The pesky, round little bobbles that make all your best wools, linens and silks look a bit like they belonged to a generation before you. You might be wondering how you managed so much fuzz. And how to get rid of it.
Wonder no more.
What is pilling?
Pills appear on fabric as a result of the fibres of your fabric scuffing together, which creates friction. That’s why you’ll notice them more frequently in ‘high traffic’ areas like the elbows, armpits, sleeves and the sides of your sweater.
Fibre blends, especially those that combine both natural and synthetic fibre are the most likely to pill. Why? Well when fibres are mixed in a blend, one fibre is usually much stronger than the other. The weaker of the two will break and bond to the stronger fibre, forming those annoying little fuzzy bobbles.
While most pills are formed during everyday wear or use, they also form in the wash. Any pills that might have already existed on the garment pre-wash will then act as a magnet for any other fibres it might touch while in the wash. Therefore creating more knots.
Can you avoid pilling?
Yes! Here are a few of our best tips.
Wash your clothes inside out. This can prevent pills fairly successfully as you’re reducing the amount that your fabrics will come into contact with one another. Doing this will also help keep your clothes looking as bright and colourful as the day you bought them. Double win!
Put less in your washing machine. We know that can be a tough ask, but it’s way, way better for your clothes. By sticking fewer clothes in the machine at once, you’re again reducing the amount of friction your clothes will have to endure.
Avoid the dryer. In places where the sun is abundant, using the dryer is a big old waste of time and energy. We try to avoid using the dryer even in the depths of winter, due to the environmental impact but also for the longevity of our clothes. We recommend to line dry woven fabrics and dry knitted garments on a flat surface. If you must use the dryer, remove delicate items as soon as possible to reduce the contact of other fabrics.
Can you fix it if it’s already happened?
Combs, like this one here or battery-powered fuzz removers shave the surface of the garment, and can safely remove pilling on virtually any type of fabric.
Hold the fabric taut and be gentle until you have a feel for the strength and durability of the garment. Be careful to avoid damaging the garment or creating further pulls or snags in the threads.
Image by Anna Salvador