General Question

ben's avatar

What can I do about pilly sheets?

Asked by ben (8532points) April 26th, 2009

I’ve had sheets for years before, but this latest pair (Target, 100% organic cotton) went from super smooth to super pilly in just a few washes. Any reason this might have happened? Anything I can do about it?

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17 Answers

peedub's avatar

You can spend a weekend removing them with one of these.

asmonet's avatar

Washing in cold water and drying on low heat helps to keep them from forming I’ve noticed, and drying on a line as well. Though, I don’t know how practical that is for most people.

I second the shaver.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Because they have too low of a thread count. The higher the count, the tighter the weave. Buy AT LEAST 300 count. The material’s rubbing against itself & causing the pilling. It feels awful, doesn’t it?

Splurge & get some Wamsutta sheets. They’re wonderful. I won’t buy anything else.

YARNLADY's avatar

You might try a softner product now that it’s too late. Other wise, donate the sheets to the humane society, and try again.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@jbfletcherfan is right on. Buying top quality sheets isn’t a splurge though. Good sheets will last for 20 years. No joke, I have LL Bean sheets that are that old, and still look great—they aren’t pilled in the slightest. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying new Target sheets every couple weeks :P
I applaud you for buying organic though!

rooeytoo's avatar

I didn’t think cotton would pill. But I agree about buying good sheets. I just saw 1000 thread count on ebay, I am very tempted!!!

cak's avatar

Higher thread count, the better! @jbfletcherfan nailed it, right away. As far as the shaver, I’m thinking that after you “shave” the sheets, you’ll have the problem again, really soon. I would be more apt to agree with @YARNLADY. It’s time to donate them and buy new ones.

We buy the minimum of 300 thread count, neutral colors, because they will last. I spend more, but am not forced to replace, in fact, I only purchased new sheets, because we bought a different bed size.

augustlan's avatar

One caveat to the thread count advice: It isn’t always true. I bought 600 thread count sheets thinking they’d be silky smooth, and they were one of the worst sheet sets I’ve ever owned! That said, I wouldn’t buy anything lower than 300.

breedmitch's avatar

I second PW’s suggestion, only you don’t need the fancy machine. A cheap, disposable razor will remove the pills just fine. Use short, light strokes. Works for sweaters and knits as well.

bythebay's avatar

Good advice above but I would also add…NEVER wash your sheets with towels, it’s an invite for pilling! They should be washed alone. I also love high thread count sheets, the higher the better. They are often a wrinkled mess when coming out of the dryer but always smooth out when the bed is made.

Pilling is actually a broken fiber, hence, longer weaves like Egyptian Cotton wont pill. Short-staple cotton, that used in inexpensive sheets is a major factor in what you’re describing. Percale sheets will also never pill.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@bythebay Yes, it’s the Egyptian cotton that I buy the Wamsuttas in. It seems like the more you wash them, the softer they get. The shave thing is a waste of time. Who wants to constantly be shaving sheets??!! That’s nuts! I get tired of shaving my legs…I’m sure’s hell not going to shave sheets!

bythebay's avatar

@jbfletcherfan: Your shaving analogy made me totally laugh! Plus, shaving weakens the fibers and they’ll pill even more in subsequent washings.

@ben – give up and buy new…less hassle!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@ben…she’s right. Just start all over with better quality sheets.

chyna's avatar

@augustlan What made them horrible sheets?
I buy 400 to 600 count myself.

ben's avatar

Thanks for the great advice, everyone. I’m not quite ready to give up on these sheets, but it may go in that direction.

I may try the razorblade—will return with results if I do. I’m excited to know how to help avoid in the future.

Also, regarding threadcounts: My understanding is it can be misleading. For example, 1000 doesn’t really exist, they just quadruple a 250 count. But quality apparently does matter a lot (as I’m learning).

YARNLADY's avatar

@ben I don’t know where you got your information. Technically a 1000 count is an actual count, but the trick is they only use single ply thread, rather than the three ply or four ply that is commonly used in sewing. It is actually 1,000 threads per inch, but they are thin threads.

This excellent article can help.

Oh, wait, I found a reference that agrees with you. The threads are four ply and the manufacturer called the product 1000 count because they legally are allowed to count each ply as a different thread.

augustlan's avatar

@chyna I’ve had 400 tc sheets that I loved, smooth and soft. I bought the 600 tc sheets online (even though I’d never heard of the brand) because they were such a ‘good deal’. They turned out to be scratchy and kind of ‘bumpy’ feeling – almost like natural linen, though a bit smoother than that – and only got worse with washing. In the future, I’ll only buy a known brand. Especially if I can’t see and feel them before buying.

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