What Causes Holes in Clothes after Washing

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Little is more frustrating than finding a hole in your favorite shirt or sweater. How did that happen? You don't remember snagging it or tearing it. And, of course, it's not in a place that you can pass the hole off as a fashion statement.

The holes that appear in clothes after washing is one of those mysteries that you will need to solve by working through a process of elimination. Consider each probable cause listed  below and then do some investigating to check it out and see if that could be your problem and then resolve the issue.

Remember, there may be multiple reasons the holes are happening so keep this list handy!

The Reasons Holes Appear in Clothes after Washing

  • If you are using too much chlorine bleach or not allowing the bleach to thoroughly mix with water before putting in clothes, this will cause holes. If, however, the holes occur when no bleach is used, then this is not the cause.
  • Abrasive surfaces at work/home can snag fabrics and cause small holes that washing makes more evident. Have you gotten a new table, desk or countertop? Improperly installed granite or stone countertops have a bad reputation for snagging clothing.
  • Is your clothing catching on belts, zippers or pant closures while you wear it? Check suspected culprits for rough edges. You may be able to smooth surfaces with a metal file or sandpaper. 
  • Are you using a final spin speed in your washer that is too high for the type of fabric you are washing? Check your washer's operations manual. Cotton clothes should not be spun higher than 600 revolutions per minute (sheets and towels can use a higher spin at 1400 revolutions per minute). Jeans should spin no higher than 900 revolutions per minute and delicates and silks should use a 400 revolutions per minute spin cycle. If you don't have your washer manual, call the manufacturer directly and ask for a new manual or find one online. Spinning too rapidly can pull clothing into the tiny holes and crevices of the washer drum and cause fibers to wear and tear.
  • Are you overloading the washing machine? This not only affects cleaning level of each cycle but can also cause garments to get hooked on zippers, decorations and pulls on other clothing. Always zip, button and fasten all clothing before washing and turn items inside out.
  • Are you missing an underwire from a bra? Underwires can get caught between the drum and the side of the washer and then poke through the washer drum holes. You may not feel it when the washer is empty but the agitation of the washer may cause the wire to snag clothing. To remove the wire, you'll have to remove the outer housing of the washer.
  • If you see dark streaks on the fabric that almost look like burn marks along with small holes or broken threads, check your clothes dryer drum. Remove the outer housing of the dryer and have a helper shine a flashlight at the back of the dryer drum. If you see any light shining through into the drum, you have a problem. If the drum is not perfectly aligned and balanced, fabric can slip between the drum and the dryer housing. This causes the streaks and can tear holes into clothing. 

What Can I Do To Prevent Holes in Clothes?

One of the easiest things you can do to prevent holes in clothes during the washing and drying process is to do a better job of sorting clothes before you wash. Never wash a delicate garment with heavy blue jeans or any clothes with zippers and studs. Lace and silky fabrics can snag on zippers and even embellishments like beads and sequins.

If you must do a mixed load, protect delicate clothes by putting them in mesh laundry bags before placing into the washer.

One Last Thing to Check

If you are sure that you've checked everything and all looks well, take a few minutes to survey your closet. Clothes need a bit of space so if you have everything crammed together, snags can happen that get worse after laundering.

It could also be critters eating holes in your clothes. If you see some insects, check them out and then get rid of them! In addition to moths, insects like silverfish, crickets, roaches and carpet beetles can all cause holes on all types of fabrics.