How to Wash Sweatshirts Without Pilling

Most people are pretty good about washing textures, but then they run into problems with pilling after a few washes. This can be prevented by following some steps that will help you take the pill-free path to glory.

Things To Remember:

The more you wash a piece of clothing, the more pilling will occur. The less you wash it, the better.

Synthetic materials pill faster than natural fibres, but they’re easier to take care of. #   The softer your clothes are before washing them, the faster the pills will form. The rougher they are before washing them, the slower they’ll form.

There is no way to get rid of all pills from a shirt after some time; it’s about keeping them down to a minimum level with proper handling and care during each wash.

If at any point your clothes give off that “new sweatshirt smell”, then they aren’t really new anymore. Replace them or wash them out. Dye lots of clothes can make the pill problem worse, as it is more noticeable.

If you want to speed up the process of removing pills, then spend a few days with your new shirt(s) wrapped in plastic and stored in a fridge. This will keep them flattened and tight for a bit longer than usual – before they’re washed.


Keep the colour of your garments on the darker side to prevent fading and bleeding during treatment. 

Machine washing is recommended as hand-washing takes more time and effort (unless you possess some sort of pill-removing claw machine). Avoid using non-colour safe bleach as it can ruin dyes on some textiles; try using vinegar instead.

Throw everything into the washer, including any pills that occurred during storage. This will speed up the process of removing them.

If you’re dealing with towels, then it’s probably best to stick your hand in there too; if it bothers you, put on some rubber gloves before washing (that would be weird).

Use either hot or cold water; both are effective at removing pilling (however, hot water works better).

Make sure not to use super hot water as this can make colours bleed and fade faster – nobody wants faded sweatshirts.

With that being said, if the garment has no colour on it then feel free to use boiling/scalding water for sanitary purposes (and if the garment is pure white, then wash it in bleach to keep it that way). Wash at your regular temperature setting – don’t go crazy.

Tumble dry on medium heat. Don’t trust the care label? Tumble dry for roughly 20 minutes at 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 Celsius) to kill any germs and make your clothes pilling-free.

Avoid tumble drying too long as this can ruin clothing!

At this point you should have a garment with no visible pills on it; if not, they should be much fewer now.

You can always run another cycle or two of washing if necessary. Alternatively, try giving them an extra week or so before washing!

Extra Tips:

There are tons of methods out there for removing pills from textiles, but the most popular is using tape, green or red Scotchbrite pads, fabric shavers, and pumice stones.

If you want to get rid of pills without wasting too much time in the process then I recommend just using a fabric shaver.

If you have an old sweatshirt that doesn’t look so good after being washed for years, try putting it in the freezer overnight.

This will kill any living germs hiding inside your shirt! Just don’t forget about it…

Most people assume that dryer sheets reduce pilling on clothes, but this is not true . They’re only effective at producing static cling (and making towels super smooth).

For smaller textiles like scarves and other knits; simply run them through a wash and spin cycle and the pills will magically disappear!


Take your clothes out of the washer immediately to avoid additional pilling. When it’s time to dry, put all your sweaty clothes in there together.

This is because heat from one garment can transfer to another if they’re left alone wrapped up in a ball for too long.

Avoid drying sweaters on top of other items such as towels or jeans. Wash them separately by themselves or just don’t bother putting them in the dryer at all (they dry quickly on their own).

Also, make sure not to dry too many clothes in the same load; this enables more pill-forming and can cause bleeding and dye loss (although it’ll take a while for this to happen).


And that’s it!

It might seem like a lot of effort, but trust me – the end result is totally worth it.

You’ll be left with pill-free clothes and you can even put your hands in there if you want!

Once again, make sure not to wash and dry too many items at once (if possible).

Happy washing!

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