The most horrendous sight for someone nit-picky about their clothes is to pick out a suitable shirt or pants after hours of wardrobe diving, only to find little balls of cotton scattered across its surface.
This phenomenon is known as pilling, and it occurs when minuscule strands of broken threads bundle together to form fuzzy knots which stick to the fabric.
It is relatively common as the balls form due to everyday wear and tear.
Although they can form virtually anywhere on the cloth, they are abundant in areas of the fabric which are subject to the most abrasion on a daily basis.
These include areas between the backside and thighs of pants, the center of bedsheets, and encircling the cuffs and collars of shirts.
Sometimes these pills will entangle a longer fiber in the mix, creating an even bigger problem called a snag. A snag is when fibers are plucked from the stitching, causing it to unravel over time and eventually damage the cloth.
Whether a fabric will pill or not is a difficult question to answer, given the fact that all fabrics have different compositions and the unpredictable nature of pilling itself.
Although there are general rules of thumb, you can follow to figure out what fabrics are more prone to pilling than others.
Long fibers are less likely to pill than shorter ones, so fabrics made of a material consisting of lengthy strands are comparatively safe.
On the flip side, when a fabric is made of multiple fibers interwoven together, for example, a mixture of cotton and polyester, the chances of pilling increase tenfold.
This is due to the fact that one fiber may be stronger than the other, resulting in the breakage of the softer fiber and thus wrapping around the tougher ones, thus forming a pill.
Furthermore, knitted fabrics are more likely to pill than woven threads because knitted strands are looser and thus more likely to come off the stitching.
This is due to the increased distance between yarn crossings in a knitted fabric compared to a woven one.
The factors which affect the tendency of a fabric to the pill are its physical characteristics, the nature of the fabric both before and after processing, and the environment in which it is used.
Judging by these parameters, 100% cotton fabric has a higher tendency to have pilling.
However, to counter that, textile manufacturers have developed a number of techniques. To start with, they use cellulase enzymes during the wet processing of the cotton fibers to dispose of any loose fibers.
They also try to lower the strength of the cotton threads in the fabric so that any pills that form will automatically fall off.
Does100% Polyester Pill?
Once again, the answer is an absolute yes; 100% polyester is also prone to pilling.
And to add to the misery, synthetic fibers such as polyester are also a lot more visible on the surface of the cloth, highlighting them even more.
Synthetic fibers also tend to hold the pills in place, preventing them from falling off. This is in stark contrast to wool fibers, which tend to break away automatically after pilling in a short span of time.
There are some ways in which you can prevent your polyester garments from forming pills. One of the most effective ways is to simply turn your garments inside out before washing, folding, or storing them in your wardrobe.
This reduces the area of contact between the various clothes while washing and prevents excessive pilling. It is highly advisable to wash your clothes with your hands if you are capable of doing so, as it also deters from pills being formed.
Avoid using too much lint in your washing machine, along with excessive bleach or brightening agents, as they encourage pill formation by loosening and discoloring the fibers.
While drying, try and use the low-medium setting since hot temperatures can weaken the fibers and cause the finish to fade away.
If you are conscious of the formation of pills on your couch, you are not alone.
Pills are an unpleasant sight, and since they are often a different shade than the original fabric, they make the couch look dusty and aged.
And so, it’s imperative that you select a couch that’s made of a material that is least likely to pill, if not at all.
Generally, man-made synthetic fibers, like polyester or acrylic, are more susceptible to pilling than natural wool. You should also opt for material with longer strands such as linen or silk since shorter fibers are more likely to pill.
Conversely, denim and microsuedes are almost immune to pilling and would make great upholstery materials.