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I have been doing laundry for quite some time and need your help on the question below. I am using the laundry detergent made by Johnson Diversity.
Thin cotton knit shirts are not that sturdy and they develop holes from stretching to put the item on, & too vigorous washing and drying. In other words, they are flimsy and won't last forever. They fade and look dull because that's what they do as a result of repeated laundering and drying.
You mentioned everything but your method of washing. Do you use a washing machine? Try using a delicate cycle or fewer minutes of agitation. Do you tumble dry your clothes? Try drying at a low temp for 10 minutes, then put the item on a hanger to complete drying.
For the longest life, wash items by hand. My Mom used to do this back in the stone age but I don't have time or energy for this. Hope that helps.
I've always heard the tiny tears are caused by washing pants with zippers with shirts and other garments. Try washing pants separate from other articles of clothing or zipping the zippers up and buttoning them before throwing them in. Let us know if that seems to have worked. My husband swears it's my underwire bra that is causing that but I don't think so. Especially since the wire isn't exposed to stabbing things.
It could also be the fact that they are older or cheap fabrics. The shirts that we had this happen to before we started separating things was cheap t-shirts we got for free from different places. For the problem with fading, try re-dying them with Rit (I believe that is how to spell it). I've never done this before but I've seen it suggested numerous times before. The preventive method for the fading that will help the fading fade slower, try separating your clothes so that you wash black clothes with black clothes, blue clothes with blue clothes, etc.