Cashmere care and storage - dealing with pilling

If you've invested in the cosy perfection of Scottish cashmere knitwear, you'll want to look after your garment well. Here we tell you how, with the unrivalled experience that comes from being Scotland’s oldest heritage retailer online. Our advice covers three main aspects of caring for cashmere:

Pilling is the name given to the little balls of fluff you’ll find on the outside of a garment after wear. It happens because the cashmere fabric is woven or knitted from spun yarn comprising a mixture of longer and shorter fibres. During its spinning, knitting or wear, some will break off and work loose. It is these excess fibres that find their way to the surface, then tangle and mat together, giving the rough texture known as pilling.

Many garments suffer a degree of pilling, particularly when new. It is often most evident in high friction areas such the underarm which repeatedly brushes your body as you move.

Pilling is normal and nothing to worry about. But it happens more with cheaper cashmere. These tend to be made with the shorter coarser fibres from the back and legs of the goat, and may also be more loosely knitted to minimise keep the amount of expensive Cashmere fibre needed. Manufacturers of cheaper cashmere can also ensure the garment’s surface has a higher cashmere content, so that it will feel luxurious at first touch. But this lasts less well, and rolls easily into balls so increases pilling.

High quality Scottish cashmere garments are typically made with a much higher proportion of the expensive longer fibres from the cashmere goat’s soft underbelly, so retain their shape better and pill less. With a really good quality Scottish cashmere knitwear pilling will greatly diminish after the first wash.

The best way to prevent pilling is to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions and generally look after it well. But if pills do appear, try some of the following ideas to remove them. Simplest is to remove the little balls by hand, one pill at a time. You can pick them off with your fingers, or use a small pair of scissors or razor blade. But be very careful not to cut too close to the surface to avoid damage to the fabric.

Or use a sweater comb to brush them away. Don’t be too rough, but you do need to use a little pressure on the garment when combing. You can also buy a battery-operated devices fabric shaver, which you pull across the fabric to remove the pills. But don’t try wearing the garment while de-pilling, and remember to empty its pill trap when full.

Categories Help Centre Fabrics Help Centre Cashmere