Merino Wool Pilling – 6 Different Methods To Deal With It

Merino wool is a wonderful fabric that you wear year-round. It will keep you warm in the winters, cold in the summers, and stylish throughout the year. Yet some of my friends are averse to the idea of merino wool, as they believe that this fabric pills a lot.

Pilling is a common worry with most types of wool. It makes your clothes look old, dirty, and unstylish.

But does merino wool pill?

Merino wool does pill, but the pilling is very less when compared to other types of wool. Most high-quality merino wool garments do not pill at all. However, no matter the quality or the pricing, this fabric is going to pill if you do not take proper care of it.

The fact is that if merino wool is not processed correctly, or if it is not blended with other fabrics, there is a very high chance of it pilling.

But most manufacturers nowadays do one or the other. Either they would subject merino wool to chemical processing so that it does not pill, or they would blend it with synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon to reduce pilling.

How To Stop Wool From Pilling?

merino wool

Since there are a lot of factors that can influence the pilling on a merino sweater, there are a bunch of different things you can do to prevent merino wool from pilling in the first place.

Use A Liquid Detergent Instead Of Washing Powder

A merino sweater can pill if it is exposed to abrasive materials, such as washing powders. Over time, the particles of washing powder cut and rub against the fibers of merino wool. This causes the fibers to lose their shape, structure, and strength.

This structural damage often leads to pilling. That’s why I recommend people to use liquid detergent, as it would keep your wool garments safe and would overall increase the life of these items.

Wash Merino Wool The Right Way

As a general rule of thumb, hand-washing wool is a better idea than machine-washing it. However, this does not mean that you can’t machine-wash merino wool. You absolutely can. It’s just that you would need to be a little extra cautious with this fabric.

That’s another great thing about this fabric. You don’t have to worry even if it gets wet.

So, how should you wash merino wool in order to avoid pilling?

  1. If your machine has a “wool” cycle, then go for that. If it doesn’t have that option, go for “delicate” or “low” or “gentle” cycles. These tend to be the least abrasive.
  2. You should always turn garments inside out when washing. This holds true for merino wool as well.
  3. Try to wash your merino wool sweaters seperately. Too much collision with other clothes can also lead to pilling in the long run.

Avoid A Lot Of Activity When Wearing Wool

The amount of pilling that a fabric undergoes can also be determined by what the wearer does when he (or she) has a merino wool sweater on. If you do a lot of physical work when wearing merino, the fibers of the wool would be subjected to more abrasion and stretch. This will often lead to pilling.

So don’t wear a merino wool garment when you are going on a run or are working out. Wear dedicated workout clothes on these occasions. Keep your merino wool pieces for casual occasions and business parties.

Buy Wool Blends Instead Of Pure Merino

Blends get an undeserved bad rep in the world of fashion. People don’t realize that blending two fabrics actually results in a better product for the consumers, provided that the blend proportions are right.

And given the expensive nature of merino wool, it makes sense to go for blends instead.

If pilling is a big issue for you, look for a merino wool and polyester blend, where merino wool is in the majority. A proportion of 85% merino and 15% polyester works best in my opinion.

Although merino wool is probably the only type of wool that doesn’t pill, it still can’t match synthetic fabrics in this matter. So if your sweater contains just a dash of polyester, you would be able to enjoy the non-pilling nature of polyester with the warmth of merino wool.

And that’s a combination that is difficult to beat.

How To Get Rid Of Pilling From Wool?

If you want to get rid of the pilling or the lint from your own merino wool sweater, there are a number of different ways that you can accomplish this.

Use A Lint Removing Machine or Fabric Shaver

My favorite method (and the easiest by far) to remove pilling from clothes is using a lint removing machine. It is a handheld device, sort of like an iron, and all you have to do is rub it over your merino wool sweater and it would take care of all the gunk.

It removes the pilling and the lint in minutes and is extremely fun to use. They are also called Fabric Shavers, and are available on Amazon for pretty cheap. You can check out my favorite one here.

Use A Razor To Get Rid Of The Lint

Another great way to get rid of the pilling on your merino wool garment is using a shaving razor or blade to your advantage.

Simply grab a razor, and start making downward strokes on the surface of your sweater. The razor will cut off the lint as a fabric shaver would, but it would take much more time. The benefit over here is that you are using a household item and are saving $10-20.

I recommend people use this method only if they have one woolen sweater or if the pilling on their garment is negligible. Otherwise, it just makes sense to buy a fabric shaver and use that instead.

Bonus Method: If you are traveling, you can use the rough portion of a velcro strap to get rid of the lint on your merino wool sweater. Simply rub this rough part all over the garment, and the pilling would be gone in no time.

Final Remarks

High-quality merino wool garments do not pill if you take proper care of them. This includes hand-washing them, using liquid detergents in place of washing powder, washing the garments inside out, and much more.

Even if you can’t afford the super high-quality variants, I would still recommend you get a couple of merino wool sweaters in your wardrobe. Based on anecdotal evidence gathered through multiple years in the fashion industry, I can safely say that merino wool is one of the least pilling fabrics of all time.

I bought cheap merino and expensive merino; in both cases, the pilling was much less than a regular wool sweater. So don’t overthink things, and just get a merino wool garment for yourself.