The Holey T-Shirt Mystery

I don’t want a t-shirt with holes, but I have around 50 of them anyway. All the holes are in the same place: on the front, a little below the waist.

Last year, a friend told me that she had the same problem and I was amazed by her analysis of it: The holes were caused by the zippers of our low-cut jeans. Looking back, I can’t believe I went along with this. It sounded so brilliant at the time, and it was nice to solve the mystery.

At some point, I realized that it wasn’t about zippers. More and more of my t-shirts sprouted the same tiny holes. And the holes are multiplying but staying roughly in the same place. Sitting in the car with my husband yesterday, I noticed a hole in one of my newer t-shirts and cursed. I explained the phenomenon, and joked that maybe it was my belly button. Maybe I have a toxic belly button! My son suggested that maybe it emits radioactive waves.

I decided to google “why are there holes in my t-shirts,” and landed on a forum where people discussed the holey t-shirt mystery. Their theories ranged from logical to absurd. Seatbelts, third-world shoddiness, kitchen counters, harsh laundry soap, the theories were offered up and then shot down by other commenters.

Finally, I came to this revelation:

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.

The “oils and dirt” from my belly button?!? Silverfish?!?

I googled silverfish and found an eco friendly product to kill them with. I can’t even think about my belly button.

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106 Responses to “The Holey T-Shirt Mystery”

  1. sharnek Says:

    I have this problem too, cant even begin to think abut silver fish and belly button oils. I’m blaming my jeans.

  2. Leslie Says:

    If the holes are perfectly round and appear in small clusters, they are probably caused by being washed in a machine. When the spin cycle starts, clothes are sucked to the outside of the spinning inner drum, and fine fabrics (like T-shirt jersey) can be drawn through the perforations. When the spinning drum comes into contact with the outer tub, the grinding causes the holes. Solution: put your fine jerseys into cloth bags (like old rice bags with zippers) before you put them in the washing machine. I think you can buy lingerie bags for this purpose, but any old cloth bag will do.

  3. T Says:

    Haha…
    I always thought it was from belts wearing them out, or guitars clanking down on shirts over belts!

  4. Ann Says:

    OMG! Sorry for the juvenile vernacular but OMG!

  5. alittlelux Says:

    silverfish are terrifying.

  6. Sister Wolf Says:

    Leslie – Nope, I handwash most of my tshirts.

    sharnek – Innocence is bliss, in this situation.

  7. Gretchen Says:

    I thought it was from a bleach splash when I was washing clothes! Silverfish kind of grosses me out, in a big way…

  8. Sister Wolf Says:

    alittlelux – Yes.

    Gretchen – Me too, big big way.

  9. Deni Says:

    And they laugh at me when I say don’t kill the spiders! (But a few weeks ago I had some huge spider bites, huge!)

  10. Suzanne aka Punk Glam Queen Says:

    How can it be silverfish when it happens to poly/cotton as well? Also, I have this on some, but not all of mine. They’re selective? Nah, I’ve seen those suckers (omg they are DISGUSTING and freak me out — this is coming from a woman who won’t kill spiders and can kill bugs with her bare hands) and I don’t think thats it. I’m still not sure what it could be, but the holes I’ve found are a bit higher than belly button height. I’ll stick to it being a mystery, to save my sanity! XXX Suzanne

  11. Mopsy Says:

    Silverfish sound grim.

    Most of my tops and vests have similar holes, I thought they were caused by my guinea pigs chewing them.

  12. Suspended Says:

    Moths? They also prefer to eat the oily areas of a garment.

  13. Kara Says:

    NO!! I really don’t want to believe this. I get the same holes, and I will continue to believe that they are somehow caused by my belt, because the bugs theory is too horrifying for me. SO YUCK!

  14. Cricket9 Says:

    Inspected my t-shirts. No holes. ????

  15. Helen Says:

    Dear Sister Wolf,
    I’m not sure I believe the silverfish theory. Although I have no holes in any of my t-shirts, I had to live in a silverfish infested room last year, whilst at university, despite hoovering most days, and they never touched any of my t-shirts or fabrics (the majority of which were cottons). I hope you solve the mystery and never find any silverfish- they are so creepy!
    Helen
    x

  16. Sandra Says:

    Do you carry things against your belly? I used to deliver bread and rest the heavy racks on my belt buckle, so many of my shirts from that era have shreddy little holes just below the waist.

  17. Marky Says:

    I shivered when I got to the part about the silverfish.

    I have mysterious holes in my oxford shirts, but they’re not all in the same place. Only my oxford shirts, and only my really expensive ones. I don’t think it’s silverfish, though. They’re too busy chewing through the binding glue on all my books.

  18. Bex Says:

    I usually find silverfish in my bathtub! I guess that means it’s time to clean the bathroom :(

  19. Stephanie Says:

    Obviously they’re blessed Holys placed by the Gods!

  20. Stacy Says:

    Here I am reading your post thinking, ‘Yeah, I have those stupid holes there too’. A colleague told me they were from belts as well. But alas, silverfish you say! I hate those fucking assholes. I kill about five a day at our new place. They splat and leave a silver dust like substance. They’re getting so big now my cat won’t even eat them. Years ago, I saw silverfish on my clothes in my closet and came to the conclusion it was them eating holes in my sweaters. I hoped it was just my imagination. Fucking jerks.

  21. Sisty Says:

    You’re letting this drive you crazy for no reason, or maybe you’re just plain crazy. Silverfish eat paper primarily, and only eat fabric if they run out of paper. And besides, you’d see them in your t-shirt drawer if you had them.

    But just in case, I’ve sent you an egg case of baby house centipedes to slay your imaginary silverfish. These centipedes don’t fuck around — I had one hidden in my pants leg, and it bit me on the inner thigh, leaving a small but very painful purple bruise. And i’m also sending small box of q-tips, so that you can cleanse your bellybutton thoroughly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scutigera_coleoptrata

  22. Brad Says:

    I have the same problem. And find that it happens in the same place on all of my t-shirts. I have always assumed it’s from leaning against counters/benches and any abrasion between a jean button/belt buckle and said surface….

  23. Rob Says:

    I had the same problem and so does my partner… but I think its from our damn cat climbing all over us with his claws out. Of course trying to keep him from doing it only makes him more insistent about jumping onto our shoulders.

  24. Make Do Style Says:

    I get them & think a) washing machine/detergent and b) moths plus belt or jeans or the fact they are too thin so the thread breaks easily. I don’t want to think about the silverfish stuff

  25. Hammie Says:

    All Gracie’s tee-dresses & nighties have these, because she chews them. When she outgrew her Hello Kitty nightie I took it to wear as a tee-shirt, cutting a patch out Madonna stylee where the chew holes were. From now on I will put them on eBay.

  26. Lisa Says:

    SHIT SILVERFISH? So it’s not because clothing manufactures are cheap and using lower quality fabrics that pill and tear before it leaves the store?

  27. Amy Says:

    I have similar holes, but it finally occurred to me last week what is causing it. I have a two-tier closet. I hang shirts on the top and pants on the bottom. The bottom of the shirts partially rest on the bottom bar so I figured I must be poking the hangers through the bottoms of my shirts. The only thing I can’t explain is why it only occurs on the fronts of the shirts and not the backs.

  28. Merionnette Says:

    I noticed these first on my husbands shirts but now I realize I have them too.
    I’m sure it’s seatbelts. Maybe the zippers, buttons and belt buckles contribute to it.
    I’m going to try putting something under my seat belt buckle to see if that helps.
    Is anyone getting these holes who does not use a seatbelt?
    If so why are you not using a seat belt? They save lives!

  29. Nanae Says:

    Hi. I was trying to look up the causes of the same holes on many of my clothes– even the ones that i get dry cleaned. I was pretty much convinced that it’s do to my Baby Bjorn baby carrier. Do you happen to use it?

    The holes started to appear after I begun using it. There is a little hole on the back of the buckle which has sharp edges.

  30. JAileen Says:

    I read a discussion about this on a forum and the people there thought it was from standing at the kitchen counter, their stomachs pressed against the edge of the counter. It was a cooking forum, naturally.

  31. Tina Says:

    Ok.. I’ve read all the theories and everyone in a roundabout way is getting the same sort of holes in the same places with all different reasons why they are there! I’ve worn new tops without belts, I don’t have a cat, have jeans/pants without zips, don’t use metal hangers… It has to be silverfish!! If you don’t have them inside, they’re probably working their magic outside! I’m over this happening to my new tops and you pretty much can’t repair them without making it more obvious! But the last thing I want is to smell like an old mothball with those cupboard hangers that get rid of them.. Anyone have any other suggestions??

  32. angel Says:

    Its carpet beetles. I can’t believe anyone would think its countertops. Its bugs. They are not easy to get rid of either. I think my house was infested with them when we moved in. grrrrr After losing several good t-shirts, that were brand new, I made it a mission. google carpet beetles and you will find out all you need to know and do to get rid of them.

  33. James Says:

    My wife has T shirts that have been around for many years with no holes. She also has T shirts that are recent arrivals, and they have holes. The difference. One says ‘Made in USA’ the others either say ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in India’. My view is that recycled fabrics are being used to make T shirts and the third world is a hub of this recycling (remember Japanese cars were rust buckets because they used recycled metal which contained the beginning of rust) or just cheaply made cotton which doesnt remove the seeds completely. Companies are in business to make money, so they just buy the cheapest possible material, construct the clothing in as cheaply a manner and in as cheap a country as possible, hence, it dont last. As is often said, I cant afford to buy cheap products.

  34. kas Says:

    Maybe some of you have bugs eating your shirts, *if* these mystery holes are located in various places on your shirts/clothes. But for those of us who ONLY have them on the front, near the waist area…it’s friction, plain and simple. No bug on the planet will only eat the same spot on every shirt. The friction comes from anything from zippers/buttons rubbing against counters, seatbelts, or whatever. For the women whose men don’t have them, I’m willing to bet your man is taller than you and his shirts therefore don’t rub against things in the same place as yours. For me personally, my husband and I are the same height, so voila, we get holes in the same spot.

    I’m sure there ARE plenty of bugs eating clothes, babies chewing clothes, cats clawing clothes…but the little bitty holes that only occur on the fronts of shirts along the waistline/belly button area, only in the center of the shirt, are caused by friction. I’ve experienced this for well over ten years and the shirts ruined have been made from various types of fabric, made in various different countries. I do think cheaper quality shirts will get holes faster due to inferior weave, cloth, whatever, but I’ve had an $80 made-in-USA shirt get one, too, that I know (from the tag and from sight/feel) is “better” quality. I’m also sure that other things CAN cause these, but again, I’m personally referring to only the kinds of holes I described. If you spend a few weeks paying close attention to your habits and “testing” different shirts (I wore already-ruined shirts backward so I didn’t have to ruin a good one), you’ll find out how frequently your belly area is pressing against something, causing a zipper, belt, button, etc. to rub against your shirt.

    Anyway, just my thoughts…regardless of the cause, it’s apparently annoying as hell to us all! For my husband and me, the mystery is finally solved. :)

  35. Peris Says:

    It is prob from Standing at your kitchen counter as I work in the garment industry and the tables we use are about the same height and we ALL have these holes in this area from working and yes rubbing our tshirts against our jeans against the tables.

  36. browen Says:

    I can’t believe I found this as well as other posts on this issue. I have had this problem for a few years now and I do think it’s my jeans. Bought 4 pair of the same style and brand a few years ago, slightly lower cut than my old ones, and that’s when I noticed the problem. I also notice a slight discoloration and sometimes a shininess to the fabric in the area, and shortly after the holes appear. I’ve had it happen a couple hours after putting on a new shirt as well as having some shirts last a couple of weeks before it happens. Really a pain. I’ve started wearing the mens tank type undershirts under all my tops so they can take the brunt of the problem instead of my shirts.

  37. Kay Says:

    I thought I was going crazy to have holes in my many many tops including brand new ones! My hubby thought I was carelessly zipped my top inside my jeans when I go to toilet, so I was super-careful every time. I had lost at least 10 tops so far and was very very frustrated until reading this site! Before finding this site I just ruined a just bought top with still a tag intact. I was wearing it around house for 1 hour and then noticed a HOLE in it at the exact same spot!! — in centre front and lower than my waist!! That was my last straw and googled and found this site.

    From other forum site I found out what was causing it. In my case it was the combination of the granite bench top and wearing jeans and the cheap, thin fabric in between!! I tested wearing my (already holey) t-shirt back to front and moved around my kitchen and Voila!! A hole appeared! My granite top had some rough edged on it and I never noticed it was causing this very expensive damage. All I have to do from now on is wearing an apron or tucking my top inside my jeans when I work around the kitchen.

    Now I can finally sleep well at night.

  38. Mary Says:

    So glad I am not alone in this! I know it’s the button of my jeans rubbing against fabric because I only wear certain t-shirts with my jeans…and these all have holes while my dress shirts that I wear with slacks at work don’t have them. I drive in both so can’t be seatbelt.

  39. Sharon Says:

    I reckon it’s pant zips/buttons. I have them in all my t-shirts, but not lose shirts/blouses or any top I wear with a skirt. If it is silverfish, why don’t they like other areas such as underarms?! Or other clothes, such as underwear? I’m going to start wearing a thick material boob-tube thingy over the waistband and see if that works. I don’t wear belts because the metal buckles give me a rash.

  40. Jody Says:

    It’s not silverfish. Are the holes roughly around counter-height? They are made when you stand and cook/bake at the counter. The edge of the counter catches on your belt buckle or button on your jeans- the shirt of course is in the way and rubs/ get caught.

  41. Buggout Says:

    You better make sure the silverfish aren’t living in your belly button.

  42. Sister Wolf Says:

    Buggout – Believe me, I have looked.

  43. AnnRuth Says:

    These mystery holes are very frustrating. I am convinced they are caused by jeans or other heavy pants – when the fabric edges, next to the button, poke into shirts that are made of flimsy/thin fabric. I just ordered a belt called Invisibelt, to see if it will prevent this from happening (flat buckle designed to not show through tops). You can repair holes with iron-on mending fabrics, that you place on the inside of the shirt – some come in different colors and can be cut to the size you need. Different companies make them (the one I use is no longer made). Just be sure, when ironing on the patch, to place another fabric between the shirt and iron to prevent burning. If the belt I ordered does not work, I will try wearing camisoles under my shirts….

  44. lissa Says:

    Its those effing silverfish. They have annihilated all my beloved rayon Angie dresses- and woe betide if you have any food stains… they feast on those. I’ve put boric acid out and all but the fuckers have decimated my closet. RE; counter top theory, I would agree if food remnants at waist height is what’s creating the irresistible attraction to closet vermints. But damn them to hell, those silverfish ate through about 20 of my favorite things,.. yeah and all the Cool Change coverups that cost a fortune . Probably need to fumigate my house it’s infested with the creeps.

  45. Sister Wolf Says:

    Lissa – Fuckers! Have you tried Orange Guard? It seems to be working for me.

  46. Karen Wilkinson Says:

    https://www.facebook.com/fattythedragon.holes

  47. Nelle Says:

    I think mine are from the pointy corner of my jeans where the button is. I have no silverfish. I don’t wear a belt. They are always in the same place and are not on any other part of the garments. They are not on any other garmet only the shirts. So that eliminates silverfish. Maybe I should buy 1960s side zippered slacks!

  48. Ryno Says:

    I’m going with the Kitchen counter for now. Started getting the holes a year ago when I moved into a new apartment with a man made stone counter that has a square edge & is only about 15mm thick. I run my finger along it & can see there’s a good chance thats it. My friend on the other side of the country has the same problem & when I figured it out I realised she has the same friggen kitchen top!

    Going to buy one of those aprons with a picture of a chick in a bikini on it to wear in the kitchen (If I’m going to wear an apron I might as well look like a girl right). Will let you know how it goes!

    I hate these friggen holes!!!!

    P.S. I dont think I’m even going google Silver fish, the responses from other people already tell me I just don’t want to know…..

  49. James Says:

    It is just cheap cotton from the third world. If the cotton isnt processed correctly, seeds and other minute impurities remain in the cotton. When you was the T shirt, the impurity disloges leaving a tiny hole. USA cotton is very good whle Asian cotton, going through their processes is pretty poor. However, they make cheap clothing (not so cheap if you can only wear it a few times) and people want cheap. Hence stores like Walmart, who know their customers, simply buy on price and sell on price. You are much better off to look for USA made products and remember that you get what you pay for.

  50. Erin Says:

    All these crazy wives tales aside……It is silverfish…..

    I tried storing my shirts in a cedar dresser and for the ones that I kept there, there were no holes at all. Two other shirts that I bought at the same time, that I purposely store in the non-cedar dresser have tons of holes, all in the front toward the bottom of the shirt, the older the shirt, the more holes…..

    When I tried folding my t-shirts differently, I started to find holes on the side of the shirt instead of the front.

    None of my shirts that go into my dressers are dirty. There are no body oils that attract silverfish. They eat many foods, among them are cotton, linen and silk. They can even cause holes in curtains.

    What to do?

    I removed all the shirts from my dresser and put them in the garage. I hired an exterminator to toxify all of the rooms in the house, they sprayed pesticide along the perimeter of all rooms and bathrooms, had to be out of the house for two hours after……I was not thrilled with this idea, b/c of the chemicals, but they are gone!!!! It has been a year, and no more holes, with shirts in both dressers…..

    ps- they like moist areas, and turns out I had a leak in the MBR bathroom, that was a breeding ground for them….

    Good luck

  51. loosedrag Says:

    I have an obvious explanation that no one (apparently) wants to own, and I’m pretty sure I’m right for all of us, not just me. First, I’m certain that all the various friction and bug and lousy manufacture theories aren’t behind my t-shirt holes. Here’s why:

    1. I don’t rub my belly against countertops– I’m too tall, and have been for 40 years. Kitchen counters hit me at crotch level. My t-shirt holes are at navel level.

    2. As I’m getting older and fatter, I go long months without wearing shorts/pants with hard buttons in front (think hot summer in the south).

    3. About 10 years ago my navel started herniating (protruding) slightly. While it is not painful, it is still a sensitive area. I am very aware when pressure is applied on my navel. I am definitely not rubbing my navel against anything.

    4. This problem has followed me for decades, through many homes, roommates, family members, etc., and dozens–if not hundreds¬– of t-shirts.

    5. In the last 15 years, I never store my t-shirts in a drawer. I hardly store them at all. They are stacked, thrown, piled on wire racks or in plastic bins or in a suitcase. I don’t own a drawer for my clothes.

    6. I just asked my son if he has these holes in his shirts. He does. I asked my daughter if she has them. She doesn’t. Heredity at work here, not housework. Definitely not housework.

    7. Um, silverfish/carpet beetles/mites/moths eating only at navel level, only on t-shirts, all around the world? really?

    Here’s the Elephant in the Room folks–– it’s probaably your navel.

    My theory, supported by the article I’ve linked to, is that it is an acidic navel secretion or bacteria causing my t-shirts (and all of yours) to develop holes just at the navel, and nowhere else. We all have––brace yourselves––bacteria and cultures living in our navels, and they differ from person to person. Some of us have acidic secretions (based on diet or personal chemistry, most likely), some of us don’t. While the article doesn’t follow the trail all the way to the t-shirt, it satisfies me that something in my navel is acidic, reacting with my cotton t- shirts. Unpleasant? Perhaps. Does that mean it can’t be true? Nope. But if you can’t feature your navel as the culprit, continue to file away at your granite counters and write letters to clothing manufacturers and call in the toxin soldiers to poison your living space. It might make you feel better emotionally even if you still get t-shirt holes. But if you want to solve the problem, a pro-active baking soda navel wash in the AM is certainly worth a try. Personally, I’ve become accustomed to my t-shirt holes. They don’t bother me any more. But I’m still gonna try the baking soda :)
    Here’s the link to the article so you can secrete your own conclusions:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/11/07/after-two-years-scientists-still-cant-solve-belly-button-mystery-continue-navel-gazing/

  52. schnowboarder Says:

    i think of all theories this seems the most sensible to me but why would it only happen to my tshirts and polo shirts and never my work shirts?

  53. HoleyMoley Says:

    I’ve had this goddamn hole issue for years, and I finally decided to do some serious investigating after this last stint of ruining 5 new shirts from Anthropologie (fortunately, they have a generous return policy and took the shirts back with no problem). I’ve read hundreds of posts on the belly-button-height-holes-that-only-appear-in-front problem, so I’m familiar with all the theories, ranging from silverfish (gross) to acidic belly buttons (wha-wha-wha-what???) to car seat belts (possible) to granite counter tops (very likely) to belt buckles and pant zippers (the two most likely causes). Before I go off discrediting theories, I will say that these annoying little holes are caused by different things for different people, so all of those far-fetched theories may have some merit. My sister in-law actually had the edges of her granite counters filed, and she has ceased having the holey shirt problem. I, on the other hand, have a different culprit. I began inspecting my shirts throughout the day from the moment I put them on so that I could attempt to identify the approximate moment when a hole appeared. In only took two days to figure it out, and it was exactly what I had suspected for a long time–my jeans zipper. The zipper flips up when I sit down and eventually pokes a hole (or many) in the shirt. So…I began covering my zipper with a little plastic cap that I repurposed, and voila! No more holes. I just have to remember to take the cap off the zipper every night and put it somewhere safe so I can use it again with another pair of jeans. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. It’s been liberating knowing I can wear my shirts without the fear of ruining them. Hope this helps.

  54. 2beagles Says:

    Well I have holes In a lot of my shirts and finally found out why. i was getting a clean shirt out of my closet and a moth flew off it! They are eating holes in the front of my shirts. My husband lined the closet with ceder and now they are flying around the house. Yuck! Now we have to spray to get rid of them.

  55. Peggy Says:

    I have been frustrated by this as well. I believe it truly is caused by a combination of granite/quartz countertop and the position of metal buttons on jeans. A mornings ago I put on a relatively new (repeatedly washed) t-shirt from Lucky and noticed that it did NOT have holes in it yet. Later that day, I spent a good deal of time scrubbing down the kitchen counters before I realized I had been leaning into the side of the counter, rubbing the shirt against the button as I scrubbed the counter. Sure enough, the shirt was abraded were it was rubbing, and there were three new holes in it. Another time, I had been doing a marathon cooking session in the kitchen, then ran to the store to get a needed ingredient, and when I returned home there was a large gaping hole in the shirt I was wearing that was not there when I left the house. My theory is that it was caused by a combination of countertop abrasion AND seat belt trauma. Ugh! A lot of my affected shirts have come from J Jill and I mentioned it to the people working there. They told me that “Corporate is aware of the problem.” If it starts to affect their sales perhaps they will do research to get to the bottom of this perplexing and frustrating situation.

  56. Ajax Says:

    My wife has the same issue you have all described above. I just completed a 3 month experiment. My wife has two identical t-shirts (the thin expensive kind). One of them already had 1 tiny hole near the belt line. She had worn both a few times. I hung them right next to each other in the closet and marked the one with no holes and also put a ribbon on the hanger so she would know not to wear it. I also made a silverfish trap (see you tube) and put that at the back of the wardrobe. After three months, the shirt my wife continued to wear got another small hole. The one she did not wear is still free of holes. The trap is empty. There are no bugs!! It may be the counters, it may be the seatbelt, but at least I am 100% sure its not bugs!!!!

  57. maria Says:

    I know why there’s small holes. It’s because the materials they are using are cheap!!! What I do now I keep all my receipts and return them when this happens. I have wasted too much money.

  58. Andrea Says:

    I agree with Maria: using cheap material. In the past I never had problems with shirts! Its only since 4 or 5 years.
    Is it an idea to put all the names of the stores on a special site or make a special facebook site. To complain about the different brands.
    Because it is not only the cheap stores to give these problems.
    (Maison Schotch / Antropology)

  59. LH Says:

    Definitely carpet beetles!

  60. Lauren Says:

    My most recent problem holes are on the backside/butt portion of my white rayon/spandex Made in the USA blouse/bathing suit coverup. Of all of the comments, it seems I am the first to report holes in this section of the garment. Of all of the theories, it seems like my problem would come from the washing machine and/or detergents and abrasive movements. I’ve had the same issue on a fairly new white t-shirt in the armpit area and several times in the belly area. It sucks!

  61. Yolanda Chavez Says:

    Definitely moths tiny little moths. Bot cedar or moth balls don’t work. Losing a lot of clothes. Hope someone can come up wit a solution and they will become very wealthy.

  62. Lil Says:

    So not silverfish! First wear of a top ended up with these little holes right on the waist band of my jeans. I doubt I had a silverfish eating at my new top which I just unwrapped.

  63. Abzolut Says:

    It’s not bugs. I’ve had it happen to brand new shirts that I’m wearing for the first time , straight from the store– in the first 2-5 hours that I’m wearing them. And if it were bugs, wouldn’t they target EVERYONE’S clothes and not just mine?

    I have had this problem in multiple houses, with multiple types of countertops — and not a granite one among them.

    The one common factor that I have since this has become a real epidemic is that we have ALWAYS had a Honda vehicle. Currently, I drive an Odyssey, and there is a hard, nubby plastic rivet in the seatbelt that will face inward if the belt is just half a turn twisted. Before the Odyssey, we had a Pilot and a Civic. This problem has DEFINITELY gotten worse since I’ve been driving the Honda vehicles more. I’m going to cover over that rivet with some gauze and medical tape and hopefully the problem will go away.

  64. Jen Says:

    Thank god there are a small handful of you that actually believe the holes are caused from Silverfish, because they are!! They are most active at night, so you will not find them in action. The part about the belly area is still not confirmed as I find the holes in the shoulder and waist areas as well. I just poisoned all baseboards and walls behind where the shirts hang in the closet. It’s a terrible problem and never ends. I spray home defense around the perimeter of my house every couple months and the silverfish are dead in piles in the morning. At night I find extremely small ones on the tile around baseboards when I get up in the night to use the bathroom. The people are correct! Believe it peeps!

  65. Terri Says:

    After a few years of getting holes in my shirts I finally decided that after taking them out of the washer I would hang them up wet and let them air dry.
    All of the shirts that I air dried do not have holes in them.
    Once I forgot and put one in the dryer. Immediately after I removed it from the dryer when it was completely dry I found holes.
    So if I were you I might experiment with this and just start to air dry any new shirts.
    I bet it works.

  66. Deb Says:

    It is the metal buttons on jeans and other casual wear that causes knit fabrics to wear thin. I tried covering my metal buttons with Dr. Scholl’s moleskin and will see if that makes a difference. I wish someone would invent a clear gel cover for metal buttons!

  67. Jamie Says:

    Loosedrag, I think you are onto something there. It’s definitely a bacteria issue, related to that region. If there’s one thing we can all agree on is that that’s the one area it is happening in for a good majority of us all.

    Bacteria in my mind is the culprit. I’d love to know how many of us have dogs and of those, how many dogs have a Yeast infection constantly?

    Silverfish? No way. We don’t have any. Belts? Never wear them. Granite countertops? They’re too high. Loosedrag’s theory is more plausible.

  68. Paula Maietta Says:

    It’s not the button, countertops, etc that is causing the holes if the corner above the button…the reason it’s happening now…they never use to use nylon/spandex in jeans years ago…so the spandex is making the corner stick out when you button it. I sometimes use a safety pin the hold it down or I have been cutting the corner off and rounding the edge and it stopped putting holes in my T-Shirts.

  69. Ayfer Says:

    Hi the theory about the belt and silverfish isn’t buying me. I had bought 3 new t-shirts at different times I wore one of them for about couple of hours and hung it back in my wardrobe, a week later I decided to wear it again I saw 4 or 5 small holes just 10 cm above the center hem. I was very upset not only was it expensive but i loved my top, however i had noticed these holes appearing in other t-shirts before. I went through my wardrobe and noticed another T-shirt also expensive also had a hole that I had only worn once and it didn’t need a wash. I have also noticed a shirt that had the holes in the back and I thought I had bought it without seeing the holes. I don’t wear belts and I regularly clean and dust my wardrobe every couple of weeks. so confused.

  70. Ayfer Says:

    And the theory about pets, I don’t own any. I’m a clean freak, but it doesn’t happen on my kids T-shirts????????

  71. W Huff Says:

    Ok first I have to say it was nice to see that I’m not alone in this problem. Not only am I not alone but it seems to be a major issue everywhere! With that being said I also have to laugh at all the possible causes and solutions that have been posted. I will say that the bug or insect issue is possible and I’m sure has caused holy clothes in isolated occurrences, but definitely not the cause for the masses. I’ve read a lot of posts here and on other sites and would like to present my hypothesis. In doing so we need to eliminate all of the impossibilities. Gender or age specific, no! Zipper, jewelry, button, countertop, seatbelt.. all no! What do all cases have in common? Washer and dryer, cleaning detergents, and seemingly the location of holes (for the most part) appearing and predominantly in thin clothes such as t-shirts.
    Hypothesis: First I would address the new detergents ie: HE detergents on the market and new formulas for old detergents that would use similar changes. Primarily the overuse of “concentrated” chemicals in washing that are very harsh on thin material in high areas of chemical concentration. I think this is part of the problem. 
    As for the actual holes and location of the holes: During the draining process between cycles the clothes that are against the bottom or sides of the wash bin are sucked against the tiny holes of the wash bin and act as a mini strainer as the water is pumped out through these holes and out of the washing machine. Which would cause the weakening or tearing of lightweight material in these areas. Now consider that happening, if you take a t-shirt and press it against this hole the 2 layers of the shirt front and back are twice as thick and will hold up to this pressure, however if the bottom of the shirt is not in two layers but only one layer is against these drain holes because of the opening in the bottom of the shirt. My belief is that is when the visible damage occurs. Which would also happen in some cases around neck and sleeve openings as well.
    Possible Solution to check my hypothesis: Try washing your t-shirts in a washable mesh garment bag… Will get to the bottom of this! :) cheers! 

  72. Caroline B Says:

    I am 100% it’s silver fish or some type of bug because, I didn’t have the problem until I moved to my mom’s house. Once I moved here it happened again. I had lived here years before and the same thing happened then. Once, I moved it stopped. I knew it wasn’t jeans or laundry soap since, I used /wore the same kind over and over.

  73. Heather Martin Says:

    I’m fuming just ironed my two week old top and found eleven small holes, i can only think it must be hungry aliens.

  74. Diane B from Connecticut Says:

    I never had an issue with small holes in my clothes until I bought a new car in 2009. I started to find small holes near the bottom of my casual tops. For the past few years I couldn’t figure out how a brand new top would get holes the very first time I wore it. I blamed it on my old laminate kitchen counters assuming the rubbing against them while doing dishes was the culprit. Well we replaced the counters with smooth granite and I still continued to get holes. I finally discovered it was my car’s seat belt two years ago when my sister wore a brand new top in my car for the first time and when we arrived at our destination two hours later she had the same small holes I had been complaining about for years. Turns out the small plastic button on my seat belt rests exactly in the center of my tummy just below the belly button. This continuously rubs against your clothing while driving. If you have pants with a zipper it exacerbates the problem. I only had holes in my warmer weather tops because wearing a jacket in cooler weather protected them from the seat belt friction. Suggest you check the seat belts of all the cars you ride in. Most likely you will find a plastic disk on one of them that rests in the same area where you have holes. I covered that spot on the belt with a velcro lambs wool seat belt cover I purchased and haven’t had a problem since.

  75. A Says:

    Really. I have knit shirts from several years ago that have no holes and ones that are 2
    Months old that have them. It is cheap thread and bargain manufacturing. Stores are counting on consumers to accept this I have started saving receipts and returning. Consumers unite!!

  76. Marianne B Says:

    I can’t believe I’m reading this!!!! I have bee going thru this for years. Small holes, usually in a cluster in the same spot on at least 25+ soft cotton shirts. I even pulled apart a pair of $200+ jeans because I thought it was the metal button. I went to Talbots and asked them if other customers had a complaint about holes in their shirts. I had a lot of their t shirts. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady. I have even put duck tape from the inside of my jeans up over the waist and partially down the front zipper. I spend a lot of time on my iPad and thought maybe it was the friction of the case against my belly.
    Today, I put on a brand new shirt that I bought yesterday and after 3 hours!!!! I had a new small hole where you can see that it pulled. I wasn’t sitting with my iPad and the only 2 things I did was drive my car(seatbelt) and washed a pot in the sink. I have granite counters and this must be it. I jokingly told my husband that I was going to google this and did out of desperation, I couldn’t believe how many people have the same issue

  77. Humayun Says:

    I have the same problem. I hate bugs and I have not seen any silver fish yet. I think it has to be friction between the belt and that lower front part of the shirt especially when I am driving and seat belt puts more pressure causing greater friction. I am also curious to know if a lot of you guy wear hoodies and jackets with zippers in the front because that can chew the shirt in the driving position.

  78. Magster Says:

    I believe it is the cheap material all retail stores are using. Same brand a few years old are still good. Now it doesn’t matter. . . Target, Nordstrom, The Loft. All holey. Even my recently bought jersey knit sheets from Lands End.

  79. Shirley smith Says:

    Has anyone thought of Velcro? Lightweight jackets often have strips of Velcro for fasteners. I think one of my favorite shirts was grabbed by it, 6 tiny holes some close together, and an odd one or two apart

  80. Evelyn Moss Says:

    I disagree with the silverfish, washing machine, seat belt and in fact believe it is the cheap construction of the material make in China. We all should demand our money back because these holes show up about the third to fifth washing.

    They are making big profits and we are wasting our money.

  81. Dusty Says:

    Well, I have read all these posts and more on other sites. Let me throw a monkey wrench into the ideas of washing, bleach, seatbelts, counters, cheap material that doesn’t hold up, etc. I have had this problem for years in t shirts, thinking it was seatbelts, counters or my desk. But I am also finding them in my cotton underwear. but another tidbit, I never get the holes in white underwear, just the colored. I have also experimented and bought new underwear and put it in the drawer for a couple of weeks to see. Sure enough, I pulled out a couple of pairs and there are small round holes, front and back. So there goes the theory of bleaching, wearing and so forth. I have never seen silverfish in my house and I have been there for almost 30 years. but I will start checking. Just wonder why the don’t like white? any suggestions?

  82. Tracey Says:

    It is the combination of ‘made in china’ products and cheaper materials and the friction of seat belts rubbing against this fabric.
    The holes are in the Tshirts that I wear on a daily basis which are either in the wash, being worn or hanging in my closet, no time for silver fish to attack!
    I now use a soft seat belt protector around the waist belt area and NO MORE HOLES! problem solved people!

  83. Chris Says:

    If silverfish eat the oily part of the shirt, then it wouldn’t be at the front below the belly button because we where pants! There is no contact between the shirt and the belly button.

  84. Catherine Says:

    The holes are not from silver fish, which are insects which cannot fly, but from Tineola bisselliella, or clothes moths. They are small and gold and prefer the dark to light, so love closets! They definitely prefer the front area just below the belly button, but I seriously doubt it has anything to do with belly buttons. More likely it is to do with hormones and secretions produced from this part of the body, and also that when we drop food, that is where it lands. That’s my theory, but other than that, I have no idea why they prefer that part of the garment.

  85. Catherine Says:

    ….Silverfish do eat clothes and other materials, it’s true, but you know if you have them in your house. If you switch on a light in the bathroom, or kitchen, you’ll see them scuttling away under the skirtings. But look out for these tiny moths – they are the real destructive culprits of your clothes. They are distinct from other moths which fly towards light sources:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1393334/Moths-invade-Britains-homes-What-stop-them.html

  86. GouldGirl Says:

    Come on, people; it’s not silverfish! Silverfish wouldn’t be eating the shirts in the same places, on all of us different people, who live in different areas, who store and launder their shirts in a variety of different ways! Nor is it moths, for the same reasons. My husband is an engineer and we have been studying this problem for a couple of years now because it hasn’t gone away. It is definitely poor quality fabric combined with the interaction of the denim/hardware in our jeans. The real question is: What can we do about this? My husband said, “I don’t know why consumers have not revolted against this problem by now!” I have spent literally hundreds of dollars on comfy, t-shirts from yes, a variety of stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Ann Taylor Loft, and even Macy’s! Does anybody have a SOLUTION?

  87. Caroline E. Says:

    I agree with GouldGirl – definitely poor quality fabric + jeans.
    Got no bugs, no shirts storage system (some hang, some folded etc.) Only wear them once between washes. Those pesky holes ALWAYS appear in the same place.
    But not on all of my t-shirts. I’ve got some that are pretty “old” (5-6 years), they get absolutely the same treatment as the rest of them, and guess what – NO holes whatsoever. The problem is, you can’t really tell the quality when buying. Some of my intact shirts are from small designer shops, some from H&M and the likes. So are the holey ones!

  88. Lo tovli Says:

    Wife has same problem – exact same position in t-shirts – thinner the material, more, larger, and shaped holes. We also have seen the “coloration” effect in the spot where holes are in other shirts. She wears mostly jeans, with a belt that has a round buckle. The zippers are never exposed.

    She has holes in some shirts that she never wears inside the house, never wears jeans inside the house, and always wears an apron when in the kitchen. (I don’t wear an apron in the kitchen and do not have any “holey” shirts.)

    Our car seatbelts do not have any sharp edges or roughness in the “hole” spot, but this doesn’t rule out seat belt friction. We’ve taken photos of every hole smitten shirt, and I’m going to make a seat belt cover.

    At least finding that she is not the only person with this problem has been consolation for me – she will not be comforted until I solve this vexation.

    Hopefully, I can solve this before she starts getting her clothes at the ‘funny farm’.

  89. Kat McKenzie Says:

    I’m 60 years old. I have T-Shirts since HIGH SCHOOL. Those T-Shirts do not have holes, but the shirts I’ve purchased in the last 5 years, ALL have holes. I have paid $200.00 for a shirt,; I’ve paid $10.00 for a shirt. It doesn’t matter. If it was a recent purchase, it develops holes. The shirts I bought in 1972, and still wear regularly, may be horribly faded, but HAVE NO HOLES! Bottom line: THE QUALITY OF THE FABRIC IS THE PROBLEM. Why there hasn’t been an uproar on Social Media about this, I have no idea. Someone needs to address this. It should be completely unacceptable. We need to start a revolution!

  90. Penny A Says:

    Like many other contributors I am really relieved to find I am not the only person to suffer this problem! This is the first time I have googled this issue, having discovered tonight that yet again another top has a hole in the same place at the front, below the waistline. This has only started happening to me in the last 3 or 4 years and has happened to around 5 or 6 jersey cotton type tops and t-shirts. Some have been almost new. There seem to be so many theories, that I don’t think I will find a solution, although I agree with some others that maybe the quality of fabric is getting worse. I will just have to be content that I am not the only person with this problem. What does really annoy me however, is that it only seems to happen to my favourite tops, despite the fact that I don’t wear them any more frequently than any others!

  91. Janice Rodrigues Says:

    Hello Ladies,
    I have been battling this too for about 8 yrs. Never before. I know it is bugs, just can’t understand how they would know to eat only in the front or off to side & around the belly button. I just posted to another site on FB called something like “Holes in the front of my tshirts” & was able to upload a photo I took today of a top that I pulled out of the closet only to find new holes, just from hanging in the closet! I had started sewing up the holes in my tops, as long as they didn’t look too conspicuous. I had sewn the holes in this particular top & like I said, took it out today only to find new damage! It is beyond frustrating, and like the comments above, it happens to tops from Nordstrom’s to T.J.Maxx,

  92. Mary L Says:

    Just today we went out to a restaurant for a friend’s birthday supper. Sitting next to my husband but half turned to talk to person on other side of me, my husband asked me if I knew I had little holes in the back of my blouse. I did not know – he said they were a bunch of them. Later, at home I pulled off the blouse and saw the holes, in a fairly widespread area of only the left upper back. They are roundish, consist in lines or small groups and connected only by a small thread. You can stretch the material a bit and the holes look larger but go back to same size when turned loose. I’ve only worn this blouse a few times. I took it out of the closet recently and washed it to refresh it for summer wear but did not notice the holes. I have noticed no holes in other clothes (as yet anyways), have seen no silverfish or noticed any moths inside the house. Weird that the holes are on the back of my blouse when all the comments I’ve read here seem to be on the front. I use an all fabric (clorox 2) color brightener and sometimes soak my clothes for a bit if some of the articles are stained. Wondering if the blouse was just not quality fabric – it is thin – and couldn’t handle the washing process. Interesting comment on here about a thin fabric possibly being sucked into the perforations in the washer tub when going through a rinse cycle. hmmm …one of my favorite tangerine colored blouses… :)

  93. Kathy Says:

    If I had silverfish wouldn’t I see them.

  94. Meg Says:

    Somebody please find a solution! Every t-shirt I have has these tiny holes. I’ve had the granite tops smoothed by professionals. At least I’m not going crazy. My husband never has them nor does my mom who both work in the kitchen. I just don’t get it!

  95. loticos Says:

    I don’t believe this silverfish theory. Silverfish do not live in Europe, and it has been only since I’ve been in Europe that I’ve started finding the holes in all my shirts

  96. Patricia Says:

    My son and I do our wash separately. We use different laundry detergent, but both are fragrance-free. We both have tiny holes appearing in tee-shirt type fabrics, him on his cotton/blend tee-shirts, me on almost every top I’ve purchased for the past couple years. I have had this washing machine and dryer for 9 years. The holes have only begun appearing in the past year and a half or so. Many hundreds of dollars in ruined clothing later, we still (both scientists) have not been able to find a credible hypothesis and an experiment that validates that hypothesis. Now, someone just suggested to me that the problem is that our kitchen range (gas-powered) has gotten out of calibration and is sputtering out minute sparks that are landing on our clothes, always at tummy-height. The tiny damage to a fiber of the fabric is too small to notice. But once the clothing goes through the washing machine, the hole opens up to become that tiny but visible hole. I can’t rule this out. Both my son and I love to cook. The scientist in me is suspicious, though. Sparks that refuse to land on any area but my tummy? Me, who must wear an apron before cooking or be certain of stained clothing? The counter? Maybe it’s when you’re just heating up water for tea in the morning. If you have tiny holes in the front of your tops and do not cook with gas-powered burners, please post that here! (It would save us conducting another round of experiments, data gathering, analysis ;-)).

  97. Dee Says:

    The reason is the combination of wearing jeans (or any pants with a front zipper) and a seat belt in the car. When you sit in the car the zipper tab of your jeans flips up slightly coming in contact with your t-shirts or other tops. When you put the seat belt on and are driving you are moving around slightly causing FRICTION between the zipper tab, shirts and seat belt, THEREFORE CAUSING SMALL HOLES in this area. Solution: remember to lift your top over the seat belt while driving and put the zipper tab down!!!!!!! TRUST ME THIS IS THE REASON.

  98. Mommy Says:

    I thought carpet bugs, seatbelts, zippers, moths, and all kinds of reasons-how many of you have a dog? Who greets you lovingly when you come home? Greets you by standing up against you and stretches their front paws up to your ….yep, you guessed it! Your belly!!!! Bugs would eat holes in all kinds of places! Zippers are not that sharp and I don’t rub myself up against the kitchen counter long or hard enough to get holes….I figured this out just two days ago wearing a brand-new shirt when my dog stretched up to greet me and I felt a pinch! I said ouch and looked down as I had a brand-new hole in my brand-new shirt… Mystery solved in my house- this started about two years ago, and guess how old my dog is????

  99. Linda Says:

    I have ruined so many shirts in the last year, it was driving me crazy. I ruined 5 just last week all new! I think I know what did it to mine. It is the metal button on my jeans or shorts. When I put one on in the morning they were fine. But I noticed as the day wore on they had kind of a faint worn out or whitish looking area and then the holes would appear. As soon as I changer to shorts with a plastic button I haven’t ruined any. I checked everything the posts said and this is the only solution that makes sense to me. My counters are smooth quartz, my seat belts are O.K no bugs. So I put clear fingernail polish on my buttons to see if that stops them from eating thru my shirts. Wake up manufacturers! Change the cheap metal buttons!

  100. Kam Says:

    Yes, silverfish definitely do live in Europe. We have them in our house but it seems they like bathrooms (damp areas). I remember when we lived in France many years ago, that was the first time I got acquainted with them. I hate the buggers – they are very very difficult to detect as they come out at night – if you put on the light they stop very still so they just look like a speck of dirt – Honest! We have white floor tiles, with grey grout, the buggers hide on the grey grout.

    I have one particular drawer where I have this problem with t-shirts n’holes and not yet sure what is causing it but all the holes are very small and around the belly button area. I have never spotted silver fish in our bedroom but that doesn’t mean to say they are not there. Anyway, had this problem for too long now – time for some solutions…..

  101. Karin from LBI Says:

    We have read every post and have concluded that we all have too much free time on our hands if we really take a look at the posts. Despite this free time issue I am of the belief that my skin emanates alien rays that burn small holes in my shirt as the aliens in my belly ( I starred in Aliens 2) wish to communicate to the mothership.

  102. lois dankenbring Says:

    Started getting holes 3 months after moving into a newly-built apt. in 2005…still getting them…have used 3 different exterminators, talked to numerous sources (entomologists, catalog customer service, Nat’l Cotton Growers,)!..all say “never heard of it”. Have been sprayed, bombed, sticky-boxed; froze shirts, ,2 discarded hundreds of $’s worth.
    The only common denominator I find after reading myriads of comments is the one about moving into new digs….because…
    1) I don’t wear jeans
    2) I’ve always worn an apron in the kitchen , and countertops are all curved
    3) Same holes in nightgowns (not worn with seatbelts!) and
    not always at mid-section
    4) Changed washer/dryer
    5) Dirty laundry goes into Ziploc bags in basket
    …you name it, I’ve done it or thought of it after 9 years..

    Before move-in I had Closet Co. arrange so I could hang t-shirts. No more…now fold & put into drawers. Many of the shirt-fronts have only “divots” (not-quite a hole-in-one)…and can only be seen by holding shirtfront to light…, most of my tees are black, so I’m wearing anyway, with jacket, shirt, etc.

    It seems that holes appear more frequently in winter months.
    Still spraying and praying,
    lois

    .

  103. Karen Says:

    DO ALL OF YOU HAVE TOP LOADING WASHERS? I never had the problem until I got a new washing machine five years ago, so I blamed the machine. But now I do think it may be the cheaper cloth (regardless of the price of the T-shirt). I heard that side loaders, which do not have the central column, are easier on cloths…

  104. Debbie Says:

    I’m going crazy & so happy to hear I’m not the only one having this problem. It can’t be bugs cause my husband shares the same closet & his shirts have no holes. I have ruined so many shirts & not just t shirts. I don’t think it’s the material either. I think it has to do with jean material & the the way the zipper can stick up & cause it to poke thru the shirt. I have jeans that I wear in colder months that do not cause this problem. Only jean capris that I war in summer
    I’ve tried buying new pants but they all seem to be the same material. Please help I think I’m going to go crazy. Can’t keep buying new clothes

  105. Stacey Says:

    I wonder- do all of us have kids that we carry? I have moved on from my pants and seatbelt theory to the velcro on his shoes…could it be? I carried him in to day care today….— I just wore a brand new top and the only possibilities are his shoes, the seat belt or my pants— that is it- has not been in my closet or washed yet— and it SUCKS i love this new shirt- argh!!!! Plus my husband only has these wee holes in one shirt I think….

  106. Mariette Says:

    Hello all you holey people. LOL ?
    I’m with Karen from BLI on this. We have too much time on our hands and I’m also alien species.
    Not only am I at my WITS end with the holes in my shirts and soft tops (the new one too I bought a few days ago and wore only once, hand washed and everything) I’m DEVASTATED that they might be caused by those fucking critters that invade our houses called Silverfish.
    Not saying it is but today I am going to extreme measures to eliminate the possibility of these fuckers or I really do hope I do.

    A few months ago I started noticing Silverfish in the house, bathroom, kitchen and my clothes cupboard well, I think is invested only my clothes cupboard. But for no reason because all my clothes are worn all the time and washed soon after so the probability of it hanging long enough to be eaten through is kinda a big question and my husband does NOT have the same issue.
    So today is the diluted with water “Orange Essential Oil” mixture sprayed all over my cupboards as well as drops of that in cotton balls on the corners of the “most invested areas”

    All you might think I am crazy but someone out there is even more crazy and freakier. This dude made a documentary of “how silverfish live” WFT!!
    So when I watched it – now you think I’m fucking crazy I came to some conclusion based on his factual study that the mouths of Silverfish are not designed to chew or bite: it is scraping action.
    I’m all grossed out now again but you can watch the video yourself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErBgOTBenIA

    Anyway, I’m off to do the orange oil extermination now… wish me luck. Fuck because I’m not sure what I am going to do if they don’t die and leave my house!
    Bye

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