The other week the Wall Street Journal gave us a good run down on how to care for our winter garments. Whether cotton or cashmere, all knits are unfortunately at risk of pilling. The article, written by Elizabeth Holmes, explains …
The unfortunate truth is that it’s very difficult when looking at a garment in a store to predict whether it will pill. Pilling is what’s known as a “latent defect,” a problem that appears only after the product is in use. “You don’t see it until you wear it,” Mr. Cormier says.
The material used in a particular garment may provide hints as to whether it will pill. Merino wool tends to be strong and when used in a tightly wound sweater would be less likely to pill than fuzzy, fine-gauge cashmere, says Gwen Whiting, co-founder of the Laundress, a New York fabric-care company. But nearly every garment, regardless of make or brand, is a candidate.
While it’s tough to fight, there are some things you can do to prevent pilling…
One option is to wear it sparingly—because the more a garment is worn, the more likely it is to pill, says Lorraine Muir, director of textile testing at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. The Woolmark Co. suggests letting clothing “rest” at least 24 hours before wearing again so the fibers recover from stretching during use.
Gale Senseny, sales manager of Sweater Stone Inc., makers of a pill-removing device in Issaquah, Wash., has a once-a-year trick to help prevent pilling on the sweaters that fill her wardrobe. She conditions them with lanolin, an oil that comes from sheep and is removed in the fiber-cleansing process. Ms. Senseny breaks down a small bit of lanolin in a dish of hot water and then fills a sink with tepid water. She pours the lanolin in, followed by a just-washed sweater. She rinses the garment and lays it out on a towel to dry.
The process helps smooth the scales on the yarn’s fiber, making them less rough and less likely to tangle with one another to form a pill. “It’s just like putting conditioner in your hair,” Ms. Senseny says.