Dear Kathi,

I am experiencing sock challenges. For starters, I never can seem to find two of a kind. After doing a load of laundry, I always have single socks. I keep buying more socks every time I go to the mall. My main question is how should I organize my socks and keep them together as pairs? Also, how many pairs of socks should a normal person own?

Edward, Encinitas


You have a very common problem that I affectionately call the “Missing Sock Syndrome”. Your single socks have joined the ranks of the many eligible socks throughout the world. They become foot loose and fancy free once they hit the laundry bag and create a life of their own during the wash cycle.

There are many ways to take control of these wayward soles (pun intended). To organize your sock drawer, use plastic waffle dividers. These dividers hook together and configure to fit any size drawer. They can be purchased at your local bed and bath store or selected department stores.

I still use the old fashioned method of folding the top of one sock over it1s mate and storing my pairs single-layer in a shallow drawer. For my clients who feel that this will stretch the tops of their socks, I recommend that they use the military method and wash their socks together in a fine mesh bag with a zipper or Velcro enclosure. Additionally, there are plastic clips made specifically for pairing socks during the laundry process. These plastic clips are best fastened to the toes to prevent stretching during the wash cycle.

Regardless of the method you choose, there will inevitably be stray socks. My favorite creation is “the missing sock” bag. An extra pillowcase or a drawstring bag works great for this purpose. Store this bag in your laundry area. When you finish a load of laundry and you find another lone sock, don’t even give it the time of day. Simply throw it into your missing sock bag and forget about it for a while. Every month or so, empty your bag of loose socks. Amazingly, many singles will have reconciled with their mates while you weren’t watching! Pair these socks and store them back into your sock drawer.

Put all remaining bachelor socks back into your bag and give them more time to find their way. You will eventually have to toss the stubbornly single-minded socks. Give them a few cycles in the bag and then banish them forever into the trashcan. If you can1t manage to throw away a perfectly good sock, make a hand puppet for your favorite small person.

There is no normal amount of socks to own and no one way to be organized. For instance, my husband surfs and lives in sandals most of the year. I, on the other hand, am constantly cold and wear socks throughout the year. Our sock collections are as diverse as our needs.

My brother is color-blind. Years ago he decided to purchase only black socks, to minimize the risk of creating blue/green sock combinations. As my brother, he knows that it is a severe fashion violation to wear black socks with anything but dress shoes, he naturally gravitates to sandals when not working. His simple system requires owning only 10-15 pairs of socks.

If you still have issues with your sock collection after implementing these suggestions, consider following my brother’s example. When you purchase socks, repetitively buy the same brand and the same style in the same basic color palette. With this method, your single socks will have numerous potential partners when they begin their new life within your drawer.

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San Diego Professional Organizer