True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

Are the underarms of your shirts deteriorating?

Perspiration on shirt

On occasion, we'll find that the underarms of the laundered shirts of specific clients are starting to deteriorate or have deteriorated.

On close examination, we'll notice that the fabric is very tender and will, literally, tear when stretched between the thumb and forefinger.

What causes this to occur? One or a combination of:

  • acids and chloride salts in perspiration
  • metallic salts in antiperspirants
  • ingredients found in certain medications.

The acids and chloride salts found in perspiration and the metallic saltsSpray antiperspirant contained in antiperspirants can degrade fabrics (as well as discolor dyes). The extent of the damage depends largely upon the physical chemistry of the individual, the type of medications used, the conditions of wear, the length of time that the perspiration was left untreated, the age of the garment, the type of antiperspirant used, as well as the characteristics of the fabric and the dye.



Unfortunately, damage caused by perspiration and antiperspirants may not be visible prior to laundering. As the acids and chloride salts found in perspiration and the metallic salts contained in antiperspirants become catalyzed during the laundering process, the weakened fibers will disintegrate. Accordingly, it is impossible to know, prior to laundering whether a fabric will fail, since the extent of the damage caused by the perspiration or antiperspirants may be undetectable at that time.

Why can one say that? Because laundering is an immersion process and the entire shirt is subjected to identical conditions during processing. Yet, the damage only occurs in a specific area of the shirt - the underarm area.

Here's some photos that illustrate the problem.

Shirt 1 Shirt 2
Shirt 3 Shirt 4
Shirt 5


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