Lint Me Your Ears

Yesterday afternoon a very good friend made a comment that started me thinking. (And when I say “thinking,” I mean in that creepy, up-all-night disturbing sort of way.)

The comment was “Why is there so much lint, and where does it come from?”

Before you laugh…think that over a little longer. How many times have you washed and dried your towels? 15? 20? 157? Yet no matter how often you run them through the machines, that lint trap fills up every time.

For years on end.

In fact, it occurred to me that if I saved all the lint that accumulates in the dryer when I run the towels through, I could probably make a new set of towels from it – yet the original towels look and function no differently than before.

It’s like magic.  (The creepy kind – like when you open your eyes and discover the stuffed teddy bear is four feet closer than it was before, even though there’s no one else in the house and…ok, maybe I digress.)

But still. I’ve had some towels (and a few T-shirts) for longer than Tesla’s been alive, but they still produce lint when the dryer runs. Where does it come from? Why can’t I see its origin? I know it comes off the clothes and sheets somehow, and after a decade or more the T-shirts do look a little thin, but not nearly as much as my logical mind thinks they should for all the fibers the dryer (allegedly) sucks away.

As I sat and pondered the issue, the answer came to me.


Remember all those single socks that disappear in the laundry? The ones you thought the dryer ate when nobody was looking? They didn’t vanish after all. They went nova in a starburst of new lint, taking one for the proverbial team so the dryer wouldn’t suck the life from larger, more important articles like towels and 300 thread-count sheets.

That’s got to be the answer. Nothing else makes sense. All that lint must come from somewhere, and the towels aren’t nearly bald enough for all the years of lint-screen cleaning I’ve gone through.

R.I.P, little socks. Your sacrifice is noted.

For the record, I doubt my friend agrees with my assessment, or that my explanation really solves the riddle he wasn’t staying up nights worrying about anyway.  But that’s ok.  I didn’t promise to find an answer. In fact, he didn’t hand over the problem to me at all.

He only lint it to me.