How can you fix pilling on fabric

What is pilling? Creation, prevention, removal

In the case of fleece clothing, pilling is a sign of poor quality. Only a few brand manufacturers recognize the unsightly fiber nodules as a reason for complaint. We reveal how pilling occurs, what effects it has and what you can do to prevent and prevent it.

What is pilling?

Pillings are small, matted fiber balls or nodules that tend to form on fabrics with a roughened or fibrous textile surface - for example fleece fabrics or other knitted fabrics.

Causes: How does pilling occur?

Pilling forms on loose fiber ends that have detached from the textile surface. Fabrics made from short-fiber or loosely spun yarns and / or yarns that are cut open during the manufacturing process are therefore particularly susceptible. Due to mechanical friction - when worn and especially in the washing machine - the fiber ends become matted into globules and the unsightly pilling occurs.

Which fabrics and fibers are particularly prone to pilling?

Polyester fleece but also knitted goods made from short-fiber synthetic fiber yarns are particularly often affected by pilling. Due to the smooth surface of the fibers, the ends are easier to detach from the yarn composite than rough natural fibers. Nevertheless, pilling also occurs in woolen fabrics with a rough surface.

Impact: why is pilling a problem?

First and foremost, pilling is an optical quality problem. The fiber knots make new textiles look old and worn out quickly. As a result, the clothing actually ages faster because the constant loss of material causes the fabric to gradually thin out. On the one hand, this affects functionality and insulation performance. On the other hand, the service life of the product is reduced if holes are ultimately created in the particularly stressed areas.

Is pilling a reason for complaint?

Not necessarily. In the case of very cheap fleece clothing in particular, pilling is more the rule than the exception. Some textile manufacturers label their fabrics as "anti-pilling fleece" or something similar. In this case it is worth asking. In the case of functional fabrics from the brand manufacturer Polartec, pilling is always considered a reason for complaint.

How can you prevent pilling?

Proper care of the garments is crucial to prevent pilling. But what does “right” actually mean?

  • Turn inside out! Pilling is caused by mechanical friction. Turning textiles prone to pilling inside out before washing protects the outside from abrasion.
  • Close all (zip) fasteners! Open zippers and Velcro fasteners pull on fabrics and fibers when washing. Therefore, the following applies: Before every wash, close the Velcro and zip fasteners on all items of clothing.
  • No fabric softener! Fabric softener wraps itself around the fibers like a film, making them easier to "slip" away from the yarn composite. In addition, fabric softener can stick or attack some fibers.
  • Mild care products!Functional detergents or - for woolen clothing - wool detergents (without protease!) Protect the fibers. Stain removers or bleaching agents should be avoided as a matter of principle in order not to damage the fibers.
  • Low temperature! 30 and a maximum of 40 degrees are sufficient for washing delicate clothing. Important: The sewn care label reveals the only correct temperature information!
  • Little spin! Skidding leads to mechanical friction. While wool clothing is best not to be thrown at all, with fleece jackets and Co. it is sufficient to briefly throw the clothing on.
  • No dryer! Those who want to avoid pilling do without the dryer. In the case of fleece clothing, this helps that the surface of the textile becomes fluffy again. However, it only takes a few minutes for the fiber pile to "stand" again.

Important: every textile is different!

The sewn care label reveals which ideal washing and care measures your fleece jacket or wool sweater needs. The manufacturer's care instructions are always based on the most sensitive components and provide information about the washing program and temperature.

  • Tip: Those who prefer to remove care labels from their clothing should document the information, especially for sensitive clothing. For example, by taking a photo with your smartphone. Alternatively, you can file cut labels in a folder or something similar.

How do you remove pilling?

Removing pills carries a risk: new pills. The annoying fiber beads should therefore not be plucked off by hand or with other aids such as Velcro straps and the like. These methods remove the nodules, but by pulling them loosen new fiber ends, which become matted again at the latest during the next wash cycle. It is therefore more effective to counter the pillings with a sharp blade. There are several possibilities for that:

  • Lint Shaver: These electrical devices mostly work with rotating knives that cut off pilling and protruding fibers. You are very efficient at doing this.
  • Disposable razors: The mechanical alternative is a new, sharp razor with no “care additives” on the blade. This is carefully pulled over the fabric in short strokes. The key word here is caution (!) So as not to damage the fabric.
  • Scissors: Coarse pilling can also be removed with sharp, fine scissors - for example, nail scissors for children with a rounded tip. The same applies here: Be careful not to damage the fabric!
  • Tip: Cut fiber beads can be easily collected with an adhesive lint roller or a piece of adhesive tape. Since the adhesive tape also tugs at the surface, please approach the matter with measure and feeling!

It should be noted that removing pilling inevitably results in a loss of material, albeit a small one, and can encourage the formation of new nodules despite all caution. Therefore, it is important to weigh up how often you declare war on the pillings.

More about textile care at Bergzeit