March 27th 2014 | Comments

How to wash socks

The gentleman – even if he employs a gentleman’s gentleman to do his domestic tasks – should always be prepared for the day when he has to do his own laundry.

This could come as a hugely distressing shock to the system, especially to the young man who has had his clothes washed, pressed and returned to him every Monday by his dear mother. Motherly love is a finite resource, and once it is exhausted, you will find yourself in an earnest battle between man, washing machine and dirty sock.

The humble sock is the hardest of clothes to launder correctly. While shirts demand a separate hot wash and careful pressing to ensure the crispest, smartest of looks; and woollen leisurewear should be treated with respect lest it returns to you several sizes too small; socks have their own particular difficulties that make laundry day something akin to the Battle of Agincourt.

The most important skill demanded from sock laundry is emerging at the end of your task with the same number of socks from which you started. This is far more difficult than you think, given the ninja-like skills that socks have developed over the years to avoid being washed.

At every stage of the process, the gentleman should carry out a thorough audit of sock numbers to ensure that none have slipped away undetected. You should be aware of all sock movements:

Putting them into the wash basket
Carrying the basket to the machine
Loading the machine
Unloading the machine
Hanging the socks to dry (or loading the tumble dryer)
Returning dry socks to their correct drawer

We recommend the use of a clipboard, coupled with CCTV footage to ensure that socks are observed at all times. A dog, trained to sniff out escapees may be of use, however we found that our dwindling sock drawer was directly related to the growing number of hair-covered black rags in the dog’s basket, so your mileage may vary.

Once you have laundered your socks at the correct heat (we recommend an environmentally-friendly 30C, with coloured socks separated from the white), and thoroughly dried them, we asked the vex question: “Should a gentleman iron his socks?”

The answer is, of course: “Don’t be a fool. Of course you don’t.”

One final note: The perfect way to separate your coloured socks from your white socks is to put the black ones straight into the washing machine, and the white ones onto a bonfire. This isn’t the 80s, Buck Rogers.