How to Depill Sweaters

by Michelle Ullman

Nubby, textured sweaters have casual charm, but sweaters that should be smooth but aren't look far from stylish. Pilling -- those fuzzy balls of broken or tangled fibers -- is most common on soft fabrics like acrylic, cashmere and wool. It occurs when the sweater fibers break down and tangle into small, linty balls. Most often, pilling occurs in areas where fabric rubs together, particularly underneath the arms, but any part of the sweater can pill. Luckily, it's easy to remove pills and restore your sweater's smooth, stylish appeal.

Lay your sweater on a table or other smooth, hard surface.

Shave away the pills with a single-blade disposable razor or a clothing depiller. Use just enough pressure to remove the pills without damaging the fabric.

Clip away the pills one-by-one with a small scissor, if you don't have a razor. Position the scissors at the base of the pill, taking care not to snip the sweater.

Use a lint roller to capture the clipped pills, then dispose of them.

Items you will need

  • Single-blade razor or fabric depiller
  • Small scissors, optional
  • Lint roller


  • Avoid pilling by washing your sweaters inside out and in gentle detergent. Air-dry your sweaters, as the tumbling of the dryer creates friction that encourages pilling.

About the Author

Living in California, Michelle Ullman is a professional writer with particular expertise in home, garden and pet/nature topics. Her work is published on many websites. She loves crafts and has a deep interest in design and DIY projects.

Photo Credits

  • Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images