After wearing and washing my knits and sweaters several times, they start to pill easily. This can also be said to clothes that are felty. Is there any way to prevent this pilling without using a remover or is it inevitable? I wash them in the bags. The reason why I don't wanna use a remover is because I once accidentally tore a knit. Since I wear my favorite ones more often like many people would, it happenes more to these favorite ones and it's so annoying!

  • I was using more detergent and fabric softener than the suggested amounts, thinking that it will make the fabrics cleaner and smell better. I wanna accept both of these answers, but I can only pick one, so I'm going with the answer that was posted the first. I'm gonna use less of them from now on. Thank you :)
    – Mikiko
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 1:34
  • It may not help prevent pills, but a regular (new, sharp) razor, the same type you use for shaving legs and arm pits, works great to remove pills.
    – Kwuz
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 16:52
  • @Kwuz Seriously?! I never even once thought of using my razor like that! I definitely need to try it out. Thanks :)
    – Mikiko
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 6:05
  • For removing pills that have already formed, you might also try gently rubbing them with a pumice stone. Will work - when used with a gentle rubbing motion - on removing pills without the same threat of cutting the fabric beneath.
    – Ceylon_17
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 14:17

3 Answers 3


Water-efficient vertical drum washers, I find, are much gentler on fabrics than the horizontal washers. This is probably because the impeller in the older washers caused friction between layers of fabric, while the tumbling action of vertical machines causes less rubbing.

In any event, use the least detergent, least water and shortest cycle. Hand-washing with mild detergent such as Woolite was once required, but the HE washers seem just as mild.

After much wear, even without washing, though, some yarns pill.


Pilling of fabric occurs during wear more than by care.

Washing loostens the fibres in some fabrics by removing the "sizing" (a kind of starch) used to give "body" to most flat fabric finishes during their manufacture. While you cannot replace the sizing in the fabric, you can avoid strong detergents and fabric softeners that hasten the softening of the fabric finish. Avoid tumble drying.

Since pilling occurs when two surfaces rub against each other, avoiding that will reduce pilling.

Going further; the removal of the pills as soon as you can will help reduce their numbers but I have NO practical evidence of this

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review Commented May 15, 2016 at 6:03
  • 1
    @AdamZuckerman - Reread my post to find the answer beginning with "you can…"
    – Stan
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 16:06

Wash "pill-friendly" items separately!

If grouping several of these items in one wash:

  1. make sure these are the only items in the wash
  2. (REVISED) for sweaters, use mesh bags designed for washing delicates (use larger size mesh bag meant, say, for a blouse instead of lingerie); one item per bag)
  3. hang to dry, or dry flat (sweaters) - do not put in the dryer (these fabrics tend to shrink in the dryer and the fluff/friction action in a dryer tends to encourage more pills to form)

Hope this is helpful!

  • Thanks for the helpful tips, Ceylon_17! I will definitely try them :)
    – Mikiko
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 0:05
  • Terrific! Let me know how it works out for you. See slight revisions above distinguishing between when washing sweaters vs. other pill-friendly garments. I wash all of my work clothes this way and they last for YEARS! It saves A TON on dry cleaning, and also on the frequency of having to buy new clothes!
    – Ceylon_17
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 16:05
  • Ha! My lazy self sometimes put a few items in one bag... I'm separating all my clothes starting today! It must be so nice to be able to keep my favorite outfits for as long as I want to.
    – Mikiko
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 6:14
  • If you are washing several sweaters, yes, it is best to put one in each bag. If you are washing, say, slacks and/or blouses, you can throw them directly in the washer ... but these should be the only clothes in the washer ... then hang or lie flat to dry. You will find yourself giggling at how you've increased the life of your wardrobe! ;-)
    – Ceylon_17
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 14:20

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