Where Do All Those Missing Socks Go?


Where Do All Those Missing Socks Go?

The intrepid journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette set out to solve the mystery of missing socks. Here’s what they uncovered:


“One of the great modern mysteries is one that plagues almost every household: the missing sock in the dryer.

The blogosphere is rampant with theories of gremlins and sock monsters hiding deep inside the dryer. They strike at random, eating one of your socks just to aggravate the heck out of you. Or there’s a magical portal that opens up in your dryer. A sock jumps in and is sent to sock heaven.

Some have even given it a name: Missing Sock Syndrome.

The real explanation is not nearly as interesting, but can hit even those who work in the appliance industry.

Just last month, Audrey Reed-Granger, spokeswoman for the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, came face to face with the sock monster.

A mother of two children, ages 4 years and 14 months, she said her washing machine suddenly stopped working. A message on the front panel indicated a problem with the pump. She turned to her colleagues for advice.

Washing baby socks? They knew immediately what had happened. One of the tiny socks had slipped between the drum of the machine and the wash basket and was trapped in the pump. She took off the front panel, removed the sock and the washer was good to go.

“I talk about this issue all the time in my job,” she joked. “I’m like the cobbler’s daughter who has no shoes.”

That situation also is one of three ways that socks go missing, Ms. Reed-Granger explained.

Reason No. 1: The sock never makes it to the washing machine in the first place. “They’re small. A family member may have dropped one behind the hamper. One might be under the bed.”

Reason No. 2: A person overloads the washing machine (very common) and the smaller pieces of clothing like socks can slip into the inside of the machine. So again, they haven’t even made it to the dryer.

Reason No. 3: Once a sock makes it to the dryer, static cling may paste it the inside of a shirt sleeve or pants leg or the underside of a T-shirt. It’s often not discovered until several days later.

So, no gremlins or monsters or magical portals.”

At least that’s what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wants you to believe!


The USFA says, “It is crucial for homeowners to regularly inspect and clean out the dryer vent.”  They are concerned with the fire hazard dirty or clogged dryer vents pose.  But maybe, just maybe, they know something about those missing socks.


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