How to get rid of pilling, lint and pet hair – three ways to keep your clothes looking smooth

October 8th, 2015

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How to get rid of

Even with careful washing and drying, our clothes inevitably suffer wear and tear over time, leaving them looking less than impressive. In fact, careless use of some laundry appliances can actually leave clothes worse for wear.

Here’s a short guide to a few of the grots you may find marring your otherwise beautiful fabrics, and what you can do to get rid of them so your laundry can start looking its best again:


Have the once-smooth fabrics in your clothes started to grow little balls of fluff and loose threads, seemingly out of nowhere? Do the worn sections look like they’ve picked up a chicken-pox like disease for fabrics?

800px-Pilling source: Ryj on Wikimedia Commons

Sounds like you’ve got pilling.

Caused by everyday abrasion, pilling is the process of broken threads tangling up rather than detaching from the garment. While this doesn’t damage your clothes in a meaningful way, it’s not exactly a great look, either.

razor bladesource: Scott Feldstein on Flickr

As pilling is composed of little knots of tangled threads, you can get rid of them with careful use of a sharp blade. Using either scissors or a shaving razor, you can scrape down the offending surface, leaving it looking nicely smooth.


Alternatively, you can rub down the fabric with a rough surface, such as Velcro, a pumice stone or a kitchen scourer, to catch the pills and pull them away from the fabric.

If all else fails though, you may want to invest in a purpose-made fabric shaver.


Lint is composed of loose fabric threads that have detached from your clothing. Unlike pills, which remain stuck in place, lint can freely move around on the surfaces of your fabrics, especially while your clothes are going through the washing machine or dryer.

Dryer_lint_screen source: BD2412 on Wikimedia Commons

In addition to looking bad when dusted across your clothes, lint’s light texture makes it easy to breathe in, which can lead to allergy problems.

lint filter 4kg Fisher & Paykel Dryer DE40F56A2

Plus, a buildup of lint in your dryer can turn into a fire hazard, which is why you should always empty the lint filter after each load.

lint roller source: Frank C. Müller on Wikimedia Commons

If your clothes have an unsightly lint problem, you can clean them by hand with the help of a sticky lint roller or lint brush.

Alteratively, you can run them through the washing machine along with some fabric softener – this should help reduce the static cling that makes lint stick to clothes. If you don’t have any fabric softener handy, a bit of vinegar can work in a pinch.

Pet hair

As the weather gets warmer, you may notice Miss Fido or Sir Meows-A-Lot looking a little thinner. This isn’t because they’re losing weight (though if they are, talk to your vet), but because they’re shedding their winter coat to stay cool.

Cat_and_humansource: Testtotest on Wikimedia Commons

And as anyone who shares their home with a pet knows, this hair doesn’t magically vanish into the ether. Instead, it is spreads in a fine layer across pretty much all the household surfaces, especially your clean clothes (though that might just be me, and my vindictive cat).

Adam'scoatsource:  Jggrosch on Wikimedia Commons

Pet hair is another substance that doesn’t look great on your nice clothes – imagine rocking up to the client meeting looking like you’ve just wrestled Bigfoot – and it’s also bad for folks with allergies.

Fortunately, you can get rid of pet hair in many of the same ways as lint. Plus, as pet hair tends to be finer than lint, you can use its own consistency against it.

rubber glovessource: Wonderlane on Flickr

Rubbing down a hair-strewn shirt with a damp rubber glove (the same kind as for doing the washing up) can help draw the hair right off the surface.


And of course, prevention is often better than cure. Keeps your pets well-groomed, and they’ll leave less hair about your house to attach itself to your clothes.

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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