Ever wondered how to remove pilling from clothes? If you’ve ever been frustrated by those annoying fuzz balls that suddenly appear on your favorite sweaters, you’re not alone.
You know what I’m talking about—those pesky pills that seem to sprout out of nowhere. They can make a cute sweater feel a bit frumpy.
I’ve had both cheap and expensive clothes develop these little fuzz balls, and let me tell you, it’s equally annoying and disappointing. Wool sweaters and synthetic fabrics like acrylic and polyester blends are the usual suspects. The surface of clothes starts to look old and worn when they’re covered in these pilled areas.
Here’s the good news though: there are some effective ways to revive those pilled garments and make them look almost like new. Don’t ditch your favorite clothing item just yet!
The easiest 2 ways I’ve found to get rid of pilling is using a simple razor blade or an electric depiller. The razor is of course super inexpensive, but takes more time. The fastest way is using an electric depiller/sweater shaver. Read on to learn why your sweaters and other clothes develop these fuzz balls, which razor and electric depiller I recommend to get rid of them, and how to minimize or prevent fabric pilling in the future!
What is Pilling? What Causes Fabric Pilling?
Pilling is a term for those little fuzz balls that appear on your fuzzy sweaters and other garments like pants and coats.
Wool, acrylic, cashmere, and polyester blends are the most prone to pilling.
They develop when the fabric rubs against other fabric and pulls the lint up from the garment. Eventually that lint gathers into little balls called pills.
VIDEO: How to Get Rid of Pilling on Sweaters & Clothes!! (What is Pilling & My Fave Depilling Tools)
Below is the video version of this blog post, where I show you how four of the most popular tools work and why one is my favorite!
I also explain what causes pilling and how to minimize it in the future.
Links for Tools That Get Rid of Pilling
In my quest for the best way to remove pilling from sweaters, I discovered four popular tools that had the best reviews. Here they are, in order from least favorite to most favorite.
The Sweater Comb (Lots of people like it… I didn’t)
This option is handy and portable, but not the best option for fuzzier fabrics.
Even though it’s called a “sweater” fabric comb, the course texture just grabbed all my sweater fuzz instead of just grabbing the lint balls. It felt like it would make my sweaters worse!
It DID work well to get rid of pilling on my hoodie which is a tighter knit and not fuzzy.Multi-Fabric Sweater Comb f...Shop on Amazon
Sweater Saver Brick (Similar to the comb… I didn’t like it)
This is like a sweater stone or pumice stone that some people use, and very similar in function to the Sweater Comb above.
I found that while it did catch lint and fuzz balls, it grabbed and pulled off too much fuzz from my sweaters.
Like the sweater comb, it worked better for tighter knits like my hoodie. I can see it working on a thick coat too. But tights? No way–I think it would snag! It’s just not the best option for fuzzier or delicate fabrics.Hollywood Fashion Secrets S...Shop on Amazon
A Single-Blade Razor (Cheapest way to get rid of pilling on clothes)
Yep, a regular or disposable razor blade that you probably already have can do the trick. However, you actually want the cheapest kind: a single blade with no moisturizing strip on it.
Place your garment on a flat surface and use short, brisk strokes to cut off the pills on the surface of the sweater. Then follow up with a lint roller to clean off the lint balls. Just be careful not to scrape too hard, or you might damage the fabric surface.
Watch the video above for a demonstration.
It’s easy, cheap, and probably already available in your bathroom… but it’s time-consuming.
For that reason, it’s only my second favorite way to remove pilling from clothes.BIC Lady Shaver Women's Dis...Shop on Amazon
Electric Fabric Shaver (Best Way to Remove Pilling from Sweaters & Other Clothes)
As I opened the package my husband commented “That looks like a tool for a first-world problem.” LOL, I couldn’t disagree.
BUT friends! I was very surprised by how well it worked. This is the gold standard! Quick and effective, this bad boy will help you get rid of pilling in no time.
This electric fabric shaver chomps up those fuzz balls and sucks them in at the same time. You simply empty the canister to get rid of the fuzz.
I highly recommend getting a rechargeable one like this one so you don’t go through a ton of batteries.
- The fastest and easiest way to restore your garments to their original state.
- Worked on both fuzzy sweaters and tighter knits like hoodies and pants.
- It sucks up the lint as it goes so you don’t have to go over with a lint roller.
- It’s rechargeable.
- It’s the priciest option of them all.
- After lots of use, you may need to purchase replacement blades (currently a set of two is just under half the price of the tool itself).
- Occasionally it grabs a strand and sucks it in so you have to be careful to go over the garment and cut off loose strands first.
Watch my video above to see how it works.VASSON Fabric Shaver, Elect...Shop on Amazon
Overview of How to Remove Pilling from Clothes
The video above demonstrates how to do this, but it’s really simple!
Razor Blade Method:
Use a single-blade razor that doesn’t have a moisture strip.
Lay the clothing item on a flat surface and use short quick strokes to shave off pills with the razor.
Use a lint roller or packing tape afterward to pick up the loose fuzz.
Similarly, place the garment on a flat surface.
I like using an upholstered chair because it’s firm but keeps your item from moving around.
Go over your garment looking for strands of thread sticking out. Cut these off first with scissors. Otherwise, those longer fibers can get caught in the depiller and cause a worse snag.
Work your way systematically over the pilled areas.
Go slowly to avoid snagging the garment if it does catch a string.
The shaver picks up fuzz as it goes, making your job much easier.
After a few minutes, turn the shaver off and clean the blades and canister (follow the manufacturer’s directions for the one you buy).
Recharge the gadget when you’re done!
How to Prevent Fabric Pilling
The good news is you can also take steps to prevent your sweaters from pilling in the first place, or at least minimize it!
- Tip #1: Turn your sweaters (and other garments prone to pilling) inside out before washing so the pilling happens on the inside which isn’t visible when worn.
- Tip #2: When washing, use a small wash load, cold water, and the gentle cycle on your washing machine. And consider adding fabric softener. Hand washing is even better–but I’m not gonna tell you it’s a must, because I NEVER take the time to hand wash nor to take to the dry cleaner!
- Tip #3: It’s always best to avoid the dryer. Instead, opt for air drying on a flat surface. If you’re in a hurry, make sure the garment is still turned inside out before tumbling it in the dryer.
If your wardrobe is getting overwhelmed by pilled fabric, these methods are a game-changer.
If you found these tips helpful, please say hello in the comments and let me know!
Then get busy reclaiming your favorite sweater from the clutches of pesky pills!