General Question

sandalman's avatar

Can washing clothes with too much washing powder prematurely cause clothes to have holes in them?

Asked by sandalman (428points) October 7th, 2010

Over time, I’ve been noticing that my t-shirts and towels have been getting holes in them. Previously, I’ve always thought these holes were naturally caused, but it struck me recently that it might be because I am using too much washing powder. Is this possible? It might be worth noting that I am using bactericidal washing powder.

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12 Answers

BoBo1946's avatar

@sandalman I’m thinking that too much bleach could cause that, but not too much washing powder. If the washing powder has a bleach substance in it, I would say yes.

choppersangel's avatar

It may be really simple and physical rather than chemical. Is the seal on your washing machine door intact and smooth? The action of the washing machine may simply be bashing your clothes against sharp items in the wash, or within the drum itself. If your t-shirts and towels are all cotton, as a natural fibre, the biological wash powder shouldn’t be damaging them but the bleaching agents might be. The fibres may have become weakened, although that is a long-term action. More likely to be something rough or sharp in the wash itself. Hope that helps.

Brian1946's avatar

If you put bleach directly on fabrics instead of adding it when the drum has enough water, then that could cause holes in your clothing.

I have the same problem occasionally and I think the holes could be also caused by moths.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

1.) Do you use either detergent or liquid bleach? It can wear out cotton, although it usually is the material in general and not small holes.

2.) Do you use a clothes dryer? Drying clothes with anything that contains metal, like zippers and buttons, when the temperature is too high heats the metal up and can cause damage to clothing it presses against. When I dry a load that contains towels, I check the dryer frequently and remove items that are already dry and start it up again with items that are still damp, usually with the towels to come out last. It prevents heat damage.

3.) Are the holes in the t-shirts typically in the same spot? It could be that they are catching on something, like a rough kitchen counter edge.

4.) It shouldn’t be clothes moths, as they only attack woolens, fur, silk, felt, and feathers.

sandalman's avatar

No, it’s washing powder, and I don’t use a dryer. I have noticed that the holes in my t-shirts tend to be just below the collar. The picture here shows a typical example. The vertical line above is a crease made by the attached label at the collar. Another recent hole was to a favourite polo shirt of mine, but it was on the seam where one of the sleeves joins the rest of the shirt. Does all this have anything to do with the rate at which my clothes dry?

Nullo's avatar

It’s not the soap that cleans your clothes as much as it is the abrasion from the other items in the wash. Abrasion is also the No.1 way to put holes in fabric.

Little holes like the one pictured above are often caused by moths.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for the addl. information and the photo. Since they are on or near seams that receive a fair amount of stretching when worn, it could be from the seams pulling the material apart. What about the towels? Where are the holes showing up? And one more question: do they ever get washed with an clothing article that has a hook, such as a bra?

As for moths:
The larva is the damaging stage of the clothes moth. Both species feed on wool clothing, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, furs, stored wool, animal bristles in brushes, wool felts in pianos, and fish meal in fish food. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool. Larvae may use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. Damage generally appears in hidden locations such as under collars or cuffs of clothing, in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in areas of carpeting covered by furniture.

Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration, or urine are more subject to damage.

sandalman's avatar

As far as the towels are concerned, I can’t discern any pattern behind the locations of the holes that appear; they show up everywhere. The clothes aren’t washed with anything that has a hook.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Do you carry a shoulder bag (pocketbook, computer bag) or back pack that could be causing stress on the shirts? I’m running out of ideas here, other than to change house elves.

Nullo's avatar

Over-washing will make the fabric brittle, too. How old are the articles?

@Pied_Pfeffer That’s it. Definitely the house elves. XD

choppersangel's avatar

Reading over the other answers to this, and looking at your pic of the little hole in your shirt, the damage does look mechanical. With respect, if these items have been around a while and washed many times, it is not unusual for wear to appear along seams.

The little hole pictured looks like a stitch at the neckline, which has ‘run’. Where the stitching holds the fabric, there is naturally some tension – it’s what holds it together. To offset this, re-shaping your clothes whilst they are still damp, i.e. pulling gently into shape, perhaps drying on plastic coathangers, or laid on a dryer might help.

The towels may simply have worn – again, if they are well used and washed frequently. The ‘weave’ of towels is given a lot of wear as we rub and use them. Over time, as the pile gets flattened, the woven threads get exposed to the abrasion (mentioned above by nullo) of other items in the wash… etc.

Seems like proper ‘wear and tear’! Try to keep all the cotton items together, don’t mix with man-made fibres, as these are actually tougher. It may be that the thread used to sew your top is polyester while the shirt itself is cotton… Time will take its’ toll unfortunately! lol

YARNLADY's avatar

Good advice from @choppersangel. I would add, dont wash cotton shirts or towels with any clothes that have zippers, that can really ruin them.

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