Minimalism is catching on, and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.
What to Do With Single Socks?
A friend lamented that she had a huge stash of unmatched socks. Every laundry day, she added to it. Then she bought more socks to replace those.
Where do all those unmatched socks come from? Most likely, the other sock ended up with a hole in it, leaving one good sock without a mate. In some cases, the sock is hiding somewhere under the bed or in the back of the closet, or in the toe of a shoe. If you have a pet, they may have chewed the sock or dragged it away for playing.
No matter what the reason, having a pile of solo socks is frustrating and feels wasteful. Here are ideas to put those socks back into service in one way or another.
Some Ideas for Those Leftover Socks
- Rags: Turn them into rags. Keep some as mitts to slip your hand inside for dusting jobs. Cut others from the top down to the toe to form a rag for scrubbing jobs.
- Heating Pads: Put rice in them and tie them shut. Heat in the microwave for a minute or two to get it hot. Cheap heating pad for your neck or back or any sore spot. You can slide these between the sheets in winter right before bedtime. It's an old-fashioned bed warmer.
- Cat Toys: Make a cat toy by adding some catnip inside the sock. Sew it shut and cut off the excess. Your cat will have hours of fun attacking and playing with the catnip sock.
- Soap-Savers: Drop the last bit of a bar of soap in them and tie in a knot. Wet the sock and rub it to get a lather for washing. This works well for little kids who have a hard time hanging onto slippery soap in the bathtub.
- Mug Warmers: Cut off the ankle part of a stretchy sock to make a mug warmer or cozy for your coffee cup.
- Just Wear Them! When you wear boots or long pants in winter, no one will know your socks don't match. You can also wear the mismatched socks for at-home days when your appearance doesn't matter.
Turn Socks Into Heat Packs for Shelter Animals
Nicole shared this great idea in a group for non-consumers. She turned dozens of orphaned socks into heat packs for kittens and puppies who are being spayed or neutered at the Humane Society. These were socks that would otherwise have been thrown out since they didn't match or were just worn out or had no elastic.
How to Do It
To do this, she bought 20 pounds of rice to fill the socks. She sewed across the ends or tied off the socks at the opening after filling them with rice. The volunteers at the humane society heat these in a microwave or an oven and put them in with the recovering kittens and puppies to comfort them.
She explained that after the animals come out of surgery and when awake, they sometimes have trouble staying warm enough, so they put a warm rice pack in their crate, and they can snuggle with it. Many of the kittens also find it comforting amidst the chaos. The rice-filled socks stay warm for a long time. It helps them at night, too, when the small animals get cold and miss their litter mates.
Sandra commented that she was going to call her shelter to see if they wanted these. She said that she had a good-sized clothes basket of socks she could use. They were destined to be cleaning rags, but she liked this idea better.
How Much Rice Should You Put in Each Sock?
Nicole explained that she just eyeballs it. She puts about a cup in smaller ankle socks. Once they are filled, she shakes them to get them to compress and then ties them off with yarn or string.
Make Bigger Ones With Pillowcases
Megan, who worked at a spay/neuter clinic, said they used larger ones, too. "We used pillow cases and filled them with rice. We like the pillowcases for the larger dogs like Pit Bulls and Great Danes. We do use the socks, too, for the cats and smaller dogs such as Yorkies and Bichons."
Lilian commented on what a great idea this was. She volunteers at a cat rescue. "These would be great for orphaned kittens as well," she explained as they are much more economical than buying commercially produced hot/cold bean bags or electric heating pads.
Check With Your Shelter First
Check with your local shelter or vet. Some do not do their spay/neuter in-house, so they may not need them.
Reminder: Your local shelter ALWAYS need towels, blankets, sheets, etc. that you might have as well.
More Creative Ideas for Mismatched Socks
- Make a sock quilt: Take a simple blanket and sew the socks all over it in a random pattern. The effect is fun and whimsical.
- Turn them into potholders: A child will have fun making those potholders on looms that use fabric loops. The loops are just remnants from sock manufacturers. The potholders are cute and the perfect size to use in the kitchen or as coasters. The looms are inexpensive, and you can find them used at the thrift shop.
- Make sock puppets: This old-fashioned craft is fun for kids. Get out the button box, some yarn, and any stray socks you have. After they make their puppets, encourage them to put on a puppet show.
- Toy Snake or Draft Blocker: Cut the toes and heels so that you have a bunch of tubes, then sew the tubes together and stuff. You can either make a toy snake for a child or a draft blocker for the bottoms of your doors and windowsills.
- Oat Bath: Put oats in them for an oat bath. It's great to smooth the skin and keeps it from making a mess in the bathtub.
- Back Massager: My yoga instructor puts tennis balls in old socks and uses them for rubbing her spine. She taught us how to do this, and it feels great.
- Hair Ties: Cut across, so it comes off in loops to make stretchy hair ties.
- Dog Sweater: Convert a bigger sock to fit a Chihuahua in the winter. Instant dog sweater with just a few cuts of the scissors.
- Craft Supplies: Ask a daycare or school if they would want them for crafts.
- Wear them: Mismatched socks are the new pairs. My nephew started this. So now when I look at the mismatched socks, I think . . . just wear the darn things.
- Make a sock monkey: Make some in different colors. It doesn't have to be a monkey. How about a white rabbit with floppy ears (the ankle part of the sock)? Use a marker for adding the face or stitch it with yarn.
© 2017 Virginia Allain
Your Turn! What Ideas Do You Have for Stray Socks?
Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on October 25, 2018:
Well done! Some of these are clever. I use mine to make toys for my dog.
kimbesa from USA on September 20, 2017:
Thanks for all the cute ideas! I especially like the one about the oat bath..