Pantyhose Aging

pantyhose aging April 15, 2012

   That's right ladies, apparently pantyhose (and everything made of nylon/lycra) age as well. On the world wide web (even on this very site) there are countless tips on how to keep your pantyhose in top shape for years and how to fend off the dreaded ladders which are quite possibly responsible for the ruining of 99% of pantyhose out there. I have long suspected though that there were other factors out there that contributed to the destruction of hosiery and I have recently managed to find factual proof to the theory that nylons/pantyhose do indeed age (kind of like people do). I have long found that some of my tights (granted mainly the cheaper ones of arguably lower quality) lost luster with time. They never seemed to be as shiny/sharp as they were when I first pulled them from the package – regardless of how well I treated them - and that got me thinking until the other day that is when I finally found proof that the aging factor I have always kind of suspected to be there was indeed hard at work eating away at my hosiery, and mind you, I'm not talking about the wear and tear that comes with actual wearing. This 'aging' thing occurs in pantyhose that are never actually worn by a person.
I have noticed the aging process of nylon/lycra blend material on bathing suits/leggings/leotards/unitards (I possess quite a few such items) a long time ago. This process (of whatever chemical nature it is – we'll dig into that shortly too) isn't pretty. It completely devastates the clothing it attacks. Leotards lose their sheen and elasticity and become thin, saggy and kind of sticky, with whitish pieces of fiber sticking out of the previously flawlessly perfect material. Needless to say, nylon/lycra clothing attacked by this mysterious age-related ailment pretty much falls apart. There are several interesting things about this problem that I've taken note of over the years: it will happen to your lycra/spandex garments whether or not you actually wear them. On those that you do wear, it first shows up in areas where the material is repeatedly subjected to extra stretching so there is a mechanical trigger to it too. It doesn't happen to each and every piece, only to some of them and quality doesn't seem to be a factor either. While some of my quality Flexatard unitards do indeed look like new after several years, I've had several others of different brands (equally expensive and seemingly of even better quality) that I've had to toss out. Storing conditions seem to have a word to say in the 'aging' process too, as do various suntan oils (in the case of bathing suits) and body lotions one may use.

pantyhose aging crotch areaAs I said, the whole nylon/lycra breakdown process has been fairly clear to me in the case of nylon/lycra wear for years, but I've only thus far suspected it may be happening to pantyhose too.
The other day however, I got out one of the tights I've always loved but never got around to wearing more than a couple of times (after which they were washed/dried and stashed away – granted, in a plastic bag bundled in with several other pairs of pantyhose), and my jaw dropped when I inspected it and saw major 'aging' damage around the crotch. I've included two pictures of the affected area here as evidence. What's obvious is that the problem occurred around and on the crotch panel – where mechanical stress on the fabric is much greater than anywhere else). Interestingly enough, the sheerer and shinier leg area of the tights seemed completely unaffected even at the feet. What I suspect may have led to the development of the problem is the less than ideal storing conditions in which these tights were kept (in a plastic bag with several other pairs in a rather filled-up wardrobe).

How can you best counteract the effects of aging in pantyhose and other nylon/lycra blend clothes? Based on our experiences, we've compiled a short list of recommendations:
- Store your pantyhose/hosiery in a breezy, dry space, to let the material breathe properly. Nylon bags (even the original packaging of your hosiery) should be avoided as much as possible.
- Keep your hosiery/ nylon lycra suits freshly washed and clean (free of bodily sebum and all other such substances).
- Avoid contact with moisturizers, body lotions, suntan lotions and other such oily substances.
- Buy properly sized hosiery to keep certain areas of it from becoming mechanically overstressed.
- The sun has a documented destructive effect on plastic/nylon so you're best off keeping your pantyhose/ lycra spandex out of the sun whenever possible (this of course doesn't apply to bathing suits).

We'll add more to this list as we find out more on the issue.