How To Get Pills Off A Sweater

For most of us, sweater season is in full swing. Your daily outfits are now based around all those cozy sweaters, cardigans, and wraps that have been hibernating in your closet since last season. But what you probably weren’t expecting was the smattering of unsightly little nubs that suddenly cover your favorite cashmere number: pills.

Is there anything worse than pills on your favorite sweater? 

The pesky yarn clumps known as pills can form on garments of all materials and prices, from a super high-end cashmere sweater to a bargain-priced acrylic blend. Pilling tends to get worse with more wear, which is why it always seems to occur on your favorite cashmere turtleneck and not the ones at the back of the closet.

It's caused by wearing, not washing, and is not a sign of inferior quality. Anything made out of yarn or fibers will eventually pill. We won't get into the details of how it happens but the pilling basically occurs when groups of fibers break, tangle, and mat together.

Thankfully, pills aren’t necessarily a sign of damage to your sweaters. Removing them is a careful and sometimes tedious process, but also a relatively easy one with the help of a few simple tools.

Disposable razor: First, wash your sweater inside out. (This keeps pills from accumulating in the first place.) Once dry, lay the sweater flat, pull it taut and shave downward using short, precise strokes. Test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure your technique won’t rip the fabric. Then lift away the fuzz with a lint roller or a piece of tape.  Be careful not to damage the fabric by cutting too close to the surface.  And we can't stress enough the importance of going light and slow.

Pumice stone: You may have one of these lying around your bathroom already. To use it on your sweater, simply brush the stone in a very gentle motion over the pills. Be sure to brush in only one direction to avoid damaging the garment. One other thing to consider is pumice also smells like sulfur, so your sweater might smell of it too.  So you'll want to use a sweater stone before hand washing or dry cleaning, not after.

Electric Sweater Shaver: If you're looking for a solution that might require a little less elbow grease, there are plenty of sweater-specific shavers that are designed to rid sweaters with little more than a few batteries.  It's important to be extremely careful when using an electric shaver as one wrong move can cause permanent damage. People swear by the Ever Care and the Gleener.

Sweater Comb: Normally, we don't recommend fabric combs as a method of removing pilss on a finely-knit sweater. They're usually best suited for coats, scarves, or wool pants. However, our friends over at The Laundress sell a modern version that is perfect for gently picking up stray pills. 
Always remember...properly cared for, a good cashmere sweater will give you years of enjoyment.