Why Do My Socks Go Missing in the Washing Machine?

It’s basic mathematics. Two socks go in, two socks come out. At least, that’s the way it should be.

Unfortunately, the washing machine fairies seem to have their own ideas when it comes to sending socks through the cycle. If you’re finding a return of only 50% on your investment, you may be just one of millions of people who have fallen victim to their antics – but is the cause of this apparent robbery really supernatural?

Perhaps not. In fact, it turns out the cause of the sock loss epidemic might in fact be related to the machine itself.

Those who use a top-loading washing machine will be familiar with an agitator, more commonly known as “the spinny bit in the middle”. As well as causing an inordinate amount of clothing to become wrapped around it during a cycle, many models of washer feature a small gap between the base of the agitator and the bottom of the bin – and it’s not uncommon for smaller items of clothing (especially socks) to get sucked into this void.

If you use a front-loading dryer, you might want to check your lint filter. If you’ve forgotten to put it back in, or if the old thing is getting a bit wobbly with age, you will unfortunately find a sock-sized slot right in the danger zone of your drum. If missing socks are becoming a regular feature of your laundry, perhaps you could consider entering the next generation with a washing machine-dryer combo which doesn’t require you to bash out the lint before every cycle.

However these aren’t the only places socks can go missing, so it always helps to keep an eye on the main culprit – other pieces of clothing. Trousers legs and sweatshirt hoods are the ideal hiding places for wayward socks, and Velcro is notorious for attracting smaller items. Remember to thoroughly check your garments immediately after the wash, else you may risk losing them in the airing cupboard later.

So how should you go about minimising sock loss? Probably your best course of action is to invest in a mesh laundry bag, into which you can stuff all of your socks, underwear and other small articles before starting a wash. You could also choose to use some handy sock clips – or alternatively, pair your socks the old-fashioned way prior to a wash.


  1. Ha! Im glad im not the only one who suffered from a sock eating washing machine :D I stuff mine in a pillow case to keep them together x


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