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

This post may contain affiliate links, read about our editorial promise
Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.