It’s one of the great mysteries of the modern world – where do those tiny holes in the front of t-shirts come from?!

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to their appearance, and they don’t seem to discriminate – expensive tees and cheap and cheerful tops all seem to fall victim to the pesky little holes. It’s such a strange phenomenon. The holes always appear in the same spot; in the middle of the lower belly. But just how do they get there?

We decided to ask our Mouths of Mums community to help us solve the mystery – and we had literally thousands of responses!

What causes tiny holes in t-shirts?

Here are some of the most common reasons the MoM community gave:

  • Silverfish
  • Rubbing on bench tops
  • Seatbelt friction
  • Zipper friction
  • Moths
  • Washing machine abrasion
  • Ants
  • Belt friction
  • Pegs
  • Dryer
  • Cockroaches
  • Delicate threads
  • Getting caught on bra hooks in the washing machine

While theories about critters gnawing away at t-shirts abound, it just doesn’t seem plausible. Why would moths and silverfish all choose to attack tees in the EXACT SAME SPOT?! It doesn’t make sense, and therefore we can probably discount that theory.

What about the washing machine and dryer? Some have suggested that the tops can get caught in the small holes of the appliances as they spin around. But, again, why always in the same spot? We’re not convinced this is the reason.

The peg theory doesn’t fly either – because I never peg my t-shirts in the middle of the belly area, only at the sides.

@starrynoisy It’s not moths #whatisthat #wardrobemalfuncition #willsmith ♬ Originalton – Meow ????

So, what does cause the little holes in t-shirts then?

The most likely cause is friction of some kind. It could be from rubbing against bench tops, or seatbelts. But most likely it’s probably from zippers and buttons.

Bayard Winthrop, the founder and CEO of basics brand American Giant, told TODAY that part of the tee is a prime spot for abrasion.

“The fabric there is (rubbing) against the hardware: your belt, the tops of your jeans, all points of wear. The friction, repeated over time, has caused the fabric to deteriorate. The real culprit here is often the T-shirt fabric itself. The garment itself might be produced as cheaply as possible, cutting costs where possible. Bummer, right?”

How to avoid little holes in t-shirts

So, now we know the cause, how do we stop the little holes in t-shirts from appearing? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Tuck your t-shirts in (luckily this is on-trend!)
  • Wear an apron when working at the kitchen bench
  • Buy high-quality cotton tops

So there you have it! Do you agree with this theory? If not, let us know in the comments below.

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  • I think seatbelts is one of the most reasonable theories. Seatbelts can cut people’s skin so it wouldn’t surprise me that this would be highly possible!


  • Interesting! I have always thought they were silverfish.


  • I did mention it was probably the material itself. This only happens on my tops that seem to be more of a thicker knit type material, than my cheaper cotton polyester blends.


  • Yayyyyyyy… thanks for addressing this. For years I’ve wondered what it was. I didn’t think it was any kind of bug due to the location but agree some friction with the button or similar.


  • ewwww i hope not bugs!


  • I’m pretty sure mine are from my front loader washing machine. I didn’t have this problem prior to getting one. The spin speed on cotton setting is very strong and I think they get caught in the little holes in the drum. That’s just my theory anyway!


  • Eep hope it’s not bugs lol


  • I found little holes on a few shirts that had been in the wash the other day and I realised my youngest daughters belt had gone through the wash/dryer on her skirt by accident.


  • Interesting reasons for why the holes appear! I thought it was always bugs


  • This doesnt really happen for me. But interesting theories!


  • This us 100% right.
    I have been trying every different option I could, I did on pants and tops and same thing. If you ever buy cheap tops and pants to do cleaning at hone. Then use them to test around the home.
    But this is right.


  • I always thought it was from silverfish but never took too much notice of where they were appearing just that they were there suddenly. Who would have thought. Maybe the manufacturers of our t-shirts should use good quality material for the front and cheaper quality for the back.


  • I always assumed it was from moths orSilverfish and would go crazy putting camphor everywhere!


  • I thought these were made from my cat walking all over me. They also usually appear up near my shoulders.


  • Interesting that yours are centre front, mine are all centre back – and not just t shirts! I have them in track pants and jumpers too!


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