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One day in my HS speech class I walked to the front with a cloth bag filled with soft objects, ready for my “sales” speech. “Do you have a hungry washer, a mysterious escape door in your dryer, or a sock gremlin at your house? For everyone who has ever encountered a pile of miscellaneous, lonely socks that have lost their partners, I have a solution for you!” I opened up my bag and began to pull out sock of various sizes, design and color. I’d taken them from the sock basket in our family’s laundry room. I “sold” my bag of mismatched socks to go with the widow socks that my classmates had lurking in their own laundry rooms.

Unfortunately, there is no bag of perfectly chosen socks that you can pair with the lonely ones at your house. And this leads to my top recycling tip for today: what to do with those single socks clinging to the wall of your dryer long after their mate has disappeared.

 The easy, and quick idea is to turn soft cotton ones into dust cloths. Insert your hand and reach into tiny places and along the grooves of a baseboard.
 Fill bright colored socks with beans or rice and sew closed for bean bags. Line up containers of various sizes, each assigned a different point value, and let your children toss. For a family game, you can include trivia questions in buckets or bowls, sorted by catagory, which they answer for points. Or set 9 books on the floor and have them throw for tic-tac-toe (using blue vs. white socks, girl vs. boy socks, etc.). The first sock on a book claims the spot.
 Take tube socks or knee highs and fill with rice, then tie shut. Put them in the microwave for about 2 minutes and you have a heat pack for your neck.
 I love this one! Fill men’s socks (not cute enough for much else) with (unused) kitty litter and sew closed. Stick them inside your teenage son’s shoes! Keep some by the back door in winter for boots.
 Make sock puppets. Danielle’s Place has simple instructions.

I always figure missing socks are not “lost” so much as they “escaped.” I can imagine them making their break through the dryer vent that carries moisture to the outside. Don’t bother me with the logistics—it’s either that or my cat is sneaking them away at night and stuffing them behind the camping gear in the basement.

For those unloved socks that have been abandoned by a renegade partner, here is a site with 10 Things to Do with a Lonely Sock.

One more thing about recycling socks. Sometimes you have the complete pair, but one has a hole in the heel. Here’s an option that has become a forgotten skill: darn them.

One evening when I was a young teen, my parents gathered my siblings and me in the living room and gave us each darning needles (larger eyes) threaded with yarn, a light bulb and a sock with a hole in it. Then they taught us how to darn. It’s been a few years, but I used to darn my family’s socks regularly, especially during frugal budget times. With the prospects of another recession (when did the last one end?), darning may see a revival. There are several videos online that show how—but some of them need a fast forward edit! (I could have darned a couple of socks in the time it takes to watch.) Also, you might want to save a few old-fashioned light bulbs because spiral ones have the wrong shape. Hey! Another recycling idea!