Learn how to remove pilling on clothes, sheets, upholstery, and other items made of fabric. Pilling is a loose ball or strand of fabric fiber usually caused by friction. It won’t affect the fabric’s durability, but just like lint, it doesn’t really look good. The good thing is you can remove pilling in the comfort of your own home, and there are a lot of easy ways to do so.
How to Remove Pilling on Clothes- The Different Methods
To remove fabric pilling, you must detach the loose fiber from the fabric using several tools. You surely are already familiar with most of the items because you commonly use or can find them in your home. There are also commercially available tools meant for fabric maintenance that make pilling removal much easier than using home tools.
2 ways how to remove pilling on clothes:
- Home tools
- Commercial tools
How to Remove Pilling on Clothes- Using Home Tools
There are many tools and items available in your home that you can use to make your fabric free of pilling.
Home tools for how to remove pilling on clothes:
- Disposable Razor
- Sandpaper Sponge or Pumice Stone
- Hair Comb
- Duct Tape
- Velcro Hair Rollers
For this method of removing pilling on clothes, you would need a new, disposable razor without any bells and whistles like moisture strips.
How to remove pilling on clothes with a disposable razor:
- For clothes, sheets, and the like, lay them on a clean, flat surface. Flatten the fabric, or if preferred, iron it.
- Slowly pull or stretch the area of the fabric where you’ll start removing pilling.
- Following the pill’s direction, place your razor over the fabric at a low angle to prevent cutting through the fabric.
- Using the lightest pressure, gently shave the pilling using a small stroke.
- Your razor will eventually have pilling on its blade; simply wipe them out with a tissue or small piece of cloth, ensuring you don’t cut your fingers. You may also roll a piece of tape around your fingers, sticky side out, and press on the razor blade to pick up the pilling.
- Once you have a pile of removed fabric pilling on top of the fabric, cut a piece of tape and roll it around two of your fingers with the sticky side out. Press on the fabric to lift the fabric pilling.
- Ensure that you replace the tape every once in a while. If this is a bit time-consuming and tedious for you, you can take a lint roller and use it to pick up the shaved pilling from the fabric.
- Continue the whole process until you removed all the pilling.
Sandpaper or Pumice Stone
Prepare a piece of sandpaper; use it either as is or fold it to create a square. If you have a pumice stone, you can use it instead of sandpaper.
How to remove pilling on clothes with a pumice or sandpaper:
- Lay the fabric on a clean, flat surface.
- Slowly and gently scrub through the pilling using either sandpaper or a pumice stone until you remove them all.
- Follow steps six to eight in the disposable razor technique.
If you have a fine-toothed comb in your arsenal, make the most of it by detaching the annoying fabric pilling with its help. However, this method is only best for fabric with not too much pilling as it will take more time.
How to remove pilling on clothes with a hair comb:
- Lay the fabric on a clean, flat surface.
- Position the comb on the fabric as if you’ll comb your hair, making sure the comb’s teeth catch multiple pilling.
- Using a downward stroke, slowly and carefully comb through the pilling to ensure the teeth don’t snatch on the fabric.
- Remove the pilling collected in between the comb’s teeth.
- Repeat the process until all the pilling is gone.
Using your scissors to trim and remove fabric pills is time-consuming but safe since you have great control over the tool. Of course, you would need a sharp pair of scissors to ensure you cut the pills without hassles. Small scissors are also preferable as there is a lesser chance of accidentally cutting the fabric.
Perfect for almost all fabric-made items, including upholstery, here’s how to remove pilling using scissors:
How to remove pilling on clothes with scissors:
- Lay your clothes, sheets, curtains, or pillowcase on a clean, flat surface. Of course, skip this step if you're working on upholstery.
- Slowly pull one pill away from the fabric.
- Position the scissors, making sure they’re not too close to the fabric’s surface.
- Trim the pill.
- Repeat the process for each pilling you see.
Removing fabric pilling on clothes with the help of duct tape is one of the quickest and simplest methods since you can work on a wide surface in one go. It also won’t damage the fabric in case you make a mistake.
How to remove pilling on clothes with duct tape:
- Cut a sufficient length of duct tape.
- Place the sticky side on top of the fabric with pilling and then tap lightly.
- Slowly pull the duct tape off of the fabric. The pilling should get stuck on the tape. If not, use a faster stroke of pulling the duct tape; don't do this on delicate fabrics, though.
- Cut another piece of duct tape and work on another surface.
- Repeat until you’ve successfully removed all pilling.
Use velcro with a somewhat similar technique to removing pilling on clothes with duct tape. Velcro isn’t recommended for delicate fabrics such as most types of wool and cashmere. The material can easily get caught on Velcro, leading to fiber cuts.
With the use of a Velcro strip, here are the steps you need to follow to detach pilling from your fabric:
How to remove pilling with Velcro:
- Place the sticky side of the Velcro on top of the fabric with pilling.
- Slowly pull the Velcro.
- Clear the Velcro strip of pilling or use another strip.
- Repeat the process until all pilling is gone.
Velcro Hair Rollers
Velcro hair rollers are gentler than Velcro strips, so you can use them on delicate fabric materials.
How to remove pilling on clothes with rollers:
- Ensure your fabric lays on a clean, flat surface.
- Slowly pull the fabric taut.
- Lay the Velcro hair roller on top of the area with pilling.
- Slowly and gently roll the tool upwards using the lightest pressure. Adjust the pressure if you notice that none of the pills come off.
- Remove the pilling caught by the roller and repeat the whole process until you’ve removed all pilling.
How to Remove Pilling on clothes - Using Commercial Tools
Apart from the available items in your home, you can opt to purchase specific tools designed to maintain fabrics. Some of the commercially available products that you can use to remove fabric pilling are:
- Sweater Comb
- Sweater Stone
- Fabric Shaver
Unlike fine-tooth hair combs, sweater combs have smaller teeth and are spaced more closely together. They’re made specifically for removing fabric pills easily and quickly. To do so, just follow the same steps as the hair comb method above.
Aptly named, this tool is meant to remove sweater pilling on clothes, but you can also use it on different fabric-made items. The steps you need to follow are the same as the sandpaper or pumice stone method above.
It won’t come as a surprise that using a fabric shaver is the most effective, fastest, and safest way to remove fabric pilling on clothes; in fact, it can even remove lint! You can use it on your clothes, upholstery, bed sheets, curtains, and more, plus different fabric materials. Of course, you would spend more money on this tool as compared to the others discussed earlier.
Also known as an electric fabric shaver, this tool has multiple tiny blades inside that work with the help of a powerful motor. You can choose between corded and cordless (battery-operated) models, depending on your preference and needs. For instance, cordless ones are perfect for homes with few outlets since you don't need to move your upholstered furniture just to remove pilling from its surface. It's also perfect for those who want to bring the tool during their travels.
To use the fabric shaver, you must follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, but generally, here are the most common steps:
How to remove pilling on clothes with a fabric shaver:
- Plug the fabric shaver to the right outlet or insert the designated batteries.
- Lay your fabric on a clean, flat surface.
- Slightly and gently stretch or pull the fabric.
- Put the shaver on top of the fabric, power it on, and move it in a small, circular motion, using the lightest pressure possible.
- As you run through the fabric, observe whether the shaver effectively removes the pilling. If not, slightly increase the pressure until you reach the right one that works best on the fabric you’re working on.
- If you notice, hear or see, that the shaver is starting to slow down, turn it off. Remove the cap or cover of the shaver barrel or container that collects removed pilling.
- Clean it up by removing all the collected pills, and then replace the cap or cover.
- Repeat the pilling-removal process until your fabric is pilling-free.
How to Remove Pilling on Clothes - In Conclusion
Properly ironing your clothes and other fabrics isn’t enough for them to look presentable. You need to keep an eye on other issues, such as pilling or pill, that usually occurs after you launder, wore, and used the fabric a few times.
With the many available methods and tools, find time to make your fabric free from pilling. Although choosing which one works best for you is all about preference, it’s best to invest in a quality fabric shaver. With this multi-purpose tool, you won’t only save time and effort, but you’re assured you can use it safely on most, if not all, fabrics.
That said, even when fabric pilling is easily removable, it’s best to take great care of your fabric-made items to minimize the occurrence of such. You can do so by washing or dry cleaning them gently and correctly, preferably inside out, as well as following the care instructions and choosing the right type of detergent and level of water temperature.