If your house is anything like mine you probably have a bajillion mismatched socks, widowed socks, and socks that never get worn but somehow keep ending right back in the dirty clothes hamper. If you’re not one of those people, I mean US, you probably don’t have any socks in your house, are lying, or have devoted large amounts of your time to sock management activities. I do NOT have time for sock management activities, and I looked everywhere for sock sorting solutions that would meet our needs. There are six people living in my household (and a dog, but she doesn’t wear socks, she just hides them), which means there are 12 feet that need socks on a daily basis, and 84 sock-wearing opportunities during the week, give or take. For a long time I embraced The Surrender, threw all socks in one big bucket and creatively called it “The Sock Bucket”, which looked like a big sock mosh pit and almost always ensured that people needing socks would wind up with mismatched and wrong-sized socks. Looking for socks was like mining for gems, or looking for a husband in a bar…Nearly impossibly. It’s not as big of a deal for my boys, because they don’t care and you can’t see the socks under their pants legs, but the girls are a different story. They often wear Mary Jane-style shoes (when they aren’t wearing boots), or a dress where you can see the tops of their socks, and I finally got tired of them looking homeless. So I developed a plan.
First, we had the great sock round-up of 2015 and put them in The Sock Bucket of Doom. Then we formally got out The Sock Bucket of Doom and sorted all 212 socks that resided in there. It took hours, no joke, and over half of them were missing mates. As much as it pains me to throw things away that are still usable, the unmatched socks were purged then evicted. This left us with few usable pairs of socks per person, so I did what any Millennial Mom would do and went to Target. Luckily there were packs of boys socks on clearance, so I bought four packs of them, all the same designs (brightly colored). While many people ascribe to the “all-white socks” philosophy, it’s never worked in our house very well, and then it’s harder for me to tell size differences when I’m mating them, which winds up taking even longer and makes me want scotch. The Girls section had socks for good prices, so I bought them some new ones as well. Keep in mind that my boys can share socks and so can my girls, size-wise, so for my sanity, they DO share.
Next, I designated one laundry hamper (actually a white 5-gallon bucket that we had here) as the exclusive, couples-only area of our laundry room’s sock society. When people take off their socks, they are ideally supposed to put both of them together into the Matches-only bucket, but as you can guess, doesn’t always happen. That’s why I designated a Rubbermaid container (we are SO fancy) as the unmatched bucket. This is wear socks go to find their mates, or wait on them to be rounded up from backpacks, the inside of my Suburban, their rooms, wherever. They can also find a mate that looks just like them, and we’re cool with that… it doesn’t have to be the actual original matching sock, just has to have the same design. Periodically I sort through the unmatched bucket and act as a Sock-Match.Com and put the ones I’m able to pair into the Matches Only Bucket.
After all of the matching has been completed, I then put them into the washing machine, pair-by-pair, without any other clothes. Socks-Only Party in the washing machine, baby. This keeps them from getting stuck to the insides of shirts and pants then not getting reunited with the sock mate they entered the wash with. It’s much easier to ensure that actual, matched pairs of socks have entered the washing machine than to wonder which alternate universe they fell into between entering the washer and exiting the dryer.
Once the socks have all been dried, I match them and put the boys’ socks in one small bucket and the girls’ socks in another small bucket. I KEEP THESE BUCKETS IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM ON A SHELF. I figured out that back when I allowed them to keep their socks in their rooms that some were never even being worn before being lost. So, yes, it sounds like I’m obsessing over socks, but it keeps me from wanting to howl at my kids and from having to buy more socks. AGAIN. We’ve been using this system since the beginning of the year, and it’s done VERY well. We’ve lost a few socks along the way (yes, it still happens occasionally) but it’s very rare.
The rest of our laundry (I do around 3 loads a day) may be in various stages of wild and wilder, but bringing some organization to the sock bucket has given me peace of mind and a little feeling of actually controlling something. In a house with so many kids, being able to control even one little thing sometimes helps my feelings.
I hope this Sock-Saving tutorial helps someone else hold on to the last remaining shreds of sanity their kids have left them with, because it’s helped my feelings, and Target bill, a lot.