pilling on couches how to prevent

Pilling on Couches: Unraveling the Truth

Picture this: You've invested in a beautiful, comfortable couch from Couch Potatoes Furniture, perfectly customized in your choice of fabric. As time goes by, you start noticing tiny, unsightly balls of fabric appearing on the surface of your couch. It's called pilling, and while it may cause concern, understanding what it is, why it happens, and how to deal with it can help you maintain your beloved piece of furniture.

In this blog, we will explore the world of pilling with couches, addressing common questions and offering practical advice.

Is Pilling Normal?

Yes, pilling is entirely normal and not necessarily indicative of poor quality. Pilling occurs when loose fibers on the surface of a fabric intertwine and form tiny balls, often in areas that experience friction or wear. This process is a natural consequence of using and enjoying your couch regularly. Even high-quality fabrics can experience pilling over time.

What to Do If Your Couches Pill?

  1. Regular Maintenance: Start by vacuuming your couch's fabric regularly using a soft brush attachment. This helps remove loose fibers before they have a chance to become pills.

  2. Use a Fabric Shaver: Invest in a fabric shaver or electric lint remover. These handy tools are designed to gently remove pills from fabrics. Use them carefully to avoid damaging the fabric.

  3. Rotate and Flip Cushions: To distribute wear and friction more evenly, rotate and flip your cushions periodically. This prevents concentrated rubbing on certain areas and can reduce the likelihood of excessive pilling.

  4. Follow Manufacturer's Cleaning Recommendations: Different fabrics have specific cleaning requirements. Always adhere to the manufacturer's cleaning guidelines to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.

  5. Choose the Right Fabric: If you're in the process of selecting a fabric for your customized couch, consider one with a higher rub count and lower likelihood of pilling. Your Couch Potatoes Furniture sales representative can help guide you in choosing the most suitable fabric for your needs.

Does Pilling Mean Bad Quality?

Not necessarily. While some low-quality fabrics may pill more quickly, pilling alone is not a definitive indicator of poor quality. Factors such as the fabric's fiber composition, construction, and finish play a significant role in its tendency to pill. Even high-quality, luxurious fabrics can pill over time due to their soft and comfortable texture.

Is Pilling Preventable?

While you can't entirely prevent pilling, you can take steps to minimize it

  1. Choose the Right Fabric: Opt for fabrics with higher rub counts and tighter weaves. Fabrics like microfiber, leather, and some synthetics are less prone to pilling.

  2. Regular Maintenance: As mentioned earlier, vacuum your couch regularly and follow recommended cleaning and care instructions.

  3. Be Mindful of Activities: Be cautious when using rough or abrasive materials on your couch, as they can accelerate pilling. Avoid sitting on your couch with clothing that has rough embellishments or zippers.

mid-century modern sofas in green
This is our Ladybird Sofa in the fabric Bella Peacock.
Bella Peacock has a soft, rich velvet texture that provides luxury along with the performance of a velvet. The durability and cleaning characteristics are kid-friendly and ideal for high-traffic areas in home and commercial spaces. 

What Types of Fabric Are Most Likely to Pill?

Device for shaving pellets clothes. Anti-Plush fabric Shaver. Electric portable sweater pill defuzzer. Lint remover from acrylic or wool sweater

While pilling can occur with various fabrics, certain types are more prone to it:

  1. Natural Fibers: Fabrics made from natural fibers like cotton and wool are more likely to pill due to their loose, soft texture.

  2. Loose Weaves: Fabrics with open or loose weaves, such as bouclé or tweed, can be more susceptible to pilling.

  3. Low Rub Counts: Fabrics with lower rub counts (measuring durability) are generally more prone to pilling. At Couch Potatoes Furniture, we offer fabrics with various rub counts to accommodate different preferences and needs.


Rub Counts vs. Pilling Resistance

Rub counts and pilling resistance are important factors to consider when evaluating the durability and quality of furniture fabrics. However, it's important to note that there isn't a direct scale that correlates rub counts to pilling resistance, as they measure different aspects of fabric performance. You can read more about rub counts here.

Rub Counts (Martindale Abrasion Test):

Rub counts, measured using the Martindale Abrasion Test, indicate how well a fabric can withstand wear and abrasion. It quantifies the number of rubs (back and forth) a fabric can endure before showing signs of wear, such as thinning or fraying. Fabrics with higher rub counts are generally more durable and suitable for high-traffic areas.

  • Light Use: 15,000 to 20,000 rubs
  • Medium Use: 20,000 to 40,000 rubs
  • Heavy Use: 40,000 rubs and above.


Pilling Resistance:

Pilling occurs when fabric fibers rub against each other or other surfaces, leading to the formation of small, fuzzy balls on the fabric's surface. Pilling resistance is usually measured on a scale from 1 to 5, with higher numbers indicating better resistance.

1 = Poor Pilling

2 = Fair Pilling

3 = Good Pilling

4 = Very Good Pilling

5 = Excellent Pilling

When selecting furniture fabric, it's important to consider both rub counts and pilling resistance, especially if the furniture will be subjected to heavy use. Fabrics with higher rub counts tend to be more durable, but they may still develop pilling over time. Therefore, a fabric with a high rub count and a good pilling resistance rating is typically a good choice for long-lasting and durable upholstery. Keep in mind that other factors, such as maintenance and the type of fiber used in the fabric, can also impact fabric performance.


Professional on Pilling

Pilling is common with couches and is not necessarily a sign of poor quality. It's a natural result of using and enjoying your furniture over time. With proper care and maintenance, you can minimize the impact of pilling and extend the life of your cherished couch.

When customizing your couch with Couch Potatoes Furniture, remember to consult with our knowledgeable team to choose the most suitable fabric for your lifestyle and preferences. With the right fabric choice and care, your Couch Potatoes couch can continue to provide comfort and style for years to come. Check out our Fabric Care Guide for more information!

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