The average person loses 15 socks a year. That’s 1,264 over a lifetime! At the average cost of $2/sock, that can really add up.
The mystery of sock disappearance is so perplexing, that in 2016 Samsung commissioned psychologist Simon Moore and statistician Geoff Ellis to figure out why our socks go missing in the wash. After surveying about 2,000 households in the UK, they developed the Sock Loss Index (SLI):
In the formula, 'L' stands for 'laundry size' which is calculated by multiplying the number of people in the household (p) with the frequency of washes in a week (f).
'C' stands for the 'washing complexity.' This includes how many types of wash (t) households do in a week (darks and whites) multiplied by the number of socks washed in a week (s). Although, who among us counts the number of socks we toss into the hamper?
The second part is the product of the “positivity” (P) of doing the laundry times the degree of attention (A). Positivity is measured on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “hates doing the laundry” to 5 being “loves doing laundry”. To calculate Attention, add how many of these things you do at the start of each laundry. Do you check pockets? Unroll sleeves? Turn clothes right-side out? Here’s a video of the scientists explaining how they calculated the SLI.
Then there’s the completely different problem of where socks go when they disappear. Here are some locations people often find lost socks: one sock still in the hamper; dropped by or between washer and dryer; under the bed or couch; in a shoe; in someone else’s drawer; in a toy box; outside (taken by pet or fallen off a line); clinging to another piece of clothing (we once found a sock weeks later stuck in a sleeve!); or in the lost socks box. Where do your lost socks go?
Drop by on Wednesday for some Sock Science!
Much of this post comes from my "Archimedes Notebook" column in Ithaca Child, 2017.
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