The best way to de-pill your family’s favorite sweaters

Here's what really works, according to a fabric care expert.

The best way to de-pill sweaters

Sweater weather is here and whether you have an army of sweaters or just a few go-tos, you know how hard it can be to keep them free from unsightly fuzzing and pilling. Sweaters pill (you know, those annoying tiny balls of lint) in areas that have the most friction—elbows, collars, under arms, the bottom areas that rub against your pants.

And if you have a rambunctious little one, you can almost be certain all their sweaters will look like a massive lint ball by the end of the season. So what's a mama to do when dry cleaning isn't feasible? We asked Laura Goodman, P&G Senior Scientist and Fabric Care Expert to help us care for our sweaters—from cashmere to the super-practical merino wool—this season.

Why do sweaters pill?

There's really no way around it. Any fabric can pill as the fibers stretch and break because of friction. "Pilling occurs when fibers break separate, and then clump together in little balls," says Goodman. "It tends to form the most on wool, cotton, cashmere and even polyester garments."

How can I stop my sweaters from pilling?

For starters, take Grandma's advice and don't wash your sweaters more than you need to. If you get a stain on your garment, try spot treating instead of doing a full wash. Remember, less friction means less pilling. It's also important that you use a fabric conditioner to help protect the fibers from additional damage, keeping them intact longer.

It can also be helpful to wash clothes inside-out, avoid powder detergents and always follow fabric care directions, says Goodman.

How to de-pill your sweaters:

  1. Place the garment on a flat surface and then use a small pair of scissors or a razor blade to carefully remove fluff and pills.
  2. If you're worried about damaging the sweater, find something that will remove the pills more gently, such as a fine-tooth comb, pumice stone or even a fruit zester.
Consider buying a sweater comb or a battery-operated electric fabric shaver, a hand-held device that sells for less than $20. It will come in handy, not just for sweaters, but for pills that build up on wool blankets and throws, towels, furniture, even the dog's bed. It can also safely remove pet hair, loose threads, and lint, keeping fabrics and garments looking new.

How to wash your sweaters, according to the expert:

  1. Turn the sweater inside out before washing.
  2. Use a gentle cycle or hand wash.
  3. Use a detergent that rinses clean and does not contain any dyes.
  4. Lay the wet sweater on a flat towel after washing.
  5. Roll up the towel and sweater from the closest edge, almost like a jelly roll, to squeeze out any excess water.
  6. Immediately unroll the towel, lift the sweater off, and lay it flat on a dry towel.
  7. Carefully bring the sweater back to its original shape. Air dry the sweater by laying it flat.
  8. Once dry, never put a sweater on a hanger. The shoulders will likely misshapen and the weight of the sweater will pull the sleeves out of its original design. Instead, fold sweaters and store them in a dresser or on a closet shelf.
  9. When storing sweaters, opt for air-tight plastic bins to prevent moths and other bugs from crawling in and throw in a dryer sheet to keep things smelling fresh.

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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