Sick of finding odd running socks? Here's how to keep them in pairs

Woman wearing striped running socks putting on running shoes
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s a strange fact of life that most of us end up with a pile of odd socks. These could be running socks, hiking socks or just general everyday socks, but still the number of single socks without their partner seems to grow.

There are all sorts of theories as to where missing socks go. Here are a few of the suggestions.

Out of sync

It could be that while you believe you have put both socks in a pair in the washing machine, it might be that only one has made it there. Pairs become separated as they move from your feet, to the laundry basket and then into different loads of washing.

Lost in clothes

Sometimes a sock becomes lodged inside a pair of trousers or becomes jumbled up with another item of clothing and ends up going through the wash without ever being noticed. This means that while you can see one sock throughout the washing cycle, the other stays hidden in clothing.

Lost in the bed

If you wear your socks to bed, there is a high chance that one might come off in the night and become lodged down the side of a mattress or simply get tangled in bedding.

Lost in bedding

Another common place for socks to end up is in the inside corner of a duvet cover. In fact, I’ve known T-shirts to end up being hidden inside a duvet cover. You only notice the missing sock when you go to put the duvet cover on a duvet.

Lost in the washing machine

It’s claimed there are different places in the mechanics of a washing machine where socks can slip unnoticed. For example, wet socks can stick to the inside of the drum and you don’t notice them until another washing load.

A sock could also get lodged in the door seal or even in the pump filter. It has also been known for socks to get trapped in the gap between the moving inner drum and the door seal.

Lost in the tumble dryer

A tumble dryer creates a lot of static electricity and this is why socks end up becoming “stuck” to other times in the laundry. When this happens a small sock could be difficult to see because it is lying flat against or inside the fabric of something else.

Socks an also find their way into the lint trap, epically if you haven’t closed the trap properly after cleaning it out. 

Some people have also found odd socks in the small space between the door and the drum of the dried. 

People wearing odd socks standing in a circle

Do you wear odd socks or spend your life frustrated by them? (Image credit: Getty)

Lost in the laundry room

It might be that in the process of moving socks from a laundry basket to the machine and then to a clothes line or tumbler dryer they lose their way. Socks are small items and they can easily slip behind a washing basket or a washing machine. 

Lost in family life

If you have a few people living together, socks can become mixed up. It might be that one of your family has your odd sock hiding in their own sock drawer. 

My own odd sock theory

Another theory I have is that socks lose their colouring at different rates so you end up with a pair that doesn’t quite look the same. I have no way of proving this idea but it might be that a pair of socks has different quantities of colour die when manufactured or somehow one sock ends up being washed more than the other so one looks more faded than the other.

Matched pairs of socks on a radiator

Keeping socks paired throughout the washing cycle will help prevent them becoming separated from their partners (Image credit: Getty)

How to keep socks paired

There are a few suggestions for avoiding a pile of odd socks. 

Use a laundry bag 

A small laundry bag is a good place to place al socks while they are in the washing machine and tumble dryer. An alternative to a laundry bag is a pillow case. 

Peg socks together

You can buy sock pegs or holders (like this one from Amazon) that allow you to keep pairs together throughout the entire washing process. Try to encourage all your household members to peg their socks together before they place them in the laundry basket.

Roll socks together

Another tried-and-tested method is to roll socks together, one inside the other. This won’t work so well if your socks are particularly dirty but if they are lightly soiled they should end up cleaned in the washing machine. 

Peg them out together

Make sure you keep the socks paired throughout the washing cycle, so you will also want to peg them out together.

Buy multiple pairs of the same socks

If you buy multiple pairs of socks in the same colour and style it means you have a greater chance of finding a pair each time you want to go for a run or hike. I often buy five pairs of the same running socks or three pairs of hiking socks when I need new socks. 

Go odd

In the end, it might be that you can deal with your pile of odd socks by simply wearing odd socks. I find this is a great solution although I prefer to match the same kind of socks together even if they are different colours.

I am happy to wear odd socks if they have the same sort of structure and padding and, in fact, I think this can look quite funky. 

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.