Mystery of Missing Socks is Solved!

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Study commissioned by Samsung reveals why socks go missing in the wash and how likely it is to happen

We all keep that one of each sock in our wardrobes in the faint hope that one day the other will ‘turn up’. But why is it that even after a year of no shows, we insist on keeping those single socks? Probably because the moment you throw one of them out, the other is guaranteed to re-appear. But how did it come to be that we all suffer the same fate of forgetting, misplacing and losing our socks one at a time and almost never the same pair at the same time?


Luckily, leading scientists have unravelled the cause of one of life’s greatest mysteries by discovering the secrets to why our socks go missing in the wash. Their research has led them to devise a mathematical formula to predict the probability of ending up with odd socks after a washing load spinning cycle.


The study, commissioned by Samsung in light of the AddWash™ washing machine launch, surveyed 2,000 people living in Britain who were representative of global population groups and happy to discuss their dirty laundry in public. Through a series of in-depth face to face interviews, it found that the participants lose an average of 1.3 socks each month (and more than 15 in a year), leaving them with numerous mismatches. If the average life expectancy is 81, these cleaning catastrophes lead to the equivalent of 1,264 lost socks each over a lifetime, costing the average study participant a whopping R43,198.21.


In all, these laundry losses mean around 84 million socks go missing every month in the UK alone. However, sock salvation is in sight. Samsung’s AddWash™ uses an innovative second door which allows users to simply drop in extra items during the wash cycle – whether that’s a stray sock you missed, extra softener or a hand-washed garment for final rinsing – providing a possible end to the problem of forfeited footwear.


Chartered psychologist Dr Simon Moore and statistician Geoff Ellis applied science to socks in a bid to discover the factors which contribute to washday blues. *


Many fanciful theories have been put forward for these laundry losses, including theft by gremlins, but the team’s work ultimately revealed:

  • The main factors causing missing socks are the complexity of the washing load. The way the batches are divided up, based on whites, colours and different temperatures and the number of socks in each wash cycle.
  • There are many practical reasons for sock loss. Research interviews found the common causes included items falling behind radiators or under furniture without anyone realising; stray items being added to the wrong coloured wash or separated from its matching sock; not being properly secured to a washing line or they are simply carelessly paired up.


Mike van Lier, Director of Consumer Electronics at Samsung South Africa said: “We believe this new study has finally solved the age-old mystery of the missing socks. At Samsung, we are changing the way we do laundry with the AddWash™ machine. No longer will we load the machine with trepidation as we worry whether pairs will be separated forever. Now we can add those loose socks and any other item of clothing we forgot in mid-wash, to ensure everything stays together safely.”


*Insights derived from a Samsung Electronics study, conducted by chartered psychologist Dr Simon Moore and statistician Geoff Ellis, on the Mystery of The Missing Sock, 2017.

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