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Mystery holes in cotton knits

Posted by
nigel-bigel
(gw:nigel-bigel) on
Fri, May 12, 06 at 8:51

My husband and I have been perplexed for over a year with this mystery, and it finally occured to me that the laundry experts at GW might know the answer for us!

We are finding small holes - maybe 1/4" across - on my husband's t-shirts (both underwear-type Ts and clothing-type Ts) and on the cotton lining of my, ahem... unmentionables. It only happens to all-cotton knits that aren't "beefy".

It occured to me that perhaps they were getting snagged in the washer because I do have some chips on the enamel of the wash tub. But wouldn't I be seeing holes and snags on other garments? I'm not.

We did a Google search about cotton-eating insects. Now DH is convinced that we have crickets eating the laundry, but I've assured him we do not have crickets in the basement. Spiders, yes - crickets , no. (We had crickets in the basement of the house I grew up in, and they don't hide for a year. You do see them - or a corpse - eventually.)

Is it a body oil thing? The holes on the Ts are very random, they can be anywhere on the shirt and don't show up in the same spot on every T.

I generally do laundry once a week so things can sit for 5 or 6 days. I have a TL, use All detergent, and only occasionally use bleach if that info means anything.

So what do you say, laundry experts? Any ideas on solving the mystery of the holey cottons?

Nicole


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Looks like you answered your own question, it is only on the lite fabrics. Panty-hose syndrome. One little thread breaks and it looks like 50 went. I think from reading your post I have finally figured out where those little t shirt holes are coming from.

I usually, 80% of time get the holes at waist level, that is where you tend to rub against say a rose plant in the yard. Now the trap is set, what has happened is one tiny little thread has broken. when you wash and tumble dry the hole is born. Tucking in your shirt will do it.

A tiny bit of chemical splashed on cloth can eat through the thread, or dry on it only to be re-activated in the water and eat a hole causing one to think it is the machine. I recently epoxied the garage floor because chemicals were eating holes in the cement, half inch deep.

Holes are just inevitable. You can even buy a new shirt with a thread already broken. I am getting much less fraying in the H-Axis then I got with the agitator, which I would mostly notice around the collar.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

This would be a good explanation if the poster was doing her gardening in her underwear.

Are the holes only in natural fibers (like cotton) and not in poly? If so, then insects are not a bad hypothesis, though more likely moths than crickets. Try moth balls (which repel many insects, not just moths) in or near your dirty cloithes hamper. - DR


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Moths eat cotton? Who knew!

Thanks for your feedback... Nicole


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Maybe just the vegan moths:-)
They also use the cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. - DR

Here is a link that might be useful: Clothes moths


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Do you leave any zippers open? Maybe they snag on clothes.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Thanks for all of your feedback!

I read about those clothes moths and they creeped me out - I don't think that is my problem because the holes don't seemed so irregularly shaped. However, I'm heading down to the laudry room to go double check!

Thanks again, Nicole


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The Great Underwear Evaporation of '06

Nigel-Bigel - you are not alone!

Since the last time I did laundry, I've found five pairs of underwear with mysterious holes! I am completely baffled, particularly because they seemed to appear so suddenly. These were some of my favorite pairs, too. In case anyone has any more advice on the subject, here are some facts:

*Holes are only appearing in cotton or cotton-lined underwear. Some pairs were under a year old, some were a few years old.

*Holes are completely localized in the most unmentionable of unmentionable regions. In one case, the holes appeared in the cotton lining, but not in the cotton outer layer! (You can see why this is getting spooky.)

*The holes don't look chewed - more like something in the fabric had a reaction and just dissolved. I've been using the same bottle of concentrated laundry detergent for months.

*No moths in the laundry or mice in my drawer, although there are probably mice in the house. (I am a college student living in a house with 11 other people, go figure.)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated; this is absolutely the weirdest phenomenon I ever hope to have with my laundry.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Betty-

My wife and I just noted this in some of her garments. I too said simply it was a snag, and so she threw another shirt at me- and these holes are the size of a quarter.

It does indeed look as if the fabric has just dissolved.

We don't use alot of chemicals around the house but I'm going to grab an old tshirt and test them all.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I think I've figured something out about this, though it's only a theory.

Before I get to that, I have to say that I felt so validated when I came across this discussion, because I have been experiencing this phenomenon in my home for the past couple of years as well. And like many people, I also assumed at first that something in the laundry had snagged the clothes, but even after controlling for that possibility (by thoroughly inspecting the inside of the washer and dryer and washing all zippered items separately) the holes kept occurring. Besides, as someone pointed out above, if there were something sharp in the machine, it wouldn't be only one item in the whole load of laundry getting snagged. And these are clearly not snags--the edges of the hole don't fit together as if the fabric had merely been ripped; there's actually a hole, as if someone took a scissors and cut a piece out of the garment. And the sizes are inconsistent. Some are tiny pinholes, others as big as a coin. It happens only in the all-cotton knit garments, like t-shirts. Anyone who suggests this is chemicals or snags is not understanding what we're describing, because I really don't use harsh chemicals in my house or laundry, don't use bleach, and this is happening mostly with clothes from my daughter's closet (and she is most certainly not coming into contact with cleaners or chemicals, as they are kept well out of her reach). Furthermore, if I ever had contact with such chemicals it would be an infrequent occurrence, while the appearance of these holes is quite regular, so that doesn't really add up. It's also quite sudden; a shirt I just bought my daughter five days ago and which she wore only once came out of the laundry last night with an enormous hole in the middle of its back as well as several smaller holes in other places. There was nothing in that load of laundry that would have snagged it, and no sharp surfaces in the washer or dryer. Plus, I think I would have seen a hole like that when I put the shirt into the hamper, as I usually inspect her clothes for stains before throwing them in. It occurs to me that this is true most of the time: I don't notice these things when the clothes go in the hamper, but I notice them when they've been cleaned and dried.

I've come to the conclusion that the moths (or whatever they are) may very well be living in the hamper rather than in my closets and drawers, which was my original thought. And the more I think of this, the more it makes sense. I read that the clothes-eating moths are mainly attracted to dirty clothes, especially those that have sweat and/or urine on them. Where are your dirty clothes? In your closet or in your hamper? And I hate to be indelicate, but this would explain the tendency that some people have pointed out other postings; that when they find these holes in their underwear, it's only in one particular area. #1: the thin, cotton liner in ladies' undies is a little thinner material and easier to chew through than the rest of the underwear, and #2: that's where there would be a higher concentration of perspiration and traces of urine, which are the very smells and flavors the moth is most attracted to).

And if these laundry-eating pests are indeed living in our hampers, where the dirty clothes are all balled together, things that have traces of sweat or urine are pressed against all of the other clothes, which means other clothes can end up soiled with these substances even if they weren't when they went into the hamper. Obviously then, the longer the dirty clothes wait around in that environment, the more opportunities the moth (or other pest) has to eat them, so if the wash is done every day or every other day, there may be less incidence of holes. I generally wait until the hamper fills up before I do the wash, and this would give the moths lots of time to make holes--and also explain why there are holes coming out of the laundry that weren't there going in.

I think I will wash the lining of the hamper (and buy some bleach for this task, since I don't usually use the stuff, but it seems appropriate here) and then put some sacks of moth balls at the bottom of the hamper. This will, I hope, have the effect of protecting the dirty clothes that get thrown in, and the added benefit is that the moth ball stink is only in our dirty clothes. When I take the clothes out of the hamper it will be to wash them, at which point (I hope) the moth ball smell will be removed.

So anyway, that's my recommendation, people: attack the hamper, since that's where the smells and substances are that are the most attractive to moths. Try to clean/disinfect that area to kill existing moths, and then, if you don't want to use moth balls in the hamper, at least try to wash more frequently, giving less time to the moths to snack on your dirty clothes (which is the kind they find most irresistible). And ladies, try spraying just the crotch of the underwear with Spray-n-Wash or Oxy Clean, or some other pre-treating product before you throw it in the hamper. This may neutralize the bodily scents on that part of your undies and the moths probably won't want to eat cloth that has a soapy product on it. Pre-treating will also ensure that this part of your underwear gets extra clean, because as we all know, sometimes even after things go through the wash they may have a trace of a smell -- if you overload your washer your garments may not be getting sufficiently clean, which means you might have items in your clean clothes drawer that are still moth bait!

Since I've just come up with this hypothesis, I haven't yet tested it, but I'll be doing so at once. And I'd love to find out if anyone else tries this and gets any results.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Jill,
I've had this happen also. Very frustrating to have random holes appear in your clothing! Have you read this thread? This is thread one of a two thread discussion. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: holes in clothing discussion


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I've had the same random holes appear in the liners of my underwear! At first I figured it was a problem with the washer in my new apartment, but when my other roommates all discovered the same problem, and the fact that it was only happening in underwear, I investigated a little further...

We determined that it is mice that are making the holes. We've seen a few mice in the apartment, but have been unable to catch any of them. All of us keep our dirty laundry in typical (holey) laundry baskets on the floor. (Not anymore, though!)

We dont all use the same laundry detergent, and there's nothing wrong with our washer or dryer. We definitely don't have moths or other bugs in the apartment, so the only logical explanation is the mice. I've also read in other places that cats and dogs tend to do the same thing.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I'm still looking for some kind of answer, and hopefully a solution, because none of the above seems to apply to my case. I, too, have found tiny holes in the front of thin cotton t-shirts or other fine cotton wear, like thin cotton summer wraps. The holes that appear are always on the front of the garment, either one or in a cluster of three or four tiny holes occurring about waist high. Now, the conundrum is most, if not all, of the shirts are new, some never having been worn, or only worn once or twice, and haven't been laundered. So, then, if I rule out laundry and cleaning agents, snags and imperfections in the fabric, what then, would cause these holes to suddenly appear from one day to the next after simply hanging the shirts in my closet? Assuming for a moment, that it is some kind of moth, worm, insect or mite eating through the cloth, does anyone have an idea of how to eradicate them? Is there some kind of moth ball or repellent that doesn't smell like a moth ball? Stranger still, is prior to about three or four years ago, I have never had, nor even heard, of this problem. In the past, I've had wool sweathers eaten through by a "moth", leaving a telltale casing, but this has never happened with cotton. Help! I don't want to keep buying shirts only to discover holes in them even before I wear them!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Maybe the holes come from a belt or pair of pants worn? Think of something that might come in contact with the area where the holes appear. Perhaps the pressure of a car seatbelt paired with a particular belt rubs holes in some shirts?

I think sometimes the fibers are weakened when a garment is worn, and then the washing/drying process breaks the weakened fibers, so the holes "appear" after washing. But if the holes are not completely random on where they appear, then I would suspect the cause is not the washing process. If the washer or dryer had a rough edge causing the holes, then they could appear anywhere, not concentrated in one area.

Joe


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

This is my first post on your website. I joined because of the mystery holes in my husband's and my cotton tee shirts. I am convinced the problems with our shirts started when I began using 2x laundry detergents. That's the only thing that has changed and I think my laundry problems started about six months ago. All the laundry detergents are 2x now and I think it's thinning the fibers in the cotton. Our tee shirts were made in Mexico and Peru by "Comfort Color" and "Life is Good." There are spots near the bottom of the shirts where it looks like the fabric is discintigrating. I'm really getting gun shy about washing my husband cotton tee shirts now and finding more holes.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I am having the exact same problem as alixcollier that was posted on Thu, Aug 21. For about the last 6 months I have had problems with little tiny holes appearing only on the front of my thin cotton shirts. There usually are about 4 or so below the waist line. They are always on the front of the T-shirt. I just bought two new polo t-shirts and they have holes in them. It seems to be shirts that are new. I don't think it is the hamper or the washer or dryer because the other 3 members of our family are not having this problem. What is causing this and how do you get rid of what is causing these holes?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I remember I posted a theory I had on this in another thread. It involved the way shirts are put on and such possibly causing wear and tear. However, I have to take back my theory as we are having the same probs now and it is with all our cotton shirts. They are small, but definite, and found in varying places of the shirts. It is weird.

Can crickets really eat cotton cuz we get a lot that sneak in the house. That would totally suck if they did as I have always thought of them as harmless.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I logged in to come ask anyone if they were having this problem as well. They are only happening waist level on our cotton shirts (all of them new and old). I don't understand why either. We have a front load if that makes a difference and we use charlies soap (well have been using it for the past 2 months) but the holes have been appearing for close to a year.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Stop all fabric softners and use vinegar only.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Much as I'm a huge fan of the "no softeners - use vinegar" approach, I don't see what this has to do with clothing holes, pests, etc. ? Am I missing something?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I never use softeners and have always used vinegar and I get the mystery holes, so no, I don't think you are missing anything. :)


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

i have holes appearing in several of my cotton t-shirts; I first thought it was due to a moth or some other insect. But I really think it's from the low rise jeans above the button, rubbing against the material.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Another hypothesis...OxiClean. Anyone else using it?

We are getting the same holes everyone else is describing, but have yet to nail down the culprit. The holes started appearing sometime in the last couple of years. We are using the same washing machine we've had for 8 years...6 years holes-free.

We laid out the clothing that has been destroyed (at least those we hadn't yet thrown out)...and noticed that the effected items mostly belonged to my wife and kids. None of my clothes and none of our baby clothes had holes. They all go into the same hamper (moths?), get cleaned with the same detergent, get spun by the same washer.

The holes are on the front and back of the clothing articles...from just below the neck thru the middle and down near the bottom (can't be the seatbelt, unlikely to be countertop wear), but never the sides or shoulders (places we rarely if ever get stains). The thought on some of the back stains is that we may have treated one item, then laid another over the top of it on the washer to presoak...a common occurence for us.

We also noticed that about 1/2 of the items showed some slight discoloration (whitening) at and around the site of the holes...since OxiClean essentially releases hydrogen peroxide to bleach away stains, it seems conceivable that it would cause bleaching of the dye.

Anyway, we started using OxiClean a couple of years ago...and now use it almost constantly for all the food stains brought on by our young crew. We are going to stop using OxiClean for a month and see what happens. Curious if this makes any sense to any of you. If this works out, I'll next have to find a forum that can help with stain-removal tips!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits - even new items

Btw - we have noticed the holes on some new items...or at least very new, but again, we are now thinking that we might have put them in a load with another garment soaked with OxiClean.

If none of you are using it, it may quickly prove false.

Thoughts?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I wonder if fabric has anything to do with it.

I have one blouse which has holes at the right side of the waistline. They are where I fasten my seatbelt when DH is driving.

But I have washed many, many other shirts and blouses in the same washer, same detergent, same everything. And the blouse with the holes never goes in the dryer. So I wonder if perhaps certain fabrics are more susceptible to the holes.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I'm suspecting that all these cotton items are NOT made in the USA. Foreign cotton may be quite different than ours, maybe developed or treated with chemicals to make it thinner and less strong than we were once used to? And big al 41's comments about the factory machine holes may make sense since foreign cotton items are probably produced in such bulk that one can easily imagine something mechanical inserted to hold them together as they leave massive machines. I will bet you that every one of the cottom items you have holes in is made in a country other than USA.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

The blouse to which I referred is not cotton. But I can see where different qualities of cotton could be a contributing factor.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I think patann is probably right about the cause of most of these mystery holes - cheaper / flimsier grade of cotton used by the companies who make these garments (and virtually all major brands are made overseas now). Different brands are probably using some of the same cotton suppliers.

The cotton undies I purchased last year (Lollipop brand made in Honduras) are getting holy at a rapid pace, while the ones I purchased approx four or five years ago (same brand, made in the same country) are still hole free, despite being washed in the same washing machine, with the same detergent, and being kept in the same (cedar) chest of drawers.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Yep, Cheap fabric is the cause. DH's knit shirts are doing the same thing. It not from doing any dishes either! His other shirts are fine, its just some of them. Most of my cheap tee shirts are holey and they are fairly new.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Probably multiple causes. But moths definitely are attracted to dirty clothes and preferably munch on them. The thinner the cloth, the more likely a hole will appear after laundering.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

There is a hole in all these theories.(no pun intended) My wife and I drive a truck and homeschool our 8 year old daughter. We would have thought the same thing. The last 3 pair of Wrangler's, all within 30 days, have holes! 3 new shirts, for my wife, $40 ea! Holes!! 2 new sundresses for my daughter. One has been worn without washing(wally world), holes were appearing as she wore the dress that day!? I am convinced it is the imported cotton from China and will start looking for clothes and cotton, grown and made in the USA. If we are going to have to spend money like this, we will spend it on something that costs more, but will last longer. We have THROWN out over $ 1000 dollars on clothes the last 8 mos. This is getting ridiculous! I would spend more to get less, but have it last longer. Starting today, I found a website for jeans made in the Carolina's, with a WARRANTY! Cool!!! They are called Texas Jeans. No I, nor my wife work, or know anyone at the company. Just a very upset consumer, fighting back at these corporate companies, taking advantage of hard working people and their money. Just ran into another driver who found the website, because he is tall and skinny and noone had jeans in his size. He said he has had these jeans for over 1 year now and no problems with holes. Next, I will be looking for shirts. If you have to spend $20,$30,$40 on shirts, why not something made in the USA, that will last?! What do you think? Take your country, clothing and jobs back!!! GodBless to y'all !


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

This is too funny!I finally got so frustrated I typed the problem into my search engine. I was gratified to find that it wasn't just me. I was going nuts. For the last few years I have been getting little holes in my "t" shirt type tops as well. They are all just below the waist line. It doesn't happen to my husband's shirts and I haven't noticed it on any of my sweaters, etc.
I have checked...it's NOT my seat-belt or zippers since some of the tops I wear for workout and those clothes have no buttons, zippers, etc. Since the last posting, which was several months ago, I wondered if anyone came up with a concrete reason and/or solution. I have started buying really cheap shirts because after one wearing/washing some need to be thrown away! HELP!!!!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Glad to find you guys and at least know I am not insane as the pinholes are driving me over the edge


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

It is truly a relief to know this is happening to others! I live with my partner and her cotton clothes are not affected--just mine (mainly t-shirts below waist area and chest area). It's been getting really expensive. We figure that there must be some kind of body chemical that I omit and she doesn't that is causing this as we launder our clothes together and don't use a dryer.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I paid Terminix an absurd amount of money to come into my home and treat my entire house for whatever was destroying my cotton based work shirts, tee shirts, underwear. Small holes were appearing overnight. Terminix, never did figure out what was going on. As a matter of fact they said that there were absolutely No Bugs that they could find, and that my laundry detergent (Gain) was causing the problem. Well, We switched to Tide with no results. As a matter of fact I took a different tact to see if whatever it was, was in the bedrooms. I purchased a new set of work shirts and started storing them in a walk in closet in my home office 40 feet away from the Bedrooms. Guess what? No more holes. I have been keeping them in the closet for several months, still no holes. So much for the detergent theory.

Now my kids come in from Germany and stay in my guest room. More Holes.... Had to move their clothes out to my RV to protect them.

I'm going to try something drastic this weekend. I have a portable propane heater with a electric fan in my shop. I'm going to treat this like it was bed bugs and put the heater in the room and bake it at 120 degrees or more for 60 minutes. Everything known to man has been sprayed to no end so I figure, why not try it.

I'll post results as soon as I have something to report.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

This is doing my head in. I've had this problem now for 3 years. Strangely enough in exactly the same places mentioned above (around the waistline - isn't that weird?) I've been putting moth repellent products in and around the offending/affected wardrobe and it seemed to have stopped. I haven't had any holes for ages until I found one in my blinking expensive RL top this weekend (so the cheap cotton theory doesn't buy with me).

I've just spoken to a pest control company this morning - hoping they were going to give me the answer and sell me a product which would end this! However, they have just said it's a mystery and told me they have received 5 similar calls this year so far ...

They don't have anything which they can guarantee will work because they don't know what it is. The only advice they can give me is to freeze all my clothes for 3 days - it has to be systematic ... I'm so fed up with this now, I am going to give it a try ..... I'm just letting you all know, in case you want to give it a go too ..

If anyone does know what it is and how to get rid of it, can you please let us all know???????


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

My wife has the issue of small holes in her shirts right around the waistline and for years we tried to narrow it down. We seem to agree that it seems to come from the countertop when she is doing dishes. She says that she has seen the countertop snag her shirts and, though I hate to admit it, she does most of the dishes so I only have holes in a few shirts. Tonight I took a piece of sandpaper and sander the underside of the countertop. We'll see for sure if it solves the problem.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

am having the same probmlem with holes in fine cotton t-shirts, my husband is having the same problem with his polo shirts-small holes. am going to vacuum the heck out of the closet and spray with a botanical spray safe for indoor. it only seems to happen to the polos that are hanging on the bottom rack of the closet so i am moving all shirts to the top racks, my shorts and slacks are not affected.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

So I'd like to add myself to the list of annoyed. I've never had a problem unless I just didn't notice. So far I have noticed that 3 very light cotton shirts have these clusters of holes in them in the same exact spot. There is 1 things that is different the 1 shirt has the holes on the front AND directly on the back same exact spot. I bought a new armoire about a month and a half ago and am wondering IF it's possible it had moths prior to the purchase. I cleaned it thoroughly before putting anything in it and recently went through and did the same thing and see nothing.

I wash both my clothes as well as my partners clothes together and she has not had any problem with hers ( maybe because she spends alot of money on 1 thing while I'd rather a lot for my money) She also has the closet in the apartment to herself and I have just the armoire. I have no big holes just those those tiny ones. I'm just clueless as what to do right now in case it is moths. Any help would be great! And if not I'm in the thread in case someone ends up solving the mystery ;)

Sincerely,
Another victim of the holy war


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I was just having a discussion with my mother about finding mysterious holes in our clothes -specifically our cotton t-shirts. Since we live in different states, we couldn't find any reason to believe we had the same problem. I told her I would google some info and get back to her. I couldn't believe how many people were having the same problem! I have never seen a moth in my home, so I'm assuming it's a non-issue. I've changed washing machines, used different detergents - all to no avail. I'm thinking that perhaps the theory of an inferior material being used in our clothing could be the culprit. I find it strange however, that the wear and tear is often in the waist area. I would think that under the arms would be a more fitting place for the material to dissolve! Whatever the case may be, it's extremely frustrating. What's the answer??


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I get these same holes right at waist height on my cheap cotton shirts. The keyword is cheap. I think I am seeing it more and more these days because the quality of clothing is not getting any better.

Recently as part of my graduate program we had a pests specialist come and talk to us. I actually asked him about the holes in my cotton shirts and his response (an expert)

Moths do not eat cotton, washing machines do!

A useful website with information on common pests, how to identify, tips for mitigation and links to other websites with more information is:

www.museumpests.net

It has a lot of info that is not for private homes, but it will get you started toward factual guidance.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I think I have the answer for most people here! =)

What most of you have in common is weights I�m thinking�the butterfly exercise to be specific with dumbbells...it will put holes in waist area of shirts EXACTLY as described.

I have also gotten holes in shirts from the following:

I make my cat lay down on me, after a few minutes he gets agitated and leaves and his back claws will latch into a shirt as he leaves.

Falsely accusing family of running my shirts with holes, therefore in spite they start actually putting holes in shirts!!!

Random holes sometimes happen with any article of clothing which has a zipper, that is then washed with soft clothes like soft cotton shirts, underwear, etc.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

@Sara - clothes / webbing moths don't eat cellulose fibers like cottons/rayons, that is true, but carpet beetles do....


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have noticed small pinholes in the front of many of my teeshirts for a couple of years. They are all in the front near the waistline. They are 90% thin cotton. All washed gently in frontload washer. No belts or zippers. Not noticed very often on heavier tees of my husbands.Some are only one season old. No solution yet.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I am from NY and have this problem as well. Pin-holes, usually in a set of 3-4 in front my my cotton t-shirts above waist line. Can't figure out... I know I have carpet beetles in my house but I never seen them in the hamper or where I hang my clothes. Not sure when they have time to make the holes. The holes always seem to appear in multiples, usually in one area. All damaged clothes articles have identical cut holes, some are just slight larger in size.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

My wife and i have a large walk in closet that is full with both mine and my wife's clothes. She is noticing lots of small thumb tack size holes (or smaller) in many of her cotton tshirts that hang in the closet. These holes are clustered mostly in the waist area. I'm not seeing these holes in any of my shirts but i don't have many of these lightweight cotton tshirts. Whatever it is causing these holes seem to prefer the cheaper lightweight cotton of my wife's tshirts specifically around waist area.
Anyway - this is a mystery and we are having our exterminator come take a look tomorrow. Will report back with his findings. I was thinking moths (till i heard they don't really like cotton.) So now I'm thinking carpet beatles but no real evidence of such.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I am beyond upset, because I am having the same problem that many of you describe! For the past year and a half, I have noticed small holes appearing in cotton shirts and slightly heavier, long-sleeved shirts, most of them from the Gap but also from stores like Zara and H&M. The holes are usually in small clusters and always appear just below the waist, around the area of the bellybutton, and only in the front. I have wracked my brain trying to figure this out. It can't be bugs or my washer or dryer, because they would have to be able to target this very specific area of the garments and that's not possible. I don't have granite countertops in my kitchen, so it can't be what I'm leaning against. I wondered if it could be the area around the button on my jeans, so I began taping it down, and frustratingly, the holes still continue to appear! I have begun to pull my shirts over my seatbelt, but this hasn't stopped the holes either. I've read that it could be genetically modified cotton that is weaker, and shirts made abroad with cheaper materials, and both of those theories are plausible, except for one thing: why do the holes only appear in this one very specific, relatively small area of my shirts?? If the fabric is weak, it would be logical to expect that holes could appear anywhere, not just in this one spot. I was in the Gap the other day and asked the register clerk if she'd had any complaints about this, and the woman standing next to me, paying for her purchase, told me she'd been having this very problem for the past three years! So-- what gives?? I am totally clueless, and absolutely paranoid about my clothing now. I feel like every single thing I buy is going to be ruined, and often after only one wearing! I cannot afford for this to continue! It's affected at least thirty shirts so far, and only my clothes, not my husband's or daughters' things! Arrrgghh!!!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

EUREKA!!!!! I believe I have figured it out! (At least for me.) My car seatbelts have plastic rivets on them, one that is right above where I get the holes, especially when coupled with the button on my jeans. The plastic does have a rough edge on it, probably from the mold they used to make it.

miria, even if the material is heavier, if it is weakened at all, and then you wash it, or pull on it (to put it on, or to pull it down when you stand up, whatever), that knit stitch is going to pop and break, eh voile - hole. Plus, just because the material is heavier, doesn't mean the quality of the actual cotton utilized is any better, they just used a little heavier gauge.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Dear Everyone - I had the problem of the holes in the bottom of the cotton shirts and I researched for days until finally I have the answer....

Silverfish. They eat ONLY cotton and similar vegetable based natural fabrics such as rayon, they especially eat clothing that hasn't been recently washed. They eat mostly around the bottom of the shirt because of oils and dirt from your belly button sticking to the fabric.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

my wife & i have had this problem as well for the past couple years. it affects both out T-shirts... but not any other clothing. we have many T-shirt ties, from "nice", design-y stuff to cheap concert T's and the like - all equally affected.

we have no bugs that we've seen evidenced. we use gentle, "green" detergents.

we've both been feeling it has something to do w/our dryer, but have no real evidence to back that up. for a while i was taking our T-shirts to the laundry mat and that seemed to help... but i couldn't be sure, and what an inconvenience when we already have a washer & dryer at home.

it amazes me that so many of us have posted here since as far back as 2008 and there has yet to be a truly viable cause or solution.

that said, i'm really glad to have found this conversation. i was going nuts and NO-ONE understood what i was talking about.

here's to finding a solution!


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Think they are carpet beetles

I think what you are describing is carpet beetles, I had this problem.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have the same problem, I now live in Spain for most of the year, holes in T.shirts, in the front all in the same place, 7 holes have appeared in a brand new shirt. I have checked the seatbelt, jeans, shorts, don't wear rings because it is too hot, washing machine, changed washing liquid, I have NO idea what is causing this but it is costing a fortune - only my clothes not my husbands, my neighbour has the same problem, only hers not her husbands, short of putting every item in a different bag I really don't know what to do. Have tried every moth repellent going.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

My son and I were so glad to find this blog as in the past 12 months we have been finding tiny random holes in his cotton t shirts. It has been the weirdest thing. Niether my husband nor I have had this happen with our clothes. After reading all the comments I followed a particular line of thinking some people brought up about carpet beetles.. I did some research and looked at pictures and instruction for how to identify them. My son just a few minutes ago went to his room, shook out his dirty clothes basket over a white area and sure enough found three carpet beetle larvae right away. We've been reading how to manage them and what they are attracted to. We of course are washing everything in his hamper right now and will be moving the hamper to his bathroom with tile. The articles said it is important to vacum regularly and thouroughly. THe articles said the bugs don't eat fabric per se, but they do eat animal "stuff" like fur, feathers, wool, and persperation or urine. It is the fabric that has this on it that is attracting them. My son is a cross country runner and just started this last year for the first time. Interestingly enough it was about a year ago we first noticed these tiny holes. At first we thought it was one of our cats patty pawing in his laundry but we keep his door closed and the cats are rarely in his room. And it would be difficult for the cat to stand in his hamper as it is tall and thin. THis was happening to old and brand new shirts. Within a week of brining home a new shirt my son noticed several tiny holes and he was very upset to say the least..about to kill the cat if necessary (not really, but he threatened). So we think we've found our culprit now with the beetles. Your comments have been very helpful and got us this far. We'll see if our changes make a difference. We will post later if we find this isn't it.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have also been searching for an answer to this problem for at least a year. I am now certain I have the answer! As a family of 4 we have experienced small holes in the bottom of light weight knits. I finally figured out it was caused by our front loading washer. I now wash all light weight clothes in washer bags and the holes have stopped! I believe it is caused by the increased suction created by the high speed spins or the shape/design of the holes in the washer drum. If you do a google search you will find other people who have this same problem!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

had this issue for quite some time. Also thought it might be the washer but this only seems to happen to my boyfriends shirts. Always around the lower part of the shirt in the front. Don't know what to make of it. Searched everywhere and there is no sign of carpet beetles or anything else, not even silver fish. And this always seems to happen in the laundry room. Can't find a larvae anywhere. The only thing I have seen alot of are little black spiders. I'm stumped and getting pissed off. First day back from NY and washed a guess shirt. No holes when we took it out. Hung it to dry - full of holes the next day.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

we have come to the conclusion this is the kenmore washing machine. Going to try and see if how many others have had this issue.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

When we first moved into our house 10 years ago, I noticed a lot of holes appearing in our clothing. So I junked the old Maytag washing machine and replaced it with a new top loader. That seemed to do the trick. After that, we only noticed holes in our cashmere and merino wool clothing (not washed in the machine). I attributed the holes to carpet beetle or moth, even though I haven't actually seen them. We have had a new front load washer for a year, and also now we keep all our woolens in plastic bins from IKEA. This past week I have found 2 cotton clothing items with holes. OH NO! That means the critters have found their way into my PAX wardrobe. Perhaps (1) wash smaller items in hot water (2) stuff blazers and suit jackets into the freezer for a week (3) vacuum out the wardrobe (4) find a way to seal the wardrobe when closed (5) buy new cedar blocks for the wardrobe (old ones may have lost their effectiveness). I would post a pic of the holes (on the arm of my fine cotton knit sweater, and the other around where the breast bone would be on a stretch cotton t-shirt), but not an option here. Any other suggestions on how to handle the problem of the mystery holes?

Here is a link that might be useful: advice


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RE: Mystery holes caused by washer

I will also invest in some laundry bags to use in the front load washer...you never know, that could help! And vacuum more often (we have a cat!). *sigh*


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I am having the same problem. Would like to know what it is.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

playinfetch--never thought of that one, but it makes sense. I'll have to try the wash bags. I just put on one of my favorite shirts straight out of the wash yesterday & full of holes at the lower waist...(sigh)!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I've been having the same problem with several holes in the front waist area. I had our exterminator check out the closet and he said it couldn't be from any critters. I did an experiment wearing several cotton shirts with jeans and several others only with pull on sweats (no tie, button, etc. at waist). The cottons shirts I wore with the jeans got holes and the ones I wore with sweats that had a smooth waist area did not get holes! So, I do believe the combination of thin, cotton shirts paired with jeans with a button/snap causes the holes. Not to mention if your waist area hits the top of your countertops that could aggravate it more.

The good news for women that really like wearing their jeans with cotton shirts is that I found jeans with a smooth front and no snap/button. They are the JAG brand and they carry them at Nordstrom. Unfortunatley, I think they just have them in petite lengths now but they are looking to expand.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have been having the same problem. I have 2 closets side-by-side and ONLY have the problem in the right one. My cardigan sweaters and t-shirts that hang in that closet have been getting small holes for years. I used to get them in my cotton shirts that I kept in my dresser but was able to eliminate that problem a few years ago with some sachets. Anyway, last winter I went to pull out one of my favorite cashmere sweaters and the back was just full of holes. It wasn't salvageable and I was devastated! I proceeded to take every item out of the closet and either wash it, dry clean it or put them in the freezer (shoes included). I wiped down every single surface of the closet and vacuumed every millimeter. Not a stitch went back in until every bit had been cleaned/frozen. Seemed to do the trick until I just went to pull out a t-shirt last week.....holes. Grrrrr! After my initial anger subsided I went and checked the shirt that had been hanging next to it and, sure enough, holes in the exact same spot. Something was between the two shirts and enjoying a cotton buffet. I threw both shirts out (luckily they weren't anything special). I am at a LOSS what to do. I keep moth balls and moth traps in the closet. I have not seen a single moth or flying insect since my big clean out. I am now going to try this stuff : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A0LFLS/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details because maybe it IS silverfish or carpet beetles (never seen a single one in my house). I will probably put everything back in the freezer, too. I can't afford to keep throwing out clothes. I like nice things and can only afford the few nice items I have and need to take care of them. Also, I keep sweaters (wool, cashmere and cotton) in my other closet and (knock wood) have not had any problems with holes. What to do? Is it carpet beetles or silver fish?

Here is a link that might be useful: Ortho 0195310 1-1/3-Gallon Home Defense Max Perimeter and Indoor Insect Killer


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I too have gotten a tiny hole in my cotton knit tops a few inches below the waist. My husband, who tucks in his shirts, does not get any holes. After reading all the above explanations, I think the holes on my shirt are somehow caused by the jeans/pants I wear, but I wish I knew how to avoid getting a hole.
I'm just surprised that so many others are getting holes too.
Carol


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I had a kenmmore front loader and didn't have any issues. It finally broke hubby wanted electrolux I wanted meile. We bought electrolux and My lilly pulitzer, My husband's tommy bahama, My sons janie and jack shirts all have holes!!!!I have four other kids same thing. These clothes are not cheap. two live with my husband exwife. They have no holes at their house only right after I wash their clothes here. I had it on the lowest spin. I think it is my washer and the service guy told me it is from the high rpms it spins at. SO my hubby and I did research and my electrolux dryer caught fire from the wiring harness after two years and we replaced it with miele. I will be buying some new clothes. I wlll let you know if we still have issues. I should have no bugs. I even keep my dog food in buckets to avoid bugs. I am very good about pest control. My countertops are smooth quartz so its not snagging them and I have had three cars a honda van and a volvo car and suv.selt belts clip in different positions. During this time and I wear a jacket in the winter which is smooth like silk I have no holes in pills in my spider jacket. My theory could be if not definatly the machine them cotton is now grown with gmo pesticides could be breaking down the fabrics or detergents breaking down the clothes. I will switch back to persil also and see if I have better results after I wash just using the meile for a few weeks. wish me luck. I cannot stand the holes any longer! I did notice if I wash t shirts with only all tshirts or undies it takes longer to get the holes. when I wash jeans or a towel that is heavier it gets holes first time. The weight of the clothes. banging against the t shirt with the high rpm of the washers going threw the drum holes during the spin snagging the shirts. I hope this helps someone.I will let you know how my miele works with new shirts.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I think I figured it out! Almost every shirt I own has at least one tiny hole at the belly button line- it was driving me crazy. I have a new tee on. I'm at the sink cutting up a salad, moving back and forth adding vegetables to the bowl (sliding my front along the edge of the SINK). I happened to look down--A HOLE! Everytime you wear it, another hole in a diffent area around the same place! Maybe a towel on the sink?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Well at least I feel some validation now. I have the same mystery holes in my cotton tees as well. My holes are not generally speaking in the same area where others have had issues (around the waist line). My holes seem to crop up in several different areas: on the back, on the sleeves, on the front... there seems to be no rhyme or reason. Some of my shirts are undershirts and others I wear as shirts I go out in public in. From what I've read on this page it sounds like it might be an issue with some kind of bug. I need to figure this out. Does anyone have any recommendations?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I saw in earlier posts where some people mentioned moths. I talked to my Mom and she said my problem sounded like moths. I did some research on how to take care of the problem myself and found an answer to someone else who had asked the same question. I put the link in just in case someone else wanted to check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: treatment for moth eating fabric


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Found NUMEROUS complaints similar to these on the web. The cause may be as close as your kitchen counter! Daily friction from the rough underside edges of many countertops - especially granite, quartz, etc - are likely causing these holes! I found it odd that I had this issue but my husband did not. Also odd was the location of the holes...only in the front of my T's and slightly lower than waist level. I Googled "tiny holes in the front of my t-shirts" and holy cow! This is a HUGE issue with a simple solution...cover the rough edges with Scotch Tape! (or spend less time at the kitchen sink!) Hope this helps!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

WE have the same problem here in Hawaii. Cotton tshirts getting lots of little holes in them.
Only pests we see are lots of smallish black ants which are interested in the shirts with holes.
Have not seen moths on the shirts but perhaps the ants come after the moths do the damage?
THis IS NOT likely about friction IMO


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

It seems little tiny holes are appearing in all soft cotton type fabric. This has been going on for 4 years and everyone initially thought that it was their detergent, washing machine or that they pulled the fabric somehow. It turns out that it's defective fabric used to make these clothes.
After 4 years of throwing money away, I am starting to return all items or go back to the manufacturers to resolve these issues. Shirts made from this fabric last 2-6 months at max if worn a couple of times a month. I started to return all the shirts made from this defective fabric in the last few months. Neiman's, Nordstom, Gap, Barney's have all acknowledged this problem when I returned these shirts. Saks Fifth Ave still won't admit this problem exists and said they are looking into it and did not issue me a credit.

Bring it back to the retailer/manufacturer!!! They need to stop using this fabric!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have had this problem, as well, and finally discovered it is indeed moths. I didn't believe it was because cotton t-shirts had holes, while some cashmere and wool items were untouched. After thoroughly searching through my clothes, I found a gold moth, some casings and some live bugs (not sure what stage they were at as they weren't the white worms). Cedar obviously had no effect on them, so I'll be trying No-Moth. Ugh.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

We had moths and lost several sweaters to them. They had infested the kitchen dry goods. Flour, nuts, rice and the like. I put all of the foods into ziploc bags, sent the whole closet full of clothes out to the dry cleaner and replaced the carpet in the walk-in closet. All clothes that came back either stayed in the cleaner's bag or got put into a ziploc. Within a few weeks I found dead bugs in a couple of the kitchen ziplocs. Turns out the little bastards loved rice and some nuts. The sealed bag apparently suffocated them. So I tossed all the rest and now everything new likewise goes into a ziploc once I open the box. No more moth problems.

Meanwhile we've torn down that house and are building a new one in it's place. The plan is to go with a lot of drawers and close-able cabinets in the master closet, not open shelving or hangers.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Just and FYI, pantry moths and clothes moths are not the same insect.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Just an FYI, pantry moths and clothes moths are not the same insect.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

We have had the same problem everyone else has described above.
Tiny little holes in our knit-cotton shirts just below the waist line.
My wife is ready to pull her hair out. I would if I had any.
I'm ready to rip up the carpet and install cedar or wood floors. Has any had success with that and getting rid of the bugs if that's what it is?


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Last year I purchased six ladies cotton underwear,jockey brand. All of them now have little holes,about a quarter inch in size. Some holes appeared after just one wash. No bleach, nor oxyclean was used. But my old jockeys,yes, fifteen yrs old, have no holes. The new undies are made of noticibly thinner cotton, thinner than the still going strong oldies.
Must be the lousy fabric which seems to have been treated to appear stronger or thicker when new, prewash only!
By the way, at the old house, we had an attack of moths and guess what, never had holes in cotton clothes.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

SILVERFISH!!!! The same thing was happening to my husbands shirts....I found these in the laundry area and laid down sticky tape. I caught a few....vaccumed everything and contacted pest control. they aren't dangerous, they are just hungry little nuisances. Good luck !

Here is a link that might be useful: Silverfish/ Firebrats


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Ok I have 2 of the exact same shirt. One has holes, one doesn't. I have worn both a few times. Just marked the tag of the one that has no holes. I will be leaving it in my closet and not wearing it. I will let you know if holes appear. Then we will know for sure whether its something hungry in the closet or something i am doing. Stay tuned.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Hey you all!
Bad news I myself have been going crazy and been gettin holes in my clothes going on 4-5 years!! I have moved several times lived in different states have had different types of counters (granite, and no granite) several different cars, different washers and dryers and still continue to have the same problem everywhere I live! My husband and I purchased a home little over 2 years ago and still have the problem with the small holes appearing in the mid second of many of my thinner cotton shirts and now seeing many holes appearing in my underwear where the small area that has the double layer of material is. In the past few month I had ripped out all of our carpet in our walk-in master closet, replace it with wood flooring and then had California closets put in a custom-made closet in hopes of getting rid of whatever is eating holes in my clothes. Before removing all my clothes I had washed and dried everything or had it dry cleaned. It had been a month or more and had not seen any holes in my cloths but just last week I found my first hole again in a new shirt to come to find out after going through my closet I had found several other shirts with new holes. I am so lost as to what to do now. I've never seen one or any kind of bug for that matter in my closet and just can't seem to wrap my finger around what's making/causing these holes in my clothes and underwear! Please help if anyone has found any solution I would love to know how to fix this expensive mystery!!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

Hey you all!
Bad news I myself have been going crazy and been gettin holes in my clothes going on 4-5 years!! I have moved several times lived in different states have had different types of counters (granite, and no granite) several different cars, different washers and dryers and still continue to have the same problem everywhere I live! My husband and I purchased a home little over 2 years ago and still have the problem with the small holes appearing in the mid second of many of my thinner cotton shirts and now seeing many holes appearing in my underwear where the small area that has the double layer of material is. In the past few month I had ripped out all of our carpet in our walk-in master closet, replace it with wood flooring and then had California closets put in a custom-made closet in hopes of getting rid of whatever is eating holes in my clothes. Before removing all my clothes I had washed and dried everything or had it dry cleaned. It had been a month or more and had not seen any holes in my cloths but just last week I found my first hole again in a new shirt to come to find out after going through my closet I had found several other shirts with new holes. I am so lost as to what to do now. I've never seen one or any kind of bug for that matter in my closet and just can't seem to wrap my finger around what's making/causing these holes in my clothes and underwear! Please help if anyone has found any solution I would love to know how to fix this expensive mystery!!


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

No, it's not bad quality shirts or washing machines... it's your belt buckle. When you are at the counter, often your shirt ends up being squished between your belt (that little thingy that pokes throught the holes) and the counter. Over time, the constant pressure in the same spot will end up wearing and making holes. Even if you don't wear a belt, many pants have a button that can create the same problem. The same mysterious occurrence happened with us until we figured this was the cause... always in the same area. Mystery solved.

This post was edited by Anwithanee on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 0:08


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

No, it's not bad quality shirts or washing machines... it's your belt buckle. When you are at the counter, often your shirt ends up being squished between your belt (that little thingy that pokes throught the holes) and the counter. Over time, the constant pressure in the same spot will end up wearing and making holes. Even if you don't wear a belt, many pants have a button that can create the same problem. The same mysterious occurrence happened with us until we figured this was the cause... always in the same area. Mystery solved.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I have holes as described by many above. They are located on the front of my cotton Ts at the exact height of my kitchen counter. I have been theorizing that water from the sink and possibly very small food particles are finding their way to my shirts, even if its not visible, and some kind of bugs are finding them. I was interested in the suggestion here several years ago that there could possibly be bugs in a laundry hamper. I have a wicker hamper that could harbor small insects and they would have some time there to feast. That works except recently I had a new shirt that was never in the hamper and it quickly developed holes. I did leave it on the floor in front of the washer for a few days however. We live in a high rise condo and rarely see insects, though we did have our clothes in storage for awhile where we acquired moths that we haven't gotten rid of.
The snag theory makes me think twice, but there is really no evidence of snagging or pulling in any of the holes in my shirts. There is a line of grout at the edge of my counter, but it seems like you'd see thread if it were snagging. I could easily cover the grout with something to confirm or disprove that possibility....of course I'll have to go buy new T shirts since all of mine already have at least a few holes.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

I live in England and have recently moved onto a narrow boat.
As soon as I did, holes started appearing in my cotton (I think) trousers, only around the bottom of the legs.
Anything from tiny to a good half inch.
No other clothes got targeted.
These trousers I use for work, at night I place them on the sofa and the bottom of the legs hang over the sofa.
They are near to a multi stove that I burn coal on but I sit there and it does not get ridiculously hot.
When I wake up in the morning, the holes are there.

It is preferable to waking up next to a horses head but is freaking me out none the less.

I have not washed them in three weeks now due to what has been happening.
Not worn them in two weeks, but the holes keep appearing.
Not so much since I haven't been wearing them but it is still happening.
I know I have a spider on board but nothing else.
The spider is tiny.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

My theory, FWIW, is that it is caused by the curled corner on jeans/pants that have a top button. The friction of that curled corner (above button hole) weakens the fabric and causes the holes over time.


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RE: Mystery holes in cotton knits

nigel-bigel, Don't know if the cause of my problem is the same as yours but eventually I discovered that my 16yr old washer drain holes were making the small round holes in my lightweight cottons. Maybe it was just age that wore off the porcelain from the inner edges of holes but someone told me that the porcelain or paint wears off of the edges of the drain holes in the tub and the sharpness of the metal edges makes the holes in the spin cycle. That machine recently died and I think I will be getting a machine with stainless basket.


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