Understanding Upholstery Fabric Pilling and How to Prevent Them

05 August 2021

‘Pills’ or ‘bobbles’ are small, tight balls of fibre that may appear on the surface of upholstery fabric. These small balls are also commonly called lint balls or fuzz balls. They occur due to friction on the fabric surface, and they can give upholstery an older, worn appearance.

The loose fibres that form the pills are still attached to other fibres in the fabric’s weave. This keeps the lint balls securely in place, making them difficult to remove by brushing the fabric surfaces. Yet there are some easy methods of detaching the pills from your favourite furniture upholstery.

How to Remove Lint Balls and Prevent Upholstery Fabric Pilling

Once you understand upholstery fabric pilling and how it occurs, you can easily choose a method for removing and preventing pills. Effective de-pilling methods that are in use today include the following:

  • Fabric Shavers. You can buy a manual, electric or battery-powered fabric shaver to remove fuzz balls from your furniture upholstery. Gently shave with smooth, short strokes, following the direction of the threads in the fabric weave. Remove any accumulation of pills from the shaver during the process.
  • Pumice Stone. If you prefer a more natural manual treatment, you can de-pill upholstery fabric using a pumice stone. Brush the stone lightly across the fabric to remove the lint balls. If you notice any recurrence of pilling, just repeat this process. When all of the loose threads are removed, your fabric will be free of pills.
  • Fabric Protectors and Stain Repellents. During the manufacturing procedures, many upholstery fabrics are now treated with substances that protect their surfaces and prevent staining.

Some stain repellents that are applied to fabrics after the manufacturing process can lead to pilling. For this reason, it is best to select upholstery fabrics that are treated to prevent pill development during the manufacturing process.

  • Fabrics Less Likely to Pill. Any fabric can develop some pilling, yet you can select upholstery fabrics that are less susceptible to developing lint balls. Materials that are tightly woven or that contain tightly twisted yarn are often resistant to pilling.

Fabrics that are composed of multiple types of fibre often tend to pill. Since the weaker threads break more easily, they often begin to pill more rapidly than others. The more durable fibres secure the lint balls to the fabric, making de-pilling necessary.

All of these methods for safely removing pilling from your furniture upholstery are effective and low-cost. You may want to experiment with the different types of de-pilling to determine the method that best meets your preferences and needs.

By consulting our experts at Absolute Upholstery serving all of Sydney and surrounding areas, you can obtain excellent advice concerning de-pilling and caring for your upholstered furniture. They can offer tips for the ideal methods of removing pills from different types of fabrics.

Our experienced team can also provide you with beautiful upholstery fabrics that are the least likely to develop surface pilling. Our professionals will ensure that your upholstered furniture enhances every aspect of your home’s interior design and decor.

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