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Combat single-sock syndrome

By on January 26, 2011

Mismatched socks can pile up quickly. You hang onto them hoping to find their mates. Sometimes you do, so you might create a home for them made out of a basket, bag or a spare drawer. If you get new socks, you tend to toss out the old pairs, too. Clean but lone or used, old socks can still be useful. One reader, Laura from New Hampshire, shares: “I buy all matching socks, all the same colors, so say I have one that is mateless and another with a hole in the toe. I throw out the one with the hole and the mateless one has once again found a partner. It’s a lot cheaper that way.” I’m not suggesting you hoard a lifetime’s worth. Set a deadline for purging orphan socks, but keep a few.
Here are a few practical ways to use them.

lone sock


Keep soap slivers inside a clean sock and use as a bath mitt.


If you tend to toss loose change on your dresser, contain it in a spare sock instead. Tuck it away in your dresser.


Place them over golf clubs to protect them. Or in the car for a wet umbrella. Or slide a cut sock onto a seatbelt to prevent it from irritating your skin.


Fill a sock with catnip for a cat, or knot a couple together and insert a tennis ball to use as a dog toy. Consider donating cat nip filled socks to animal shelters. Visit Operation Happy Sock (, a nonprofit, for details. There’s a Girl Scouts patch available for troops that are interested in this, too. Visit and search for Operation Happy Sock to order.


They make great arm warmers. If your toddler constantly tugs off his mittens, cut the toe from a couple of odd socks, cut an opening for thumbs and slide the socks up his arms and over his mittens. Another reader, Jenn from Texas, shares: “If you have babies/toddlers and you have a mismatched adult-sized knee sock, you can make your own “BabyLegs” (leg warmers and protection for crawling) by just cutting the sock off right above where the foot is! If you’re handy, you can sew the bottom. Otherwise, it just rolls a bit, but it is still cute and functional.”


Keep a couple handy to slip ice into when you need an ice pack. Fill a clean sock with uncooked rice, flax seeds, cherry pits or buckwheat. Tie with string. You can add dry herbs or essential oil for scent. Close it and microwave for a minute when you need a heat pad.


Place dried herbs such as lavender or rosemary or potpourri inside a sock. Tie the sock closed with a ribbon and put it in a drawer or in your closet. You can toss it into your dryer to add scent to your clothes, too.


Many people use them for dusting, but you can slip a sock on a yardstick and secure with a rubber band to clean hard-to-reach places such as under your refrigerator.


Cut the foot and trim to fit a travel mug or takeout coffee cup. Looks nicer with colored or print socks. You can embellish them with felt or buttons. This can be used on water or pop bottles at a casual get together, so no one mixes up their drinks.

photo by krikit


  1. Ordella

    1/26/2011 at 5:53 pm

    One thing I like to do with mismatched socks is wear them! No, not out and about, but just around the house when it’s too chilly for bare feet, or to bed when it’s really cold. Who cares what they look like then if they are still good enough to use?

  2. Mary

    2/11/2011 at 5:12 pm

    Good ideas! Of course let’s not forget Sock Puppets as craft projects for the kids!

  3. Dawn

    4/24/2011 at 11:48 am

    These are wonderful ideas. I love the one for the slivers of soap as well as the one to clean under the fridge. Bravo!!!

  4. colin

    9/28/2011 at 8:51 pm

    best use for odd socks – yeah continue wear them, so what if they dont match! okay maybe your workplace will specify not.. but for other times, weekends, hanging out… if people tell you you cant wear odd socks then they aint worth hanging out with because they are prudes 😉 . think of the time you will cave, by not tryin to find matches for socks, just slipping on the first two similar-ish ones you see..!
    also – they can be altered and turned into bespoke wristwarmers ( insulation for wrists in winter).

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