Wednesday 7 December 2016

So where do your missing socks go? Science may have the answer

Sasha Brady

Published 25/04/2016 | 12:35

Socks that survived the black hole of the washing machine. Photo: Sasha Brady / Instagram
Socks that survived the black hole of the washing machine. Photo: Sasha Brady / Instagram

A new study has revealed that we lose at least one sock each month and around 1,264 over a lifetime, costing us an estimated €3,250 worth of socks.

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But where do they go? Do you have a family of little gremlins living inside your laundry room who thrive on stray socks? Is there a black hole inside your washing machine that sucks in one stray sock at a time?

Apparently not. In fact, the answer is much simpler... although it does involve mathematical reasoning.

Experts claim to have solved the mystery of the disappearing socks and have even devised a formula to predict the likelihood of them wandering away from your washing machine.

The so-called ‘sock loss index’ was created by Psychologist Dr Simon Moore and leading statistician Dr Geoff Ellis.

The algebraic equation is (L (p x f) + C (t x s) ) - (P x A) and the higher the figure, the greater the likelihood of losing socks.

Here's a breakdown of the variables:

L = Laundry size, calculated by multiplying the number of people in the household (p) by how many washes you do in a week (f);

C = Complexity of washing, calculated by multiplying the number of different types of darks and whites washes households do in a week (t) by the number of socks washed in a week (s);

P = Positivity towards doing the laundry, measured on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being a 'strong dislike' and 5 'strong enjoyment';

And A = Attention paid, measured as the total number of precautions taken at the start of each wash out of checking pockets, unrolling sleeves, turning clothes the right way around and unrolling socks.

The algorithm won't find your socks for you but it will help you understand why they go missing.

Samsung commissioned the scientists to promote the launch of its new AddWash washing machine which allows you to add in items mid-wash to ensure everything stays together.

According to the study, men are more likely to be the guilty party when it comes to losing socks with just over quarter (26 per cent) taking pride in the washing process.

The research also pinpoints the common cause of sock loss, including items falling behind radiators or under furniture without the owner realising.

Stray items being added to the wrong coloured wash and becoming separated from its matching sock also featured.

Melanie Rolfe, Head of Marketing, said: “We believe this new study has finally solved the age old mystery of the missing socks.

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