How to organize a sock drawer – 7 steps experts use for tidy storage and dealing with lost pairs

When it comes to home organization, sock drawers are notoriously difficult territory. Follow these 7 steps to stay on top of your sock storage

A bedroom with a navy set of drawers in an alcove decorated with vases
(Image credit: James Merrell)

Of all the spaces within our homes, there's one that even the most organized among us struggle to stay on top of - the dreaded sock drawer. No matter how much you commit to pairing your socks and folding your undies, the next time it comes to putting your clean laundry away, your drawer is back to its disorganized state, overflowing with stray socks and tangled tights.

The reassuring news is, it happens to the best of us. Regardless of how seemingly organized your friend's home is at first glance, these disorderly areas still exist behind closed doors (or, more aptly, closed drawers). That doesn't mean that an organized sock drawer isn't worth it, however. Unless you're okay with wearing mismatched socks and making busy mornings more stressful than they need to be, sorting out your sock drawer is a must. 

To set you on your way to the very best closet organization - and the smoothest morning routine possible - we asked some professional organizers for their step-by-step guide to tackling this notoriously difficult territory. Here's what they had to say. 

A head shot of a woman with short grey hair smiling at the camera
Barbara Brock

Barbara Brock is a successful home-staging owner, entrepreneur, and past President of NAPO®-NY (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals™ - New York Chapter). She is the Founder & CEO of Beauty & The Box, a company dedicated to fusing beauty with organization for the traveling woman and at home.

Why should we bother organizing our sock drawer?

IKEA wardrobe hacks

(Image credit: Erin Kestenbaum)

I said it myself - our untidy clothes typically hide behind closed doors, so why bother organizing them in the first place? In the case of sock drawers, does anyone really have the time to be folding and neatly arranging something as basic and boring as socks? 

Well, one pretty sound justification is that, contrary to opinion, an organized sock drawer can actually save us a lot of time. When you're rushing around the bedroom on busy mornings, the last thing you want to do is stress over finding a pair of socks. 

'Organizing your sock drawer is a task that can significantly impact your daily routine and overall well-being,' explains Olivia Parks, a professional organizer based in New Orleans. 'When your socks are organized, you can quickly find the pair you're looking for and get dressed faster, saving you valuable time in the morning or when getting ready for an event.' 

Secondly, she says, it maximizes the use of space. 'By folding or stacking your socks in an orderly manner, you can fit more socks into a smaller space and reduce clutter and stuffed drawers.' 

Then of course there's the question of personal satisfaction. If you're someone who isn't fazed by a messy sock drawer first in the morning, I envy you, but most of us will gain some satisfaction if we're greeted by a neatly organized drawer, and that alone should be reason enough to commit to one. 

1. Start with a good purge 

Organization and decluttering come hand in hand, so, for the most organized sock drawer possible, you should ensure you throw out any odd, holey, or soiled socks before you begin arranging what's left. 

Unlike when decluttering clothes, unwanted socks will mostly be bound for the trash. However, professional organizer and founder of Beauty and the Box, Barbara Brock, says there might be instances where you can repurpose them. 'I keep mismatched socks for 6 months to make sure their mates don’t show up and if not, I transfer to a “rags” or “crafts”  drawer,' she explains. 

2. Fold your socks to maximize space 

A bedroom with a wooden chest of drawers and a screen divider

(Image credit: Future)

Like folding your underwear, the act of folding your socks is one many people would scoff at, but expert organizers swear by it. 'Folding is the best way to maximize space, especially in small bedrooms,' claims Olivia. 'By folding or stacking your socks in an orderly manner, you can fit more socks into a smaller space and reduce clutter and stuffed drawers.' 

The thing is, anyone who's tried folding their socks will know that it's not the simplest of tasks. So, what's the best method? 'There are several folding options, but some take more time than others,' says Michelle Urban, owner of The Organized House. 'You can fold into squares, roll them, flip them, or tuck them, but really, there's no wrong way to fold as long as it's consistent.' 

Barbara recommends folding into thirds to maximize space. 'This shows them in an upright position in a drawer and each sock can be seen while folding into twos means layering them on top of each other.' Of course, you'll want to ensure you do this in pairs otherwise your efforts will be futile. 

One of the most popular folding methods across social media is the square fold. This involves laying one sock lengthwise with the heel of the sock facing upwards and creating a cross by placing the other sock perpendicular. Once in place, you then fold the socks in on themselves to create a neat square shape. 


♬ How You Like That - BLACKPINK

3. Sort your socks into categories 

A bedroom with wooden chest of drawers and bed with white pillows

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Once you've folded and paired, it's time to sort your socks into categories. Since your patience may be running thin by this point you might be tempted to skip this step and just pile them in willy-nilly, but Barbara says categorizing is key to saving time in the long run. 'Organizing your socks into these separate categories enables you to grab and go quickly,' she says. 

With that in mind, it's a good idea to have socks for your everyday wear near the front of your drawer for easy access while putting seasonal or novelty socks right at the back. 

'Other categories might include sports, dress, casual and outdoor,' says Michelle. 'Sport can incorporate casual as well as exercise while dress will be formal, business or those reserved for “looking good”.' This is why good organization is essential to making everyday life run smoothly: next time you have an occasion, you'll now know exactly where to reach within your sock drawer.

4. Use a sock drawer organizer to keep them contained

Drawer dividers are one of the best organizers that professionals will always buy (another testament to the importance of drawer organization). To keep your socks contained so you can see them all, drawer dividers are a must-have. 

'I recommend using drawer dividers to categorize socks based on color, style, or purpose,' says Olivia. 'This helps to eliminate any clutter and makes it easy to maintain the organization of the drawer.' You could use adjustable drawer dividers like these from Amazon, but there are now designated organizers designed specifically with sock drawers in mind. A square or honeycomb compartment design is a great idea as the individual sections tend to be the perfect size for such small items of clothing. 

Honeycomb sock drawer organizer, Amazon
Editor's choice

Honeycomb sock drawer organizer, Amazon

This unique honeycomb drawer divider from Amazon is perfect for storing your socks as each pair fits into the individual hexagonal compartments. The plastic separator expands to fit any type of drawer and can be cut to fit any dimensions to maximize your space. 

5. ...Or use clear bins

Some people prefer a single container for storing their socks that can be easily removed. Using three or four clear storage bins that fit inside your drawer can make it easy to move your categorized socks when needed - for example, when moving season winter socks into your under-bed storage during summer. Of course, the clear plastic will also make it even easier to see exactly what you're looking for when you have a specific pair of socks in mind, too. 

Clear plastic storage bins, Amazon
Editor's choice

Clear plastic storage bins, Amazon

This set of four long storage bins from Amazon
keep dresser clutter under control by storing all of your essentials. Measuring at 6" x 12" x 4" high, the long shape makes them perfect for sitting inside most dresser drawers, helping you to maximize your space.

6. Avoid over cramming 

A bedroom with a wooden chest of drawers next to a bed with a lamp on top

(Image credit: Future)

Sock drawers are typically full to the brim but you should avoid overstuffing your dresser if you want to stay organized. Make sure you leave enough space for your socks, using a second drawer if necessary. As Olivia notes: 'The goal is to have an organized and efficient storage solution that works for you and your needs.' 

Michelle also recommends employing space limits to avoid clutter building up. 'This is when you dedicate a specific area for your things, and once that area fills up, it's time to purge and eliminate, meaning you can't add anything to that space until you get rid of some items,' she explains. 'For example, once your "sports socks" row is full, use that as the cue to do another purge.' 

7. Edit your drawer often to stay on top of your socks

Finally, to stay on top of your organization you'll need to edit your sock drawer regularly. It's easy to let your new resolutions slip and before you know it, you're back at square one. The key, says Barbara, is frequent upkeep. 

'Editing often is the best way to keep organized and it's the most optimal way to remember what you have,' she explains. 'Editing your drawer doesn’t take that long once you're in the habit and it helps you to see where things should live.' 

If you commit to sorting out your drawer once a month, you'll stay on top of your organization, knowing exactly what socks you own and where to find them. It really doesn't get more satisfying than that.

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.