In this article, I’m going to show you how to depill a sweater and provide some tips and tricks along the way.
It doesn’t matter how well you take care of your sweaters. And it doesn’t matter if it’s 100% wool, the finest cotton or cashmere, or polyester — heck, it doesn’t matter if it’s some super hybrid that takes the best qualities of every textile in the formula.
Your sweater will pill. See, the fibers stretch, and then they break. Some common places where pilling occurs include the waistband, where the sweater rubs against your pants and the elbow area, where it’s constantly bending.
The good news is that you don’t have to send your perfectly clean sweaters off to the dry cleaners when these fabric mounds start to terrorize your sweater. Today, I’m going to show you how to depill a sweater properly.
For how to depill an overcoat or another type of wool coat, check out this article.
Depill Sweaters: What You’ll Need
The best part about depilling your sweaters at home is that you’ll likely have all the necessary tools already lying around the house.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A facial razor
- A pair of thin-blade scissors — go for something more like hair scissors, which you might find in a dog grooming kit. Just don’t use big kitchen scissors.
- A thin-tooth comb
- A lint roller or duct tape
Alright, let’s get to it!
Depilling a Sweater
Here’s how to depill a sweater, regardless of what it’s made of:
The first thing you’re going to do is find a flat surface to lay the garment on. You can use your dinner table, a desk, or an ironing board. Make sure the surface is perfectly clean before putting anything on it.
Lay the sweater out flat and taught. If someone can hold it taught for you, that’s even better. You can also put something heavy on either side of the area you’re working on, like textbooks, for example, to ensure it’s as flat as it can be. Otherwise, get it as tight and flat as possible before starting the depilling process.
Not like this.
Feel free to simply cut the obvious pills off with the small scissors or run the razor across the surface.
If there’s an obvious weave pattern, like a cable knit, for example, make sure you’re shearing in the same direction as this knitting.
Push the razor against the surface in the same way you’d do it against your face. You want it near enough that you’re shaving close but not so tightly that you’re cutting through the foundational weaving.
Not like this
I like to take the razor to it first, then cut off any excess using the scissors.
Make sure you’re differentiating between pilling and loose threads. Do not cut any loose threads, or you might start an unraveling process. Loose threads need to be put back in their place, not snipped off.
From here, run the lint roller through the sweater. Again, go in the direction of the weaving so you don’t accidentally create more pilling or unnecessary texturing.
Feel free to cut off any excess pilling that might be left over.
How to Depill a Wool Sweater: Tips
If the sweater you’re dealing with is wool, there’s nothing special you need to do beyond the basic instructions above.
However, it does help to fold and store your sweaters properly and to avoid washing them more than you need to. More washing means more friction and more friction means more pilling.
When you wash them, use a fabric conditioner and regular detergent. Turn your sweaters inside out and avoid powder detergents since the dry particles aren’t as smooth on the garment surface as liquid detergent is.
And, of course, always follow the cleaning instructions on the label.
How to Depill a Cashmere Sweater: Tips
Cashmere may be the epitome of luxury when it comes to sweaters, but it’s also more prone to pilling compared to sturdy merino wool.
And, of course, lower quality cashmere is more prone to pilling because it has shorter fibers than high-quality cashmere.
That being the case, though, I highly recommend using a fine-tooth comb when taking scissors to your cashmere sweaters. Get the pill in between the comb teeth and cut from there. This way, you aren’t accidentally slicing the actual body of the sweater.
Just one small cut, and you might ruin the elegant drape of the cashmere.
If you’re feeling insecure about taking a razor or scissors to your expensive cashmere sweater, you can always invest in a sweater comb. I like the Comfy Clothiers Cashmere and Wool Comb.
Or, you could even use a proper fabric shaver, like this one from Conair.
Some people even recommend avoiding a razor or scissors completely when it comes to cashmere. I think you’ll be fine as long as you’re careful and as long as you’re using a comb to create a barrier between the sweater’s surface and the scissors.
Just as with a wool sweater, make sure to turn your cashmere sweaters inside out before throwing them in the wash. Use a mild detergent or a special cashmere cleaner like the SUDDZfx hydrating cashmere shampoo, and always use the cold, gentle cycle.
Here are some common questions regarding depilling sweaters:
Can I depill a sweater with a razor?
Yes, just make sure you aren’t pressing too hard and are going in the direction of the weave pattern.
Do dry cleaners depill sweaters?
Yes, but you can also depill your sweaters at home using a razor, scissors, or even a sweater comb.
How do you reverse pilling?
You can’t reverse pilling per se, but you can remove the pilling. You can avoid excessive pilling by only washing your sweaters when you absolutely need to and storing them properly.
Smooth Sweaters for the Win
I hope that was helpful! Now that sweater weather is in full swing, you’ll definitely be seeing some pilling on your favorite sweaters.
Fortunately, you’ll know how to handle it without overly relying on your dry cleaners!
What other clothing maintenance-related articles do you want to read here on TMM? Let me know in the comments!