Pilling


I only realised today that those little balls of fluff that appear on your clothes after a while are called “pills”. At the time of writing, I can’t remember what I thought they were called, but it definitely wasn’t that. The name I know in Cantonese can be roughly translated as “fluff heads” - makes sense!

Pilling is a surface defect of textiles caused by wear, and is considered unsightly. It happens when washing and wearing of fabrics causes loose fibres to begin to push out from the surface of the cloth, and, over time, abrasion causes the fibres to develop into small spherical bundles, anchored to the surface of the fabric by protruding fibers that haven't broken. The textile industry divides pilling into four stages: fuzz formation, entanglement, growth, and wear-off.[3] Pilling normally happens on the parts of clothing that receive the most abrasion in day-to-day wear, such as the collar, cuffs, and around the thighs and rear on trousers.

Unsightly, eh? I have pills on almost all my clothes, especially around the back where my backpack or shoulder bag rubs the fabric, and on my newest coat there are pills all over it that I sometimes pick at. Even on a hoodie which I bought within the last month, every surface is now covered with pills which is why I eventually decided I could not use it for cosplay. Is there a distinct way I use my clothes that causes this to happen though it doesn’t seem to with others?

I seem to recall someone saying that pulling these pills off is not good as it damages the threads, and I think my grandfather advised cutting them off, perhaps with scissors. This article advises using duct tape and/or velcro though, along with a razor, electric shaver and defuzzing comb. While it would be nice to not look ‘unsightly’ on the other hand this just seems like too time consuming a process.

Bring on the unattractiveness!

In an unrelated note, apparently the fuzzy surface of fabric is called ‘nap’.