How to Get Rid of Sweater Pills the Smart Way

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweater pilling is one of the least enjoyable parts of winter dressing. Don’t you love it when you pull out a sweater to wear and realize it’s covered in obnoxious little pills of lint? Then the question becomes, do you fight to get rid of enough of the pills to make it wearable, or do you give up and move on to another selection? So annoying.

I’ve noticed that it doesn’t really matter how much I paid for a sweater, eventually it will form some level of sweater pilling. Of course, my bargain-priced cashmere sweaters seem particularly susceptible. I’m always looking for a smarter, easier way to get rid of my sweater pills. Here’s my take on three popular options.

The Fabric Shaver
The most modern option, a fabric shaver pulls sweater pills up into a chamber where revolving blades cut them off the sweater and deposit the pills into a receptacle.
Pros: quick, non-messy (extra lint gets pulled into the shaver receptacle), works on synthetic fabrics and weaves
Cons: mechanism gets jammed frequently, blades can shave holes into sweaters, requires batteries, a little bulky for travel
Verdict: The cons can outweigh the pros

Evercare Fabric Shaver

→ Buy the Evercare Fabric Shaver, $14.99, at

The Sweater Comb
The most old-fashioned option, a sweater comb catches pills and other fuzz on a screen-like comb and pulls them from the fabric. Most pills and fuzz stick to the comb, but some fall to the ground, especially if the comb is “full” of fuzz.
Pros: quick, non-electrical, safe for sweaters (won’t create holes), travels very well, compact
Cons: Can be messy, a worn comb can start to catch on sweaters, has trouble removing less defined pills (e.g., general worn-sweater fuzz)
Verdict: cheap and efficient, if a bit messy

Dritz D-Fuzz-It Fabric Comb

→ Buy the Dritz D-Fuzz-It Fabric Comb, $3.52, at

The Lilly Brush
A new take on an old-fashioned option, the Lilly Brush removes pills, fuzz, lint, and pet hair from all natural fabrics by catching pills, etc., in nylon bristles.
Pros: quick, non-electrical, safe for sweaters, comes in compact travel case, removes many types of fuzz/ pills
Cons: works best with a firm surface beneath the sweater (your body works just fine), requires some aggressive brushing to remove general fuzz, made for natural fibers only
Verdict: a multi-useful tool for the natural fiber wardrobe that is both sweater-safe and clean

Lilly Brush

→ Buy the Lilly Brush, $12.95, at

In my opinion, the Lilly Brush is the best of the three. I just tried my first Lilly Brush and I was impressed with the fact that it is as safe and quick as a traditional sweater comb, but with the added benefit of leaving sweaters with a fluffy “brushed” appearance. I found it particularly nice for cashmere sweaters that had accumulated a layer of general fuzz from being worn, but had not quite formed pills that a shaver or comb would be able to efficiently remove. I’ll keep my sweater comb around, but the combination of a traditional comb and the Lilly Brush will completely replace my old fabric shaver.

Disclosure: a review sample of Lilly Brush was provided for editorial consideration; fabric shaver and sweater comb were writer’s own.