This takes it out of the category of automotive knowledge, but I can attest to the fact that it doesn’t take much to disintegrate a sock with machinery and heat. Tom, I believe, referred to the well-known observation that socks disappear in dryers all the time, but I may be one of the few people who have witnessed the actual disappearance of a sock in a dryer.
Seems that there was a glitch in the interlock on one of the machines at my local laundromat, and that particular dryer didn’t stop tumbling when the door was opened. I figured it would only take me two or three seconds to pull the lint trap out from its slot behind the door, give it a quick swipe to clear the lint, and stick it back into the vent, and there would be no harm in the dryer continuing to spin during those seconds.
What I overlooked was the fact that the vent continued to draw air while the dryer ran with the door open. With the lint screen out of the way, a light blue argyle sock was sucked right into the vent before my very eyes! I quickly replaced the screen and called the attendant over, but when he stopped the machine and opened up the service panel, nothing more than a couple of stray shreds of argyle were to be found; I’ve seen larger clumps of fiber pulled out of belly buttons.
So I can well imagine how quickly a 100% cotton sock could vanish without a trace in the much hotter environment of a manifold.