How to Remove Pilling from Sofa in 2023 [Step by Step Guide]

How to Remove Pilling from Sofa in 2023 [Step by Step Guide]

Pilling on a sofa can make it look worn and less appealing. Pilling occurs when the fabric fibers rub against each other, causing small balls or pills to form on the surface. To remove pilling from your sofa, you can follow these steps:

How to Remove Pilling from Sofa

1. Gather Your Supplies:

  • A fabric shaver or lint remover (available at most home goods stores).
  • A lint roller.
  • Scissors (optional).

2. Prepare the Sofa:

Ensure the sofa is clean and free of loose dirt or debris. You can vacuum it to remove any loose particles.

3. Use a Fabric Shaver:

A fabric shaver is a handheld device with a rotary blade designed to remove pilling. It's one of the most effective tools for this task.

Simply run the fabric shaver gently over the pilled areas of the sofa. The sharp blade will cut off the pills without damaging the fabric. Be careful not to press too hard, as this could damage the fabric.

Empty the lint collector on the shaver as needed.

4. Lint Roller:

After using the fabric shaver, run a lint roller over the sofa to pick up any loose pills that may still be on the surface.

5. Scissors (Optional):

If there are any stubborn pills that the fabric shaver couldn't remove, you can carefully snip them off with a pair of small scissors. Be very gentle to avoid cutting the fabric itself.

6. Finishing Touch:

Once you've removed the pilling, you can use a fabric brush to smooth the fabric and make it look fresh and neat.

7. Prevent Future Pilling:

To prevent pilling from happening again, consider using a furniture cover or throw to protect your sofa from excessive wear and friction. Additionally, be mindful of what you wear while sitting on the sofa, as certain fabrics can exacerbate pilling.

How to Prevent Fabric Pilling on your Sofa

1. Choose Quality Fabrics:

When purchasing a sofa, choose one with high-quality upholstery fabric. Durable and tightly woven fabrics are less likely to pill.

2. Rotate Cushions:

Regularly rotate and flip the sofa cushions to distribute wear evenly. This can help prevent pilling in high-traffic areas.

3. Avoid Sharp Objects:

Be cautious of sharp objects like belt buckles, zippers, and jewelry that can snag the fabric and contribute to pilling.

4. Wash Pillow Covers and Throws:

If you use decorative pillows or throws on your sofa, wash their covers regularly to prevent loose fibers from accumulating on the sofa's surface.

5. Limit Pets:

If you have pets, especially those with sharp claws, consider using protective covers on your sofa or training your pets to stay off the furniture.

6. Use Furniture Covers:

Consider using a furniture cover or slipcover to protect your sofa from daily wear and tear. These can be removed and washed as needed.

7. Lint Rollers:

Use a lint roller regularly to remove loose fibers and prevent them from accumulating and forming pills on the fabric.

8. Vacuum and Brush:

Regularly vacuum your sofa to remove dust and debris that can contribute to pilling. Use a fabric brush to keep the fabric smooth and prevent fibers from tangling.

9. Choose Clothing Wisely:

Be mindful of the clothing you wear while sitting on the sofa. Fabrics like denim and synthetic materials can be more abrasive and contribute to pilling. Wearing softer, natural fabrics can help.

10. Trim Loose Threads:

If you notice loose threads or snags on the fabric, trim them with scissors to prevent them from getting worse and causing pilling.

11. Regular Maintenance:

Follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your sofa's fabric, including cleaning and maintenance recommendations. This can help extend the life of the fabric and reduce the likelihood of pilling.

12. Consider Pilling Preventative Products:

Some products are designed to prevent pilling. These include fabric sprays and fabric softeners that reduce friction. Check if your fabric manufacturer recommends any specific products.

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What causes pilling on fabric?

  1. Friction: The most common cause of pilling is friction or rubbing. When you use or wear an item made of fabric, the fibers on the surface rub against each other, causing them to break and form pills. This friction can result from various activities, such as sitting on a sofa, wearing clothing, or using bedding.
  2. Fiber Type: The type of fiber used in the fabric plays a significant role in pilling. Natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk are less prone to pilling compared to synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. Blends of natural and synthetic fibers can also be prone to pilling.
  3. Fiber Length: Longer fibers are less likely to pill because they have more stability and are less prone to breakage. Shorter fibers, on the other hand, tend to break more easily, resulting in pilling.
  4. Fabric Weave: The weave of the fabric can affect its resistance to pilling. Tight weaves are less prone to pilling compared to looser weaves, as they reduce the amount of surface friction between fibers.
  5. Quality of Fabric: Higher-quality fabrics are less likely to pill because they are made from better and more durable fibers. Low-quality fabrics or those with a high percentage of short or low-quality fibers are more prone to pilling.
  6. Harsh Detergents and Agitation: Using harsh detergents, overloading the washing machine, or using an aggressive washing cycle can damage the fabric and increase the likelihood of pilling.
  7. Wear and Tear: Frequent use, especially in high-traffic areas, accelerates the wear and tear of fabric, making it more prone to pilling.
  8. Pets: If you have pets with claws, they can scratch or snag the fabric, leading to pilling.
  9. Static Electricity: Static electricity can cause fibers to attract and entangle with one another, leading to pilling. This is more common in synthetic fabrics.
  10. Chemical Treatments: Some fabric treatments and finishes may make the material more prone to pilling. Be sure to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Remember to follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your sofa's fabric to avoid damaging it during the pilling removal process. 

If you're uncertain about how to proceed, or if the pilling is extensive, it may be a good idea to consult a professional upholstery cleaner for advice or assistance.

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