Introduction: Quickly Remove Fabric Pills

Picture of Quickly Remove Fabric Pills

A simple how-to for removing pills on your favorite sweater or piece of clothing with tools you already have at home.

Clothes of all types, sizes, shapes, and fibers have pilled for all of time and will continue to pill into the future. While it's true that some sweaters or other woven garments take longer (i.e. heavy merino wool) to pill than others (i.e. fine cashmere and fleece), given enough time, they will pill too. This is because all woven garments are comprised of fibers that have been twisted into yarn or material of some kind. As you wear your sweater, friction through use, breaks or loosens those fibers. Once the fibers are loosened or exposed, they can tangle and mat together creating the pilling we often see on our favorite sweater. 

This Instructable will help you remove those pesky pills in several short and easy steps with a tool you already have in your home, so that you can keep sporting that favorite piece of clothing as long as you want. 

Step 1: Materials

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The technique is simple and so are the tools. Gather the following:
  • Clothing with Pills (I'm depilling a sweater)
  • Disposable Razor
That's it! Let's start removing those pills.

Step 2: Setting Up

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Place your sweater on a flat surface. You want to pull the fibers as taut as you can without stretching your garment too much. You also want your piece of clothing oriented so that the pills are facing up and are on top of the flat surface. 

I prefer to place the garment over my knee, since the fabric of my jeans usually steadies the knit fabric. You may also use an ironing board or table to lay your garment flat.

Step 3: Shaving

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Taking your razor in your dominant hand, GENTLY run it along your fabric in the direction of the weave. It may take a couple passes, but the razor will remove the pills and some additional fuzz. 

Clean the pills off of your razor every few strokes. This will keep the razor clean so it can keep removing the most pills possible with each time. 

NOTE: If your razor starts to pull on your garment or a piece of yarn at any time, STOP. Do not keep pulling. 

Step 4: You're Done

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Congratulations! You're sweater has been de-pilled! 

Move along to the next step to find out how to prevent or really prolong pilling in the future. 


Step 5: Prevention

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A couple final tips to keep it from re-pilling longer:
  • Wash with Lanolin: Pick a woolen fabric wash (Eucalan or Kookaburra are both good brands) that contains lanolin, a natural oil found in wool. The fibers will reabsorb the lanolin, which is usually lost in most washing cycles, keeping them strong and less likely to break and pill. Similar to conditioning your hair!
  • Dry Knit Fabrics: Dryers tend to heat and agitate fibers causing them to break and pill even faster. Take the time to dry your knit items by laying them on a flat surface on a towel.
  • "Rest the Fibers": Allow 24 hours to pass before you wear the same woolen garment again. This will allow the fibers to rest and contract rather than continue to stretch and break.

Comments

spatial guy (author)2017-01-31

THANK YOU! From me and my favourite jumper. Very very handy!

Cr3at1v3 (author)2017-01-17

I have used this method for many years. One thing to be very careful of is not to cut the thread or yarn, as this will create a spreading hole. I use a flat narrow marble tile. Also this method can be used to prevent pilling by shaving the loose fibres before they tangle.

Mihsin (author)2014-03-11

I used this method once and ruined a sweater. Now I use a sharp kitchen knife.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2014-03-06

Ooooh! I have a zip up with this issue! It has been driving me crazy! Thanks :D

Mielameri (author)2014-03-06

Yay! So simple! Wish I'd known this a long time ago; can't say how many garments I've had to mournfully pass on because of pilling...

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