Q: I just did a major spring cleaning in my house (albeit a little late) and gave away six boxes of clothes to Goodwill. What I didn’t donate to them, though, was the myriad of socks that I collected from everyone in my family — with holes in them, without matches, just plain worn out. I hate to just throw them away. Got any new uses for old socks?

A: Boy, do I. I lose socks like it’s my job. I have about 30 mismatched socks in my sock drawer that are clinging to the sides of the drawer, hoping against hope to get used again one day. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve learned how to make use of those sad “plus-ones.”

1. Dust rag: Socks make excellent dust rags, especially for those hard to clean areas like the air vents or ceiling fans. Just slip a sock on your arm and get moving. Of course, you can also add a dab of furniture polish (I like the homemade version — olive oil and lemon juice) to the sock for a little polishing action as well.

2. Glasses case: This is a great idea if you can never seem to find your glasses case. Or you can keep an old sock in your glove compartment to keep your shades from getting scratched and scuffed in between uses. Just make sure the sock with your sunglasses in it doesn’t end up in the dirty laundry somehow.

3. Warm compress: This one’s my favorite. Fill up an old sock with white rice, and then tie a knot at the top of it. When you want to soothe your aching neck, or leg, or head, or any other body part — just stick it in the microwave for a couple minutes and presto — automatic heat compress!

4. Sock puppet: Duh. I know this one’s an oldie but it’s also a goodie. Socks give kids hours (ok, at least minutes) of good old-fashioned entertainment. If you’ve got the time, you can decorate each one in a different outfit and create a whole sock family — a great way to keep your toddler interested and let you work on that great idea for a sitcom that’s been brewing.

5. Shoe cover: Keep the bottom of your shoes from touching your underwear in your suitcase (if you’re like me, the thought grosses you out). Just slip each shoe in an old sock to keep them from touching your other stuff. Alternatively, you can also use those socks to hold all your underwear instead of scrounging around the suitcase for that last pair.

6. Arm warmers for kids: On those frigid days, socks can make excellent arm warmers for kids while they’re playing out in the snow. Just cut off the toe, and away they go.

There are so many more uses for old socks that I’m sure I can’t list them all, and I bet you have some good ones of your own. Post your ideas in the comments below if you’ve got any that you think might be particularly clever or helpful to others.

— Chanie

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