Scientists believe they have solved one of life’s mysteries – why so many socks go missing in the wash.
Research has led them to come up with a mathematical formula to predict the likelihood of socks straying.
Each person loses an average of 1.3 socks per month, accounting for more than 15 socks per year and 1,264 over a lifetime, according to a study of 2,000 people commissioned by Samsung to launch the Samsung AddWash washing machine which allows people to add extra items mid-cycle.
Chartered psychologist Dr Simon Moore and statistician Geoff Ellis applied science to discover what contributes to the problem of lost socks and to quantify their findings in a formula.
They found the main factors causing missing socks were the complexity of the washing load – the way batches are divided up, based on whites/colours/different temperatures – and the number of socks in each cycle.
The pair devised the formula – Sock loss index = (L+C)−(PxA) – and the higher the figure, the higher the likelihood of losing socks.
L equals laundry size, C equals washing complexity, P equals the positivity towards doing laundry and A equals degree of attention.
And if that all seems a bit vague, the team did also state some practical and psychological reasons for the missing socks.
Socks may get lost when more than one person is responsible for doing the washing because everyone may assume somebody else will take responsibility.
Another issue is a human tendency to only look in the places we are most likely to find something – and if it’s not there, we can assume it’s lost forever.
Practically speaking, the study found the most common causes for missing socks was falling behind radiators or under furniture, pairs getting separated in different washes, socks falling off a washing line or simply forgetting to put them in the wash in the first place.
So if you want to find those missing socks, check behind radiators, under furniture and at the bottom of your washing basket – and if they still don’t show themselves, blame someone else.