UTO : Cashmere Library : How to Care for Your Knitwear



Unfortunately, even very expensive cashmere will produce some pills.

Pilling occurs for various reasons. It cannot be 100% prevented even with the latest technologies. But we can minimize it.


There are two main factors that cause pilling: friction and tangling.

At the KE’KEN Textile Testing & Certification Center, there is a test for pilling. Several knitted fabrics are placed in a cork box and rubbed against each other for 5 hours. The resultant pilling allows the fabrics to be categorized from class 1 to 5. The higher the number, the less prone the fabric is to pilling. Our products are class 3 to 4, which is very good for cashmere products.

Wool is naturally curly, and the zigzags of the crimps make the fibers attach to each other. The degree to which pilling tends to occur among wools is different depending on the type of hair.

The tendency to pill by fiber type is as follows:

Angola > ram > cashmere >camel > mohair > alpaca

Alpaca fiber is relatively straight with fewer crimps. Fibers will probably fall out before getting tangled and pilling.

Foreign Objects and Static
Other factors are foreign materials and static.

Not only visible objects but also very small dust particles floating in the air can be the cause of pilling. Static also draws fibers together.

Humidity and Heat
Humidity and heat are also factors in pilling. When humidity is added, pills grow faster, and heat can drive the speed of growth. It seems quite true from our experience that much pilling occurs under the arms, where there is more moisture and heat.

Another example is the case in which a person wore a cashmere sweater with a windbreaker over it and played golf all day. With the windbreaker sealing in moisture during exercise, friction and sweat created a lot of pilling in one day.

Why does moisture make pilling worse? In a humid environment, the fiber’s cuticle cells tend to open, increasing chances of tangling.

How to Minimize Pilling

Reduce Friction
Wearing a garment means exposing it to friction. You cannot prevent this completely, but you can reduce friction by not wearing your garment every day and refraining from hard workouts while wearing it. Be careful if your car’s seats are made of a fabric such as wool, your tweed jacket does not have an inner layer, or your everyday bag is canvas. They all create friction.

Get Rid of Foreign Matter
To remove foreign objects attached to your knitwear, brushing works. Before you put your sweater back in the closet, do a little bit of brushing.

Keep Your Knitwear as Dry as Possible
Try not to wear a windbreaker over your sweater for a long time.

How to Remove Pilling
If you find pilling on your sweater, do not try to pull it out. Cut it carefully with scissors.

Fabric-Pill Remover
There are several types of lint remover.

Do not worry: removing some pilling will not make the sweater thinner.

Anti-Pilling Fiber

There are now fibers that do not pill. How is this done? The cuticle cells are coated or removed so that the zigzags of the thread will no longer tangle together. Many fibers are now processed using this method.

However, wool’s moisture-absorbing capacity is also taken away.

Although they are still 100% wool or cashmere, in our opinion, sweaters with processed fibers are not as comfortable as those with natural ones.

Processed fibers are convenient options for sweaters that need heavy cleaning, but UTO will continue to use natural cashmere fibers.

Are New Sweaters More Prone to Pilling?
It seems from our experience that knit garments are most prone to pilling in the first year of wear. There are some items that do not pill at all, whereas others seem to pill quite a bit. For knitwear with more pills, if those garments are taken care of in the first year, there seem to be fewer pills in in the second year. This observation comes purely from experience and is without scientific evidence, so the important lesson here is to look after your knitwear with love and attention.