No matter what your clothes are made from, they are all susceptible to a certain amount of snagging, pilling, and pulling. However, you can slow this process down significantly by taking certain precautions as you do your laundry at the laundromat. Below, you will find several proven methods that reduce these issues.
Turn Your Clothes Inside Out Before Washing Them
This is a simple but very effective trick you can use to reduce pilling on the outside of your sweaters, shirts, blouses, skirts, and slacks where it would be most noticed. Pilling is caused by rubbing and friction as the individual fibers break or fray and then ball up. Although pilling tends to occur more frequently in synthetic fibers, it can occur to a lessor degree in natural fibers as well. The less friction generated against the surface of your materials, the less pilling they will accrue.
Turning clothes inside out also helps prevent buttons, zippers, sequins, beads, embroidery, patches, lace, ties, bows, and other raised decorations on your materials from getting snagged. It will also help prevent small imperfections in materials that you may not have even noticed from snagging and/or pulling and becoming much larger problems. Belt loops, collars, and pockets are also less likely to snag and pull.
Wash On Delicate Cycle With Delicate Detergent
This is another way you can reduce friction and rubbing on clothes like sweaters and knit blouses that are more susceptible to pilling. The delicate cycle agitates for less time than a regular cycle and the overall length of the wash is reduced as well.
In general, liquid detergents are less abrasive on clothing than powders. If you do use powders, be absolutely sure to allow the powders to fully dissolve before loading your more delicate clothing because powders can be very abrasive (think about how Ajax cleans a sink!). Additionally, some liquid detergents, such as Woolite or Charlie's Soap, are less harsh and will not fray your fibers that lead to pilling as much.
Use Mesh Bags
Putting your clothing in mesh bags during washing and/or drying reduces the friction your garments receive. Mesh bags also prevent buttons and other items on your clothing from snagging.
It is better to buy several smaller mesh bags than a single large one. This is because you want to put only one large item or two small items into a single mesh bag. Otherwise, the water will not be able to flow in and out well enough to give your garment a good washing.
Use Cold Water Washes
It is a proven fact that cold water gets clothing just as clean as hot water. On the other hand, hot water can wear out fibers more quickly than cold water, making your clothing more susceptible to pilling and pulling.
Don't Hang Heavy Sweaters On Hangers
Some people prefer not to put their sweaters in the dryer. This is probably a good idea but you should be sure not to hang heavy sweaters, especially wet ones, on hangers as this will pull the material out of its intended form. For the same reason, for all sweaters and heavier items, you should use padded hangers if you must hang the garment. Otherwise, lay them out flat to dry on a towel if wet or fold them neatly if dry.
Don't Mix Delicate Items With Towels and Jeans
If you mix a sweater that tends to pile with a material that is abrasive, you will get much more pilling! Towels and jeans tend to be quite abrasive on sweaters and delicate blouses and shirts so it is best not to mix them during washing or drying. In other words, it's better to use an extra washing machine and dryer at the laudromat to keep them separate.
Don't Mix Lose Weaves With Buttons
Loose weaves can become easily snagged on buttons and other items. Therefore, it is a good idea to separate these items from the rest of your garments or be very careful about what you mix them with.
Clean As Much Dust and Debris Off As You Can BEFORE Washing
Before we talk about the effect of dust and debris on clothing fibers, let's first talk about carpets. You'll see the connection in just a moment. Ask any professional carpet cleaner what you can personally do to extend the life of your carpets and they'll all tell you the same thing. Vacuum them more often! The sharp edges of the tiny dirt particles that get embedded in a carpet act like little razor blades cutting and fraying the fibers. When a carpet looks worn out or piled, this is what has happened.
Dust particles embedded in your clothing fibers can cut and fray the fibers just like they do in a carpet, only people tend to not think about this effect as much as they do for carpet. If your sweaters or fleece tops, for example, are full of dust particles, the sharp edged dirt particles can break down the fibers of these garments causing them to pile. This can happen during washing too! Thus, it is important to shake your sweaters and other garments out thoroughly after each wearing and before you wash them in machines that are going to agitate, spin, and tumble them! You may also need to use lint rollers to remove larger debris. These small efforts will greatly reduce the pilling on your clothes.
Even though you may need to spend more time and a little more money on using more washers and dryers at the laundromat, the money you will save by extending the life of your clothing will be well worth it. Also, this extra time and small investment on extra washers and dryers will extend the life of your favorite garments, so often irreplaceable!