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caring for wool

How to Deal With Pilling and Bobbling on Wool

December 11, 2018 Tags: , , No Comments

If your wool clothes or home textiles have annoying bobbling or are looking older than they should, we’ve got some tips on how to prevent and get rid of pilling. Caused by broken fibres bunching together to form tiny balls, pills and bobbles often occur in areas of high friction, like the cuffs and armpits of sweaters. Pilling is more common in mixed fibre textiles, especially those that include polyester. Synthetic fibres are more prone to bobbling, so choose natural fabrics like linen or wool whenever possible.

Once a garment has bobbles the little balls will just keep on getting bigger, as other broken fibres from different items are attracted to them. This can result in pills that are different colours than the original garment, as bits of fluff and fuzz from other things become attached to the existing bobbles.

how to get rid of bobbles

 

Thankfully, pilling is pretty easy to deal with. Firstly, it’s important to try to avoid it in the first place. Here’s how to avoid pilling on wool garments:

  • Wash the item inside out on a gentle/ wool cycle, or hand wash if possible. The less friction it meets the less it will bobble.
  • Use a specialist detergent for wool or delicates.
  • Don’t overload your washing machine as this can damage the fibres, and wash delicates with other similar items rather than harder-wearing garments like denim, or things with zips.
  • Use a fabric conditioner. This will coat the wool fibres and reduce static and friction.
  • Air dry, don’t tumble dry. Heat and friction will damage the fibres and cause pilling.
  • Never use bleach on wool items as this weakens the fibres and can make them more likely to break and pill.

prevent pilling wool

If your beloved wool sweater or woollen blanket does have some bobbling and needs perking up, here are some tips on getting rid of pilling:

  • Use a fabric comb or electric fabric shaver to carefully remove the bobbles.
  • Using a sharp standard razor, hold the garment taut and gently shave off the pills. Collect the cut-offs with a lint roller or adhesive tape.
  • For mild pilling adhesive tape, a head lice comb or a velcro hair roller are effective (and cheap) ways to remove pills.
  • If you’re travelling and need a quick bobble fix, use the rough part of a velcro fastening to remove bobbles from an item.

pilling wool sweater

For more tips on how to care for wool clothes and throws, and on how to treat stains go here and here.

 

 

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How to Prevent Pilling, Shrinking and Moth Damage in Your Woollens

October 13, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

We all love our woollens, from sweaters to socks, blankets to beanies. So what do we do when they start to look worn, or get damaged? Here are some tips on how to avoid pilling, shrinking and moths eating your beloved wool textiles. It’s important to note that high quality, natural woollens will last longer and look better than cheaper acrylics or synthetic fibres, due to the inherent durability and longer fibres in pure wool. So first things first: invest in decent woollens in the beginning and you’ll get far more use for your money. But if things go wrong, here’s how to solve some of the major problems with wool.

Woollens - WoolMe

Your wool throw has gone rough and stiff

Imagine this: you bought a beautiful new throw in softest wool and have used it as many times as you can without washing. When you realise it needs a refresh you put it in the washing machine on a low temperature and hope for the best. But it comes out feeling rough or stiff, all the snuggliness has gone. What happened? Well, maybe you shouldn’t have washed it in the machine. Unless otherwise marked on your garment’s care instructions it’s best to wash woollens by hand, in cool water. The other cause could be your detergent. Normal laundry liquids are too harsh for wool, so make sure you use a specially-formulated  detergent, like The Laundress Wool and Cashmere, or Ecover Delicate. These contain natural enzymes and no chemicals, and are as good for the planet as they are for your woollies. Make sure you choose a detergent that carries the Woolmark logo, so you know it’s suitable.

If you have already got a less-than soft woolly, try hand washing in cool water with a wool detergent and using a wool fabric softener. Rinse thoroughly and dry outside, away from the sun, and flat. This should revive the fibres and increase the softness, though it may never be quite the same. The key here is prevention.

wool-blanket-throw - WoolMe

Your woollen sweater has pilling

Pilling (those annoying little bobbles that appear on woollen items) is caused by the friction of two surfaces rubbing together. It often occurs in areas like armpits or the sides of a sweater where a bag might hang against it. If you see pilling on a woollen garment you can use a lint roller or special pill shaver to remove them. Longer pills can even be carefully snipped off with scissors or a razor. Avoid a recurrence by washing the item inside out and only use a liquid detergent that is specifically for wool. Dry the item naturally. Natural, top grade pure wool will pill less as the fibres are longer and therefore are not as easily forced to the surface when rubbed.

Your woolly socks have shrunk

Oh the horror of removing your much-loved cosy alpaca wool socks from the machine, only to discover they would only just about fit a Barbie doll! Wool doesn’t actually shrink. In fact, wool is a protein, which means when it’s washed too vigorously or in too high temperatures the fibres in the wool stick together, giving the appearance of shrinkage. If the damage has been done you can stretch the garment while still damp, but sadly there is no way to fully reverse this. Make sure it doesn’t happen by following the manufacturer’s care instructions to the letter. Wash only with appropriate detergent, use cool water and the delicate cycle if you are machine washing, and don’t tumble dry.

Moths are eating your woollens

An infestation of moths can be disastrous. They can chomp through woollen clothes and textiles, but also lots of other things too, ruining much-loved belongings. To prevent getting moths in the first place make sure you only store woollens when they are clean. Use zipped bags if you are storing things over the summer months. Make insect-repellant bags filled with dried lavender and cedar wood, then place these in every drawer or hang in your wardrobe. If you have an infestation already, throw out anything that is beyond repair, keeping the rubbish bag tightly sealed and discard immediately. Place the remaining items in sealed plastic bags and put in the freezer to kill any eggs or larvae. Give your wardrobe and drawers a thorough clean out and wash everything else in there. You can get chemical moth repellant products to treat the problem, or call out a pest controller to deal with a really major infestation.

preventing-moths-wool

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