Some swear by this $8 solution to pilly sweaters.

By Katie Holdefehr
February 08, 2018
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This winter has brought with it some serious sweater weather, giving us plenty of excuses to stay home and get cozy, but wreaking havoc on our knitwear. By the end of the season, it seems that every single sweater we own is covered in tiny little pills. And suddenly the pieces that were supposed to give us that comfy-yet-sophisticated vibe are looking a little disheveled.

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So, how do you fix a pilly sweater without pulling each one off by hand or destroying your favorite pullover? As it turns out, there are a plethora of options. Some swear by the tedious method of carefully combing over the sweater with a razor blade. And while this works to remove the fuzz without pulling apart the weave of a sweater, the thought of wielding a sharp blade next to one of my favorite pieces of clothing feels more high pressure than I'd like. 

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Luckily, companies have developed a bunch of gadgets designed to tackle this exact problem. On Amazon, one of the most popular is the Conair Fabric Defuzzer ($12; amazon.com), which reviewers applaud for its ability to clean up fuzzy, pilled fabric, and even remove pet fur. The photos prove it works wonders on tattered upholstery (cat owners, this one’s for you), but a battery-powered device feels a little intense for delicate knits, and it’s not quite discreet enough to keep in your desk drawer at work.

With a little more digging, you’ll likely come across something called a “sweater stone,” and several options even pop up on the best-seller lists for clothing care, including the Dritz Sweater Stone ($8; amazon.com). As the name suggests, it looks like a piece of black stone (in fact, most are made of natural pumice). As you gently brush it along the surface of the fabric, it picks up pills and collects fuzz. In the reviews, those who have gotten the hang of this tool rave about its defuzzing abilities, while those new to the sweater stone game can’t seem to understand its magic. But once you learn the right technique, this little tool is well-worth the $8 investment. As one reviewer points out, many dry cleaners use these to de-pill clothing, but they charge a lot more for it.

Whether the battery-powered defuzzing device or a handheld sweater stone or comb is more your speed, there’s no reason to give up on a cardigan just because it has a few pills. Try one of these DIY de-pilling gadgets and you’ll never have to pay a dry cleaner to do it for you.