I was once in a client’s wardrobe doing a wardrobe therapy session and the smell of mothballs was overpowering.
She had them all over her closet, hanging everywhere.
I asked her if she had a serious moth problem and she said, absolutely, let me show you!
Then she pulled knit top after knit top, t-shirt after t-shirt out of the wardrobe with little holes around the middle near the bottom of the front of the top.
Then she asked me, if it’s not moths then…
Why Do My T-Shirts Get Holes in the Bottom?
It made me laugh. I pointed out that her moths must have some sort of weird OCD as they only ever made holes at exactly the same spot on all her tops – had she noticed that? They were all around the belly button area.
She was puzzled … and then I pointed out that the holes were made by …
… the button of her jeans and not moths.
Yes that’s right. A super common issue and one that can be easily remedied by wearing a cami underneath your tee, and having that cover the button so you nice knit top doesn’t get to touch, rub, and get caught up in that button which tears tiny holes in your tops.
She was super happy to get rid of all those moth balls as they really do stink.
So there you have it – the answer to your t-shirt holes.
Moths tend to eat your clothes indiscriminately. If holes keep appearing in the same spots on your clothes then the answer to why they appear is about something rubbing and grabbing onto the fabric and tearing tiny holes. Other culprits may be things like handbag straps and seat belts!
If you love your jeans and keep getting holes, you can try the Shirt Guardian, which has been developed to stop that friction of the button, your top and the kitchen benchtop (or whatever is making them rub together). It fits over your button and helps to reduce this friction.
Get pilling just under your boob on your knits? Then here is the answer to that conundrum too (and how to solve this pesky issue).
Some buttons and buckles place little metal particles by rubbing against clothes. When t-shirts are washed, the holes are caused by rust corrosion. This is an explanation I have read here in Europe.
I also think it is caused by belt buckles because they don’t lay flat. The prong sticks up and always caused holes in my shirts. With many men’s buckles, the prong lays flat into the little notched groove.
I always thought it was the belt buckle. In my case it may be as I always wear a belt. I do front tuck now to avoid ruining nice Ts. The camisole is a good idea for cooler months. Thank you
yes if you wear a belt it could be catching in the belt
These little snags and holes are annoying and often upsetting when it happens to a good top. I have thought the little holes must be due to the buttons. But not all buttons sharp or rough. Do you think then it could be the stitching through the button causing the snags and holes, as that is quite rough?
I am not sure why – but it could be because of fingernails and fiddling and things getting pulled or caught accidentally.
Don’t clean your sunglasses on your T-shirt …men often do this ( as quick fix ) and the little hinge screws can catch on the cloth ?
I also had this problem and found another reason this may happen.
My counter top in my kitchen had a rough spot right where I stand to do dishes. We tried to sand it out but it is right in the stone. My solution is to try to remember to always where an apron when working at it.
That would be another reason!
Do you wear glasses? I noticed that in the last three years the holes started appearing. In that same period I had to use reading glasses. So, I’ve been cleaning my glasses with the bottom front of my t-shits. What do you think?
Could be a possibility – it’s a friction issue!
I noticed these small, pin point holes in my tops as well. I put it down to standing at the sink and splashing soapy water on myself and that the soap was eating my tops. Now, I do the dishes in my apron. I guess I need to get pants that zip on the side or pull up and not wear my favorite tops with button pants.
My shirts too! But I worked out it was due to catching on the granite benchtops. Now I wear an apron and no more holes!
I have found that the fabric at the very upper corner of the waist belt of jeans, right past the buttonhole, tends to stick out a bit after you have buttoned your jeans. This is what has been causing that little hole in my shirts, and not the button itself. I wear a clear plastic stretch belt through my jean loops and keep this little corner flap tucked in – and no more new little tee-shirt holes.
Yes! This is what causes mine too. I may have to go back to wearing belts.
I laughed so hard when I read this as it has been a topic of conversation with my friends and I for many years! We decided that there were “t-shirt fairies” that flew around and put little holes in the bottom of our shirts. Haha! A few weeks ago, I intuited that it might be the button of my jeans or maybe my belts as they are part of my every day work wardrobe. Then, I read your latest post. Bazinga! I cannot tell you how crazy this has been making me! Thank you! I’m sending this out to all my friends. Fairies, be gone! 😀
T-shirt fairies – sadly not the nice sort of fairy if they are putting holes in your tops!
Other things that I have found, are super long necklaces hitching delicate fabrics, and bracelets with sharp claws or edges will hitch clothes on your sides and wherever else you move you arm. As well as trolleys and counters in shops.
So many things our clothes can get caught on – but most common at that middle bottom is buttons/zips.
I still don’t get the rubbing against a snap or button to create the holes. It is happening to shirts I have worn only twice and laundered once. I am thinking that it is poor weaving of fabric, but why there near the waist. I have always been a t-shirt women and this problem has just been happening for the past 5 years. It has to be the quality of fabric. I just found another hole in a favorite tee that I bought in the spring. Not happy.
I think they can get caught slightly in buttons as you do them up, then they get pulled which breaks the fibres.
Lots of thoughts, but consider this. What’s changed in our world that could be causing this. I’m 63 and have been a lot rougher on clothes in my younger years so I don’t buy any of the “wear” theorys by buttons, buckles, countertops or the like. My guess is fabric quality has changed, so maybe prone to failure around high wear areas. Again, something has to be different from years ago when this type of failure was unheard of.
Hi, I did that already…replaced with plastic buttons and I am still getting the little holes.
Jon is right! Something has changed from years past. The way they process the cotton fabric or other fabrics has to have changed. However, I am removing the metal button from two pair of jeans and replacing with a sturdy plastic button to see if it’s something in the metal buttons used now. Either way I’ve lost so many nice tops to these holes. It’s war! The manufacturers need to be told. Good luck with that, right!
I have replaced the metal buttons with plastic buttons on two pair of jeans. I have worn shirts without holes to see if I would get holes. After 2 weeks of trying different shirts and times I wear them and NO HOLES. So, I believe it’s the metal buttons. I’m going to change all my jeans to plastic buttons.
Thanks for sharing your experiment Peggy!
I do not believe this at all. I do not wear jeans. I believe it’s because when we clean at the sink, the chemicals in the cleaners get on what we are wearing, right near the belly button area, and eat thru the material. I have large holes and tiny holes, 4 inches across. timy hilos
Not sure what chemicals you’re using Mary – but soap certainly doesn’t put holes in my clothes. There is actually some research out there and friction is the most common reason!
I disagree with this theory – I have had new tops affected that haven’t even been worn yet if stored near affected items. This affects anything with lycra or stretch equivalent and it’s only been happening for me in past three or so years years. I have worn jeans and stretch tops for decades. It was more noticeable to me after I bought 6 similar tops that were really loose and holes began appearing around the waist. It affected some favorite sweaters that I’d have for years that hung nearby in the closet as well as some stretch t shirts in drawers stored near the ones with this issue. Most have now been thrown out but if you hold fabric up to light you can see a progression of a kind of whitish mark in the fabric and then you can see it develop. It’s so frustrating and I’ve had to be careful what I store where and next to what. I’ve had to throw so much away. I definitely don’t think it’s moths but I also don’t buy the rubbing on buckle or jean button theory in this scenario. I have cedar in the closet and balls in drawers as well as moth/silverfish prevention products just in case. Desperate to find solution.
If you don’t believe it’s from friction from buttons, belt loops and zips – why is it only at the waist not higher up? That is the area of the top that gets the most wear – friction will put a hole into it – don’t worry too much about the moths!
I have had new tops affected that haven’t even been worn yet if stored near affected items. This affects anything with lycra or stretch equivalent and it’s only been happening for me in past three or so years years. I have worn jeans and stretch tops for decades. It was more noticeable to me after I bought 6 similar tops that were really loose and holes began appearing around the waist. It affected some favorite sweaters that I’d have for years that hung nearby in the closet as well as some stretch t shirts in drawers stored near the ones with this issue. Most have now been thrown out but if you hold fabric up to light you can see a progression of a kind of whitish mark in the fabric and then you can see it develop. It’s so frustrating and I’ve had to be careful what I store where and next to what. I’ve had to throw so much away. I definitely don’t think it’s moths but I also don’t buy the rubbing on buckle or jean button theory in this scenario. I have cedar in the closet and balls in drawers as well as moth/silverfish prevention products just in case. Desperate to find solution.
I would suggest it’s leaning on benches where the fabric rubs on your waistband and buttons – loose tops move more and are also more likely to get a little snagged in zips and buttons as you do them up and get more pulls.
in response to your response saying if it’s not to do with belt loops or buttons, some tops were very loose, not touching buttons and some things had never even been worn – just stored next to items already with holes. Also some holes in upper arm area. Something is eating away and no one has the answer yet… very frustrating.
Upper arm area will also most likely be friction – seat belts are another culprit for these as well as handbags! Often the top may not touch – until you lean onto the kitchen bench and then it starts rubbing.
I was suffering from this problem, Imogen, and highly frustrated as I had to eventually get rid of quite a few tops with this problem. I found my jeans were the culprit. Not only the button at the waist, but just the friction of the fabric on the corner of the wast line right by the button above the zipper. It always seems to stick out just a little bit. I solved future problems by using one of the clear plastic belts you have recommended. It covers the waist area and holds that fabric end in…..and no more holes!
Excellent – friction burns holes into clothes!
Seat Belt Button stop – cause of my holes – It is aligns exactly on the same spot where the holes are. Went to the Honda dealer and he said no one has complained – I have, check it out maybe you should too. You can Goggle how to remove it.
I’ve had this problem of holes in my shirts for the past few years or so. Prior to that I don’t remember this happening and I’ve been wearing tops with jeans for decades. I’m careful as to how I launder my clothes (delicate cycle for tops).
I had this problem more so with a particular well known brand I won’t name. I contacted their corporate office and I was told by a representative that the reason for the holes was the way the fabric was “finished” and that they were well aware of the problem and were in the process of changing the method.
Haha yeah they’re well aware that we all have to go buy new shirts. I’m sure they’re not trying to change the method. I fully agree that the clothes are extremely poor quality. I have a t shirt I got at a concert when I was in middle school and it has no holes. I’m 36 and all the shirts I bought within the last 5-10 years or so have these holes. We are now a throw away society sadly. 😢
I’ve been blaming the cat! Every night I watch TV in the reclining chair and the cat walks across my abdomen and stretches out on my lap for pets-and-purrs-time. A couple years ago after ruining a few tops I finally started grabbing a lap blanket to protect my clothes from the cat’s claws. No more holes!
Hi Imogen, thanks for this. I have just had to replace a favourite T shirt because of holes, so I have ordered 2 of the Shirt Guardian button cover sets to fix the problem. Amazon.com also has a product called Likety Klik I think, that clips over the button and holds the flap of your jeans together smoothly. This looks good too and would help to smooth my tummy out! but they don’t ship to Australia – but some of your American readers might be able to get them.
I get cat holes, too. My youngest extends his back claws a little when he launches off of me. I covered a cat hole in the chest of my only pink t-shirt by gluing crystals on the shirt, with one covering the hole.
The holes come from wearing the seatbelt and rubbing on the buttons.
I’ve entertained several theories but I’m still stumped. The problem is much worse for my husband and occurs on T-shirts and cotton knits from all different manufacturers. He pulls out his shirt over seatbelt, wears a belt with his pants so it’s not edge of waistband or button or seatbelt. He isn’t at the sink all that much. I found a hole recently for the first time on one of my shirts. Not where my counter rubs (my jeans at front are all worn from that.) I beginning to wonder about the manufacturing process. I agree this didn’t occur in the past.
I suspect the belt – they can easily snag fabric.
I bought 5 colored tees from L LBean and am getting holes, The fabric is a fine pima cotton with a bit of stretch. I believe it’s poor quality material coupled with tugging on the bottom of the shirt when you get up. I am only 5 feet tall and don’t rub up against the counters in that area!