How to remove pilling

Written by jessica briggs
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How to remove pilling
Keep your clothing looking good as new by removing pilling from underarms and other areas where friction occurs. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Fabric or fibre pilling on your sweaters, fleece jackets, blankets or corduroys can prevent you from wearing or using these items for fear of looking like you're wearing old rags. Removing the pilling is a fairly simple process, and there are several ways to do so that will help you to breathe new life into your clothing and furnishings. Depending on the fabric you want to spruce up, you can try different techniques to minimise any trauma to the fibres.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sweater shaver
  • Sandpaper
  • Disposable razor

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  1. 1

    Use a battery-operated sweater shaver to remove pilling from a sweater. These devices are sold expressly for this purpose, and while not necessary, they can be the most foolproof way to remove pilling. Just pass the shaver over the pilled areas and it will clip off the pills for you.

  2. 2

    Sand with a fine-grit sandpaper to remove the pills. Gently run it over the pilling and it should break the fibres holding the pills on, removing them cleanly. You can use a coarser grit, but be very gentle. Fine-grit such as that used for automobiles is ideal.

  3. 3

    Shave off the pills with a disposable razor. You don't need to dispose of the razor after use of course, but you don't want to use it to shave your face or legs afterward. Just run the blades over the pills, but don't push down hard, or you will cut the sweater under the pills.

  4. 4

    Pick off the pills by hand if it's a very delicate or expensive item that you are hesitant to use a tool on. This will take you a long time, and you may want to keep a pair of small scissors nearby to cut the fibres holding the pills on when they are being stubborn and you don't want to create pulls in the fibres. This is the least efficient of the techniques, but if the item is fragile it may well be your best option.

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