I have a question for you—do you match your clean socks when they come out of the dryer? If so, how long does it take you each time?
I recently spent a week out of town at my daughter’s home. We had a ball with her two sons (ages seven and three) playing, laughing, and just being silly. But my number one job as a Nanna (aka “grandmother” in Italian) wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t help with household chores. After cooking, my next preferred “chore” is helping her catch up on laundry for her busy family of four. My favorite part of the process has always been folding the warm, freshly-scented clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer. I find something very calming and meditative about it. It also brings back a flood of wonderful memories of my Mom helping me with my own family’s laundry when I, too, was a busy, young Mom.
What was my least favorite part of doing the laundry at my daughter’s? The matching of kids’ socks—or should I say, my “attempt” at matching their socks. I’m not sure why, because I love puzzles and anything that challenges my brain. I think it’s the frustration I felt when the match to their “sole mates” was nowhere to be found. And there were lots of them—all sizes, all colors, and all types. We couldn’t even tell which socks belonged to which child! UGH!
This got me thinking about how much time we waste during our lives trying to match socks. According to radio station WKJZ, the average man spends one full month searching for matching socks. If correct, can I make the leap and estimate that the average Mom or Dad of a family of four wastes four months of his/her life trying to match socks? Regardless of the accuracy of the number, I chose not to waste even more time thinking about it. Instead, I chose to focus on finding a solution.
As a Certified Professional Organizer, I like to solve my clients’ frustrations and problems with simple solutions. The same applies to my household and that of loved ones as well. The easier processes are, the more likely we all are to complete them. The same applies to socks.
There are many possible interventions to be considered in the lifecycle of our socks. This includes everything from:
- the types of socks we purchase
- what to do with dirty socks as soon as we take them off our feet
- how they’re washed, dried and put away
Let’s consider some tips for each stage of the process.
Types of socks purchased:
1. Homogenize: Make things easy on yourself and homogenize socks. In other words, only buy socks of the same style and color. Truth be told, this is the option I suggested and implemented with my daughter’s permission. While the kids are still young and don’t care about the color of their socks, make them uniform. For the oldest child Dom, we replaced his current inventory with socks of the same style, size, and color (black). I made the same recommendation for the little guy Vin. The only difference was to choose a different color (gray) so it’s easy peasy for the laundry folder to match the kids’ socks—that includes the kids to whom I highly recommend this task be outsourced. We deliberately did not choose white socks for either boy because they’re so difficult to keep clean.
2. Blacksocks.com: If you don’t like the previous suggestion, believe it or not, there’s an app for that. When you buy a starter kit (10 pair) of mens black Classic Calf Plus+ with your personal “sock sorter,” you’re buying “the smartest men’s dress socks in the world.” Believe it or not, these socks communicate with your iPhone thanks to a communication button on each sock. It tells users which two socks are a pair, the date they were purchased, and how many times they have been washed throughout their lifetime. Truth be told, I haven’t purchased them yet but I’m definitely intrigued. My husband may be getting an early Christmas gift!
What to do with dirty socks as soon as you take them off:
3. Pin/Clip Them: To prevent matching socks from getting lost after being worn, give your family members the tools they need to keep their socks together as soon as they take them off but before they toss them in their laundry basket. If you’re frugal like I am, you can use something you already have in your home like a safety pin or a clothespin—anything that can go through the washer and dryer that will prevent them from getting separated. Obviously, you need to keep safety top of mind when selecting the clip—especially for the young helpers.
If you prefer to buy a gadget, there are several available on the market. Below are just a few examples. Full disclosure: I have not purchased/used any of these so I can’t render an opinion.
4. Bag Them: Provide each family member with a mesh bag in which to place all their dirty socks. This essentially serves as a separate hamper but just for socks. Just throw the whole bag (complete with dirty socks) in the laundry so they’re washed and dried together.
5. Sock Tabs: Using this tool, you can actually match your socks as soon as you remove them and before they go into the washer. This way, they come out of the dryer TOGETHER. Their slogan? “Tab ‘Em, Wear ‘Em, Attach ‘Em + Wash ‘Em.” Check out this video to get the full effect.
6. SockDock: I also stumbled across another solution called a Sockdock which allows you to wash, dry, and store socks while they’re attached to this gadget in pairs.
In the Laundry Room:
If you’ve washed/dried your socks with nothing holding them together during these two cycles, chances are that you’re bound to lose at least one. If so, here are some options to help you find its “sole mate”.
7. Containerize Them: Dedicate a basket or other container in your laundry room for the clean, orphaned socks that come out of the dryer without their mate. By keeping all single socks together in the “sock basket,” it’s easier to match them as they show up.
8. Hang Them: If you prefer to have the orphaned socks displayed in the laundry room to expedite the matching process, you can display the clean singles in your laundry room by using a bulletin board, indoor clothesline, etc.
If you’re still searching for an alternate solution, I have two left that just might do the trick.
9. SoloSocks– Buy Unmatched Socks: A Copenhagen-based company has a simple solution: Stop making socks in pairs. A pack of their SoloSocks comes with seven unique socks, each designed to go with the rest without actually matching. Brilliant, right? You have to check them out.
10. Become Part of the “Trend”: Don’t discard your unmatched socks and don’t lose any sleep (like I do) wondering where their match is. Celebrate their uniqueness by wearing mismatched socks loud and proud. Supposedly people have been doing it since the 90s and they claim it even boosts your mood. Guess I’ll have to give it a try.
Gain at least a month back each year and solve for your wayward socks. Help them stay together while saving yourself time and frustration. Try out one of the solutions and let me know which worked for you!