Researchers agree that the number-one cause of death among socks will always be the "missing sock bogeyman phenomenon". But recent data from the National Institute for Sock Health (NISH) shows that forty percent of socks succumb to a stealthy predator allowed to lurk openly, in broad daylight, in homes worldwide: the clothes dryer.

The clothes dryer, a sedentary and electricity-guzzling animal (second in appetite only to the fearsome refrigerator), lures unsuspecting socks into its cavernous mouth with chemically scented dryer sheets and seemingly innocuous “air fluff” settings, then preys upon their elastic bands and cotton, synthetic, and wool fibers. Once subjected to a few cycles in the dryer, a sock fades, frays, warps, and shrinks—never again to regain full health. Socks participating in mental health studies have also shown disproportionately high levels of Global Warming Guilt. GWG, common in all machine-dried clothing items, results from a painful awareness that every dryer machine load uses roughly 5000 Watts and 50 cents.

This fall, protect your vulnerable socks, clothes and linens. Hang them to dry on an indoor drying rack, or pin them to a clothesline in your yard.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2007. The story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2007