I sometimes need to label socks either a) to distinguish similar socks belonging to different family members (in which case a coloured mark works fine), or b) to be able to return lost property (in which case the full name or initials needs to be present).

For plain white or light-coloured socks, I can write the name / initials on the sole of the foot or put a coloured dot there with a permanent marker.

How can I similarly label very dark-coloured or black socks where a marker doesn't show up? I do have printed name labels but sewing one of those into every sock seems like complete overkill.

5 Answers 5


Get a white permanent marker - Sharpie makes a couple, one with a fine point, one medium, or Pentel Pilot Super Colour in white with a medium tip. Link is to UK Amazon, but it does show the pen...


  • I've tried using a Sharpie, and while it will work for a while, just should be aware that it does wash out eventually.
    – Tot Zam
    Mar 22, 2020 at 9:12
  • I know - everything washes out eventually...
    – Bamboo
    Mar 22, 2020 at 10:22

It would still be some work, but maybe sewing a colored thread, just a few stitches, could do the trick. This would have the added benefit of not fading when being washed.

And you could give each family member its own color (or possibly two; one for light colored socks, and one for dark colored socks).

  • 1
    This is what I do to distinguish husband's socks from son's socks, as they seem identical to me but not to them. They can always tell when they get the wrong ones.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 30, 2015 at 11:05

Try iron-on labels. They are similar to your printed labels, only it takes a fraction of the time to iron on a label than to sew on a label!


Many people feel that sewed on labels are longer lasting, yet if you use an iron at the correct temperature and keep the iron on the garment for the proper duration, the "glue" in the back of the label will properly adhere to the garment and you will find that it will stay there for quite some time.

This link gives directions and explains how to use such labels.

  • How would you stop the glue seeping through the sock to the other side?
    – Vicky
    Jul 29, 2015 at 20:39
  • @Vicky These labels are specially made to iron on to clothing. The word glue is in parenthesis since it is not real glue. The heat just makes the back of the label melt enough to stick to the sock.
    – Tot Zam
    Jul 29, 2015 at 22:31
  • @Vicky I added a link to my answer that gives directions for using such labels.
    – Tot Zam
    Jul 29, 2015 at 22:47

A bleach pen may work, though the bleach would have the tendency to "bleed" (wick). You would probably not be able to write very clearly, if at all. A dot or "X" may be the only design you could make.

  • 1
    I must keep that product in mind, there may be cool arty things one can do with it.
    – KalleMP
    Sep 3, 2015 at 6:22

Once you remove your socks, safety pin them together. I keep a small container of safety pins next to the hamper. Also eliminates the "single sock syndrome." Much less effort and cost than labeling, marking, etc.

  • My problem isn't pairs of socks getting separated. It's distinguishing one pair of socks from another or determining the rightful owner of a pair of socks.
    – Vicky
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:40
  • Yeah, got it. Your socks will be the ones pinned together. That is how they won't get lost nor confused with anyone else's socks.
    – M.Mat
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:47

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