You want your favorite sweater to stay smooth and free from yarn “pills”—those obnoxious tiny balls that form on the surface when the fibers loosen and tangle together. Here’s how to prevent the little nubs…and how to get rid of them if they appear.
To prevent pilling: Loosely put your sweaters in a pillowcase and tie the case closed with ribbon or string. (Make sure your woolens aren’t packed together too tightly. You may need more than one pillowcase to accommodate multiple items.) Run this through your washer’s gentle cycle with your usual laundry detergent. (Special soap for delicates, such as Woolite, is OK to use.) If your woolens are feeling stiff or rough after storage (or after sitting on a store shelf), add one teaspoon of olive oil after the washer fills with water—this will soften the wool. Cozy!
To get rid of pills: That favorite sweater of yours accidentally got mixed in with the regular wash, and now it’s covered with woolen lumps! Don’t throw it out…or buy a special sweater-shaving gadget. Gently rub the surface of your sweater with a pumice stone (yes, that thing that smooths out rough heels). You might need to (carefully!) clip big pills with scissors, but the stone will detach the smaller nubs without harming the weave. Your sweater will look as good as new!