How to Remove Pilling From Sweaters and Fleece Jackets

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve put back sweaters and jackets because they have more pills than Brittany Spears.  Fleece jackets such as The North Face and Patagonia brands which are great for reselling are particularly prone to pills.  Not only do they pill, they tend to gather pet hair, lint, etc. which manages to worm it’s way into the fibers.  I’ve spent countless hours trying to pick each pill off with my hands, tweezers, and even duct tape.  None were very effective and, more importantly, they took a ton of time.  If you’re trying to clean pills of a sweater or jacket then this tutorial is for you! 

Before you start, be warned: this method removes the top layer of material.  If you’re too vigorous or do it too often, you will wear the fabric thin.  This method is best for polyester and cashmere but can also work on wool or cotton.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED…

A sweater stone.  Very similar to a pumice stone, these have sharp edges which remove lint, pills, etc.  These can be found at most any fabric store or you can get the one I use here

  • Lint Roller
  • Something that needs de-pilling…obviously.
  • Just a smidgen of patience

This is what I started with.  A very typical example, this jacket looks like it has received typical wear and just been thrown in the washer/dryer when needed.  It has a glorious amount of pills, lint, and some hair.  If you have a mannequin, put your article of clothing on it for an easy working surface.  If you do not (as most people don’t) lay the sweater out on a flat hard surface such as a kitchen table.

Grab your sweater stone.  You’ll want to leave the paper piece on the stone or it will do to your fingers what it is doing to the sweater.

Slowly drag the stone down the sweater with smooth even strokes and medium pressure.  If you push too hard you run the risk of removing excess material.  Not hard enough and you won’t remove all the funk.  Just experiment until you get it right as it’s pretty hard to mess up.

Continue to work your way over the jacket/sweater, moving from top to bottom.  Starting at the top simplifies things as it allows you to simply brush the excrement onto the ground as you go.

When you reach the bottom, run your lint roller over the jacket/sweater to remove any remnants.  You’ll also pick up some bits of stone which crumble off as you work.

Half way there!  Can you you tell which side is done?  This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so and the improvement is huge!

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

Once you get good, you’ll be able to clean up a sweater/jacket in about 20 minutes.  I do this to resell so I can never forget that time is money!  This makes a definite difference in sales.  Linty pilly sweaters are a dime a dozen but well cleaned clothing that has the appearance of gentle use is what most people are looking for!  Thanks for checking out our guide to removing pills from sweater and jackets!  Best of luck!

ANOTHER EXAMPLE:

Before the stone and lint roller. Skirt is: 63% Polyester 32% Rayon 5% Spandex.  It’s actually supposed to be dry clean only but I took the chance for you! 

After 20min use of the sweater stone and quick roll of a lint roller. Super happy with these results!

Leave a Comment