Tackling the sock drawer

The bane of my existence is the sock drawer.

I’ll take a hundred kitchen junk drawers over one sock drawer. It seems like it’s always a jumbled pile of mismatched and orphaned socks. Socks for work and those for sports mingle, making it difficult to find what I’m after. This past weekend I took control of the sock drawer with a few simple steps.

Dump it all out

This part is no fun, but it’s necessary. Dump the entire contents of your sock drawer onto a flat surface and get ready to sort. Your bed is a good option, as it offers plenty of room and, I assume, is in the same room as your sock drawer.

Start the purge

Sometimes you have to say goodbye. In this case, toss any socks with holes or with elastic that’s clearly shot. Yes, they were faithful little soldiers but it’s time for them to go. Also turn a wary eye towards those ugly socks you never wear as well as any orphans.

Do you really want the ugly ones? If the answer is no, send them to the great big hamper in the sky. As for the orphans, set them aside for a week. If their partners return after a few cycles of laundry, rejoice! If not, it’s bye-bye to them, too.


Now that we’ve whittled it down to the keepers, it’s time to sort. First, divide by purpose. That is to say, athletic socks, more formal socks for work, no-show socks for the summer and those thick, cozy socks you keep for cold winter days. This is where a sock drawer organizer comes in handy.

What do you really need?

Maybe socks are your thing, I get it. I like wearing bold socks to work, too. But there’s a point where the numbers become overwhelming. Stick to this simple rule: six or seven pairs per category. That way you have plenty of options without generating an unwieldy mass of socks that end up over-stuffing your drawer.

Lastly, here’s a quick tip. The “ball method” of folding that many of us learned as kids wears out the elastic quickly. Instead, simply fold pairs together. They’ll still fit in the organizer very neatly.

Now, go and reclaim your sock drawer! Never again will you dread pulling it open. Now if I only knew where those missing ones disappeared to.

6 Comments for “Tackling the sock drawer”

  1. posted by Dorothy on

    Buy a dozen pairs of white athletic socks, all the same. Buy a dozen pairs of black socks, all the same. Toss ‘me all in a drawer. No need to sort, fold or ball. Just st pick out two white socks or two black socks and you’re set!

  2. posted by Donna on

    Keep safety pins where you take your socks off. They go into the washer & dryer together. If they fade they still match & no more lost socks.

  3. posted by laura ann on

    I do several purges a year, trying to get all one color and separate the other colors in a small basket inside the drawer.

  4. posted by magnoliachica on

    I have 3 young kids, and we take off, store, and put on our shoes in the mudroom. I was getting so tired of running up and down stairs to get socks for the little ones as we were heading out the door, so I grabbed a shoe organizer, one of the ones that hangs on the back of a door, and started storing our socks there. It has made getting out the door much easier. The socks are right there where we need them, and they’re sorted out instead of just a pile in a box.

    I dream of one day having all the kids either wearing the same kind and size of socks so I don’t have to sort them or explain whose colorfully patterned socks are whose.

  5. posted by TV James on

    We use sock rings (find them on Amazon, I like the “SockPro” brand) to keep socks together during washing and drying and to make sorting easier.

    We also have a rule in our house – any unaccompanied sock goes straight in the dirty laundry hamper. Even you find it at the bottom of the clean basket of laundry you’re folding. Almost certainly it will eventually meet back up with its mate – either in the wash or on the planet of Lost Socks. Sure, we have some amazingly clean single socks, but it prevents them from ever nesting in the sock drawer.

  6. posted by Caroline on

    Be realistic about how often you do laundry. I have many socks, but do not plan on wasting them. So instead I am rotating between my rattiest ones and wearing them until they’re too shot to be worn (in which case they go to H&M’s clothing recycling program). I retired 2 pairs today.

    But if I only kept 5-7 pairs of socks, I wouldn’t have enough to make it through a wash cycle. I do laundry about every other week (or whenever the load is full). As one person, this is the top reason why I won’t have a minimalist wardrobe because I don’t want to waste money (laundromat) doing small loads of laundry.

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