What is a Fabric Shaver?

Sadly, all sweaters start to pill eventually, no matter their quality. And few things make that new (and expensive) sweater look old and worn more than fuzz and fabric pills. 

Bobbling on a jumper

You could manually pick each individual pill off your sweater, but that would take forever. Plus, pulling on the fabric will further loosen the threads causing further pilling. 

What you really need is a fabric shaver.

To help, we’ve created this guide for you as a Fabric Shaver 101. We’ll cover everything you need to know about buying a fabric shaver including:

  • What a fabric shaver is
  • Whether or not fabric shavers do what they claim
  • Alternatives to fabric shavers
  • How to choose a fabric shaver
  • The best fabric shavers on the market
Fabric shaver

What is a Fabric Shaver?

A fabric shaver is an electronic device that uses a rotating blade to remove lint and pills from fabric without damaging the fabric. Fabric shavers are mostly used on clothing, typically sweaters, sweatshirts, and other clothing made from wool, cashmere or angora. Fabric shavers are also often used on bedding and furniture as well. 

Think of a fabric shaver as an electric razor for your clothes except instead of cutting off hair, it removes fuzz, bobbles, lint, loose threads and pilling from cloth. They can be used on almost any knit fabric including cashmere, angora and merino wool.

Fabric shavers are one of the simplest and easiest devices to use on the market today. 

How fabric shavers work

Fabric shavers are made up of three basic parts:

  • Body, which houses the motor for electric shavers
  • Blades, which are responsible for actually cutting off the pills
  • Blade cover

Many electric fabric shavers also include a removable lint catcher, which collects the pills and fuzz once it’s been removed.

When using a fabric shaver, the device’s very fine blades slice off the fabric pills and exposed lint while the blade cover prevents those blades from making contact with (and therefore cutting) the fabric itself. 

Once a pill is removed by an eclectic fabric shaver, gravity does its work and the lint falls into the device’s removable catcher.

Do Fabric Shavers Really Work?

Yes! Fabric shavers are great little machines that save you time, effort and money and keep your clothes looking their best. 

However, that comes with a slight caveat.

While a fabric shaver won’t ruin your clothes when used properly, there is always the chance that user error (such as not paying attention or not replacing dull blades) can result in a damaged sweater or couch. Luckily, using a fabric shaver is easy and straightforward so the likelihood of this happening is incredibly low.

Do Fabric Shavers For Work Pet Hair?

Yes, fabric shavers can help remover pet hair from your clothes and furniture. It's inevitable that your cat or dog will shed their fur around your home, but a fabric shaver is a great and inexpensive way to keep your home pet hair free.

Fabric Shavers vs. Lint Rollers

The main benefit to using a fabric shaver over a lint roller is that fabric shavers are simply more effective at removing pills, fuzz and lint from your clothing. Because lint rollers rely only on adhesive and manual pressure, they won’t remove a lot of the pills and fuzz that are still somewhat connected to the fabric. 

Using a lint roller also runs the risk of pulling up even more fibers and lint from the fabric, making further pilling in the future more likely. Rollers can even be too sticky, resulting in damage to particularly delicate fabrics.

Fabric shavers, on the other hand, actually cut the fuzz and pilling from the fabric, leaving a much cleaner, fresher-looking sweater.

Lint rollers are a cheap alternative to a fabric shaver you can use in a pinch, but we don’t recommend choosing to use a lint roller over a fabric shaver. Fabric shavers offer several advantages over lint rollers.

Choosing the Right Fabric Shaver for You

Fabric shavers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and with a variety of features. So there are a few things you need to consider before buying your first fabric shaver to make sure you get the device that best fits your particular needs.

Fabric types

While there are fabric shavers for any type of fabric, that doesn’t mean that every fabric shaver will work for every fabric type. Thick fabric types will need a higher cutting height than thinner fabrics. 

Some types of fabrics will require a faster cutting speed than others.

Many fabric shavers offer adjustable cutting height and speeds so you can use them on multiple fabric types without worrying about pulling, snagging, nicking or otherwise damaging your sweater or upholstery.

Power source and battery life

Electric fabric shavers come in two varieties: battery-powered and plug-in models. Both types offer their own advantages and drawbacks.

Plug-in fabric shavers have the advantage of a consistent power source, so you never have to worry about the battery dying. In fact, many of the cheaper fabric shavers have battery lives as short as 15 minutes, meaning it’ll be impossible for you to use it for bigger projects like couches or large blankets.

These models do have the drawback of being less portable. You can only use these fabric shavers near an outlet and the cord impacts usability. Shavers with short cords might not have the reach necessary for larger jobs while models with long cords (six to nine feet) risk the cord tangling or getting in the way during use.

Battery-powered fabric shavers don’t have these issues. They are portable and easy to use. However, you are limited by how long the battery charge lasts and while the best shavers can run for 60 minutes on a single charge, you have to pay for that benefit.

One last note about plug-in fabric shavers: many use the traditional AC power cord but some have USB cords. Those with USB cords have the added benefit of flexibility but you might need to buy an AC adapter to go with it.

Finally, some models use both power sources, so you get the best of both worlds and can avoid the drawbacks of either type. 

Shaving heads and blades

Fabric shavers have a variety of shaving head sizes and shaving heights. Heads come in heights ranging from 1.5 to 3 inches in diameter. Larger head sizes remove pills from a larger surface area, so you can use them to make larger projects faster and more efficient.

Shaving head height makes a difference regarding performance depending on fabric type. Higher shaving heads will work better on thicker fabrics but will increase the chance of snagging for thinner surfaces. 

Adjustable head heights offer support for all fabric types, making these fabric shavers more versatile.

Fabric Shaver

Blade design is also an important factor in choosing a fabric shaver. Models with more blades (usually up to six blades) let you quickly remove fuzz and pills from even thick fabrics. Some fabric shavers come with different blades suited to different types of fabrics. Users and swap these blades out to fit their particular needs in the moment.

Finally, blade material is also an important factor. While the vast majority of fabric shaver blades are made using stainless steel, they are not all made with the same steel. Look for a model that uses high-quality steel such as 18/10 or 18/8. They’ll resist rust better than lower gauge stainless steel.

Handle shape

Fabric shavers come with a wide variety of handle shape and design. Some have the shaving head build directly into the handle while others use an offset handle much like a clothes iron. 

Look for a fabric shaver with a textured, ergonomic handle. This will allow for better control and help reduce hand fatigue. Handles with thumb grips and finger grooves also help in this department.

Additional features to consider

Look for fabric shavers with some additional features that don’t necessarily impact their ability to remove pilling, but will help make your life easier when owning a fabric shaver:

  • Lint catchers: The larger the lint collector, the fewer times you have to stop to empty it. As an added bonus, look for a model with a clear catcher so you know when it’s getting close to full.
  • Storage: Storage options will keep your stuff organized and help stop you from losing things. Look for a fabric shaver with a storage bag or case that will hold the device, blades, charger and cover together.
  • Spare blades: Even if you buy a top of the line fabric shaver, all blades wear out eventually. Some fabric shavers come with extra blades, saving you time and potential frustration when it comes time to change.

Fabric Shaver on grey fabric

The Best Fabric Shavers in 2023

As we’ve mentioned above, the best fabric shavers come with adjustable depth and speed, have an ergonomic handle and include extra features that make owning them easier. 

Check out the best fabric shavers of 2023 to learn about their features, read verified user reviews and choose the one that’s best for you.

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Our editors have independently selected and reviewed all of the products you see here. The reviews can contain links from affiliates, which means we may receive a small commission on editorially chosen products purchased through our links.

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