What Is Lint And How To Prevent It

So you want to know what those small and annoying bobbles that are appearing on your clothes after you’ve worn them a few times..? In this guide we explain what lint is and why it appears on your clothes.

What is Lint?

Simply put, lint is a build-up or accumulation of fabric fibres on your clothes. A number of different materials, such as cotton, linen and wool contain tightly packed fibres, which over time and during the course of normal use separate and form small bobbles, also known as lint, on the surface of your garment.

What causes Lint?

More often than not, lint gatherers around the creased areas of garments or on the heavily used areas such as sleeves and cuffs. In addition, lint occurs during the course of washing and drying. The more a garment is worn, washed and dried, the more susceptible it is to the formation of lint.

Harder and sturdier fabrics, such as cotton and wool are ordinarily more likely to suffer from the formation of lint bobbles than softer more delicate fabrics such as silk and synthetic fibres.

How to prevent Pilling from forming on clothes?

The formation of lint is an inevitable part of simply wearing your clothes, but it can obviously be annoying if it’s making your favourite jumper look old before its time. Whilst lint cannot be fully irradiated it can be minimised by following a few simple rules:

  • Store your dirty clothes in a well-ventilated and appropriately sized laundry basket.
  • Use the right washing technique. Use a lower spin speed when washing your clothes minimises, but doesn’t fully prevent the build-up of lint. For more information take a look at our guide to removing lint from washing machines.
  • Dry your clothes on a low tumble dry setting and remember to remove them from the machine as soon as they are dry.
  • Use soft and good-quality detergents.
  • Don’t pull lint of the garments as they might pull or snag and make them worse. There are a number of suggestions on how to remover lint bobbles below.
  • Iron the affected areas using a cool setting on your iron can smooth out the lint bobbles for a time.

Use an alternative to Tumble Drying

The 2-main reasons lint builds-up on clothes are wear, which can't be prevented and how your clothes are laundered with tumble drying being probably the most damaging process to your clothes. Fortunately, there are a number of other less damaging options available to you:

  • Hang outside to dry naturally during summer months
  • Hang on a normal airer
  • Use a heated air dryer, which has the added benefit of being significantly cheaper to run than a tumble dryer and works inside during the winter months

How to remove lint from clothes?

We have a detailed post on how to remove lint bobbles from clothes, but the main options are:

  • Shaving them off with a disposable razor,
  • Removing or “pulling’ them off by hand.
  • Using sellotape, velcro of a lint roller over the garment.
  • Using an electric fabric shaver.
  • Cutting off lint bobbles with a pair of scissors.
  • Carefully removing with a pair of tweezers.


Lint occurs on stronger fabrics such as cotton and wool during the course of normal use and washing. It can’t necessarily be eradicated altogether, but can be minimsed and/or prevented from occurring by following a number of easy-to-follow rules. If your favourite jumper is starting to lint, it’s definitely worth the small amount of time and effort it takes to make it look better for longer.

For those looking for an easy solution, we have guides on the best lint removers and fabric shavers as well as a number of other useful fabric care guides

Frequently Asked Questions

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