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Mystery solved: Your washing machine actually could be eating your socks

Americans have been losing socks for generations, accepting it as one of life’s unknowables. It turns out there was no mystery after all, Today Home reports. Washing machines have been eating our socks for at least 110 years.

Social media, a twenty-first-century invention, helped spread the news of the solution to a problem that likely began in the twentieth century with the invention of the electric washing machine.

Last year Bored Panda user Cathy Minz posted details of what happened when her husband tried to repair a commercial washing machine in the laundry room of a mobile home park. The short version: the bottom of the machine was packed with socks.

In mid-April 2018 Twitter user Sarah Rose tweeted one of the photos from Minz’s original post with the comment, “sooo, I no longer feel like a crazy person for losing random socks…”

soooo, I no longer feel like a crazy person for losing random socks…

— Sarah Rose (@1SarahRose) April 20, 2018

And now we know what happened to our own missing socks.

It’s likely that sock-eating washing machines aren’t a recent phenomenon. Chances are good the problem began in 1908, or soon after. That was the year Chicago-based Hurley Machine Company introduced The Thor, the world’s first fully electric-powered washing machine, invented by Alva J. Fisher.

The history of the washing machine

Today Home consulted with GE Appliances quality engineer James Darmstadt to validate the possibility of a washing machine secretly hoarding dozens of socks.

Darmstadt confirmed that laundry appliances consume socks. He also explained how it happens.

According to Darmstadt, the front-loading commercial washing machine in the laundry room probably had a hole in the washer door’s rubber ring gasket. When the washer door is closed, the gasket seals the space to prevent water from leaking around the door. During a washer spin cycle, a sock could get sucked through a small crack or hole and fall into the space below the washer basket.

In further testimony against sock-grabbing washing machines, Darmstadt told Today Home both front and top-loading washers are prone to capturing socks.

“While cleaning, feel the surface and look for any tears or holes,” Darmstadt said. “Tears, slits, holes would be bad. This could lead to disappearing socks as well as water leaks.”

Dryers can also steal socks if lint screens are missing or damaged.

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