While pilled sweaters are more of an aesthetic concern than a real problem, those little fuzz balls sure can be a nuisance! Pills can form when friction causes loose fibers and lint to ball up together on the surface of a fabric, and they’re one those perplexing laundry problems that almost everyone deals with. Luckily, they don’t need to be a clothing catastrophe!
Nearly every kind of fabric is susceptible to pilling over time, but pilling on sweaters in particular can make them look old and worn, even if they’re relatively new! But fabric pilling is far from a death sentence for your favorite clothes — in fact, you can remove pills from sweaters and return your outerwear to like-new condition in no time at all!
In this post, we’ll discover the various causes of pilling, how to avoid or prevent pilled fabrics, and easy steps you can take to remove fuzz and lint balls from clothing. So let’s get started!
See these sweater defuzzing hacks in action in my video at the end of the post!
What Causes Pills To Form On Sweaters And Other Clothes?
Pilling on clothes is caused by friction on fabric. Your washing machine and dryer are two common places where fabric pills, because there’s plenty of friction between fabrics when they’re tumbling around in there. And pills aren’t always a sign of poor quality fabrics or defects — pilling often occurs through normal abrasion and wear.
Almost any fabric can be subject to pilling (including cotton), but knits, polyesters, and loosely woven fabrics with long fibers tend to pill more than tightly woven fabrics.
Is It Possible To Prevent Pilling?
If you’re hoping to learn how to prevent pilling in the first place, I have a bit of bad news — there’s no surefire way to prevent it, as it’s a part of normal wear and tear. However, there are ways to reduce pilling, including the following tips:
- To reduce friction between fabrics, avoid layering loosely woven fabrics in your outfits so they don’t rub together.
- Use a lint roller on loosely woven fabrics and knit items before you wash them to remove loose fibers that can lead to pilling.
- Turn garments inside out before washing them.
- Wash clothes in cold water using a gentle wash cycle.
- Zip up any and all zippers in each load of clothes before washing them.
- Air dry fabrics that are most likely to pill.
Carefully hand washing clothing with a gentle detergent like Woolite can also reduce pilling, and it’s a smart choice for wool sweaters in particular. Learn more about hand washing laundry.
What’s The Right Way To Remove Pilling From Clothes?
There are several techniques you can use for pill removal, but not all are created equal. Some people will use a razor blade or disposable razor to depill a sweater, but that can damage fibers and lead to even more pilling. The same goes for using an emory board or pumice stone to remove pills — it’s fine for one or two fuzz balls, but they create too much friction for regular use, especially on fabrics prone to pilling.
The best way to remove fabric pills effectively and with minimal risk is by using an electric fabric shaver or lint shaver, devices that rapidly shave raised fuzz balls off of clothing without harming the surface of the fabric. There are a lot of good fabric shavers to choose from online, including the JUEYINGBAILI Lint Shaver, which only cost me about $15 on Amazon.
I like having the option to plug it in or power it with batteries, and I also appreciated the two extra blades so I can swap them out when the first one gets dull. If you don’t have a fabric shaver, you can try gently cutting pills off with a small pair of scissors, but it may be a time-consuming and tedious task for sweaters that have heavy pilling!
How To Use A Fabric Shaver To Remove Pills And Lint Balls
It’s quick and easy to use a fabric shaver to gently remove the pills on clothes. Start by placing the garment on a flat surface, then turn the shaver on and run it over the surface of the fabric. Don’t press too hard — just slide it over the fabric surface, and the blades will gently remove the pills and whisk them up into the lint collection compartment. It’s important to clean your pill remover and empty the fuzzies after each use.
Depending on the size of the item and the fabric type, it might take a few minutes of work to remove all the pills. But it’s oddly satisfying to watch all those little fuzz balls disappear, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes! In the future, you can pull out your fabric shaver as soon as you notice new pills forming to keep your clothes looking new.
Bonus Tip: Use your fabric shaver to carefully remove pills from upholstery! It’s an easy and effective solution for couch pilling — a quick shave every now and then with a battery-operated electric fabric shaver will help keep your furniture upholstery looking like new.
Do you ever struggle with pilling clothes?