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Fabric pilling is a common occurrence that affects various types of textiles. In this blog post, we'll delve into what fabric pills are, the reasons behind their formation, and how to resolve them. By gaining a better understanding of this natural process, you can prolong the life of your fabrics.

What Exactly are Fabric Pills?

Fabric pills, sometimes referred to as fuzz or lint balls, are small clusters of fibers that accumulate on the surface of fabrics. These fibers become twisted together due to friction, resulting from activities like rubbing against the fabric. It's important to note that pilling is a normal outcome of fabric use and shouldn't be mistaken for a defect. Contrary to misconceptions, fabric pills don't compromise the overall durability or functionality of the material.

Not to Be Confused With

Fiber transfer or transfer pilling is a result of another fabric source rubbing off or pilling onto the original surface. Common causes of fiber transfer stem from socks, blankets, pillows, etc., and even the look of pet hair that can ball up. A large indication here are pills of a different color variation than the fabric itself. Fiber transfer cannot be correlated with the durability or pilling of the original fabric source.

Pilling Evaluation:

Fabric mills regularly subject fabrics to pilling tests and assign them ratings from 1 to 5 based on the severity of pilling. These ratings help categorize the extent of pilling as follows:


1. Very severe pilling: Various sizes and densities of pills covering the entire fabric surface.

2. Severe pilling: Pills of varying sizes and densities covering a significant portion of the fabric.

3. Moderate pilling: Pills of different sizes and densities present on a portion of the fabric's surface.

4. Slight pilling: Minimal pilling is observed.

5. No pilling: No pilling occurs on the fabric.

How to Address Pilling:

If pilling has already occurred, there are effective solutions to restore the fabric's appearance:

Use a battery-operated pill shaver or pilling comb to gently remove the pills from the fabric's surface. Repeat as needed until loose fibers are removed and the fabric's surface is even. This practice will effectively halt the pilling process.

Fabric pilling is a natural phenomenon influenced by fiber type, blend, and friction. Understanding the causes of pilling and adopting preventative measures can significantly extend the life of your fabrics. By making informed fabric choices and practicing proper care, you can minimize the impact of pilling and enjoy your beautifully upholstered pieces for longer periods.

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