Sick of Itchy Undershirts? Here’s How To Avoid Them

If you’re like me, wearing an undershirt is primarily about comfort and protection.

Of course, these items comes in many forms including:

  1. Protection from sweating through to your outer shirts
  2. Prevent underarm stains from getting on your nice shirts
  3. Concealment of tattoos and/or chest and back hair
  4. Keeping sweat, oils and body odors from coming in contact with your dress and outer shirts. Allowing them to stay cleaner, longer
  5. Masking/smoothing body parts
  6. Avoid nipple chafing (yes, I have heard and written about this before)
  7. Masking puffy nipples
  8. Adding a layer of comfort between a scratchy outer shirt (possibly Wool?) and your torso

While that’s a pretty impressive list, there are probably more reasons that I’m just not thinking of right now.

One of my really BIG pet peeves is itchy or scratchy undershirts. I hate them with a passion and give really low marks to undershirts that aren’t smooth feeling right out of the package. Some say they soften up after some washing, but why in the heck should I have to wash something for it to be soft?

sick-of-itchy-or-scratchy-undershirts
Image credit: lifeslittlemysteries.com

Loving this question from a reader about Itchy Undershirts:

Hi Tug,

Over the last few years, I developed some wicked allergies. Some of which include sensitivity to dyes, perfumes and some chemicals. My wife bought me some new t-shirts from wal-mart. An hour or so after wearing one, my eyes were watering and my face was itching. I think these first ones were Jockey.

She took those back and got me Hanes t-shirts. These, out of the bag, felt EXACTLY the same as the first set; cheap, thin and itchy. I washed them several times but they caused the same reaction.

Months later, we bought a package of Hanes t-shirts from a different store, thinking that maybe that might get us something else. Didn’t help. These were exactly the same and I have the same problem.

The t-shirts I got years ago were much better. Thicker, soft and comfortable. Most importantly I didn’t have any reactions. Where are THOSE shirts? (those were Hanes brand).

Can you recommend anything? I really need some good t-shirts that won’t cause me to break out.

thx, Sean

I got back in touch Sean and asked about whether or not he had any per undershirt budget in mind:

Well, if I can get some good t-shirts that last and don’t itch I would be willing to spend some money on them. I’m sure I spent close to $80 just trying to get shirts (:

The 6 pack of Hanes I just got was $30ish, so about $5 there. If I had to do $8 or so I probably would.

Non Itchy Undershirt Recommendations

Hey Sean,

Here are my recommendations:

1.) Did you check out my favorite undershirt list yet? Some are priced from around $7 – $10 per undershirt. I’m pretty picky about itchiness too, so you’ll find any of them to have a nice smooth feel.

2.) Fruit of the Loom makes a really nice 95/5 blend active collection undershirt (#2 on the list in the below article — likely will make my top 5 list pretty soon). Learn more.

3.) Costco’s crew neck undershirts are pretty soft too, and they are super cheap.

4.) There a some more in my tight collar undershirts & tight neck t-shirt articles.

5.) Last but not least, check out my quick drying undershirts article.

I’m 100% certain you’ll find something you’ll love from the list above!

If you’re not sure which one to pick, I’d recommend picking the least expensive out of the bunch first, and work upward in price from there.

Enough info for you? (:

6 thoughts on “Sick of Itchy Undershirts? Here’s How To Avoid Them”

  1. Hey Tug, I also am having a problem with itchy undershirts and T-shirt’s.

    For years i had a really hard time finding T-shirt’s that don’t itch and it would be random. I’d find a shirt that wouldn’t itch but if I bought the same shirt again the new shirt might itch.

    Fruit of the loom shirts always itch, so do Hanes. Old Navy, Banana Republic and the gap itch too. Gildan shirts are tolerable but not the most comfortable until they are worn and washed a hundred times.

    All this changed when I found the J.Crew broken in line of T-shirt’s. Those are the only ones who neither itch nor feel rough. They are perfect. !!

    The problem is that I’d like to be able to wear other T-shirt’s and maybe shirts without a tee underneath. Or a regular tank top which J.Crew doesn’t make.

    Is There a way to identify and reverse the allergies?

    Any other solution?

    Reply
    • heya dean, good to hear from you buddy!

      i don’t know of any good, reliable way to identify and/or reverse the itchiness issue you are experiencing

      but, you should be able to narrow down the issue, buy a process of elimination.

      first, look at the fabric content/blend of all of these shirts. are they all the exact same, or all different?

      if they are not all the same, then one possible solution would be to simply switching to undershirts with different content.

      for example, if most of your shirts are cotton and/or polyester, try something in viscose/rayon (modal, “bamboo”), tencel, nylon, etc.

      if one 100% cotton undershirt is fine, but another 100% cotton undershirt makes you itchy, it could be:
      – the thread in the stitching (cotton or poly)
      – the chemicals used in the finishing of the fabric
      – the smoothness of the fabric (how fine or coarse the cotton yarn is)

      one trick i use to find out what kind of thread is used in a white undershirt is to dye it.

      if the thread doesn’t change color, it’s poly. if the thread takes on the color of the dye, it’s cotton.

      you could try organic cotton too, if the issue is related to chemicals or impurities in the cotton yarn & fabric.

      the brands you mentioned: fruit, hanes, old navy, banana republic, gap, gildan — are all value priced products for the most part, so they’re going to make the undershirts using the cheapest materials possible, and then try to make them feel better using chemical processing.

      you may want to try something that is a bit more premium, or at least something different.

      for example, uniqlo makes a few different undershirt options, and they are all reasonably priced. maybe try some of those, and see how they work for you?

      hope that helps (:

      Reply
  2. The problem I’m running into is older T shirts developing a scratchiness around the collar due to exposed plastic thread.

    The cotton T shirt material is fine; it’s the relatively stiff plastic threading that, over time, becomes exposed, that is causing the problem.

    I wonder if there’s some kind of pre-made adhesive strip of soft material one might adhere to the plastic threading; some way to easily cover the scratchy plastic.

    Reply
    • heya dan, good to hear from you.

      surprisingly, you’re the second person recently that has mentioned issues with an itchy collar line. though, i’m not sure the other reader was having an issue with the thread itself. note, the shirt likely has polyester thread, since that is most like a plastic material. shirts are usually sewn with cotton or poly thread.

      i’ll be writing an article about this topic soon, but i do have some suggestions you may want to check out in the meantime.

      there are a couple companies making something referred to as a “collar guard”, made with a fabric front and an adhesive back. here’s an article that references some of the products:
      http://www.undershirtguy.com/prevent-ring-around-the-collar-for-good/

      other ideas could be to:
      1. use medical tape
      2. try some of the microfoam tape from 3m
      3. or even cut a thin strip of fabric (something from an old tee maybe) and adhere it to the inside collar line of your t-shirts using a fabric fusion (peel & stick) or hem tape (iron). you can get these on amazon or at a place michaels (michaels.com)

      hope the information helps.

      if you do try something above and it works for you, it would be great if you could pop back by and let us know what worked for you.

      Reply
      • Tug,

        In a comment to Dan who complains about exposed ‘plastic thread’ you indicated “i’ll be writing an article about this topic soon,). Did this ever happen. I wasn’t able to find it on your site.

        I spend between $8-30 per tee, sometimes more and I find this is a fairly common flaw in the tees I’ve purchased over the years. After a few months of wear, some of the tees will have exposed scratchy thread.

        What I find is that its right at the point where the collar band ends on the left or right at about 1:00 or 11:00 (clock dial reference).

        Sometimes this occurs after the first washing. It regularly causes me to have to discard tees way before they’ve expired.

        Are there any tee manufacturers who offer a full collar band?
        Is there a simple way to deal with the exposed material?
        Are the manufacturers who don’t use poly thread in their tees?

        Thoughts?

        Regards,
        -Dave

      • heya dave,

        i haven’t personally experienced what you experienced, so i don’t know if my undershirts don’t experience the same thing yours do, or that i may not be as sensitive to minor issues.

        i am not aware of any undershirt or t-shirt brands that have a full collar band (without any seams).

        though, there are some that are making t-shirts & undershirts with a raw-edge collar (no collar band), like uniqlo.

        other brands are doing seam-bonding in place of sewing with thread, but there are not many of those that i’ve come across yet.

        if you send me in photo of the issue (email it to me), then maybe i can come up with some other solutions.

        one idea just popped into my head — possibly take a small piece of white iron-on fabric and bond it over the problem area?

        thoughts?

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