Garment Durability: Pilling

Fabric Defects: Pilling

In purchasing apparel and home products, consumers are attracted to products with clean surfaces that are free of defects and surface irregularities such as pilling, fuzzing, and other surface distortions. The consumer expects those items to remain free of those types of defects both during wear and laundering. At the same time, the brand or retailer expects their merchandise to have the same appearance and performance when they are offered for sale.


One of the most common complaints concerning product aesthetics and performance is that of pilling.


Pilling most often shows up in laundering; however, it can show up during wear as well. In many cases, the propensity to pill is discovered in testing of the goods by the manufacturer, the brand, and/or the retailer. At this point, there is not normally a solution for the pills. The causes of pilling are a result of the construction and mill processing—not the fault of the consumer. Therefore, controlling and eliminating pilling must begin in product materials specification and mill processing.


What is Pilling?

Pills are small balls of entangled fibers attached to the surface of a fabric, and pilling resistance measures the tendency of a fabric to form pills.


Pilling is a complex property, affected by many factors, including the type of fiber or blend, fiber dimensions, yarn and fabric construction, fabric finishing treatments, and end-use. Pilling may be accompanied by other surface phenomena, such as loss of cover, color change, localized frosting, or fuzzing.


Understanding & Overcoming Pilling

Fabric Defects 101: Understanding & Overcoming Pilling discusses how you can overcome pilling issues within the supply chain and grow your cotton business.


Don Bailey, Textile Technology Instructor, covers design, construction, dyeing, and finishing parameters that affect or improve pilling and what you need to know when sourcing cotton products.


Download Understanding & Overcoming Pilling slides.