Many of us have experienced the phenomenon of socks disappearing from our washer or dryer. Research has shown that people lose up to 15 socks each year, adding up to 1264 socks in the average lifetime. While you make joke about a laundry monster eating your socks, there are a number of reasons why your socks may have disappeared, which we’ll explore here along with how to prevent this happening.

Why Your Socks Go Missing

There is no definitive answer to why socks have a tendency to disappear during the wash. There are myriad explanations ranging from them getting trapped behind your washing machine drum to them merely being misplaced. Some of the other common causes of missing socks include your socks being stuck inside your washing machine pump because the machine was overloaded or even that dryer static has caused socks to cling to other clothing, and you don’t notice them. Contrary to the belief of some, your socks are not being sucked into an alternate dimension, and with a little care and attention, you can prevent the problem.

Don’t Overload

The first step to keeping your socks from entering the Twilight Zone is not to overload your washing machine. Overloading not only prevents proper cleaning and increases strain on the machine, but it can also allow smaller items such as socks to be pushed behind the drum or sucked into the pump.

Most washing machines specify a maximum weight capacity, but the easiest way to check if your machine is overloaded is by using one hand. Simply place your hand into the drum and check what space is left. If you can only fit your hand in, your load is full and ready to go, but if you can’t even squeeze your hand in, you’ve overloaded it, and you need to remove some items.

Keep Your Socks in Pairs

The reason socks tend to go missing in the laundry is that they are often the smallest item in the load. You can improve the chances of keeping them safe by keeping your socks in pairs. You can use binder clips or safety pins, but even rolling one sock sleeve over another will work. While this may take more time for your socks to dry, it should prevent them from going astray.

Use a Mesh Bag

Another way to protect your socks and all your smaller items is to use a mesh laundry bag. These bags are designed to allow water and detergent to pass through them while protecting your smaller and more delicate items. Just remember to zip the bag closed before you put it in the machine or you’ll still end up with socks dotted throughout the load.

Check for Missing Socks

Finally, if you do find that a sock has gone missing, don’t just ignore the issue. A sock trapped inside your washing machine or dryer could cause damage at put your home at risk of flooding. If you find you’re missing a sock when your folding your laundry, first check that it isn’t trapped in your dryer lint filter. This is the easiest issue to deal with, as while you may need to clean the lint and rewash the sock, it should just be a matter of opening the lint trap and emptying it as you should before or after each cycle.

If the sock isn’t in the dryer, check if you can see it in the drum. Often you may be able to see a piece of sock sticking out, and you may just be able to tease it out. Another thing to check is the pump overflow of your washing machine. Many models feature a small compartment on the front. This allows access to the pump trap. When you open the door, you’ll see instructions to turn a dial and release any trapped water. You may be surprised to see your rogue sock pop out with a small gush of water.

If your washing machine seems to be struggling to cope with your laundry and you’re considering an upgrade, you can explore your options with this online collection. Or you can speak to a home appliance expert for a more specialized service.