles of similar socks, by size or style or color or brand. Then I treat it like a game and match them. In a way, it is calming, and I can always think and plan things in my mind while doing this. When interrupted I rubber band each pile together and put in a sock basket. The basket is never empty, I am always waiting for a few empty mates to show up. (12/04/2008)

    By kibby

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    Always buy mens and boys' socks in quantities of a dozen or more of matching pairs. This reduces the need to pair-up the socks before washing and greatly reduces the length of time playing the sock matching game.

    By Cathi/Cait

    Answers:

    Buy Matching Men's Socks

    Great tip! As an old bachelor I learned years ago to buy a dozen or two each white cotton tube socks and black cotton socks. You don't have to match them up and you won't ruin the elastic by rolling them in pairs.

    Cotton socks may not be fashionable, and this may have concerned me forty years ago. Now I'm much more into comfort, and you can't beat cotton socks for comfort. White for boots, black for shoes... only two kinds of socks in the house. Handy. (10/14/2004)

    By Alph

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    Here is a tip which my husband provided for me. Before my son moved on his own, I was having difficulty matching socks to the correct person. Since they both like crew and ankle socks, my husband made a suggestion. He started buying one brand for himself and another brand for my son. We extended the practice to tee shirts and underwear. No more confusion

    By Georgetta from Waterloo, IA

    Answers:

    Buy Each Family Member A Different Brand Of Socks

    This is one great tip! I've always had a habit of loosing socks in the wash (we all know how they sometimes get "eaten" by our washing machines!) So I started buying my socks in packages of 8 and I'll usually buy at least 2 packages (all in black or all in white). So, this way I end up with 16 pairs that ALL match each other, so if I lose one sock, it's no problem because I still have a whole bunch more. I also did this with my kids when they were growing up. But in the rare instances that my kids had the same brand of white socks, I simply took a black permanent marker & would put 1, 2 or 3 dots (depending on which child they belonged to) or the child's first initial of their name on the toe. You have to do this right when you open the package or you'll never be able to figure it out!

    * The only problem I have with this method is that if you like to wear black socks like I do... after a while some will be faded and some will be as bright as new. When this happens you'll have to sort them according to darkness or you'll end up with a black sock & a nearly gray sock.

    Another thing that helps is, if you try to always buy your socks at the same store. This way they will continue to match. For example, I always bought my oldest sons socks at Fred Meyers and my youngest son's at Walmart. When I needed to buy them more socks I'd try to go back to the same store so I could get them the same brand. This way, they would always have socks that matched. Another thing that helps to sort socks is that one of my daughters liked the low "tennis shoe" type of sock & the other one like knee socks. If you are fortunate to have 2 kids that like different styles of socks this also helps to sort them (like tube socks Vs, toe socks etc). (08/21/2008)

    By Cyinda

    Buy Each Family Member A Different Brand Of Socks

    I hear ya! My husband went as far as to buy a different color of socks and underwear. When it comes to shoes they both wear the same size and bought the same size tennies so they just kept their tennies in different places. (08/22/2008)

    By DEBRADJ.

    Buy Each Family Member A Different Brand Of Socks

    I have each kid do his own laundry, so the socks are always separate, and it is not my problem. Each kid has his own laundry basket in his room. They share the blue jean wash, and I wash all the whites (but not socks!).

    I have also purchased several packages of the same color and brand of sock, and I agree that that is a good tip. My sons solved the matching sock problem by deliberately wearing socks that did not match. I think a little creativity and independence go a long way to make mom's job easier. (08/22/2008)

    By louel53

    Buy Each Family Member A Different Brand Of Socks

    Buy the whole family the same socks and you'll always have a match. (12/04/2008)

    By melmarr

    CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
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