Organizing for Dudes: How to Tackle That F—- Sock Drawer

Organizing for dudes - Sock drawer

A note for the ladies before we begin: this will work in your sock drawer too, plus there’s some lady specific advice not so stealthily added at the end. Excelsior! 

I remember hearing a NPR interview a few years back with a politician who had suffered a period of multiple scandals one after the other and as a result had to step back from the public eye for a bit.

“What did you do?” asked the interviewer. “What did you do, in the face of all of this public outrage and your own humiliation and shame?”

“Well…I started working on my sock drawer.”

NPR lady laughed a NPR lady laugh.

“I know it sounds funny, but in that time when you have so little control over your life, it’s enormously satisfying to take control over something like that: small and contained.”

Now, I’m not saying you have to run for office, get elected, and then commit multiple scandals in order to be motivated to organize your sock drawer but hey, it might help…

One of my closest friends and (former roommate) has been emailing that these blog posts are helping him clear out a lot of clutter in his life. I’m overjoyed, but he specifically mentioned his sock drawer is still a challenge. He writes, “Or, if you [have] some advice how to tackle that f— sock drawer that might be easier. My Mom used to roll them into little balls, which sure helped but ruined the elastics.”

I don’t mind telling you this is an area that I just sorted out for myself in the last few months after countless failed attempts. This current solution works well for me, I think it will help him out, and I think if you put your own variation of this in action (I know you will) you’ll feel the great relief and ease of setting up a small space with intention. This fall’s mantra? “Outer order equals inner calm.”

So do this:

1) Dump all the contents of your sock drawer on a flat and clean surface like your made (you made it right, dude?) bed. Have a trash can nearby and toss the socks with no visible mates, the hole-y socks, the ugly socks you never wear, and the jock strap you bought and wore once after the family planning surgery.

2) Divide the socks that are remaining into categories (again categories are key for any organizing project.) Depending on where you live in the world and where you go to work your mileage will vary, but mine looked like this: fun and fancy socks, running socks, no-show socks for when I’m wearing my shorts and Chucks combination, thick winter socks, and solid colored dress socks.

Los Angeles based professional organizer/Apple tutor Deron Bos shows how to organize a sock drawer for dudes.

Los Angeles based professional organizer/Apple tutor Deron Bos shows how to organize a sock drawer for dudes.


3) Simplify. This isn’t the blog to try to convince you to become a minimalist, but I am the guy to say, “Let’s stop and think about what you need rather than just keeping it, because you paid hard working cash for it at some point.”

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with a washer and dryer that doesn’t need the contents of your last couch dive than I would go with the recommendation of having no more than seven socks per category. If you’re still lugging your laundry to your apartment’s basement or further, maybe have a few more, but look at as the less you have the more you’ll be forced to do laundry on a regular basis (which ain’t a bad thing, brother.)

4) Fold the socks in half with their pairs. As my friend points out, the ball method will short the elastic out in no time flat and no one wants to be the dude with saggy socks like in the AMC classic tear-jerker: The Man in the Saggy Socks.



5) Put em’ back in the drawer. Socks that are less in demand go to the back (as you can see this SoCal guy has the wool in the rear) and daily-use should be at the front. I didn’t go nuts with the dividers, but I did use one simple plastic tray to put my running socks in – it helps divide the rest of the drawer.

A short side note on drawer organizers for sock and under-garment drawers: I’m not against them, they can be helpful but don’t go too nuts with them. If you are a lady and just want to divide a drawer into three for your socks, bras, and underwear that might be awesome BUT where it might break down is the actual folding for these special dividers. There’s amazing folding techniques for these things, but I agree with Mary Cate of Charm City Organizers that some things just don’t need to be folded.

You got this, you know this routine now: take out, sort, purge/donate, and bring back only the essentials.

Now you tell me: what’s another small space where you’d like some help from the organized dude?

Organizing For Dudes is a series of articles written by Los Angeles based professional organizer/Apple tutor Deron Bos to help dudes (and those who love them) by learning core organizing principles.