A freshly washed and depilled sweater on a bed

Find out How to Wash and Depill a Sweater

Why is it that by April, that sweater you unwrapped during the holidays already has those pesky pills under the arms and along the sides?

Pilling occurs when fibers break down, separate, and then clump together in little balls. It tends to form on wool, cotton, cashmere, even polyester garments, usually at a point where two fabrics rub together.

How to Make Sure Your Sweater Doesn’t Stretch:

  • Lay the wet sweater on a flat towel after washing.

  • Roll up the towel and sweater from the closest edge, like a jellyroll. This squeezes out any excess water.

  • Unroll the towel, lift the sweater off, and lay it flat on a dry towel.

  • Carefully bring the sweater back to its original shape.

Depill the Right Way

If you already have pills on a sweater, you'll have to be patient and remove them one at a time.

Place the garment on a flat surface and then use a small pair of scissors or a razor blade to carefully remove fluff and pills.

If you're worried about damaging the sweater, you can find something that will remove the pills more gently, such as a fine-tooth comb, pumice stone, or even a fruit zester. There are also special gadgets that are designed to lift off pills in a way that won't harm the garment's fibers.

Consider buying a sweater comb or a battery-operated electric fabric shaver, a hand-held device that sells for less than $20. It will come in handy, not just for sweaters, but for pills that build up on wool blankets and throws, towels, furniture, even the dog's bed. It can also safely remove pet hair, loose threads, and lint, keeping fabrics and garments looking like new.