Tired of Picking Up Socks? What Worked for Me

Posted by on November 9, 2011

Of all the brilliant things I’ve put into place in my household, what I’m about to tell you may well be the brilliantest.

I know, I know… It’s hard to imagine anything any more brilliant than Ritz S’mores or the Chore System of Awesomeness but hear me out and then decide for yourself.

Two words.

Three syllables.

Are you ready?


Oh, wait, I should probably give you some backstory on the sock issue at my house. Yeah.

Well, for years I have been the picker-upper of socks around the house. Lots of socks. Everywhere. EVERY DAMN DAY.

I know this is not a problem unique to my household—kids (and husbands) take off their socks wherever they happen  to be and that’s where they stay until the Sock Fairy (that would be me) picks them up and puts them somewhere more appropriate, like in a hamper or basket of dirty laundry.

I’ve been married for 17 years and have had children for the past 11 years so do the math (if you are one of those smartypants types that like to “do the math”) and you will see that I have every reason to be SICK OF SOCKS ALL OVER THE HOUSE.

A long time ago, I bought two nice baskets—rectangular in shape, about 15 inches deep—to keep by the door we use to come in the house. This basket was for shoes because having a gazillion shoes by the door? MADDENING. We all keep a few pair of the shoes we wear the most in those baskets and it’s great. Totally solves the “shoes all over the floor” issue and makes them easy to find when we need them.

The problem for years now has been the socks. The ones that weren’t randomly strewn about the house ended up buried in the shoe baskets. Every month, I’d dig out, like, 20 socks, many without mates, and covered with sand (the shoe baskets do collect sand…a minor design flaw I’ve learned to live with)

And then one night, while making a sweep to collect all the socks carelessly left all over the house, it hit me—SOCK BASKET! WE NEED ONE!

I took a little collapsible nylon basket from Ikea, put it next to the shoe baskets and the next morning I instructed everyone to throw their dirty socks in it.

I didn’t expect full compliance with this new idea. Hell, I didn’t expect ANY compliance, to be honest. Nothing else has really worked (see also: nagging, complaining, yelling) so I had minimal expectations.

But lo!

The sock basket? It actually works!

Maybe because it’s convenient and located close to where we all hang out? Maybe because it’s next to the shoe basket? I don’t know…

Now, sometimes I still have to nag my 11 year old to put her socks in the basket but the difference is that she does it right then. When I used to ask her to pick up he socks and take them to her hamper in her room, it hardly ever happened because her room is across the house and there are so many distractions and shiny things on the way…if they got picked up at all, they still rarely made it to her hamper,

My 6 year old? He has totally embraced the sock basket and I never, EVER have to ask him to pick up his socks. He rules. Added bonus: when he needs to put his socks back on to go somewhere, he knows exactly where to find them.

My husband? Faithful sock basket user. One might even say he’s a total SOCKSTAR. Heh. Sorry. I just can’t resist a corny pun.

And even if I very occasionally have to pick up the odd pair of socks, the sock basket is RIGHT THERE. It’s just so damn easy that I don’t even mind doing it.

This also makes washing the socks super easy. I just dump the sock basket in with a load of whatever and you know what? They all come out of the dryer together. I haven’t had missing socks in ages.

I suspect that it’s because they don’t get mixed up with other loads of laundry—you know…one sock with one load, it’s match with another load. They all get washed and dried together and put away together. It’s like….SOCK NIRVANA, people. For real.

If you have a large house (I don’t) you might want to strategically place sock baskets in more than one location just to make it excuse-proof, you know? If a sock basket is nearby, there’s no excuse for not using it.

And I know you might not want little baskets of dirty socks all over your house. That’s understandable—but you can hide them when company comes if that’s how you roll—not a big deal at all. But if you leave them out? People will think you are…wait for it…BRILLIANT!!!!

And they will copy your sock basket idea as people have copied it (and the shoe basket idea) from me and you can feel all smug about how smart and awesome you are for having your sock situation under control. Not that I feel smug. Well, not overly so anyway…



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