What are these white marks around the top of my shirt?
September 22, 2011 6:04 PM   Subscribe

I have some odd white marks on a lot of my hanged t-shirts, not sure why. (Pics inside)

Going through my hung (plastic hangers) t-shirts, and a lot of them have a marks on the top front of the shirt. It seems like it can be traced to where the hanger goes/is placed. I can rub the marks and they go away somewhat. This is going on with shirts I have not yet worn/washed, but also some older ones.

Some notes:
-Until recently, my closet was very crammed. I have moved things elsewhere and there is more space.
-A lot of these "new" tees were bought up to a year ago, and have not been worn (except maybe just to try it on once)
-There is storage above the clothes, with other hangers, a bag of bags, and other miscellaneous items.

I'm just not sure if it's dust or something else. The shirts are otherwise fine for the most part I just hope I don't have to replace all my tees. If anyone is familiar with this, please give me your feedback. I snapped a few pics, but am not sure if they will explain much. There is a red circle (put by me) near the affected area:

posted by lankford to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Forgot to hyperlink:

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
posted by lankford at 6:05 PM on September 22, 2011

Might just be dust, I'm always shocked by how much dust settles in my hung clothing. Have you tried washing any of them yet?

Links for those reading via touchscreens:
posted by jamaro at 6:18 PM on September 22, 2011

I think this is just dust, and if they were my shirts I would wear them anyway, as the white marking is quite small. (I may tend more towards "sloppy" than you do though.)

Shake them out? Wash them?
posted by titanium_geek at 7:14 PM on September 22, 2011

All I can think of is that it's very tiny traces of undissolved laundry soap. Just put fewer clothes in to wash next time?
posted by lemniskate at 7:37 PM on September 22, 2011

One more vote for dust.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:58 PM on September 22, 2011

Sometimes I put my shirts on hangers to dry, and they get a little stretched out at the tips of the hangers. Maybe that has something to do with it.
posted by scose at 8:13 PM on September 22, 2011

IMHO, undissolved laundry soap would be in a more random pattern, instead of in the same general locations on each garment, especially given that the shoulders are the only places these 'marks' show up. It could very well just be some dust that will vanish when you wash the shirts. But it also might be damaged.

I'm a knitter, so I'm somewhat familiar with the characteristics of textiles (but I'm nowhere near an expert). I'm assuming these shirts are 100% cotton or a 50/50 poly/cotton blend. If it's a blend, that's better news for you than if they're all cotton.

Cotton, be it yarn or woven into a textile, has no memory: it doesn't remember what shape it's supposed to hold. So once cotton is stretched, it stays stretched to some degree. When you hang a cotton T-shirt repeatedly, like on a hanger with the weight of the body of the shirt pulling down on the top, it will stretch and stay that way. In other words, your problem could be damage caused by repeated hanging, and the damaged areas are showing as white because the (probably cheap) dye and dyeing process did not force color into the entire fiber.

If that _is_ the problem, it's likely permanent. It will continue to get worse if you keep hanging your cotton shirts. If you hang them went or damp, like scose described, the process will accelerate.

You can prevent it by folding your T-shirts and cotton sweatshirts. Sweatshirts are even worse about this than tees because sweatshirts are so much heavier - before you know it, your $50 crewneck sweatshirt will be an off-the-shoulder club outfit.

That's where my thought process takes me. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but that's how it appears to me.
posted by lambchop1 at 8:31 PM on September 22, 2011

My guess is that the substance is something that is rubbing off from empty hangers that the shirts (in the crowded closet) are pressing against... unless it's never on the backs of the Ts and the backs are also exposed that way.

These are the things I would examine:

How you hang your shirts in relation to the empty hangers in your closet (do you have a "bank" of empty hangers on one end, and then the Ts hanging next to the bank? As you remove and use the first available hanger next to the Ts, the next-in-line hanger that might be invisibly coated with some kind of dust then touches the next shirt hanging by it?)

How you hang your shirts in relation to the walls/shelves of the closet, or any other (potentially dust-bearing) item that might be in there. Is there a bureau of some kind on one side of the closet, and as you cycle through your Ts, they become pressed against it's upper edge? Is there a shoe bag in the closet?

Any item in the closet that could potentially produce a "dust" – mothballs, closet fresheners, potpourri? Something stored in a plastic bag on top that is disintegrating/crumbling? Regular plastic grocery bags often disintegrate over time, so anything wrapped up in one may be exposed and showering down some kind of powder. Do you use foot powder, and store your shoes in the closet?

The walls and ceiling of the closet – check the surfaces to see if if they are "shedding" or have collected dust.

Whatever the source, the dust/powder-material may be too dispersed to notice on everything, but collects for a time on the unused hangers or surface of something else in the closet and then rubs off to visible effect.
posted by taz at 11:49 PM on September 22, 2011

Oh, and if there's a light fixture, electric socket, hanging hooks, or anything drilled into the walls or ceiling of the closet, crumbling drywall from behind such an item may be drifting out.
posted by taz at 12:03 AM on September 23, 2011

Most clothes on hangers in my closet do this, if neglected long. I've always assumed it's dust. Goes away with washing.
posted by Rash at 9:09 AM on September 23, 2011

« Older About To Step Into the Auto Dealership Belly of...   |   Repercussions of swearing at homeowner's... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.