Natural fibres will always pill and bobble to a certain extent, it’s simply an unavoidable fact. Some mistakenly believe that the more you spend on clothing, the less you’d expect this to happen. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but regardless of how much you spend on woollen clothing or accessories, this will still occur where certain fibres are concerned. From designer to high street, from mass produced to handmade, it’s universal.
Don’t despair! Luckily there are plenty of things you can do stop this from happening. You can even revive tired, old worn out garments with the help of some handy wool care tips and a few fantastic products.
Pilling and bobbling occurs when fibres rub together, so think underarm areas and perhaps where you sling your shoulder bag over your knitwear. This is particularly common with softer, chunkier yarns and fibres that are often spun more loosely. When pilling happens, this can make your knitwear look shabby and ready to throw out. But I’m pleased to say, with the right wool care and a little preening your garments can look good as new.
Here’s how I go about reviving my knitwear. I hope you find at least one of these recommendations helpful! And please comment if you have any handy tips to share 🙂 sharing’s caring!
1. Pick and pluck
Good old fashioned finger picking can take years off your knitwear. Most pills can be removed by plucking by hand and don’t worry – you won’t end up with no garment left. Once you get rid of the looser, unspun fibres, the tighter twisted fibres will remain and your knitwear will eventually stop pilling (or in the least it will dramatically decrease). You may notice that washing your knitwear speeds up the process of bobbling, which is fine – just pluck the pills in the same way.
2. Invest in a de-bobbler
In extreme pilling cases a de-bobbler can be a great device and a much quicker alternative to hand plucking. Although I’ve heard horror stories about them eating up delicate garments, obviously a certain amount of care must be taken when using a de-bobbler. Use a softly, softly approach. I myself have never had any issues with de-bobblers further damaging my knitwear. Quite the contrary, they add years of life to my garments!
3. Don’t wash your garments
This may sound extreme, but to truly preserve your knitwear, avoid washing in any way shape or form. Before you write me off as some born-again ecological hippie…There are really effective products on the market now which go a long way to helping you not wash your garments in the traditional sense. See below for my review of Mr Black Garment Essentials.
4. Wash inside out or in a net bag
If you still like the idea of machine washing your garments…. Washing them inside out, or even better in a net bag, contains your knitwear more effectively, prevents overstretching and mishaping of fibres and protects the outward-facing fibres from harsh, abrasive machine washing.
5. Hand wash your garments
Sorry to end on such an obvious tip, but it sure does help. This is much more delicate and a more gentle process, which can slow down the pilling and bobbling. It won’t stop it completely, but I hand wash the majority of my handmade knitwear and any new knitwear I buy regardless of where I’ve bought it from.
Wool Care products
Mr Black Garment Essentials is just that – a garment essential! You just have to try this. In all truth, washing clothing is pretty abrasive and damaging to garments if not done carefully and properly. These amazing wool care products remove this problem completely. Just spray your garments and hang back up in your wardrobe. They refresh, kill bacteria and neutralise odours. I’ve used this for a few of my 100% wool wear and have had fantastic results.
For those times when you absolutely do need to run your clothes through the machine, they even have a range of products to help reduce the damage caused.
And their products aren’t just limited to wool care. They cover denim, shoes, linen, leather and plenty more besides! Buy them all online, or search for local stockists on their website.
This genius little product is designed to be added to cool water in a hand wash. Absolutely no need to rinse! Just gently squeeze out the water and lay flat to dry. This reduces the abrasive, harmful process of washing 🙂 It comes in a fantastic range of scents (or scentless if you like), and your clothes smell fresh and awesome for days! You can pick these up from Knit With Attitude online.
Possibly one of the most recognisable symbols in the textile industry, look out for the Woolmark symbol on products that are certified safe for wool care. The Woolmark website has a great section on how to understand care labels and products certified for safe wool care. There are plenty of laundry detergents about, ranging in price and scent. So long as you treat your wool gently and don’t go in guns blazing, everything will be aaaaalright 🙂
May your relationship with wool and knitwear be a long and prosperous one!
Disclaimer: I actually buy Mr Blacks and Soak 🙂 I have not been contacted by either company and have reviewed this under my own steam. No payment was received.