With life so busy, no one has the time or the inclination to search for matching socks in the morning – or anytime, for that matter. This isn’t necessarily a problem of course, but if you’re not a fan of the ‘mismatched’ look, it’s probably time to learn how to organize a sock drawer properly.
It may feel insignificant, but keeping your sock drawer in an orderly state is one of the best things you can do when it comes to organizing a bedroom to great effect (or a dressing room, if you should be so lucky). As one of the most frequently-worn items of clothing, organizing a dresser drawer so your socks are kept neat, tidy and accessible is the key to a smooth morning routine – and who doesn’t strive for that?
With that in mind, we’ve compiled our own step-by-step guide, including tips from the experts, to ensure you're organizing your sock drawer in the easiest, most effective way possible.
How to organize a sock drawer
Tackling the source of your ‘lost sock’ problem is essential if you want to maintain a well-organized sock drawer. Unless you really do have a sock thief in the house (dogs and children, we’re looking at you), we’re going to guess it’s laundry related. Knowing how to do laundry so socks remain grouped together and easy to find will save you a whole lot of bother when it comes to partnering them up and putting them away, so start by instilling good habits.
‘Try pairing up socks as you hang them out to dry. You’ll soon notice which are flying solo and can check for ones inadvertently left in the washing machine drum. If you use a tumble dryer, use a mesh laundry bag to keep your socks in; this will save them from getting lost inside jumpers and bedding’, says professional organizer Katherine Blackler of Sort My Space (opens in new tab).
1. Start with a good sort out
If you find yourself always pulling out the same pairs of socks, yet the drawer is packed full to the brim, you know it’s time to declutter. Keep in mind that the fewer pairs you have, the easier it is to keep track of them all – and there’s less laundry to do, too!
Start by discarding pairs that are damaged, shrunk or overworn, then cut back on socks of the same type. We’d advise keeping at least one pair per week, although you can be more brutal with lesser-worn categories, such as dressy, bed or athletic socks.
Now what to do with socks flying solo. No matter how many rounds of laundry you do, there are always some missing socks that just aren’t going to reappear. However, don’t be too quick to discard their counterparts, ‘Keep a small box or fabric bag in the laundry area to house socks floating partnerless. Every few months, check which ones have gained a partner and release them back into circulation!’, says Katherine Blackler.
Rather than throwing socks away, donate good-quality pairs to charity, or consider ways to repurpose – you’d be amazed at the uses for old socks around the home – cleaning rags, polishing cloths, white board erasers, to name just a few, not forgetting sock puppets of course!
2. Pair up – the right way
One of the most common methods is to flip the elastic of one sock over the other to keep them secured together. While this does work, it also stretches the elastic, causing your socks to wear out long before they otherwise would. Instead, experts recommend using the square method combined with a neat storage solution to keep them in place.
‘To achieve a square fold, lay socks lengthwise, squished flat on the floor with the heel of the sock facing upwards. Create a cross shape by placing one sock perpendicular to the other, then fold to create a neat square shape. One of the advantages of using this type of fold is that you can clearly see the design, so it’s easy to pick the pair that matches your outfit’, says organizational expert Amy Bloomer of Let Your Space Bloom (opens in new tab).
Amy Bloomer owns Let Your Space Bloom, a home organizing company. She's been in thousands of homes, helping families, professionals and retirees to transform their space, and in turn, their lives.
3. Sort by type
‘Once you’re left with paired socks in good condition, categorize by type (sports, dress, trainer, bed etc) and by color. Assess how many of each you’ve got, and cut back in sensible areas. Multiple pairs of black socks are useful if that’s what you wear to work most days, but ten pairs of holiday-themed socks, perhaps not so much’, says professional organizer Shannon Krause of Tidy Nest (opens in new tab).
4. Designate a sock drawer
When organizing clothes of any kind, It’s a good idea to designate a drawer solely to socks, if you can. Not only does it make things easier to locate, but it’s space-saving, too; items always seem to sit better alongside their counterparts.
If you’re limited on space, it’s ok to combine different categories of clothing within the same drawer. However, to increase efficiency, think carefully about this – choose items that you tend to reach for at the same time, so socks and underwear, for example.
In general, deciding which drawer to put things in can be tricky when organizing a dresser. The key is to think about what you use most, and socks are probably pretty high up the list. With that in mind, prioritize a drawer at prime, waist-height position, so you can see inside clearly and grab what you need without having to bend or reach.
5. Store ‘seasonal’ socks somewhere else
We’ve all got pairs of socks that we don’t wear regularly but need to hold onto, ‘just in case’, perhaps even whole categories – you’re unlikely to be wearing your bed socks in the height of summer, for example. Rather than use up prime storage space, separate these out and store them elsewhere.
Use store-bought drawer organizers…
Investing in effective bedroom organizers so your socks stay neat, tidy and easy-to-access is key to a well organized sock drawer. It also makes it much easier to keep it that way going forwards, too. Store-bought versions come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from cloth containers to honeycomb-style organizers and mesh pocket inserts, so measure up first to ensure you’re making the best use of space.
For easy access, use a 24-cell organizer like this one from Walmart. Arrange by color and speed up getting ready in the morning by keeping socks where you can see them.
Divide up drawers with these sturdy sock organizers from Wayfair. If your sock drawer is bursting at the seams, these are a good option and are well reviewed.
7. … or divide and conquer
Despite best efforts, store-bought organizers don’t always fit drawers perfectly, leaving you with dead space – not ideal if you’re organizing a small bedroom, where every inch counts. In order to maximize space, consider using dividers instead. These can be adjusted to fit not just the dimensions of the drawer itself, but of different sock types too – thick winter socks and slim trainer socks, for example. Set the dividers lengthwise and place your most used categories upfront to maintain an orderly system going forwards.
Use the file folding method
There's no ‘right’ way to store socks, it really is a case of preference, but file folding them into organizers – just like you would t-shirts when organizing a closet – is easy, space-saving and practical.
‘Fold your socks by half, thirds or using the square folding method, then stack them vertically into your chosen organizer, in the same way you would store papers in a filing cabinet. This leaves a clean edge, so you can see each pair clearly. It makes for a neat, streamlined look, too, which is always satisfying when you open a drawer’, says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief, Homes & Gardens.
Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens for over 30 years. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties in the UK and Europe, so brings first-hand knowledge to the subjects she oversees. She has a busy family home where her many organizing tips and tricks come in handy.
9. Keep everyday pairs within easy reach
To save time in the mornings, consider separating out the socks you wear most frequently from the rest of your collection. Store each pair individually in a honeycomb-style drawer organizer like this one from The Container Store (opens in new tab).
‘Dedicating compartments to a single sock pairing is particularly useful for socks you’re wearing every day. If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to fold, you can shove the socks back in (although folding or rolling is preferable) and they’ll still remain paired up’, explains Shannon Krause..
If you’re short on space, consider cutting your honeycomb organizer so it fits neatly into one side of the drawer to free up prime storage space for other frequently-worn underwear alongside.
10. Store matching pairs in clear bins
Let’s face it, folding socks isn’t for everyone. Particularly children, who likely don’t have the patience, or the inclination, for that matter! If you want to keep things as simple and easy as possible, consider investing in socks of all one type and color and store them all in a clear bin. That way, you don’t have to pair up at all – simply grab two socks, safe in the knowledge they’re going to match.
This solution also works well for smaller sock categories. If you’ve only got a few pairs of bed socks for example, you’ll be able to find and pair them up easily enough.
How do you declutter a sock drawer?
Start by gathering up all your socks, including those in the laundry, and match them all up. Any that don’t have a mate, set to one side – these won’t go back in the drawer for now. Think about how many pairs you actually need, and cut back on duplicates. Any pairs that are damaged, or that you no longer want, get rid there and then. Track down a local textile recycling center, or find ways to repurpose them around the home.
Keep a small box or fabric bag next to your washer dryer to contain socks flying solo. Every few months, check which ones have gained a partner and pop them back into the drawer. If they haven’t mated by this point, it’s time to say goodbye.
How do you fold socks in a drawer?
It may save time, but rolling socks into a ball takes up double the amount of space in your drawer – not ideal, particularly if you’re organizing a small closet. Folding socks is not only space-saving but makes for a much neater and well-organized sock drawer overall. How you do it will depend on the type of sock, the amount of time you have, and your general preference – be assured that there really is no ‘right’ way. We’d recommend folding in half or thirds. If you’ve got a little more time, consider the square fold method.
Arguably, there is, however, a ‘right’ way to store folded socks. Rather than stacking them in a drawer, use the file-folding method, which involves placing pairs vertically, a bit like how you would store papers in a filing cabinet. Doing this makes the edge of each pair clearly visible, making it much easier to find and access what you’re looking for. Bear in mind that the less rummaging around you have to do, the neater and more organized your sock drawer will remain.
For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.
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