How to Get Clothes to Stop Shedding

A little TLC can keep your knits beautiful longer.

Photo: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images

Cashmere, angora, lambswool … they are oh so soft and cuddly, but oh so prone to shedding. Your clothes can't replace the fibers they lose through shedding, so they develop thin spots. Unlike a guy who still looks cute with thin or balding hair, your fiber-deprived clothes will just look shabby. Fortunately, there are easy ways to discourage shedding and preserve the cuddly factor a little longer.

Why Shedding Happens

Shedding is part of the life cycle of clothing. Normal wear and laundering cause fibers to break and come loose from the garment. When these fractured fibers rub against each other, they also can become tangled in a little ball, otherwise known as a pill. Shedding and pilling tend to happen on the parts of clothing where the most rubbing occurs, such as the underarms and the sides where your sleeves rub when you move your arms. If you wear blazers, you also may experience shedding where your sweater rubs against the fabric of the jacket.

Laundering Tips

To minimize laundry-related shedding and pilling, turn the offending piece inside out before you toss it in the washing machine. Use a garment bag to soften the blow and limit rubbing against other clothes. Opt for the gentle cycle — meaning slower speed and shorter wash time — to limit the amount of rubbing and twisting the garment must endure. Air drying will decrease friction, but if you simply must use the dryer, limit the time your garment spends in there tossing about and banging against other clothes. Oh, and if the label says "Dry Clean Only," obey.

Freezer Method

You can give your fuzzy knits a little attitude adjustment by giving them a time out in your freezer. Place the offending party in a thick zip-locking bag and put it in the freezer for at least three hours. Let the garment come up to temperature naturally rather than placing it in the dryer. Presto! The fibers will reshape their thinking about coming loose so quickly.

Removing Lint and Pills

If your garment has already misbehaved, all is not lost. You can remove those ugly little balls of pill with a battery operated sweater shaver or, if you don’t have one, just pull the garment taut and use scissors to remove the little balls of lint. If you’re brave, you can do it more quickly with a razor. Just be careful not to cut into the fabric. Remember that you are removing some of the fibers of the garment each time you do this, so don’t get overzealous.

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