How to Wash Clothes to Prevent Pilling


Woman doing laundry Proper laundering techniques can help prevent pilling on clothes. Image Credit: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Clothes pill when the fabric is rubbed up against other fabrics, or even during the laundering process when the fabric is rubbing against the machine. This results in tiny balls of tangled fabric forming on the clothing. Pills can usually be removed from clothing after they occur, but washing your clothes properly can help prevent pilling from happening in the first place.

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Things You’ll Need

  • Mesh laundry bag

  • Laundry detergent

  • Fabric softener

Step 1

Sort your clothing before washing. Wash items that are prone to pilling, like polyester and polyester blends, inside a mesh laundry bag.

Step 2

Turn the clothing inside out before placing it in the washer. This will help to reduce the fabric's exposure during the wash cycle, which can minimize pilling.

Step 3

Use liquid laundry detergent to wash clothes, or if you use powdered detergent, allow it to dissolve completely in the water prior to adding the clothing. Add fabric softener to the washing machine to further help reduce pilling.

Step 4

Wash pill-prone clothing on a short wash cycle to prevent extended agitation. If you dry the clothing in the dryer, remove it promptly after it is dry. Avoid overfilling the washing machine with clothes, as this presents more opportunity for the fabrics to rub up against each other, and therefore pills are more likely to form. Whenever possible, hand-wash clothing that tends to pill.


Use a sharp, clean razor to gently shave off pills that have already formed on clothing. You can also purchase a battery-operated pill remover to get rid of clothing pills.

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