What Causes Holes in Clothes — And How to Fix Them

holes in clothes
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Priscilla Du Preez

Wondering why there are small holes in your clothes? Moths are the easiest source to blame, but they’re not always responsible. We’ll look at the various reasons why you have holes in your clothes and what you can do about it.

If you find small holes in your shirts, tops, or other clothes, it’s best to act quickly. Otherwise, you might start to find more and more. There are various causes for holes in clothing, such as: 

  • Belts
  • Zippers
  • Bras
  • Your Washing Machine
  • Catching on Rough Surfaces
  • Clothing Moths

We’ll dive in, take a look at each individual reason and show you what you can do to prevent them. 

Belts, Zippers, and Bras Causing Holes in Clothes

holes in clothes
When washing things like jeans, it’s best to do them up so that the button and zipper can’t snag other clothing. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Pixabay)

Belts, zippers, and bras can be responsible for the small holes in clothing due to their sharp edges.

Belt Buckles: Did you find holes at the bottom of your t-shirts? Your belt may be the reason. It can wear holes in shirts and sweaters, as the buckle rubs against the material or gets caught in it. To avoid this, either go without a belt, smooth rough edges on the buckle with sandpaper, or change the position of it daily. If you move it a little to the side on some days, it won’t always rub on the same part of the t-shirt.

Zippers: zippers can easily get caught in clothing and cause holes. When adding jeans to your laundry, make sure you do the zippers up. This way, clothes are less likely to snag on them.

Bras: if you don’t do the clasp up on your bra before throwing it in the washing machine, those little metal prongs can wreak havoc on your clothes. Some bras will unclasp in the washing machine, so you may want to wash them in a washing bag. If you wear bras with underwire, and have noticed the wire is missing, check your washing machine. It can get stuck between the drum and the side and stick out during the cycle, causing clothing to catch and tear. 

Washing Machine as a Cause

You’re probably wondering how a washing machine can cause your clothes to rip. Here’s our explanation:

Overloading: if you put too many clothes in your washing machine, they might not get clean. Even worse: overloading can also cause your clothing to snag on zippers, buttons, and other decoration. So better run your washing machine twice and turn garments with buttons or beads inside out.

Spin Cycle Speed: spinning too quickly can cause clothing to be pulled and stretched which causes fibers to wear and tear. Weak fibers like cotton and silk are especially susceptible to breaking, causing small holes in your clothes. Our recommendation: wash sheets and towels on the maximum spin cycle, jeans on high, cotton clothes on medium, and silk/delicates on a low spin cycle.

Clothing Moths Eating Holes in Clothes

holes in clothes
Dried lavender or lavender essential oil is a great way to keep moths away from your closets. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Eva Elijas)

Moths in your closet are probably the most common cause of small holes in your clothes. The fibers of your clothes serve both as food and building material for moths to hatch their young. Animal materials such as leather, silk, and wool are often affected. That being said, clothes moths aren’t picky and may also choose to use mixed fabrics as their nest.

You can use pheromone traps to combat clothing moths – they are available in most drugstores and hardware stores. However, these only attract the male moths — the female moths will continue to lay their eggs. Therefore, it makes more sense to use these two methods:

  • Dried Lavender: You can put dried lavender in a mesh bag and hang it in your closet. The scent will drive away moths.
  • Essential Oils: You can also use essential oils to repel moths. We recommend using organic mint or lavender oils. 

In case of a bad moth infestation in your closet, you should wash your clothes on a warm cycle and wipe out the wardrobe with vinegar. Read more: How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths: Easy DIY Moth Repellent

Catching on Rough Surfaces

Things like nails, un-sanded wood, brick, and unfinished stone surfaces can be quite abrasive. If you accidentally rub up against them, they can cause holes in your clothes, which become even more pronounced after washing. If the surface in question is part of your furniture, you may want to sand it off or cover it.

Repairing Small Holes

holes in clothes
Traditionally holes were mended with needle and thread, but now things like fusible web exist, making it easier to do repairs. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Pavel Danilyuk )

Finding small holes in your clothes can be such a pain, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw the entire garment out. It is much more sustainable to simply repair the hole. Even if you’re not adept with a needle and thread, you can still easily fix your clothes with a special fusible material for ironing called fusible web. You can find it at Walmart and most craft stores in a variety of colors and weights — choose the weight that is most similar to the garment you’re trying to fix. 

Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, iron the clean fabric smooth and let it cool. You can use an ironing board or even just a tea towel on a hard surface. 
  2. Turn the garment inside out and place it on your ironing surface. 
  3. Cut a small piece of the fusible web that generously covers the hole.
  4. Now press the hole together and place the fusible or lining fabric on top of it. Place a damp tea towel over it.
  5. Using the “Wool” setting, place the iron on the fabric for about ten seconds.

Alternatively, you can mend small holes using needle and thread. 

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