Clothing/Accessories Level 1 (Easy Basics) Reuse Lifestyle Practices Textile Recycling

Someone Really Does Want Your Mismatched Socks (and “Lonely” Gloves, Shoes and Linens)

Can someone explain to me how single socks, i.e. socks with no matches, a.k.a. “lonely socks,” seem to be so plentiful? I mean, I sort of get it with kids’ socks—they get lost in someone else’s sheets at sleepovers, end up under bunks at summer camp and in gym lockers, or sometimes I think they just get up and walk away in the night. But I don’t have kids living at my house any more, or even teens—so these days, I’m finding lonely adult socks. I don’t go to sleepovers or summer camp, and I put all my laundry in a hamper, which is then carried down to the laundry room when it’s time to wash. So how do my socks end up single? Hmmm…some scientist or industrial engineer (or a kid looking for a good science fair project) with time on his/her hands needs to do a tracking experiment, embed something in a family’s socks like they’ve done with dollar bills, to see what really happens to them…


Meanwhile, between my lost socks and my husband’s, and the ones sometimes still generated when my 20-somethings do laundry “at the homestead”, my family amasses a pile of one-offs every year, which I used to just throw away, thinking Goodwill couldn’t give them away or sell them in their thrift stores, even though the socks were clean, and often stylish and/or colorful. Well, I found out I was wrong. Goodwill not only takes them, they want them! A Goodwill website out of the state of Washington says Goodwill accepts ALL textile donations, in any condition (except wet or contaminated with hazardous materials), including torn or stained apparel, linens, and single shoes, gloves and socks, so they can be reused or recycled into new products. The site also stated that recyclers like Goodwill keep approximately 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) out of the landfills!! So I called my local Dallas Goodwill to make sure that they, too take those kinds of things for recycling, and they confirmed that yes, they do! (For other options, Google “textile recycling”—I also found American Textile Recycling Company; for bin locations in your area, call 866-900-9308.)


Yes, you could also repurpose your one-off gloves and socks into fun things like cat toys or sock puppets, but if you don’t have that kind of time or talent, know that at least there are organizations out there that will be happy to have them and can benefit from them.


Let me know if this information is helpful to you, and please share any other good uses for “lonely” clothing items that you’ve tried (or heard of)!

1 thought on “Someone Really Does Want Your Mismatched Socks (and “Lonely” Gloves, Shoes and Linens)”

  1. So glad to know about this! Our neighborhood is full of kids, and they always gravitate toward OUR house (which is pretty cool, I have to admit) but they leave their crap everywhere! Cans, cups, trash, socks, light sabers, you name it! I find single socks or full pairs of dirty socks, at least twice a month. Out of frustration I throw them away (I can hear Karen saying, “that will teach them!”) but now I know there’s something better I can do with them. Thanks!

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