How to Keep Your Shirts From Getting Holes in the Armpit

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.

A man is buttoning a dress shirt. (Image: vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Wear an undershirt or a dress shield under your shirt to absorb perspiration and protect your shirt from deodorants and antiperspirants.

Step 4

Ensure your shirts fit properly. Too-tight shirts strain the chest and underarms of the garment.

Things You'll Need

  • Enzyme detergent or enzyme presoak

  • Laundry detergent

  • Undershirts


Use bleach with care. Although bleach helps keep white shirts white, overuse weakens the fabric and may cause holes. Use bleach strictly according to the instructions on the label. Alternately, use an oxygen bleach product, which is safe for regular use on all fabrics and all colors.

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