What is Pilling and How to Prevent It - Kerry Linen Bedding and Bed Linen, Ireland.

What is Pilling?

What is pilling and why does it happen?  Those irritating little bobbles of fluff that appear after time can make your bedding look a little, erm.. tatty.  It happens as the fibres of the material – both natural and man-made fabrics – break down and get tangled together, forming little balls of material.

What is Pilling and How Do I Prevent It?

It’s an almost inevitable part of owning any bedding or clothing.  Those unsightly little ‘bobbles’, or ‘pills’ that appear on your cotton and polycotton bed linen can make a beautiful set of sheets look a little tired and, sorry to say, a little tatty.  It’s not all bad news, though.  Pilling can be kept to a minimum and can be removed with a little care and attention.

Pills appear on fabric when groups of short or broken fibers become tangled together in a tiny knot or ball, known as a pill. The pills form due to rubbing or abrasion during normal wear and use.

What Causes Pilling?

Simply, abrasion.  When something rubs against a cotton, woolen or polycotton material, it suffers a small amount of abrasion damage and the tiny fibres get tangled or knotted together, forming the small ‘fuzz balls’ or ‘pills’.  The appearance of pills is then compounded as other lose fibres and dust become tangled up, too, often when washing.  This is why pills on while fabric can look grey, even black.

How do I Prevent Pilling?

Basically, be careful with your bed linen – treat it gently.  If you have it, use the ‘gentle’ cycle on your washing machine. The slower agitation and shorter wash cycle will protect the material in your sheets and pillowcases. Better still, wash your bed linen by hand – if you have all the time in the world.

Wash your bedding separately and don’t over fill the machine.  Washing cotton or polycotton sheets and pillowcases in the same load as, for example, a pair of jeans – while clearly a terrible idea – will cause considerably more abrasion and harm to the surface of the fabric.  Avoid washing cotton & polycotton with lint-producing fabrics like terry cloth.  If there are already broken fibers on your sheets, the lint from terry cloth will cling tightly to the pills, making them larger and more noticeable.

Do not overload the washing machine.  Cramming it as full as possible not only lessens the cleaning effect, but also leaves little room for clothes to move easily and causes damage to the surface of the materials.  This wear – or abrasion – then further exacerbates the pilling on your sheets and pillowcases.

Do your best to avoid harsh cleaner detergents and damaging bleach, both of which will weaken fibers, causing them to break and pill.   If possible, choose a laundry detergent that contains the enzyme ‘cellulase’.  This will help break down cotton pills and remove them.  This is mostly advised for cotton.  Also, add a fabric softener to the rinse cycle which will coat the fibers of the fabric so that abrasion is lessened.

If you can, try to avoid over-use of the tumble dryer.  Assuming it’s not pouring down, line-dry your bedding if you can.  Excessive tumble drying just rubs the material together, causing wear.  We try to use the dryer with very little in it, for a short time, then finish on the clothes line.

How to Remove Pilling

the best and most effective way to remove pills is to use a fabric comb or battery-operated fuzz remover.  These handy devices shave the pills from the surface of the fabric, while leaving the underlying material unaffected.  There are a number of these clever things available, here are one or two…

See all the Pill Removers on Amazon.

NOT RECOMMENDED:  You can also pull the fabric taut over a curved surface and carefully cut off the pills with small, sharp scissors or shave the fabric surface with a safety razor. You must be extremely careful and weigh the value of the garment before tackling the job!

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What is Pilling?  How can I prevent and fix it?  Read on...
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What is Pilling? How can I prevent and fix it? Read on...
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What is pilling and why does it happen?  Those irritating little bobbles of fluff that appear after time can make your bedding look a little, erm.. tatty.  It happens as the fibres of the material - both natural and man-made fabrics - break down and get tangled together, forming little balls of material.
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