Small holes in fabric can come from many things. Over our years of experience, the two most common causes are insect damage and possible contact with small amounts of an acidic or alkaline substance (see examples listed under the question: How did my garment change color?). Regardless of your sanitation habits, all homes are exposed to insects. The three most common fabric eaters are moth larvae, carpet beetles, and silverfish. These pests love to snack on food stains and body oils in dark places such as your closet or attic. The most common target fabric is wool and synthetic fibers, but these bugs aren’t picky! Insect holes are not always evident prior to cleaning and as a result sometimes weakened fabric or small holes only appear after fibers are removed during the agitation of cleaning.
We also come across common problem areas on garments from every day consumer use. For example, over time the lower forearm area of a garment becomes weak from rubbing against a desk at work. Another common area of weakness is in the back pocket of pants from wallet use. Have you ever seen an older pair of pants with a permanent indentation line from a wallet (or a can of chewing tobacco)?