What It Means If You See A Sock Wrapped Around A Lock On Someone's Property

You might be familiar with the meaning of a sock on the door from college, so seeing a sock wrapped around a padlock on someone's property might make you wary of disturbing them. But if you've been invited to your friend's house and see this, don't hesitate to knock on their door. Homeowners usually cover a padlock with a sock to keep it from freezingĀ during cold winter weather.

While you can employ several tricks to thaw frozen locks, prevention is better than cure, unless you'd rather stand around outside in the frigid weather or resort to breaking the lock. When the temperatures drop below freezing, moisture may enter the padlock through the shackle or keyhole, immobilizing the security pins when the water turns to ice. The sock essentially functions as a sweater for the lock and keeps it warm, preventing the cold from freezing it and jamming the internal mechanisms.

Wrap a sock around your padlock

To keep your padlocks from freezing this winter, grab a fluffy, woolen sock. While thin socks can work, you'll have to layer a few to get the desired effect. So, if you'd rather not turn your lock into a nesting doll, it's best to go with a thick sock. (A thick towel works, too.) Once you've chosen the sock, just place it over the lock. Gather the excess fabric in your hand and knot it. This extra step will prevent the sock from slipping and cold air from breaching the protective layer. This should keep the padlock warm enough to prevent its interior from freezing and getting stuck. Simply remove the sock when you want to open the lock.Ā 

However, there are a few caveats to this hack. One, the sock alone might not be enough in particularly cold regions. To account for this, you can also spray a lubricant like WD-40 into the lock, which can keep ice from forming inside. Second, make sure the sock stays dry. A wet sock will freeze around the lock and be incredibly difficult to peel off. Also, while you might have guessed this already, this trick won't work for car and door locks since the sock needs to be wrapped around the lock for sufficient insulation.