pink sock in the washing machine

Do Washing Machines Eat Socks? Here’s Why Your Socks Are Going Missing

The idea that washing machines ‘eat’ socks is a humorous way of describing the common experience of losing socks during the laundering process.

While washing machines don’t literally consume socks, socks can get misplaced and hidden inside the appliance, making you believe that there’s a Sock Monster at large.

Let’s look at this in more detail.


Do Washing Machines Dine On Socks?

man looking for missing sock

Metaphorically speaking, yes, washing machines do ‘eat’ socks.

However, I must clarify one thing: washing machines don’t actually sit there chomping down on random socks. They just have a funny knack for hiding the socks in odd little places.

Interestingly, if you manage to find a rogue sock you’ll, often find it’s intact and chew-free!

So, what does this really mean?

In a nutshell, socks come in different materials and sizes, and they’re usually quite small compared to other garments that we wash, which means they’re the ideal size to go slipping under and through crevices in a washing machine.

During a washing cycle, socks get agitated and tossed around so much in the drum that they end up separated and spread around.

Consequently, a sock will end up lost under the seal running around the appliance’s door, get sucked through the drainage system at the end of the cycle or trapped in the washing machine’s filter.  

But what about the unseen creature that lurks in the depths of the washer, waiting for a sock to munch on: the Sock Monster?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Sock Monster is just one of the biggest laundry myths on record! You lose your socks because of the harsh agitation during the washing cycle. There’s nothing really mystical about it.

Now you know that your socks get ‘ingested’ by your washing machine, but not necessarily in the way that you think; you need to know what other factors could be at play when it comes to your missing socks. Believe it or not, the washing machine isn’t always at fault!


Why Do Socks Go Missing When Doing the Laundry?

Reason 1: The sock gets stuck under the washing machine’s seal

blue sock stuck in washng machine seal

As mentioned above, one of the most likely explanations is that during the washing cycle, the sock got flung about and somehow ended up stuck under the seal running around the washing machine’s door.

This is quite a common issue and can be rectified by checking underneath the seal after every washing cycle.

You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find tucked up under the seal—money, small garments, and even Colour Catchers.

It’s worth clearing the area under the seal out to ensure its longevity as well. You don’t want gunk building up so close to the door.


Reason 2: A missing sock could be stuck in the washing machine’s filter

pink socks from washing machine filter

A small rogue sock can get sucked through the washing machine and end up caught in the filter if you’re not careful. A blocked-up filter often leads to a number of issues, including the appliance not washing clothes effectively or at all.

You must make an effort to remove and clean the filter, usually located on the bottom side of your washing machine, regularly. By doing this, you will not just remove single socks but also any other grime that’s threatening to clog up the filter.

A clean filter will ensure your washer works effectively.


Reason 3: The sock gets caught in the drain pump and hose

It’s possible for some socks to be sucked through the washing machine’s drainage system. If this happens, the sock can wreak havoc and prevent water from draining out of the appliance properly.


Reason 4: The sock was lost during organisation and transportation

brown sock on the floor

Everyone thinks that when a sock goes missing, the washing machine is to blame. But hang on a minute, what about human error?

Yep, a lot of the time us humans are to blame for the missing sock fiasco!

A small mishap during the transportation phase, to and from the washer, could lead to us believing that the washing machine is dining on socks. In reality, we just dropped a sock, it rolled off, and we can’t find it.

Similarly, the missing sock might’ve been thrown into the wrong washing pile. So, you end up washing one sock but not the other. It happens from time to time, and it’s not a big deal.

The moral of the story: Don’t be too hasty in blaming the appliance. Check around for the rogue sock because it could be nearer to you than you think.


Reason 5: The missing sock gets caught in another garment

socks from washing machine

A classic explanation for a missing sock is that it is stuck in another garment (can also be thought of as static cling). This is when you find a sock up a jumper’s sleeve or down the leg of your jeans.

When this happens, it can be a bit unnerving because you don’t know what’s going on, and you usually find the little rascal of a sock at the most inopportune time.

This can also happen with other small garments and items. Like pillowcases get stuck in sheets, and underwear gets caught in t-shirts and jumpers.


Reason 6: Someone forgot to put both socks in the washing basket

Another human error you don’t want to overlook is that a family member may not have put both socks in the washing basket anyway.

The problem could be as simple as this. There’s no scary Sock Monster to contend with. You just need to tell the people at home how to add the dirty laundry to the basket properly (again!).


Reason 7: Someone has taken your socks out of the washing machine

Before you get angry at your washing machine for eating your socks, make sure nobody else in the house has taken the sock out of the appliance.

Has the dog or a family member played a prank on you? People love a good prank, and taking socks from a washing machine is one of those free, stupid, practical jokes that others like to play.

I know it sounds daft, but I’ve seen this with my own eyes! And for the record, it’s not funny at all, and it makes you think that you’re going insane.


Reason 8: You didn’t put the socks in the washing machine properly

black red sock stuck in washing machine door

Although most homes in the UK opt for a front-loading washing machine, if you have a top-loading washer, you might find lots of rouge socks in between the drum and front panel of your appliance.

The missing sock essentially falls down the gap and ends up stuck there until you take off the side panel and actively go looking for the missing socks.

This tends to happen when you chuck a huge load of laundry inside the drum and don’t pay much attention to what’s going on.

In the end, a sock decides to go on an adventure and flop itself over the edge of the drum and lands in the crevice.

In the case of a front-loading washing machine, you may not have placed the sock in the drum effectively. Consequently, the sock fell on the floor, and you might’ve kicked it elsewhere, or your pooch might’ve run off with it.

Tip: When you are on the hunt for your sock, look out for any other valuables you might’ve lost inside the washing machine over the years – money, credit cards and even jewellery.


How to Find Lost Socks in the Washing Machine

woman searching for missing sock

To find a lost sock in a washing machine, you should check the following areas:

  • The drum – You might’ve overlooked the sock, and it could be tucked up in a section of the drum.
  • The seal – Root around inside the seal to locate the sock.
  • Check the filter – If the sock has been captured by the filter, you’ll be able to see and remove it.
  • The drain pump and hose – Locate and remove the sock from these areas.
  • Check the area around the washing machine – You might have dropped the sock by mistake.
  • Remove the front panelling to check for single socks – If you’re concerned, it is possible to remove the front panels on the washing machine to see if any socks have fallen down the gap.
  • If all else fails, call a professional out to take a look at the washing machine – If you’re worrying a lot and you can’t find your missing socks in the most common places, call a professional to check your appliance. However, unless there’s something really wrong with your machine, this is likely to be a step too far, and it’ll be easier to accept the ‘lost sock’ for what it is rather than pay an engineer to come out.


Is It Okay to Wash Socks in the Washing Machine?

socks in the washing machine

Yes. It’s absolutely fine to wash socks in a washing machine in most cases!

Before you clean your socks in an appliance, check their care label and clean them using the machine if the tag says it’s safe to do so.

To keep your socks safe during the washing cycle, place them inside a mesh laundry bag. By placing the socks inside the bag, they won’t get flung around during the wash; instead, they will remain in their pairs.

You could also look into getting sock clips to keep your socks in their pairs during the washing cycle.