How Can I Prevent Discoloration from Shirts’ Seam Adhesive?

Alan Spielvogel |

Q: After laundering and pressing a shirt several times, sometimes a dark spot appears along the seams where the glue is showing. It’s more noticeable on colored shirts than on white. Is this a manufacturer’s problem, or is there something I can do?
A: There are two separate problems concerning discolorations caused by adhesive migration during laundering and finishing. Many shirts contain a fusible interfacing that imparts structure to the collar, cuffs and placard areas. If the adhesive binder is faulty, the areas of the shirt that contain the fusible interfacing may develop a discoloration (black specks or an overall darkening of the fused areas).
During fabrication, manufacturers often apply adhesives to the seam areas of shirts in order to speed production. If the adhesive binder doesn’t cure correctly, a darkening of the seamed areas (usually at the seams that connect the sleeves to the body) can occur after laundering and finishing.
The failure of an adhesive binder can occur either during the initial laundering of the shirt, or after a number of launderings. Read and follow the care-label instructions, since the adhesive binders in some shirts may not be able to tolerate extreme laundering or finishing temperatures.
A number of manufacturers have had issues concerning the serviceability of the adhesives used in their shirts. The National Cleaners Association’s (NCA) National Center for Garment Analysis has been working with these manufacturers in an attempt to correct problems. NCA members can find more information on these and other problem garments at the association’s website, a processing problem? Click here to Ask The Expert!

About the author

Alan Spielvogel

National Cleaners Association (NCA)

Technical Director

Alan Spielvogel is technical director of the National Cleaners Association (NCA).


Adhesive discoloration in laundered shirts

Our plant has been experienced this problem twice in the last year.

The first incident was on a pocket and we were unable to correct the problem.  The pocket was not only discolored but was now stuck closed. That shirt was a light colored plaid made by Nordstrom.

Most recently we have a Van Huesen shirt that has discolored arm hole seams.  The discoloration does not extend to the inside of the seam but only shows on the outside fabric.  Again it is a very fine plaid light in color.

It is difficult to decide what to tell the customer in these cases.

Gwen Atkinson


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