Underarm Tears

Caption: The chemically weakened underarm areas came apart during laundering.

Q: After laundering I am noticing weak areas and holes developing in the underarms of items made of cotton and linen. The body of the garments is strong. It only seems to be the underarm area where the fabric is weak. What could be causing this type of damage?

A: Antiperspirants usually contain a high concentration of substances that can damage cellulose fibers such as cotton, linen, ramie, and rayon. The agitation of laundering will cause the chemically damaged fibers to tear or be removed from the fabric. The longer the antiperspirant stays on the cellulose fiber, the more likely damage will occur.

To prevent this type of damage from occurring, antiperspirants should be removed from the article as soon as possible. Advising the consumer to make every effort to have the garments cleaned regularly to minimize the exposure of antiperspirants on the item will help. 

Suggested Reading
For more information, DLI Standard, Gold, and Premier members may see these bulletins in DLI's Encyclopedia of Drycleaning Online:

  • Fabrics & Fashions No. 547: No-Iron vs. Traditional Dress Shirts
  • Shirt Laundry Procedures No. 42: Shirt Problems