5 Tips To Keep Your Favorite Sweater From Shedding Everywhere

It's not exactly like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake, but when a sweater sheds, it may feel as though you're leaving behind evidence of your whereabouts. Shedding may be even more frustrating than pilling, which at least stays put on the sweater. Pilling is when fibers from cashmere, cotton, polyester, and wool separate and then form tiny balls, Tide says. Removing "pills" from a sweater can be challenging, even when you're working slowly and being cautious not to create snags. But at least the mess is confined to one area.


When a sweater sheds, it can leave tiny fragments everywhere. Low-quality cashmere and wool sweaters are most likely to shed; high-quality cashmere (made from goats, by the way) should not shed at all (via Ovis). You can try to gain the upper hand over shedding by running a lint roller or razor over a sweater that is beginning to shed. But the somewhat maddening reality is that you can't stop natural fibers like cashmere and wool from shedding entirely (via Who What Wear). You can, however, learn five techniques that can act as the equivalent of a speed bump to slow down the shedding process and maybe even prolong the lifespan of your sweaters.

1. Wash sweaters by hand

It's smart to get in the habit of washing new clothes before you wear them — and doubly so with sweaters since you can wash away many loose hairs and threads from the get-go.

Wool and cashmere sweaters should be washed by hand (not in a washer and not even on the gentle cycle). Fill a sink or tub with cold water and a small amount of gentle soap formulated for wool (via Martha Stewart). (Colors should be separated from whites, too.) Submerge a sweater in water, swirl it around a few times, and then let it soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse out (don't wring out) one sweater at a time before laying them each flat on a mesh drying rack.


Leave open the possibility that the manufacturer knows something you don't about the garment, so always read the label with the care instructions first.

2. Wash a sweater only when it needs it

If you wash your clothing after wearing an item only once, you may be loath to change your ways. But at least consider the possibility that wearing a short-sleeved, cotton shirt on a warm, 90-degree day is different from wearing a long-sleeved sweater on a cool, 45-degree day. You probably sweat less (and the sweater probably smells a little rosier at the end of the day).


The point is, the more frequently you wash a sweater, the faster the fibers could wear down and shed (via Olga dePolga). So wash your sweaters only when you truly need to. If you're wondering what kind of wash schedule Martha Stewart follows, she washes her sweaters twice during a cold season: at the very beginning and near the end.

3. Keep the surrounding air moist

If you've ever pulled a sweater over your head and unwittingly given your hair an electrical charge, you learned that the fibers can be charged too. To put them in a calmer (and less-likely-to-shed) state, counteract the dry environment with some moisture (via Olga dePolga).


Running a humidifier in the room or closet where you store your sweaters can do wonders. If you're pinched for time, place your sweater of the day on your bathroom counter before you take a steaming hot shower. The moisture should reduce the static charges and keep the sweater fibers in a more docile state.

4. Freeze those fibers

It may seem counterintuitive to put a sweater (which is supposed to keep you warm) in a freezer (which keeps things cold), but it happens to be one of the most touted ways to reduce shedding. Fold a sweater and put it in a freezer bag for three or four hours. Then remove the sweater and shake it vigorously (outdoors). The thought is that the cold air will have stiffened the intact fibers while causing the loose fibers to fall off at once rather than shed regularly throughout the day (via Who What Wear).


Some people are such devotees of this technique that they regularly store their sweaters in a freezer, though they obviously have the freezer space to make it viable (via Treehugger).

5. Keep hair spray close by

A small bottle of hair spray has come to the rescue of many big mid-day crises — and hair meltdowns are just one of them.

Try wearing a thick, luxurious red sweater to work and noticing that it's slowly shedding all over your gorgeous, off-white slacks. To many people, this situation constitutes a minor crisis, and a few spiffs of hair spray can do wonders to keep the fibers where they belong: on the sweater (via Who What Wear). You don't need a lot of hair spray to work this little wonder. This is fortunate because you don't want to saturate an expensive sweater with hair spray anyway. So hold the bottle about one foot away and aim for a light puff of hair spray, not a strong stream.