Save Your Sweaters: How to Quickly De-Pill Your Favorite Sweater

how to de-pill a sweater

It's a frustrating fact of wearing sweaters: Eventually they begin to form unsightly little balls called pills. Perhaps annoying most of all, a higher priced sweater is just as likely to pill as any bargain option. Pills form when the yarn fibers break or pull loose, and roll into balls. Unfortunately, there's no way to guarantee a sweater won't pill when you're inspecting it in the store. Considered a “latent defect” in the clothing industry because they don't appear until after wearing, pills can occur due to over-washing or drying, friction (from a messenger bag, for example), or simply prolonged wear.

But fear not! Just because pills have formed on the surface of your favorite sweater doesn't mean it's destined for the trash.

There are many dedicated de-pilling solutions on the market, but the best place to start is your own medicine cabinet. Simply grab a disposable razor and lightly brush over the surface. Pressing too hard can exacerbate the problem by cutting or breaking more threads.

You can see the dramatic effect on my own sweater. This pullover is a super soft Alpaca sweater I picked up a few seasons ago but quickly got lost in the depths of my sweater drawer. I had put it in the dryer, a huge no-no for sweaters in general but even more so for ones made of finer yarns. I stumbled upon it this season as I was preparing for the oncoming chill and decided to see if I could salvage it. The razor method worked like a charm!

How to depill a sweater with a razor

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Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.