Dude, where are my socks?

By Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter

When you think about some of life’s biggest mysteries, what comes to mind? Maybe you have certain religious or philosophical questions that you think about often. Maybe you spend a little too much time trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. As for me, there is a much different question that plagues my existence.

Why do I always have mismatched socks?

Every load of laundry I have done in my life has resulted in the loss of at least one sock. It never fails. There is no shortage of explanations for this phenomenon, and it’s safe to say that some of these hypotheses are more realistic than others.

Some people, like world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, choose to take the scientific approach to this pressing issue. Hawking, in his book “The Nature of Space and Time,” hypothesized that spontaneously-created black holes were responsible for the mass exodus of socks through the washer or dryer.

Others take an approach that is a little more grounded than Hawking, suggesting that these socks are most likely lost in the process of transporting them to the washing machine. Sometimes this can mean getting “swallowed up” by another article of clothing or being dropped behind the laundry hamper.

However, I have a few theories that are far better than anything that I have mentioned up to this point.

Of all of my theories, the one that I feel is most realistic is the idea that the loss of socks comes as a result of good old-fashioned laziness. As much as mismatched socks bother me, I’m not going to act like I’m willing to tear my house down in order to find a single sock. Left to my own devices, I don’t ever actually want to do much other than eat Popeyes and watch football, so why would I want to waste my time on a sock? If I don’t want to put a tremendous amount of time and effort into recovering lost socks, I can’t imagine that anyone else would want to either.

Then, there is the idea that washing machines “eat” your socks. At face value this can sound a little bit like an old wives tale. After all, how can an inanimate object actually “eat” anything? While washing machines don’t get out their forks and knives and feast on your socks, there are actually a couple technical explanations for this line of thought. The first of which has to do with the drain pump in the washer. Pressure from the drain pump (a device within the washer that keeps the machine from taking on too much water) in the washer often causes socks to get sucked into the pump. Then there’s the issue of the tubs within the washer. All washing machines have an inner and outer tub, with a considerable amount of room being left in between the two so that the clothes can be tumbled. The rigors of the wash cycle often cause socks to fall in between these two drums, essentially rendering them lost forever.

Are any of these explanations a concrete answer to this age-old question? Probably not, but hopefully they can at least give you peace of mind regarding this pressing issue. I know that they do for me.