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Removing Sweater Pills

Martha Stewart Living Television

It could be cashmere, wool, flannel, cotton, or even a synthetic fiber, but chances are, one of your favorite sweaters will eventually pill. Pilling occurs when groups of fibers break, tangle, and mat together, making the texture of the sweater rough and decidedly unattractive.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent pilling, such as following the manufacturer’s care instructions, turning the garment inside out before washing, making sure to use the gentle cycle (and shorter washing-machine cycles in general), removing the garment from the dryer immediately, and brushing the sweater regularly with a lint or bristled garment brush. But if pills do appear, you can try one of the following techniques to remove them:

Remove the little balls, one pill at a time, using a small pair of scissors or a razor blade, being careful not to damage the fabric by cutting too close to the surface.

Or, you can purchase a sweater comb or electric fabric shaver, then drag it across the fabric to remove the pills. These battery-operated devices can also be used on furniture and blankets; they’re are available in various sizes and usually come with removable rings designed to protect delicate textiles. Just be sure that you aren’t wearing the garment while de-pilling it, and remember to empty the pill trap when it’s full.


Sweater de-fuzzer available from Macy's; D-Fuzz-It Sweater/Fabric Comb, a product of Oak Hill Industries Corp., available at Shop At Clares and Von Maur;fabric lint brush available from Sew True.

Comments (3)

  • amandaellis162064 18 Feb, 2015

    I have recently knitted a merino wool bulky blanket, in process of knitting the yarn got fuzzy. How to I get rid of this fuzz without compromising the yarn but still showing it's beauty?

  • BMC38655 13 Dec, 2013

    I used a disposable razor and shaved my sweater. The results look good enough for me.

  • dempseydog 25 Sep, 2013

    I have a Gleener which is waaayy better than anything else I've ever tried. It is manual (no batteries to replace) and has 3 different edges for different types of fabrics. I have revived many cashmere sweaters with it but it also works on fleece. And bonus! it also has a lint brush which works beautifully to remove the dog hair from my 2 mutts off the sofa. Anyway, I always used to worry that the battery ones would make a [filtered word] in my sweaters. I don't worry about that anymore. see