socks in a basket

The Science behind the mystery of missing socks

The science behind the mystery of missing socks

As a kid, one of the things that intrigued me the most was the mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle. The write ups of years of fevered speculations – ‘Was it due to magnetic field? Or aliens or fire crystals from the lost city of Atlantis’ would keep me up reading about it. I wanted to know the reasons why planes and ship vanish without a trace. However, things have changed now. As an adult and a mother, the questions that baffles me the most are : Where do my socks go after laundry? Who eats them? Is it the washing machine? Or the  process happens outside, on the washing line? Are they ghostly and walk around when we are not looking? The disappearance of socks is the mystery I want to solve because Bermuda triangle is far away and any scientist can solve it. But this phenomena happens right under my nose and I have no clue, no suspect, no warning, no threat – it just happens like a natural calamity.

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The more I think about it, the more it takes me to the world of supernatural and paranormal activities. It’s not humane to loose so many of them. There must be a force outside my control. I have so many lonely orphaned socks that for the sake of reuniting their lost siblings, I am here for a mission to solve the mystery.  I decided to opt for a scientific route to find out if there was a black hole in my house which is sucking up my socks. So I put my theories to rest and trusted my research skills. Here I am to uncover the science behind the mystery of missing socks.

socks in a basket

Samsung commissioned study for missing socks

To my delight, I stumbled upon a study. Samsung commissioned a study of 2000 people to launch their new AddWash washing machine. The statistics of missing socks in no joke. The study found that Brits lose 84 million socks every month – costing the nation an estimated £2 billion a year!

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The Sock Loss Index

I was relieved that I was not the only one loosing the peace of mind. Samsung did too!

Leading scientists and statisticians have finally unravelled the cause of one of the greatest mysteries of life – why our socks disappear in the wash.

This gives me so much joy to inform you that you are not a lunatic for losing so many socks (read I am not a lunatic) as there is Science involved in the case. Created by Psychologist Dr Simon Moore and leading statistician Dr Geoff Ellis, the answers can  be found in ‘The Sock Loss Index’. According to the formula, factors such as positivity towards laundry play as much of a role as the quantity of fabric being washed. You can use the ‘Sock Loss Index Calculator to work out how many socks you will lose in the future.

The Sock Loss Formula

Sock loss index = (L(p x f) + C(t x s)) – (P x A)


L = Laundry size (number of people in household x frequency of washes)


C= Washing complexity (types of washes (e.g. black, white) x number of socks)


P = The positivity towards doing laundry (how much you love or hate)


A = Degree of Attention (precautions such as checking trouser pockets or unrolling socks)


If I have to sum up the study, the reasons of socks loss are due to human behaviour. They are all psychological reasons such as negligence,heuristics , confirmation bias and human error. 


With statistics, data from research, scientific calculation and formula behind, socks now have the status of a celebrity and apparently there is a national sock Memorial Day. May 9 recognizes a fun and unique holiday, National Lost Sock Memorial Day.  It is time to say “good-bye” to all of the single socks, the ones where their mates have been lost to the unknown.

How to observe

By letting go and moving on (Clear out all your left behind socks). By making peace with it by being creative (heard of sock puppets?). Say your final goodbyes to your lost socks using #LostSockMemorialDay.  We don’t have enough research about it though, but do celebrate May 9 with your hashtags!


Instagram stories

Putting on the fun side of the socks, I went on with the hashtag missing socks on Instagram. Here’s what they had to say:

collage of socks




socks hanging in the forest

The fourth angle to the Bermuda Triangle

Socks have been around since 8th century, with its Greek and Roman origins and have witnessed and lasted the trends of the fashion world. The moment you put them on a cold winter morning, you feel instantly warm and cosy. With all the data and available stats, do you think you are equipped with all the information to deal with the sock crisis? The next time you wash your clothes, will you be fully aware? Or continue to do what you have been doing so far? Loose them? Because when they are together, they are like a couple – fighting for who is the right one? When they are separated, they are like siblings – fighting to find the lost one. They have given us so many reasons to look out for them, giving a fourth angle to the Bermuda Triangle of my mind with scientific approach and fond memories.

If you have liked reading it, please do share your missing socks stories in the comment section and do share the love by sharing the post with your friends.

Much love


Suranjita Bhagawati on Email
Suranjita Bhagawati
Hello and welcome to 'Mumways'. I am Suranjita and I live in London with my three lovely kids and husband. Mumways is for inspiration - Writing about parenting, well being and lifestyle. I hope you enjoy going through it and thank you for visiting!

About Author

Suranjita Bhagawati

Hello and welcome to 'Mumways'. I am Suranjita and I live in London with my three lovely kids and husband. Mumways is for inspiration - Writing about parenting, well being and lifestyle. I hope you enjoy going through it and thank you for visiting!

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