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About Pilling and How To Prevent It

Pilling is what happens when cotton fibers break and tangle, resulting in the tiny little balls or "pills" of fiber that appear to be stuck on your sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers.


Better quality fabrics, with longer cotton fibers, will pill less than fabrics using shorter cotton fibers. Cotton percale will pill less than cotton sateen fabrics.


Mercerization: This process shrinks the cotton fibers, tightening and smoothing the grain of the thread. Cotton fabrics, when properly mercerized, are stronger and will perform much better than fabrics that are not mercerized. Mercerized cotton fabrics are more expensive than fabrics that are not mercerized. Our Sferra and Schlossberg bed linen fabrics are mercerized.


Pilling is a result of friction; when the fabric is rubbed the fibers can break. For example, pilling can often be seen on fitted sheets near the foot of the bed where frequent abrasive movement (from rough feet) can occur. Here's what pilling looks like:

an image showing pilling, or "pills"


How To Prevent Pilling

Proper fabric care will help to prevent the cotton fibers from weakening and pilling. Chlorine bleach can weaken the cotton fibers, as can excessive use of fabric softener. When washing your bed linens, always make sure that your linens have plenty of room to "swim" in the washer, and it's always best to wash them alone. Do not wash with other rough fabrics such as Levi's.®


Over drying your bed linens, especially at high levels of heat, can also cause the cotton fibers to break. Pilling is one reason why bed linen manufacturers will usually suggest specific care procedures for their bed linens. It's always best to follow the recommended procedures!


Sferra Bed Linen Care | St. Geneve Bed Linen Care | Schlossberg Bed Linen Care

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