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Odd socks pile. I’m not alone!

Written by Fiona February 23 2011

In my utility room there is a pile of odd socks. This pile never seems to diminish. Sometimes a sock’s other half will be found and matched up with a lonely sock lying in the pile, but then just a day later another poor soul (or should that be “sole”?) of a sock ends up in the lonely hearts sock pile – and so the bunch of sock singles stays pretty much the same size. It has always been like this and it doesn’t seem to matter whether I live on my own or with someone else, this single sock pile has always been a part of my life.

Little Miss has found her own solution: she wears odd socks. She says it doesn’t matter because she wears boots and so no-one can see the socks. I confess I’ve been wearing odd socks most of my life but I still do like to pull on a “whole” pair when it comes to walking, skiing, running or cycling. Somehow I like my feet to feel “even”.

Thank goodness then for this latest survey. It seems that my household is not alone. Research has revealed that a family of four will lose up to 60 socks every year. This curse of the lost sock isn’t just a domestic nuisance – it can cost £240 a year per family.

I am taking some comfort in knowing that up and down the country there are other families living with a pile of odd socks somewhere in their house.

The thing is, it’s not just the cheap socks that disappear in the washing machine. Languishing in my odd sock pile at the moment are two odd hiking socks (pairs of these cost around £15), several good quality running socks (around £10 for a pair) and a ski sock (around £20). The saddest single sock for me is that I now only have one of my favourite WoolPower socks. I really, really want the other one to reappear.

I have tried buying 10 pairs of the same type of sock and in the same colour. But even then they go missing. One theory I have is that sock manufacturers add different amounts of dye into each sock in a pair so that one sock fades quicker than another and then ends up looking “unpairable”. Or perhaps it’s simply that my washing is inconsistent and I end up turning one half of a pair of white socks greyer than the other?!

Other interesting finds in the survey  carried out by  laundry specialists Dr. Beckmann include:

* Northern men are top of the list as the most likely victims of sock disappearances, with 67 per cent reporting that they lose up to 15 socks a year.

* Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds are the next most likely places for socks to go missing.

* Black socks are the most likely candidates to go missing, with 78 per cent of those surveyed complaining that these are the most difficult sock colour to pair up after a washing cycle. (Hmmm. Does this support my theory on the dye in socks?!)

* Young men aged 14 to 25 are at a higher risk of suffering from missing socks and 82 per cent of this age group admit to wearing odd socks on a weekly basis as a result.

* Conversely, females in the same age bracket are most likely to be able to keep track of their sock pairs as only 21 per cent said that they regularly lost a sock in the wash each week.

As Laura Unsworth, of Dr. Beckmann, said: “Where the socks go is one of life’s great mysteries – clearly this is causing some distress and a great deal of inconvenience to Britain’s washing population.” Indeed!

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