Your washing machine could actually be eating your clothes! A laundry expert explains how

You're not going mad, your washing machine really could be eating your odd socks - here's how to stop it

We all have a stack of odd socks where we put a pair in the wash but can't seem to work out what happened to the second sock. Well, you might joke that your washing machine is eating your clothes, but according to a laundry expert, it actually might be.

Related: How to clean a smelly washing machine – banish mould, bad odours and residues

Laundry expert and founder of Laundryheap, Deyan Dimitrov, explains that their is some truth in the urban myth that the washing machine is eating your clothes. 'The idea of a washing machine eating your clothes has long been dismissed as an urban myth, but there are ways your items can get stuck in the appliance,' explains Deyan.

'When you put clothes in the washing machine at a high spin speed, sometimes the smaller items of clothing can get sucked through the drainage holes and end up in the machine’s drainage system. Items can also get stuck under the rubber seal (the rubber bit around the inside of the washing machine door).'

kitchen with washing machine and kitchen cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC /Colin Poole)

The items most at risk are small like a bra strap, trainer sock, underwear, and even bikini tops. Luckily according to Deyan most items are easy to get back. The majority of items are likely simply stuck under the rubber seal inside the washing machine, so simply run your hand under it after each wash.

However, if your washing has been sucked through the drainage holes you will need to remove the bottom panel of your washing machine. 'Once removed you’ll find a circular compartment that you can unscrew,' explains Deyan. 'Ideally, place a bowl just underneath the circular compartment before unscrewing the cap, in case water leaks out.'

'Here, you’ll be able to see and retrieve any washing that has been sucked through the drainage holes.'

bottom panel with washing machine towel and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC /Colin Poole)

Luckily, this is only likely to occur in older models, most newer models are equipped so you won't risk a sock disappearing into the bowels of your washing machine. However, if you are concerned about items going missing it is a good idea to put them in a special mesh wash bag.

'Not only do they prevent your machine from eating your clothes, but they also help protect delicates from getting damaged in the wash,' explains Deyan. Check out our utility room storage ideas for ways to keep them in order.

Related: New ‘right to repair’ law could extend your washing machine's lifespan by 10 years

So next time you tell your other half the washing machine ate their socks, it could actually be true.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.