How to wash and dry wool jumpers

Treat your jumper right, and prevent one of winter’s peskiest fashion problems.

Why is it that by April, that jumper you unwrapped during the holidays has those pesky pills under the arms and along the sides? Pilling occurs when fibres break down, separate, and then clump together in little balls. Pilling can occur on wool fabric, cotton fabric, cashmere fabric, even polyester garments , usually at a point where two fabrics rub together.

Wash wool like a pro

To prevent pilling, turn a jumper inside out before washing, on the gentle cycle or by hand. Air-drying a jumper by laying it flat is best. Here’s how to make sure it doesn’t stretch: After washing, lay the wet jumper on a flat towel and roll up the towel and jumper from the edge closest to you. This squeezes out excess water. Unroll the towel, lift the jumper off, and lay it flat on a dry towel. Be sure to carefully bring the jumper to its original shape.

Depill wool the right way

If you already have pills on a jumper, you’ll have to be patient and remove them one at a time. Place the garment on a flat surface and then use either a small pair of scissors or a razor blade to carefully remove the pills. If you’re worried about damaging the jumper, you can be resourceful and use something that will lift the pills from the garment, such as a fine-tooth comb, pumice stone, or even a fruit zester. There are also special gadgets that are designed to remove pills with no threat of harming the garment’s fibres. Consider buying a jumper comb or a battery-operated electric fabric shaver, a hand-held device that generally sells for less than £10. It will come in handy not just for jumpers 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 like new.