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Furniture Care Q&A: Pilling

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23 Mar 2016
Question: My cushions are pilling - should I be worried about the look and longevity of my sofa Short Answer: Have no fear - this is not a sign your fabric is defective and it is easily treatable! Long Answer:  First of all - what are pills A pill or bobble is a small ball of fibers that form on the surface of fabric. So  let's talk about what causes it and how to best manage them  should they appear on your cushions.
  • What causes these little balls of fiber to form In the normal course of use  upholstery, rugs, clothing, etc. surfaces will rub together and that  friction allows  loose fibers to pill. Natural fibers shed these loose fibers more easily and less noticeably.  Man-made fibers are notoriously stronger (note: more common in upholstery) and they may need a bit more assistance in shedding these pills.
  • Does this mean my fabric is defective Of course not! This is a normal course of action for fabrics and can be compared to the shedding experienced with a new carpet. Pilling is completely normal and, most importantly, will reduce as the excess fibers are shed. Pilling in no way suggests that the fabric is disintegrating or wearing away. Pills are  easily removable.
  • How do I get rid of the pills There are a few options. We recommend a sweater brick or a pill shaver. Both are small and cheap - one is manual and the other electric. If pilling recurs repeat the process  and remember that pilling will diminish and eventually cease once the excess fibers have shed.
  • Are there any fabrics out there that don't pill All fabrics will pill to some extent therefore this should not be the primary focus while shopping for upholstery. There are some options that are a tighter weave, or fabrics such as Ultrasuede, that are less likely to pill because of their structure.
Key Takeaway: Pilling is not a cause for alarm or sign of poor quality, it is a natural cycle of fibers and is easily remedied! WovenFibers