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My Way: How to get rid of lint balls (Part 1)

December 22, 2009

Fuzz and lint balls can make clothes look worn and  older than they are. I usually like things that have aged through wear and wash like jeans, leather shoes and all that, however, the fuzz balls are just not quite the same. They really don’t add any “characters” to the clothes in a way I’d appreciate. Maybe I’ve just never seen any sweaters with awesome looking pills before.  Anyway I was looking at some of my old sweaters recently and it was time to give them special care.
I have my own favorite way of de-pilling a sweater.  Simple and easy, and here’s how…

What you need:
1: Lint Roller
2: Sweater stone (pumice stone)
3: Scissors (which I didn’t need at all in the end. They just looked cute in the photos.)
4: A bowl

Why do sweaters pill to begin with?

All yarns are made up of a bunch of twisted fibers. Short-staple fibers; a term that refers to the length of the real or imitation animal hair used to create the yarn, often wind up poking out of the yarn at either end of the individual hair. When a group of fiber ends are sticking up like that, friction often causes them to bunch together… and then you have pills.

Lint consists of fibers that break off during washing or wearing, while pilling involves fibers unraveling and leaving loose ends to ball up on the fabric due to friction from normal wear.

Several fibers are notoriously pill-prone: acrylics, merino wool, and cashmere, particularly inexpensive cashmere. The “friction” component explains why pilling on clothing often happens in areas where body parts rub together. Acrylics may pill the worst because of their strength.

When you remove pills, you’re technically removing some of the fabric of the sweater, so it is possible to shave a sweater into oblivion after a few years of concentrated pill-removal.

(image via here.)

I use the Sweater Stone by The Laundress. This is a fantastic garment grooming aid which is a lightweight natural pumice in a product designed specifically for removing lint balls from clothing. The Sweater Stone has a little bits crumble off of the stone when you use it. According to the manufacturer, this is because the stone breaks off a tiny chunk whenever it encounters too much resistance, rather than snagging material. Although the crumbly bits can be shaken off easily. I tend to use the stone prior to washing a sweater.


1: Lay the sweater on a flat surface.

2: Hold the fabric taut with one hand. With the sweater stone in the other hand, use a brisk but gentle stroke to remove the fuzz.

3: Repeat brushing as often as necessary.

4: Pick the fuzz up and put it in the bowl, so that it doesn’t get messy on your table.

5: Don’t forget the bottom and side part.

6: Use a lint roller to collect the crumbly bits from the sweater stone and catch some small lint to clean up.

Seeing the immediate result is very satisfying.


Other methods you might want to try…
Method A: A Razor Blade
I’ve never really been convinced about the idea of using a razor blade or even a disposable razor to get rid of pilling on fabrics, especially on my favourite clothes. So I usually avoid all sharp implements that aren’t craft knives or scissors.

However, with using a single edge razor,  you can literally “shave” the lint balls off of your clothing or sweaters. You need to be extra careful when using a razor to shave the lint off of clothing so that you don’t accidentally cut the fabrics. Hold the razor at an angle so it skims the surface of the fabric but does not cut down into it, and then begin shaving off the lint balls. It sounds already complicated to me, which explains why there are no photos of the action here.

Method B : A Sweater or Lint Shaver

The little devices that are designed to shave off lint from clothing are battery powered and look almost like an electric razor. Just glide them over the surface of your sweater or clothing and it should remove the fuzz balls.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. wythe permalink
    December 22, 2009 12:49 pm

    so useful!

  2. January 14, 2010 6:11 am

    Off subject – but love the enamel bowl.

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