Holes commonly show up in the armpits of shirts, often appearing soon after the garment is laundered. Although some holes are created by normal wear and tear, antiperspirants and deodorants are usually the culprits. Combined with perspiration, the chemicals in the products weaken the fiber and cause damage to fabrics such as wool, silk, linen, cotton, rayon and some synthetics. The damage is often permanent, but proper care and a change in the way you use deodorants and antiperspirants can prolong the life of your shirts.
Dry your skin thoroughly before applying deodorant or antiperspirant, and then allow the product to dry completely before putting on your shirt. Use the products lightly, as heavy use causes a greater buildup that can damage your clothing.
Wash or dry clean your shirt after each wearing, according to the care tag on the garment. Regular laundering removes the sweat and chemicals and prevents buildup. To launder washable garments, soak the garments in an enzyme detergent or enzyme presoak before washing, to remove the substances, and then wash the shirt in the hottest water appropriate for the garment.
Wear an undershirt or a dress shield under your shirt to absorb perspiration and protect your shirt from deodorants and antiperspirants.
Ensure your shirts fit properly. Too-tight shirts strain the chest and underarms of the garment.
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M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.