WFMW: Backwards Edition

Today, I'm hosting The Backwards Edition of Works For Me Wednesday-where you turn the table and ask for tips from your reader! (If you forgot and have a regular tip, it's okay! Themes are just suggested!)

I've been looking forward to this because I have a doozy of a question and I'm desperate for help!!

I think I should be embarrassed to confess this, but y'all know already I'm terribly human and lead of life of perpetual embarrassment!

So. In a nutshell: 3/4 of my cotton shirts hanging in my closet have a tiny hole in them. The holes just appear out of nowhere. At first, I thought it was my washing machine or dryer snagging the shirts. But then, I thought it might be a bug problem (I KNOW!!)

I've never actually seen a bug or even evidence of one. I bought the moth ball stuff at WalMart to hang in my closet and it didn't seem to stop the holy shirts. I hate the smell of moth balls, so I bought the Fresh Scent. Don't let that fool you. It's not a pleasant smell. So, I tossed the stinky things in the trash because holes are better than stink any day.

So, do bugs eat cotton? Help?? My hubby's cotton shirts are fine and my other clothes are good. It's a conspiracy, I tell you!

Got any tips for me?

Thank you for joining me for WFMW! {You can read the guidelines here.} Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you'd like to share? I'd love for you to join us!

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HoosierHomemade said...

Hmm...Sorry, I don't have any help. Are they older shirts? That are just wearing out, or newer ones.
Very strange...:-)

Diane said...

Do you wash them with your bras? If you do, make sure to hook your bras. If they aren't hooked, the hooks can snag or make holes in clothes.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

I have the same problem, and the holes always seem to appear right in front where my stomach is. Grrrr.

I'm still not sure what the issue is, but I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought several packages of Cedar Blocks and Cedar hanger things (they are round and slide over the top of the hanger.

I've heard cedar is suppose to make moths go away.

I haven't noticed any more holes lately, so maybe it worked?

Jennifer said...

I had the same problem. The holes were always in the front on my stomach. Then I realized.... My belt was rubbing the shirts and causing the holes. Ditched the belt... no more holes. Is that where yours are? Are you wearing a belt?

Anonymous said...

Hey, there! I linked twice accidentally-I am so sorry. If you can, delete one of them. I am #9 and #11 and they are the same link.

I loved your last post about the Happy Mom and looking through all your commenters pictures. You have a nice blog and I love your header.

I have no advice for your holey shirts! :)

Southern Gal said...

Cedar works and smells so heavenly.

Jennifer said...

I'm betting you don't chew your shirts. My son does... and his shirts all have holes, but I'm guessing that's not the cause of your problem.

I've had these same holes in a few of my shirts. They're usually older or less expensive shirts - and I think the stitching just lets go, but I don't really know. I'm pretty sure it's not moths.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Do you wear an apron when cooking or cleaning? Sometimes tiny splashes of solvents, cleaning supplies, vinegar, cooking stuff etc that aren't really noticable will weaken the fabric.

I also accidentally linked twice, well, kind of accidentally. I linked before I noticed it was a 'backwards' WFM, and my first post isn't backwards. So then I quickly added the backwards one, and I thought I'd be able to delete one. Sorry!

Kayren, Pink Daisy Girl said...

Mine, like the other comments, were in the front, lower around the stomach. I'm a real shorty, and I wondered if I was rubbing against the counter and maybe there was a place that was snagging it and I didn't realize it because it didn't pull when I stepped back. If the holes are always the same place I'd be a little suspicious of something like that. Now that we are in our new house with different counters I'm not getting new holes.

Toni said...

I have the same problem. I always wondered if it was things like the seatbelt, or something in the kitchen that was catching my shirts. I would think if you had bugs your husband's shirts would have them too.

Carrie said...

LOL! I have absolutely no help for you, other than to commiserate! I once had a problem with wearing holes in my shirts *right* where my postpartum belly rubbed up against the kitchen counter.

At first I thought it might be bugs, but it was just too specific to that place on my shirts that i finally concluded it had to be the kitchen counter. Man, I was evidently spending a lot of time in the kitchen at that point!

Smockity Frocks said...

This is so bizarre! My 15yo daughter is having the same issue! We were just talking about what in the world could be causing it.

I'll be checking back here for solutions!

Kelly said...

Cave crickets/camel crickets totally eat fabric. However, they usually get at the fabric by it being on the floor or in piles (like in a pile on the floor as my husband likes to keep our clothes until he washes them). Try hanging your clothes straight from the dryer versus folding them or putting them in a basket until you have time hang them.

Andrea said...

I get holes in my more well worn shirts. I think it's just a wear and tear thing. My husband doesn't have holes in his either but he has more and so they are worn less often!

Superchikk said...

I have the same problem. I started noticing them after I became a Mom, so it must have something to do with children! Ha!

Seriously though, I think I figured out that in my case, it's from leaning over stuff and getting the shirt caught/snagged between my jeans button and whatever it is I'm leaning over (I'm kinda short).

Amy said...

Any chance your bras might having some hooks or hardware on the straps that is snagging the shirts?

Or your purse?

Hope you figure it out soon! :)

TanuvasaCasa said...

I can tell you, bugs (roaches) do chew cotton. Living in Hawaii, the occasional roach is inevitable and yup, we've found holes in our shirts because of them.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem... I get little holes in front of my stomach on knit t-shirts. I concluded that it was my belt. I actually wear a belt that is rounded on both ends (no pokey part), but I think the belt just weakens the fabric too much.

MarytheKay said...

I have to say--I am fascinated by this question--and already some of the responses!!! I notice that several women have holes on the stomach-area of their shirts. Did you mention where the holes in your shirts are??

I will be very interested to find out if you get a clear answer! I have no idea WHY it fascinates me so much...maybe because it's like a Mystery...a BLOG MYSTERY! :-)

This was my first Backwards link-up, and I have to say--it was FUN! I sure hope to get some answers!!!

Sure do like your blog!!!

Composing Hallelujahs said...

my little holes appear right where my tummy rubs the kitchen counters (like when i'm slicing food or washing dishes) so i try to wear an apron so that me rubbing up against the counters won't wear out the shirts. :) hope that helps!

Emily E. said...

We have the same problem- both my husband and I. I think it's probably the agitator on our old washing machine. But we just moved and our new machine doesn't have an agitator, so I'll see if it makes a difference.

I also like the theory that we're bumping up against things and the clothes are catching. I'll keep an eye out for that too.

Betty said...

I am going to guess crickets.
Other thoughts:

Does your hubby do mechanical work? Do you wash your clothes together?

My hubby does, and has gotten battery acid on his clothes, and nothing happens until I wash them.

So, now all his clothes get washed with baking soda. It neutralizes the acid and we don't have as many holes.

Debbie said...

Like Jennifer said, if the holes are by your stomach, it's probably a belt or the buttons on your pants causing the holes. I used to have a similar problem. I also dated a guy years ago who wore a gun (he worked in security) and it made holes in his shirt - but something tells me that isn't the case here :)

I doubt bugs would be selective about eating men's vs women's shirts. Maybe there's a nail or something on your side of the closet.

Good luck with this one!

kirwin said...

I was just talking about this with my mom!!

I have the exact same problem...tiny holes in my shirts where my stomach/waist is.

I don't wear a belt...

One idea I had: I spend 99% of my life at the kitchen counter/island-- maybe it's from standing at the counter. Maybe it's a certain kind of kitchen cleaner??

I really want to figure this out!

Nancy said...

If you leave zippers unzipped it will cause those holes. Especially those heavy-duty jean zippers.

Laura V. said...

I agree with everyone who said they're caused by belts or the button on your pants. My holes tend to be all around the waist, right in front.

I also noticed that I have some on the side I carry my kids on. My youngest is 19 mo. so she is still frequently carried around and where she sits on my hip in conjunction with my belt, causes little holes.

Chic Mama said...

Reading along because I have the SAME PROBLEM!! Arg! Thanks for asking- can't wait to see the answers!

Gigi said...

I am so happy to know that I'm not the only one with little holes in the front tummy area of my knit shirts! I figure its a combination of my belt and/or seat belt rubbing in some way. THANK YOU! And good luck.

TDM Wendy said...

Bed bugs. Just kidding. I just had to say that for the creepiness factor rather than all those plausible explanations like "from all the cooking and cleaning you do." Please let the blogging community if you figure it out.

Louise said...

Two things were causing holes in my t-shirts. The first one was obvious: occasionally when I picked up the cat, her back claws would catch the shirt and put a hole in it.

The second was was less obvious: my dresser drawer hardware was pinching the top shirt when I closed the drawer. The way the shirts are folded, the snag was always in the same place on the top shirt in the pile.

Melanie said...

Moth balls are icky. The only thing I use them for is sometimes I put them around the perimeter of our yard to keep the skunks away.

We lined our closets in cedar (it was a quick project since our closets are so tiny). But I don't think that will help you. I have the same issue and I've come to the conclusion that it's splatter from whatever I'm cleaning or cooking. Sometimes cleaning supplies can be especially cruel to cotton.

Anonymous said...

no advice here, but this is great timing! I need help trying to figure out how to store large quantities of baking supplies. Hopefully someone has some great ideas.

SJL~ said...

How funny! I was just complaining about this the other day. The weird thing with mine is that the only shirts that have the tiny holes in them are the ones I've gotten from the Old Navy outlet. I assumed they were "defects" and I just didn't notice it when I bought them, but maybe not. The O.N. shirts are made of a little bit thinner cotton, so maybe I get holes in them the first time I wear them. Crazy!

julie mullen said...

I have the same problem and think it might be from the countertop...I have a small obsession with fun aprons and I haven't noticed new holes since I've started wearing an apron most days.

Christi said...

Since its only your shirts, and not other clothing, I think wearing an apron in the kitchen and laundry rooms will help.

It wouldn't hurt to line your closet in cedar, or use cedar in your closet some way and lavender. Lavender sachets keep bugs away, and the scent isn't horrible like moth balls or something.

Good luck!

Kay said...

I didn't read every comment to see if somebody came to the same conclusion I have about holey shirts so here goes... I was getting them and then realized it was right where my tummy hit the counter when I cooked or did dishes and I tend to lean on the counter a little bit. So I started changing shirts into an old 'cooking shirt' and it keeps my better shirts/tshirts hole free.

Amy Andrews said...

Hmmmm...not sure I have much to add here other than I can understand your frustration! This has happened to me, although I always assumed it was due to cheap manufacturing. I've never considered it to be bugs. Thanks for giving me one more thing to develop an issue about. ;)

Billie Jean said...

One word - zipper! Yes, if you pay attention, the holes are right in front where you pull your shirts down over the pull on the zipper or even the top teeth. On the good side, you're not doing anything wrong with your laundry and you don't have bugs, but there's nothing you can do about it except stop wearing jeans/shorts with zippers. Sigh.

Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but are they cheap shirts? I've gotten random holes in my shirts before (not even along the seams) and it's always from a cheapie company. Even brands like American Eagle (which you would think would be high-quality because of the ridiculous prices) always get holes in them for me. I'm not implying you're a cheapskate! haha Just my two cents. :)

Skubaliscious said...

I have the same problem and live in the same area - but I REFUSE to acknowledge the possibility of roaches in my closet....although they are def. all over the neighborhood sidewalks in the evenings *shudder*

Kristen said...

Well. I just want to THANK some of Y'ALL for admitting you have HOLY clothes too. Whew! So glad I'm not alone. We all know we're too clean for bugs, so it must be all these other ideas!

Loretta said...

Joining in with the 'mine get holes right in the tummy area' crowd. It is always the thinner t-shirts that do it. Guess I will start wearing my apron in the kitchen a bit more...I didn't think I was spending THAT much time cooking. (Although come to think of it, I never had that problem until I became a SAHM...but then I wasn't wearing t-shirts as often before either.)

Amy Edwards said...

Well, it's true that it could be any of these ideas that have already been posted . . . but it could also be moths :( I've learned this the hard way, believe me . . . and my house is definitely "too clean" for bugs. I found out that that's not really a factor with moths, and that it's the moth "babies" that eat holes in clothing (along with other bugs as well). Specifically - wool, silk, cotton. Apparently moths can get in through tiny cracks or holes in the walls even, and it only takes one male and one female. And you might never even see them! We've had to wash/dry clean EVERYTHING in the closets, washed down the closet walls, sprayed them with spray that specifically turns away household bugs including clothing moths (available at Home Depot or Lowes) and also now use cedar blocks, cedar balls, all things cedar around our clothing :) It's working perfectly. No more problems with any holes!

Jax @ AlyandAsh said...

I'm new to your link party and can't find a button to display on my blog! Can you let me know where to find it!! Thanks!

cathyjoy said...

i have not had that problem (thank you Jesus) but my husband gets little holes all over his "more inexpensive" polo shirts...totally random places, never the same place twice. i'll be back to "find the answer" :O)

Creating Me said...

Probably snagging on a zipper in the washer or dryer.

Liz said...

I say if you've got holy clothes then wear em' to church! :-)

Bree said...

I have the same problem. The holes are in random spots and they are tiny. I notice the other day that they are on almost all the tanks I bought from wal-mart. I have seen these tiny holes show up after only two washes on other shirts as well. I am thinking it is a quality thing. Could be weak points in fabric combined with rubbing on zippers or bras in the wash?

Amanda said...

I worked at a local Beall's for almost a year and noticed that the clothes that I got from there (brand didn't matter) would start to have holes in different places. So, at first, I checked to make sure my bras were fastened when I washed them. That didn't help. Come to find out, most chain clothing stores now use security tags that have one end that has to be poked through the clothing and after a few washes, that hole will start to grow to where it is noticeable. And, I haven't found anything that helps that. Hope that helps!

Erica said...

If they're in the stomach area, it's quite likely that your belt or the top of your jeans/button area are just wearing through. I have several cotton t-shirts and a cotton dress I wear over jeans that all have holes in approximately the same place: where my belt or the top of my jeans sit. It rubs all day as I stand and sit, lean against the counters to make meals, hold kids against me, etc. The fix? No clue. Sorry...

rachelizabeth said...

That happens to me all the time, too. I finally realized that it's from the button of my jeans snagging on the shirt and stretching it until a hole appears. It also has happened when I wash dishes - as I lean against the counter, the shirt snags on the underside edge.

When I wear a shirt only with pants that have coverd plackets, I don't get holes. Hubby doesn't get those holes because he always tucks his shirt in (and he's as skinny as all get-out - no stress on his waistband!)

I wish I knew how to prevent it from happening, but I don't. Except to give up wearing jeans, which is UNTHINKABLE!!!

Shannon said...

Yeah, we've had this happen too. The only thing I can think of other than disgusting smelling moth balls is cedar balls or blocks. Good luck!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Wear an apron! I wear an apron every single day. The dirtiest part of the apron is right across my stomach. It keeps my clothes clean and when it wear out, it wears out (and wears through) right in that spot, where it is weakest.

I occasionally get holes on my shirt sleeves, but not across the belly as I am always wearing an apron while cooking, doing dishes, laundry, and gardening. Instead of throwing the clothes out, I MEND THEM. It's not hard. A zig zag stitch over the holes in a couple of directions (if needed) will quickly close up the hole. It doesn't take very long and you can get years more out of your clothes this way. There is no reason to through clothes out that can be mended.

I do have several aprons. The heavy-duty ones last me the longest (made of heavy twill). They will last me several years, being worn every day and washed fairly often. I get mine at Williams-Sonoma; I like the thickness of their aprons. You could make them for less, but mine last so long that I've done well with them, and when I needed a new one I asked my mom for a couple for Christmas.

Deb said...

I have posted this exact same question on various places on the internets. And you know what a common theme seems to be - front load washers. Apparently, if you stuff the washer too full, the clothes rub against the door gasket and get little holes. Once I started noticing them, I found them on everyone's shirts -the sleeves, front, back. So frustrating. My front loader wasn't cheap, and I'd like it if it would stop ruining stuff. Dang it.

Meg said...

If it's that super-soft, super thin stretchy cotton that's so popular now (American Eagle, Old Navy, everybody's using it for tees), it is just very delicate stuff. I bought three new shirts made of that thin cotton last year and they all have tiny picks in them (that have become small holes).

Mine come from our cat's claws or our dog jumping up on me. But anything can pick it -- jewelry, belts, brooches.

Amy said...

When you buy the shirt do you cut the tag or pull it off? Like the tag that is attached with that plastic piece. I always just pulled mine off and I noticed a hole in the seams of my shirts after just a few washes. My wonderful husband actually figured the problem out, now I snip the tag with scissors and no holes!

Amie said...

I was JUST talking about this with my friends!!! I promised to NEVER buy those so-cheap-you-have-to-get-a-few "deals" from Old Navy! You know those stretchy, soft cotton t's and tanks that occasionally go on sale for a couple bucks each? Why? Because they ALWAYS end up with those tiny holes after a few washes for me! Grrr! I thought it must be some conspiracy in the upper Old Navy organization. They implant these mucroscopic moths that are activated by water in your wash, then voila! You are back in the store next month, buying more cheap replacements. Like crack for retail shoppers! :)

I recently learned to knit and finished my first project (yay me!). A 'perfect' washcloth. However, after it's first use . . . a tiny HOLE showed up in it's perfect rows of painstakingly laid stitches. My knitting expert friend says that it was a place where I missed a stich and when it got wet, the few fibers that were holding it together got agitated and broke, revealing the mistake. Makes me wonder . . . cheaply made fabric = tiny holes after machine agitation??? Just a random guess. I'm still sticking to the microscopic moth conpiracy, though! :)

Justin and Kate Mills said...

I know moths only eat animal fibers, like wool, silk, etc., not fibers from plants like cotton or manmade fibers like polyester. So you don't need to worry about fending off the moths. But from the other comments it sounds like roaches do eat cotton. Ugh. This is one reason why I'm glad I live in the north where we don't have many bugs!

The Mom said...

There is a bug called a silver fish (not sure if that is one word or two) that eat tiny holes in your clothes. We found out about them when we bought a house with a shake shingle roof. They are in the wood and have nothing to do with how clean your house is! :) I am not sure how to get rid of them. I do know their natural predator is the spider, so there is not a good trade off there! Good luck.

Cara said...

I have the same problem with my shirts too, and I am SO GLAD to know that I'm not the only one. At first I thought mine were caused by my little guy's toenails digging in since I hold him so much.

But then I realized that the holes (in my shirts, at least) are all in my tummy area, usually right where my shirt meets my jeans/pants, near the button in the front. And I spend LOTS of time in the kitchen, usually leaning forward against the counter. I am trying SO hard not to lean against the counter, but it's a hard habit to break. And besides, I think sometimes the pants themselves create enough friction to make holes on their own.

It's hard, especially when it is a shirt you love, or ALL or MOST of your shirts. I hate to stop wearing them...

Amy said...

I had the same problem in our last house, we had marble counters and the friction of the button on my jeans and my shirt against the marble wore holes everytime.....good luck:)

The Googeg's said...

Well, I don't know the WHY, but I can tell you what I did with a couple of my kind of plain shirts. When the hole was really small I had my daughter use her bedazzler on the hole, and then create a design around it -- like a little flower. Or, one time it was more crayon in the dryer than holes and I gave my kids fabric paint to decorate a shirt for mom and it turned out really cute.

So..if you see some Mom wearing a kid decorated shirt ... it just could be someone like me who decided to get a few more wears out of the thing.

Ashleigh said...

Your husband doesn't get them because he doesn't wear "paper weight" tees! They are so thin, as are most girls/womens tees that your belt or top of your pants where the button is wears on them.

gloria laura said...

maybe can be the soap that you use. The natural cotton is that you comment.

Thanks for share your daily things life.

God bless you

Amber said...

Well... it could be any of the things above.. ;)

We get tiny ants in our dirty laundry hamper on occasion. And we get tiny holes in our laundry, often in high sweat areas, sometimes in random places. I'm sure some of the holes are wear and tear from catching on something but I am convinced that some of them are because of the ants we get in the summer time. (Then we treat the yard and the ant problem goes away for a little while.)

Nichole said...

I have exactly the same problem!! Mine are all right at the place where my stomach comes into contact with the counters, too. I think mines are specifically from the corners of the bathroom counters, which I have to lean on to brush the kids' teeth. I love the apron idea! If I ever replace my holey shirts, I may start wearing an apron all day long.

bridget {bake at 350} said...

Gosh...I have no idea....and I really don't like some of these buggy answers! I have a few w/holes, too! I'm going to say it's from the cats. Yep, cats, not bugs!!!

I'm so glad the linky was still open! I TOTALLY forgot to link up yesterday!

amy said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I don't think it's bugs or the washing machine. The holes are in a characteristic place that defies both of those explanation (the pattern would be more random).

Here's my theory:

It has to do with the machinery used in the factories where the clothes are made and packaged. There must be a jig or something that holds the shirt in place during sewing or folding or whatever, and it sometimes pricks the fabric. The holes don't show up right away, only after a few washes as the fibers relax and the knit starts to unravel. Woven fabrics aren't vulnerable in the same way as knits, which is why you only see this in tee-shirts, not blouses and other shirts, and why they are most prominent in lighter weight knits.

Just a theory.

Sarah said...

OK- I am going to say the rubbing of your stomach on the counter (I am there MANY times a day!) is plausible.

I would also add that pulling our shirts down, tend to stretch them therefore those weakened spots become weaker. If we have fingernails, they weaken that spot a little more each time. We are MUCH more self conscious of our bellies!

Also a reason your hubby may not have them is the same reason that my hubby's clothes stay nicer WAY longer than mine, he has "work clothes". He has dress pants and shirts that he wears to work and then he only wears his "regular" clothes 4-5 hours, as opposed to my 15 hours....

I know my cotton shirts (daily wear!)wear out WAY faster than my husband's... hopefully this helps!

Kim said...

This happens most often with my son's shirts because he wears them so often. I've just assumed that it's the cotton deteriorating from so many washes.

Sally said...

I get them in the front, around my waistline. It's seems to be from the pants (jeans) button and leaning on the counter.