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The case of the missing socks: Viral videos show why you may have your washing machine to blame

“Not only my sock was down there, but all the previous tenants' that lived in that apartment before."
/ Source: TODAY

Can your washing machine "eat" your socks? One of life’s greatest questions may finally be solved — and in true “Scooby-Doo” fashion, the culprit was under our noses the entire time.

In a viral video recently shared on social media, one user showed what happened after popping open the front of a washing machine, revealing a bunch of single socks stuck inside the unit, but outside the washing basin.

28-year-old Gilly Alves of Houston, Texas, made a similar discovery about his stackable washer-dryer unit in 2021. While transferring the clothes to his dryer late one night, he saw a sock slip in a crevice between the basin and the laundry machine.

At the time, Alves was studying for an exam to obtain his real estate license. It was 3 a.m. and reaching a point where he'd rather do "everything but study," so he looked up online how to take apart his machine and see what was inside, he tells in a phone interview.

What he found was at least a dozen socks, including the one he dropped.

"Not only my sock was down there, but all the previous tenants' that lived in that apartment before," he says. "There were kid socks and socks that I didn't recognize."

Can socks really fall inside the washing machine?

According to laundry experts, it’s absolutely possible that your socks can end up inside your washing machine.

The buildup of socks seen in Alves' video would likely have happened over a long period of time, Jerrod Kappler, executive director of clothes care product technology at GE Appliances, tells in a statement, citing two ways clothing could end up there.

If users overload the basket, socks or smaller items on the top could be "flung" over the edge and into the inside of the washing machine, Kappler said.

Morgan LaLonde, laundry brand manager for Whirlpool, tells over email that the crevice between the basket and washing machine is there because the machine has to be able to move during the wash cycle.

The solution? "Avoid overloading the basket," Kappler advises.

Another way the socks could end up trapped is because of unloading technique, according to Kappler. If users grab the clothing and it scrapes up the side of the basket, it can fall into the crevice.

"Again, there is a simple solution by lifting the clothes out of the basket versus sliding them up the side of the basket and out the top," he said.

How do you reach socks that fall inside the washing machine?

Before taking off the front panel of his washing machine, Alves says he looked up on YouTube how to take apart the model. With his model, he used a flathead screwdriver to unlatch the panel and unscrew the sides, a process that in total took about 30 minutes, he says.

He adds that he was easily able to put the machine back together.

But for users seeking to mimic the viral videos and look inside their washing machine, they should first under the machine. Before doing so, though, GE advises consumers to make sure the washer is off and disconnected.

Most top-load washers do not have a piece of metal at the bottom of the machine, as seen in Alves' video, a representative of GE notes. As a result, the sock will fall on the floor and consumers can look underneath the machine, with the help of a flashlight, to retrieve the sock.

Similarly, Whirlpool units are open at the bottom of the machine so socks would fall to the floor if they slip through the side, according to LaLonde.

If your socks have disappeared in the wash, you're not alone

After Alves made his laundry discovery, he shared a video of it on TikTok, which went viral at the time, reaching almost 5 million views and just under 1 million likes.

"i was in fact correct about the washer eating my socks," one user commented on the post.

Before seeing the sock slip through, he always assumed his lost socks were his fault. He owned several pairs of socks missing their other half and remembers holding onto the lonely items, thinking, "Maybe they're in the back of my closet or in the bottom of a drawer."

"But no, they were all inside that washer," he says.

Now, he's careful when unloading his clothes as to not let anything fall through the side. He also puts all his socks in a mesh laundry bag, which he keeps next to his hamper.

"Otherwise, I'll have to take apart my washer again," he says.