top of page

Pilling- Is it normal or a fabric flaw?

Design Time on WMEN TV5

April 2020

TV5 Design Time WNEM

Today On TV5 we talked about....

Fabric pilling is the term for loose strands or balls of fiber that form on a piece of fabric. You’ve probably noticed these little bits of fabric on a sweater in the area of the underarm, where it rubs.They also can form on pillows, rugs, and furniture in your home.

Pilling is a common occurrence in most households. It’s not a fabric defect or fault from the manufacturer. And it’s easily treatable at home.

It happens to all brands of furniture, BUT happens less to American Made fabrics! Ask if your fabric is made in the USA. Flip the sample over and look for a flag or code! 


Just because the furniture is made or assembled in the USA does not mean that the fabric is made in the USA! There is a difference in the quality. Don't be fooled!


La-Z-Boy (who use to be a well known American Made company- now it is American Assembled) has an article on how many people have concerns about fabric pilling and wants to keep their furniture looking brand new.

They want to know what fabric pilling is, why it occurs, and the best methods for treating and preventing it.

In this article, they take an in-depth look at what causes fabric pilling along with what you can do to treat and prevent it.

What Causes Fabric Pilling?

When fabric fibers become loose, they move around when we sit or brush up against them. The friction from people rubbing up against the fabric causes loose fibers to twist together into small balls.

Your laundry machine also causes friction. This is why you’ll see fabric pills on towels, t-shirts, and sweaters.

Pilling is completely normal and will go away once the excess loose fibers are gone. It doesn’t affect the durability or functionality of the fabric. Plus, it’s easily removable with a pill shaver.

***Side Note: Some fabrics can also "cling" to your furniture and then pill up. Those super soft fleece blankets or PJ bottoms often "shed" little fibers that cling to your furniture and then pill up. Normally you can see the color difference in the pill balls, but this is another reason why furniture may look worn. 

How to Treat Fabric Pilling

A battery-operated pill shaver is the quickest and cheapest way to treat pills. They quickly and evenly shaves unwanted fuzz, lint, and pilling. It’s easy-to-use, and adjusts to accommodate different fabric types.

Pilling may reappear several times. When it does, simply shave it off again.

Your fabric will stop pilling after all of the loose fibers have been removed


***Side Note: Do not vacuum your furniture with any attachment brush. You may use an open hose to clean off particles or duct, but most attachment brushes will pull and snag furniture fabric causing fabric damage. Know how to clean your fabric. Talk to an expert..

pilling furniture fabric

Is Fabric Pilling Preventable?

All fabrics will pill to some extent. However, some are less likely to pill.

Smooth, tightly woven fabrics are the least likely to pill. This is because the fibers are held together tightly inside the cloth.

Fabrics made with more than one fiber type are the most likely to pill.

When one fiber is stronger than the other, the weaker fiber becomes loose while the stronger fiber holds the pills to the fabric.

Natural Fabrics vs Man-Made Fabrics

Natural fabrics shed loose fibers easier than man-made fabrics. Man-made fabrics are extremely tight and strong so loose fibers are secured to the fabric. Natural fabrics are not as tight, so loose fibers can easily escape from the fabric without pilling.

Man-made fabrics are typically built for performance. But they will pill more than natural fabrics.

Natural Fabrics (Least Likely to Pill):

  • Cotton

  • Wool

  • Silk

  • Hemp

  • Cashmere

Man-Made Fabrics (Most Likely to Pill):

  • Polyester

  • Acrylic

  • Nylon

  • Rayon

  • Spandex

So, is fabric pilling preventable? Not really. However, if your furniture develops fabric pills you have no reason to be alarmed because it’s easily treatable with a pill shaver. If you are concerned, make sure to ask if your furniture American Made? Is the fabric also American Made!

bottom of page