Since we’ve been on the topic of cleaning this week, let’s talk laundry! I was thinking that laundry is a pretty good example of how an organization system can work…or fail miserably.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’ve got any tips on getting (and keeping) organized. I’m a pretty organized person, but by no means am I organized enough to say I’m a master. So, while I don’t really have a whole lot of specific tips ready to share on organization I can tell you how to never lose another sock!

I’ve been using this method for awhile now and so far I’ve only lost socks I wanted to lose.

Keeping my clothing organized is key. Trust me, there is a connection between never losing a sock and getting organized. Hopefully an obvious one, but even if you can’t see it, at least you’ll know where your socks are.

h3. How To Keep Track of Your Socks

# Go through (and eventually wash) all of your dirty laundry at least once a week.
# Seperate out all of your socks.
# Seperate out all of your under garments.
# Seperate out any towels or washcloths.
# Seperate out any clothes you don’t think you’ll be wearing any time soon.
# Repeat steps 2-5. Just to double check you’ve sorted everything properly.
# Wash your towels, socks and skivvies. Put them away in drawers that are seperated from your “regular” clothes.
# Wash the clothes you don’t think you’ll be wearing any time soon. Store them, or put them in a bag for donation. Keep an eye out for loose socks.
# Wash everything else. Fold neatly and put away or hang as appropriate. Keep an eye out for wayward socks.
# Look under, behind and around your washing machine and dryer. Again, looking out for socks.
# If you happen to come across a lone sock at any time during the week, do not put it back in to your laundry! Stray socks need to be quarantined until their match can be found. Failure to do this will result in confusion and more lost socks. Trust me on this.

This might seem cumbersome, but it usually takes me about 10 minutes or so, not counting the actual washing time. It’s hardest when I’ve got to do laundry several times a week. Usually what I do then is what I can “special” loads of combined items. I try and keep my socks out of those.

I think this process works for keeping track of other things as well, but don’t quote me on that. ;)

21 Comments on How To Never Lose a Sock Again

  1. GB says:

    The easy way is to have only one kind of socks. Or, if you must, have several clearly distinct kinds of socks (10 pairs black, 10 pairs white) and you’ll never miss a sock unless it’s been a week or two since you did laundry.

  2. Beerzie Boy says:

    Lone socks go the same place as the Tupperware lids with no partners; that is, somewhere.

  3. Kent Phillips says:

    Some years ago I actually found out where all those socks go to. 6 years ago I had a washing machine flood a floor in my house and the reason? A sock had jamed in the outlet pipe of the plumbing. The repairman said that this is the reason for missing socks. Most of the time the socks escape and they become property of the city government.

  4. AS says:

    I agree that getting organised will overcome this problem. It did for me. My method is as follows.
    Only move a PAIR of socks through the laundry chain of events. For example my chain of events is; bedroom floor, laundry hamper, washing machine, clothesline or drier, sock drawer.
    When moving socks along if one sock is missing I then search for the missing sock then it is searched for immediately. I have used this method for about nine months and haven’t lost a sock yet.

    With reference to GB’s suggestion of getting 10 pairs of the same colour, I used to do this but ended up with numerous socks of slightly different colours which gradually became difficult to match. Oh and therewhere less than twenty of them.

  5. This whole “life hacks” thing is starting to get silly:

    – How to never lose a sock again
    How to never lose your keys again
    Saving time with your microwave

    I’m feeling a sudden need to post my list of 20 essential pencil-sharpening tips.

  6. Keith says:

    Michael — Hahaha. For sure. For the record, this post was meant to be a little silly and taken with a grain of salt. I think it’s some useful stuff, but, you know….

  7. Britt says:

    And an important point here isn’t that people are obsessing over losing socks, but simply a basic change in a mundane process can result in better results without adding time, or maybe even saving time. Add those savings up and you got more time and less stress. How you spend that time is up to you. I just got an idea for a new blog.

  8. Keith says:

    Britt — Yep. I was trying to have some fun and show that sometimes a simple change can make a big difference.

    Let me know when your new blog is up! ;)

  9. Joseph Nader says:

    I don’t understand how you can square productivity and not wasting time with spending your time writing inane articles like this one. As for the people, like foolish me, wasting their time reading it…

    Perhaps you should write an article on “How not to waste your time reading empty and time-wasting blog posts and their equally flabby and pointless comments”, since that is surely the Holy Grail of time management. This entire “industry” of “life hacks” has become rather cult-like and a time-waster in itself. Yet I am the biggest fool, for wasting still more time responding to it! But still, I feel it had to be said. Now I’ll go off and try and do better, trying not to waste still more time coming back to see whether you have responded to or deleted my comment.

  10. Keith says:

    Joseph — Sorry you feel that way, and I can see how you feel. I sometimes feel that too much GTD and Lifehackery is a road to not getting shit done.

    But then again, this post was mostly for fun, and while you obviously didn’t appreciate it, shame on you for raining on the parade.

    I write about work/life balance — part of that is having fun. I actually enjoy writing so spending my time writing (inane, flabby, empty or time-wasting as the case may be) is by no means a waste in my book.

    Beats TV.

  11. Mike says:

    Beerzie, you have all my Tupperware lids!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the world.

    My wife developed a technique that I’ve adopted too, when helping to put the laundry away. We have a large paper gift-bag which we keep in the bedroom, and any time we come across a sock with no partner when putting them away, we toss it into the sock bag. Once a week she dumps the single socks onto the bed and pairs up as many as she can, then puts the rest back in the bag.

  12. Jesse says:

    Hey, I enjoy a bit of whimsy; I think this was a cute post.

    I once saw a friend’s mother hook each family member’s socks on their own large safety pin. They all went through the wash-and-dry process and came out sorted.

    In spite of the fact that I’m probably the most disorganized person I know, I did it myself for awhile: simply because I thought it was so clever…

  13. Bruno Figueiredo says:

    Well, I use a slightly different approach for not losing socks. I live in Portugal, so we have a California-like weather and we sun dry our clothes here. We almost don’t use drying machines.

    So, I bought a nylon net bag with a ziper and I wash it with all my socks inside. That way it’s easier to separate them. Then I take out the bag and I put every stock on a small fold-out set of wires that is set indoors (my clothes are almost dry as my machine has 1200RPM).

    Then the socks are placed on a bin and I stretch and fold them in pairs for neat storage.

    If I find a stray I put it on the set of wires and next week it will sure find it’s match there.

  14. Joseph Nader says:

    Keith, sorry if I rained on your parade, I didn’t intend to upset you or be overly personal. But I do think comments should reflect what a person truthfully feels, or what’s the point?

    My more constructive criticism is that this cult of “getting things done” is in danger of becoming a distraction. Perhaps you are getting ad-revenue from sock sales from posts like these, I don’t know, but my point was to suggest that sometimes it’s better not to waste other people’s time with trivial posting. It seems to me you have run out of things to say on the subject.

    While I concede it may be fun for you to write about your socks, the whole spiral of addictive blog-reading when the writer has nothing of interest to say any more or feels they have to post every day to keep up momentum is in fact one of the prime causes of time-wasting for that blog’s “hooked” readers, so is it not doubly ironic then that you indulge in on a blog dedicated supposedly to hacking ways through the time-wasting and distraction jungle? Is this not a real point? Why encourage what you hope to get the better of?

  15. Lawgirl says:

    Somewhere I read two tips on dealing with the problem of lost socks:

    1. Have a limited variety of socks. For example, make sure most of your socks are the same color, brand and size, rather than having many different varieties. That way, you don’t have to worry about pairing them up at all.

    2. Buy a bunch of small, elastic hair bands. Keep your socks banded together in pairs in your sock drawer. After you wear a pair of socks, band them back together and throw them in the laundry. When you wash and dry them, they will come out of the laundry in pairs and you can put them back in your drawer and start over.

  16. marisa says:

    Well, I’m not all that concerned about socks, per se, but thought I’d share a laundry-related system my husband and I use. We set this up after we realized that the reason we were always behind with the laundry was that we hated sorting stuff (now you see the relevance to this post…).

    We have six laundry baskets, two each for ‘normal’ care, darks; ‘normal’ care, lights; and ‘wash-in-cold-water-only’ items. When the system is ’empty,’ there are three stacks of laundry baskets, so that there’s a single place to put every item of dirty laundry (if you wanted to adapt this to your ‘sock-preserving’ system, you’d just change the ‘in-boxes’ to match your desired sorting parameters).

    When one of the baskets is full (we actually do this on Fridays, normally, but whatever), it gets washed, with its ‘twin’ basket left in place so that we still have somewhere to put dirty laundry of that type while the other laundry is in-process.

    Because it’s gotten rid of our most-loathed step, we now keep pretty much on top of the laundry.

    I’m still waiting for someone to invent a system for automatically folding the laundry, however.

  17. Joseph: the more I learn about productivity*, the more the whole idea of “wasting time” becomes meaningless. I find that the more time I spend writing (even if it’s something silly like Keith’s post or this comment) the more I get used to writing regularly, which helps me write more useful things.

    And when I’m not in a hard-working mood, having fun for a while helps me get back to working hard far more than trying to work without being focused.

    * I almost said “the more productive I become.” That would have been a stretch.

  18. Well, another way to manage socks is to keep a pair together by using a sock holder or even a safety pin. A sock holder is a plastic gizmo that you stick your socks through to hold them together, such as those sold at — there are lots of them all over the Internet and they’re quite inexpensive. Safety pins can work just fine, too.

    Sock holders are made specifically for keeping a pair of socks together through the washer and dryer. So if you keep a bunch of sock holders with or next to your laundry basket, you can get in the habit of removing your dirty socks, sticking them through a sock holder, and then throwing them in the laundry basket. I’m assuming here that when you change your clothes that you put dirty clothing right in the laundry basket and not wherever they land on the floor. ;-)

    Regarding sorting, I have 5 or 6 stackable baskets in my closet (takes very little space since they stack), so when I change my clothes, dirty clothes get tossed into the appropriate basket — a very quick and easy way to sort laundry! That eliminates the need to sort a bunch of laundry, and it’s proven to be quite time-efficient. Prior to tossing into the washer, though, I do make sure nothing got tossed into the wrong basket by accident, of course.

    At any rate, if you always keep your pair of socks together, you won’t have a bunch of single socks. I started doing this years ago with my 2 kids. I swore there had to be a sock monster gobbling up socks. Sock holders really helped!

  19. Thomas says:

    Humm, been doing the quarantine thingy for years, but I think I have more single socks there then the paired ones :D Will dig trough your method I think ;) Maybe trowing away a bunch of them won’t harm.

  20. Lea says:

    Well, it works and it doesn’t – myself, I never lose socks.
    But my kids? I’ve taken the quarantine method to extremes – whenever i get an odd sock it goes in The Single Sock Drawer.
    I go through it regularly finding pairs, and some of them turn up.
    But I swear, the washing machine really does eat socks, with a penchant for children’s socks (are they smaller and sweeter?)
    Every year or two I just throw away a drawer full of socks, because their mates will never be seen again.
    I have had really nice pairs that they have worn once and I know they came home in, because, well, they came home wearing socks, and by the time they come out of the basket to go in the drawers – the fights are over, a separation is underway and the pair will never be seen out together again.

    The sock monster lives at my house.

  21. Rico says:

    When taking your socks off, try to remember to put one inside the other. That way they’ll always be together (hopefully). :)

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