blue wool throws and blankets

So, you’ve got your gorgeous new wool throw and it’s so cosy that you wrap up in it every night. And when it’s not on top of you, your throw is draped over the arm of the sofa. It looks so soft that everyone who passes the throw gives it a stroke. Then, you start to notice fluff on the surface, and then the fluff turns to fuzz, then to little balls and all of a sudden, your beautiful wool blanket or throw looks a bit shabby and you feel a bit sad.

But don’t despair. The good news is that you can get your wool throw looking as good as new pretty easily. 

The little balls are known as pills, and pilling happens to many natural fibres, but is especially common in wool and cashmere. They are caused when loose fibres within the weave make their way up to the surface of the fabric. Once on the surface, they cling onto each other and bunch together resulting in the pesky little balls.

Here’s how to reduce them in the first place and get rid of those you’ve already got on your woollen throws. 

1. Stay on top of general upkeep

By shaking or beating your wool throw regularly, you dislodge all the loose fibres, therefore they don’t hang around on the surface of the throw ready to get matted up every time you make contact with it. We recommend giving your blanket a good shake every week. Every so often, hang it on a line and whack it with a tennis racket. As well as getting rid of the loose fibres, this keeps it smelling fresh, gets rid of dust and makes it feel plumper.

2. Iron and steam your throws

Wool can take up to 30% its weight in water so using your iron’s wool setting and pumping steam into the throw will give it extra volume and work any low level pilling back into the fabric. The key is to shake, steam, iron, shake and hang over a bannister or lay flat to air off. The heat of the steam also kills off dust mites and bacteria so it’s like a little bit of a clean too. 

3. De-fuzz

If the pilling has reached the stage where you have balls on the surface of the throw you can remove using a wool comb or a de-fuzzing machine. Wool combs retail from about £3. They are very effective and have been used for donkey’s years to keep wool blankets, throws and cashmere clothes pill free, but it can be a bit labour intensive to do a whole throw by hand. That’s why we love electronic de-fuzzing machines. We like this one by Philips, which retails at under £10 and is available from John Lewis or Amazon, amongst others. A once over with one of these and your throw will look as good as new. 

4. Shave

Not for the faint hearted, but it’s possible to shave your throw and get it up like new. This works in much the same way as the de-fuzzer. Make sure the blade is new and really lightly drag the razor over the surface. BE CAREFUL though, if you press too hard you can slice into the yarn and cause a hole. It’s always good to practice on a bit of old fabric until you get the hang of it, but once you do, this method becomes weirdly satisfying. We wouldn’t recommend shaving anything textured or chunky and treat the throw as carefully as you would if you were shaving sensitive skin. If you get the knack though, the result is amazing!