Cashmere sweaters are beloved for their soft feel and gentle warmth in cool weather. After a few wears, however, many people may start to notice their sweater doesn’t look as neat and smooth as it used to.
So, does cashmere pill? Yes, cashmere pills when the fibers rub against each other or another surface, causing them to pull apart and create a ball on the fabric. This can be reduced by allowing your cashmere sweaters to rest between wears, but cannot be prevented completely.
Pilling is unavoidable on cashmere sweaters due to the nature of the fibers. However, it can be reduced with proper care. You can also try to remove the pills by using tools such as a sweater saver or a cashmere comb.
Keep reading below for more information on how to keep your cashmere sweaters looking their best, despite their natural tendency to pill.
Does Cashmere Pill?
Yes, cashmere fabric does pill. This is a natural occurrence that can only be reduced, but can’t be prevented.
Pilling on fabric is when the fibers that have been woven to create the fabric come apart. These fibers then stick up, gather together, and end up rubbed together into a small ball that rests on top of the fabric.
With cashmere, there are three grades of quality: Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C.
Grade A cashmeres are the highest quality available. While they may not pill as quickly or as much as the lower grade cashmeres, they will still get pilling.
Garments that are considered to be Grade A cashmere don’t pill as much because they’re made with longer, thinner fibers. The long, thin fibers hold together better and don’t tear apart from each other as easily.
Grade B and C cashmere items are made with shorter, thicker fibers, which naturally tear apart more easily and rub together to create pilling.
What Causes Cashmere To Pill?
Cashmere clothes form pills when the fibers are rubbed against each other or another surface. This can happen through normal wear throughout the day. Some common causes are handbags, a seatbelt, a desk, and a chair.
It can also happen simply from the fibers rubbing against each other, such as the arms of the sweater rubbing against the body of the sweater at your sides.
The friction of the fibers rubbing against themselves or another surface causes the fibers to tear away and rub together into a little ball.
The pill can grow bigger over time, turning into a longer mass of fibers that looks more like a small fiber worm than an individual ball.
Cashmere can also pill if it’s not washed or handled correctly. Since cashmere is a delicate fabric, it is best to be hand washed only. This will prevent the agitator in your washing machine from rubbing against it too much.
It’s also best to turn the fabric inside out when washing and lay it flat to dry.
How Can You Prevent Cashmere From Pilling?
While you can’t prevent cashmere from pilling completely, you can help reduce pilling with a few different wear and care tricks. The first is to let your cashmere rest in between wears. Although this may sound silly, it really works!
Letting your cashmere rest for a while after you’ve worn it allows the fibers to snap back to their original shape, preventing any that have stretched from snapping completely and being perfect candidates for pilling.
You can also help reduce pilling by not washing your sweater after every wear. Like denim, cashmere is a fabric that can be worn more than once before washing, as long as it didn’t get too dirty.
Giving it more time between washes can help reduce the frequency that the fibers are stretched and pulled in the washing and drying process.
When you do wash it, make sure to hand wash it only. Some cashmere sweaters say you can machine wash on a cold, gentle cycle, but we still recommend hand washing as the best method.
This ensures you can be extra gentle with the fabric, taking care not to stretch or twist it while giving it a thorough cleaning. Once it’s done, lay it flat to dry. Don’t hang it up to dry or this can cause the fibers to pull and stretch. Don’t throw it in the dryer, as the heat can damage the fibers.
When you get to the warmer summer months and have no need for wearing your cashmere sweater again for a while, it’s best to store it with each layer of fabric separated.
You can do this by layering the fabric with acid-free tissue paper in between each layer. This will help prevent the fibers from sticking and tangling together while laying in storage for months.
Remember to always let your cashmere breathe, too. Never store it in a container or bag without air circulation.
How To Fix A Cashmere Sweater That Has Pilling
If your cashmere sweater has accumulated pilling and you want to restore it, don’t worry! You’ve got a couple options for fixing a cashmere sweater that has pilling.
Your first option is a cashmere comb. These are specially designed combs that can be lightly dragged along the surface of the fabric to gently remove the pills from the surface.
It’s important to be careful while using the cashmere comb. Don’t press too hard or work the fabric too much, or you can cut the existing fibers and cause more pilling in the future.
You can also try using a sweater shaver. This device is created to remove pilling from multiple types of knit fabrics, including cashmere. This is another device you’ll need to be gentle with. You don’t want to be too rough on the fabric and cause more issues.
Some people have often used straight razors or simple shaving razors to remove pills from cashmere, but we don’t recommend either of these solutions.
Neither of those two items were created for this purpose, so they won’t work as well as a cashmere comb or sweater shaver.
Additionally, you will often cause more harm than good by using a regular razor. The sharp blade will cut through more fibers than you may intend to, which will lead to more pilling the next time you wear the garment.
Is There Cashmere That Doesn’t Pill?
No, there isn’t a type of cashmere that doesn’t pill. Unfortunately, pilling is just a natural part of owning any cashmere garments. It will happen on every type of cashmere, regardless of how expensive it was.
Pilling happens because of the light and fragile nature of the fibers. While this is what makes cashmere so soft, it’s also what causes it to form pills so easily.
Other knit fabrics also have a tendency to pill. For those who love to wear sweaters, pilling is a regular annoyance that will have to be maintained frequently through the life of the sweater.
Does High Quality Cashmere Pill?
Yes, even high quality cashmere will pill. People often think that if you purchase better quality cashmere, you won’t have to deal with any pilling at all, but this simply isn’t true.
Grade A cashmere, or the highest quality type of cashmere, will certainly pill less than other, lower quality cashmere fabrics.
It’s made with longer, thinner fibers that hold up better over time and don’t tear and tangle together as easily. However, even with the most expensive and high quality cashmere, you will still notice pilling over time.
You often can’t tell the quality or Grade of cashmere when you’re browsing sweaters at a store, so don’t stress over the quality level.
All cashmere will pill, and it’s not worth searching for the most expensive, high quality version when it will still end up pilling, anyway.
When it comes to cashmere garments, pilling is unavoidable. It happens to even the highest quality cashmere, and even to cashmere garments that are worn, washed, and stored perfectly.
Pilling is a natural reaction of the fibers encountering friction with another surface or with each other. However, pilling can be reduced through proper wear, wash, and storage.
Remember some of our top tips, summarized below:
- Remember to give your cashmere sweaters a rest between wears. This can help the fibers return to their original shape and prevent them from tearing as frequently.
- Wash gently by hand and lay flat to dry. This will help the fibers maintain their shape even through the washing process.
- Store your cashmere with acid-free tissue paper between each layer, and make sure they’re stored with proper air flow.
You can learn more about taking care of your cashmere through the video below. There are a lot of good tips about cashmere throughout the video, but if you only want to know about pilling, skip to minute marker 5:50.
To get rid of pilling, simply use a cashmere comb or sweater shaver to gently remove the pills from the surface. Make sure to use them lightly to prevent more damage to the sweater.