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Author Topic: Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?  (Read 52324 times)

Stephan Gyoery

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Stephan Gyoery  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hello Naked Scientists,
  
I am enjoying your show from Switzerland listening to the podcast (I'm slowly catching up with the present).

I think I have one of the fundamental questions of mankind: where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
  
I thought that this phenomenon of single socks returning without partner is limited to white tennis socks (experience dated from the 80's), but I can now attest that the same happens to black dress socks as well: once in a while (~20%) one out of a pair of socks "vanishes" when washing in a washing machine. First I thought that Black Holes are made up of lost socks, but...
  
Okay, quite seriously: would there be statistic evidence for this observation? And would there be an explanation (mathematical/probability)?
  
Cheers
Stephan

What do you think?


 

Offline Don_1

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #1 on: 26/10/2009 10:03:35 »
Ah ha! (Don's his deerstalker and lights his pipe) The case of the disappearing socks. Elementary, my dear Watson Stephan. It is usually the case that the missing sock never entered the washing machine in the first place. However, it might be, where the sock was indeed put into the machine, that it now resides within a duvet cover. (Just to add to your problem, how is it that duvet covers often manage to turn themselves inside-out in the washing machine?)

So, if the sock was not put into the machine, where is the absconder?

In the case of those who unfortunately suffer from ***ahem***, dare I say? Yes I dare..... Foot odour, I believe the offending garment may, seeing its opportunity, 'make for the hills', so to speak. Alternatively, a passing animal (either 4 legged or 2) with a (whispers) foot fetish, may perloin the said garment for their perverse delectation.

I also believe that there is a mysterious place within every home to where many a missing item goes to fox us all. In this place, should one ever be found, there will be the missing socks along with numerous coins, earrings, screws (from something you set out to repair and could never reassemble), nail clippers, pens and a host of other objects which seem to have a knack of eluding us.

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Offline Karen W.

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #2 on: 27/10/2009 08:04:12 »
Stephan Gyoery  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hello Naked Scientists,
  
I am enjoying your show from Switzerland listening to the podcast (I'm slowly catching up with the present).

I think I have one of the fundamental questions of mankind: where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
  
I thought that this phenomenon of single socks returning without partner is limited to white tennis socks (experience dated from the 80's), but I can now attest that the same happens to black dress socks as well: once in a while (~20%) one out of a pair of socks "vanishes" when washing in a washing machine. First I thought that Black Holes are made up of lost socks, but...
  
Okay, quite seriously: would there be statistic evidence for this observation? And would there be an explanation (mathematical/probability)?
  
Cheers
Stephan

What do you think?
Being the owner of many washers, and also the main repair person in my home I have had the honor of finding the answer to that question!!

On many occasions socks slip up over the top of machine tub and are lost that way I have found may socks stuck in the water pump of the washer and know that they can go through the pump and into the waste water drain... but many stuck in the pump and burn up the pumps..! If water level gets to high and machine is overloaded it can be swept over the side and get into the drain hose and pumped out with rinse water etc..
« Last Edit: 27/10/2009 08:06:17 by Karen W. »
 

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Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #4 on: 05/11/2009 03:04:57 »
I'm a leg amputee. As it's hard to get my shoe on and off my fake foot, and because my fake foot doesn't sweat I don't often change it. All my socks match but I always get even numbers out of the dryer. I would suggest having one leg taken off of you want to keep your socks. Also you might be able to sell odd socks to amputees who don't use a fake leg.

If there are other amputees here I'd like to know if you keep your socks. Perhaps an interesting kitchen science?
« Last Edit: 05/11/2009 03:07:07 by mountaineirc1969 »
 

Offline AllenG

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #5 on: 05/11/2009 04:30:20 »
Dryers can not only rearrange matter, they can teleport it too.
Socks usually are turned into common metals.  Dryers only being 220 volts can only teleport items short distances.
That spare change in your sofa, yep, lost socks.  And your lost remote control and keys, that's where the lint comes from in the dryer's catch filter.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #6 on: 05/11/2009 04:57:39 »
Then how do you explain the loose change in MY sofa. Considering my dryer doesn't seem to eat my socks. Maybe it's the socks from next door. I'll start giving the change to her if that's the case.....now where are my keys...
 

Offline Don_1

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #7 on: 05/11/2009 09:37:45 »
..... I would suggest having one leg taken off of you want to keep your socks. Also you might be able to sell odd socks to amputees who don't use a fake leg.


Stone me!!! That's a bit drastic. Not that I have anything against you personally, nor any other amputees, but I'll pass on that solution if you don't mind.

Now where's that woolly hat I put in the wash?

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Who's that at the door? Aghhhh! Its mountaineirc1969 and he's got a guillotine I'M OFF!!!
 

Offline techmind

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #8 on: 05/11/2009 23:10:34 »
I've always found that duvet covers have a strong tendency to swallow up socks and underwear (and even T-shirts) in the wash.

Talking of things lost, in the kitchen last weekend I pranged my mp3 player which was on my belt-clip. The player came partially out of its plastic holster and the AAA rechargeable battery disappeared never to be seen again. I spent ages spying under the fridge and under the washing machine with torch and mirror -the 'only' place it could have gone- and I can see no trace. I've checked all the pocket of the trousers I was wearing at the time of the disappearance. I've also checked inside the washing machine (the door was probably ajar at the time).
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #9 on: 06/11/2009 00:38:10 »
having parts of your body removed to save socks is a bit extreme. It's entirely up  to  how badly you want to save socks. Personally I'd rather lose my socks if I could have me leg back.
 

Offline Democritis

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Re: Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #10 on: 20/04/2016 01:19:03 »
I recall finishing a paper on this and similar phenomena in 2015; a one hundred year effort.
Sadly, my "On the Thermodynamics of Losing Booties" was universally rejected by all respected journals.
(Something to do with the unification of hydrodynamics and bleach theories, they said.)
 
 

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Re: Where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine?
« Reply #10 on: 20/04/2016 01:19:03 »

 

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