When Covid-19 struck, I thought it would be a great idea to try and make some extra money online. No, I didn’t join the hordes of c-grade Aussie celebs who created Only Fans account, instead I channeled my inner Gary Vee and decided to clear out my cupboard and make some extra cash selling old clothes and nicknats via Facebook Marketplace.
It all started out innocently, when I put an array of hoodies and old active wear up for sale. After selling some old Lorna Jane tights to a lovely lady, I didn’t think twice when I was offered $10 for my remaining Adidas tights.
Due to social distancing, I told the buyer I’d leave the tights in my letterbox for collection. However, these instructions were ignored by the buyer who knocked on my front door, only to be greeted by my confused boyfriend. To his surprise it was a man collecting the tights. He gave my boyfriend a creepy smile as he peered inside, before leaving with the tights in hand. My boyfriend mentioned in passing the bizarre exchange and my heart suddenly dropped. ‘OMG’ I exclaimed. ‘I wonder if he bought them to sniff?”
I’d previously read articles about women selling used underwear online and also incidences where women had been approached via Facebook Marketplace to sell their socks. Had I unwittingly become a part of this underground fetish?
Not long after the exchange, I caught up with a group of friends and told them the strange tale. As we laughed at the thought of someone actually paying money to purchase our old smelly clothes, we began to google the concept and our jaws dropped at the amount of money being made.
It quickly prompted the discussion of whether it’s ok to sell used socks or underwear if you know the person’s intentions of buying them. While I drew the line at underwear, the idea of selling a pair of old socks sat surprisingly well… or so I thought.
For those unaware, Olfactophilia is the official name used to describe the fetish of used socks. Psychology Today defines Olfactophilia as: “a paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from smells and odours.” Sex Therapist, Pamela Suppled, told thebrag.com people who buy used socks not only smell them but put them and get sexually aroused by them.
A quick search on eBbay revealed the going rate for used women’s socks is around $30. The older and smellier the socks appear to be, the more they sell for. Many sellers shared detailed descriptions about what they’d supposedly done whilst wearing the socks. The descriptions ranged from going for a 5km run to working a long shift as a nurse and all ended in the promise they’d be sent in a zip lock bag.
I decided to test whether it was actually possible to make money selling old, used socks. In my clean up I’d collected a whole bag of gross old socks that I’d planned to bin, but instead slipped them on and snapped a few photos to the delight/horror of my sisters.
This was the result of my shock photo shoot …gross, hey!? I chose the most average looking socks and simply listed them as ‘used socks.’ I drew the line at adding any colourful descriptions because it honestly made me feel ill.
The hardest thing about selling used socks on eBbay, is concealing your identity. Due to Paypal’s terms and conditions, your name and details are listed on the invoice sent to purchasers. The only loophole is if you sign up to a Pay Pal's business account, which I already had, and change your invoice structure to remove your address and name.
After concealing my identity, I listed the bad boys for auction. The next day I squealed with amazement/horror when I noticed someone had actually bid on my old gross socks, only to discover hours later it was my boyfriend taking the piss. A day passed and suddenly I had two genuine bids and over 50 views. With the mass views came the weird and creepy questions.
The first was from an account called ‘0433nikeboy28’ who wanted to know what sneakers I wore with them… I laughed as I showed my boyfriend the message and said as ‘I assume he wants me to respond Nike?’. Interested in what type of person actually buys used socks, I clicked on the prospective buyers account only to discover he sold used shoes… was I selling my socks to a foot pimp!?
Next I received a message asking for photos of my feet… sock free. Ummm… no.
Then I received what can only be described as the foulest, most graphic message I’ve ever read, from an account offering me $25 for the socks. The message read “Hey beautiful, wanting to buy bulk dirty laundry. Can you please wear these until they absolutely stink of dirty brown sweat.’ The last part of the message is too graphic to share, but let’s just say he requested the items to be sent sopping wet in a ziplock bag. I'm not trying to kink shame but WTF!? It’s safe to say I Ieft all of the messages unanswered and couldn’t help but feel gross.
Interestingly, it's against eBay's guidelines to sell used underwear or socks with health and hygiene reasons. According to eBay they do frequent sweeps of the online site and take actions against those breaching eBay's policy. However, my experience shows just how easy it is to sell used socks.
At the end of the 7 day auction I was alerted that a third and final bidder had won the auction at $11.50. My heart sunk. My instant reaction was to cancel the order. I just couldn’t go through with it. My decision was justified when I received a creepy message from the bidder saying: "Hi madam, I'd really like those socks.'