Nothing is more frustrating than having a lovely new sweater, a Christmas gift perhaps that you’ve happily worn once or twice, develop the dreadful “pills.” These unsightly little fuzz balls are created from short or loose fibers that become tangled when rubbed or through activewear.
They can also appear after washing in the machine, rather than by hand. Generally, the sweater owner would think that a less expensive fabric would have the worst problem, but even cashmere can develop some pilling, although it’s usually the cheaper versions.
Certainly, the fabrics with a more loosely woven texture, or acrylic, can easily develop pilling, especially in areas where friction occurs, like the underarm or inner sleeve or across the stomach if you tend to carry things or rub against your desk. Pilling also develops on sheets and pillowcases, and other fabrics used in the household. So what’s the solution?
Options Include Commercially Available Tools for Depilling
It turns out; there are several methods, both “official” products that can be purchased and that are specifically made for this problem, or the DIY/home-grown answers, borne out of necessity.
In the world of “sweater depillers” or “defuzzers,” the most recognizable is exactly that, a little hand-held, battery-operated, or electric sweater shaver. They can be found for less than $10 in your local drugstore, or upwards of $60 and more for a deluxe, artsy version. Many reviewers find these to be very acceptable for removing the pills from sweaters. However, the battery-operated versions can apparently be problematic when the batteries are dying, and the inner blade starts to rotate more slowly.
It seems this can cause nicking or cuts on the fabric. That would seem to be avoided by using an electric one. Another store-bought product is a sweater stone, which can be made of pumice, much like the pumice stones used to rub off dry skin on feet or mineral deposits on toilets, or a human-made substance. These are also extremely inexpensive and clearly, useful to have around the house for more than one purpose!
Just gently running the stone across the fabric will gather up the pills, either onto the stone or pushing the pills to the edge of the fabric, then easily picked up by hand or with a tape lint roller. Also found in stores very inexpensively is a plastic depilling comb, which has very short, closely set teeth that again shave the pills off the fabric.
Useful Objects Found Around the House Will Work
But many clever ideas for other implements found around the home have been used with some success. The first is a handy disposable razor, which the owner would use to shave the little pills off the fabric. He or she can also use an electric razor, although the smaller electric beard trimmers seem to work even better.
Again, just carefully running the razor down the front of the sweater, for example, holding it taut on a flat surface, will allow the pills to be shaved off easily. Naturally, the user would need to be careful not to nick the yarn in any way.
Another interesting idea is to use a common sponge with the green “scrubby” surface on the back. Using that surface, like using the pumice stone, scrapes the pills off the fabric. Similarly, some people are using fine-grit sandpaper.
Clearly, this is a matter of trial and error and can also depend on the type of fabric being treated. Certain of these solutions will work better with a flatter knit, whereas a loftier or textured knit could require a different technique. Further, wielding any of these implements must always be done with caution and care because many of these methods can cause nicks, fuzziness, or a felted look to the fabric.
One tried and true method that is probably the safest, albeit the slowest, is to sit down, turn on the tv, lay the fabric flat across your lap, and carefully, one by one, pull each little pill off by hand.
Thank you for reading!