So what are those annoying little bobbles that appear on clothes after they've been worn a few times? They are called pills and your garment has been impacted by"Pilling". In this guide, we are going to explain what pilling is and why it happens
Pilling occurs when fabric pills, which are tiny lumps of fibre, form on clothes as a result of abrasion. It normally happens when individual fibres or small groups of fibres break away from the surface of a weaving, weaving structure, knit fabric, or felted object. When this happens in certain areas, normally on sleeves of cuffs pilling can be quite extensive. Abrasion causes pilling just as it causes wear.
Put very simply a pilling definition is "the formation of small balls of thread on the surface of a material". In the UK pilling or the formation of pills is sometimes called "bobbling". On occasion, those in the United States refer to "bobbling" as pills that occur on knitwear or woollen garments.
When pilling occurs on clothes, it can look like little lumps of material. These lumps are formed when the fibres in the fabric pucker and intertwine.
Pilling can occur on any type of fabric, but it is most common with fabrics that contain a lot of short or broken-up fibres, such as polyester or viscose.
Where pilling occurs on clothes, it is most commonly found where the fabric creases or folds; for example, around the waistband of trousers, near cuffs and wrists, under jackets at lapels and across shoulders. Pilling can occur in any direction depending on how the item is used. For example, pilling on denim jeans can occur vertically as the jeans rub against themselves when you walk.
Pilling on clothes is most noticeable after washing and drying, but pilling can also occur during wear. The more often items are worn and washed, the more pilling will occur.
Pilling on clothes happens when fabric pills, which are tiny lumps of fibre that form on clothes as a result of abrasion. Pilling can be caused by wearing and washing clothes, but also just by rubbing the fabric against other fabrics in storage.
Pilling usually occurs where clothing creases or folds, and pilling can form in any direction depending on how the item is used.
There are two types of pilling: primary pilling occurs when individual snags in the surface fibres of a fabric break, which results in puffs of fibre forming. Secondary pilling happens after loose fibres from inside a garment work their way to the surface and intertwine
Pilling generally occurs on sturdier fabrics such as cotton and wool. It can happen on any clothes that pilling normally occurs on, like cardigans and jumpers. However some clothing is more pilling resistant than others and it is important to note which types of clothes pilling does not happen very often on; pilling rarely happens on stretch fabrics, silk, synthetic fibres and leather.
Pilling is an inevitable part of everyday wear and tear, but it can be minimised by following a few simple rules:
We have a detailed post on the best hot air dryers if you're interested in looking for non-tumble dryer options for drying your clothes.
Pilling can be removed from clothes in many different ways, including:
We have a detailed post on how to remove pilling or bobbling from clothes if you're interested in finding out more.
Pilling occurs when fabric pills, which are tiny lumps of fibre that form on clothes as a result of abrasion. Pills form where clothing creases or folds, and they can form in any direction depending on how the item is used. Pilling can be caused by wearing and washing clothes, but also just by rubbing the fabric against other fabrics in storage.
If pilling is not removed, it will become harder to remove over time. However, pilling can be removed from clothes by using many different tools and techniques which are available for home use. We have a number of guides to help you maintain your clothes or some reviews of some of the best fabric shavers on the market.
We hope you have found this guide useful, but please make sure to check back for updates and other useful garment care content.
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