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Everything You Need to Know About Fabric Shavers

Whether you choose manual or electric, a fabric shaver will de-pill your favourite sweaters, coat, and even towels, furniture, and blankets. With a fabric shaver’s many uses and features, you may wonder how you ever made it without one.

attractive woman wearing a soft cashmere cream sweater

Even the nicest sweater looks worn and shabby with pill balls. And, though you might be tempted to donate a pilling sweater so you are not caught looking unkempt, first try a fabric shaver. 

Fabric shavers quickly, easily, and efficiently remove pills, lint, and fuzz from all kinds of fabrics.

This tool may be one of the handiest items you ever buy.

What is a Fabric Shaver?

Fabric shavers, also known as depiller tools, debobblers, and defuzzers, do exactly what their name suggests: they are razors for fabric. Friction and daily wear cause fibers in clothing and upholstery to fray. Any tugging or pulling will only make matters worse. A fabric shaver does not cause any further friction. Rather, the blades glide over the fuzz, removing the accumulated pilling and lint so the fabric is smooth again.

Fabric shavers are available in a variety of sizes and styles, and some have more features than others, making them more versatile.

Manual vs Electric Fabric Shavers

a white fabric shaver lying on an olive green sweater

Generally, there are two categories of fabric shavers: manual and electric-powered. If you own thin or delicate items, a manual shaver, such as a wool comb or pumice stone, will be the best. Manual fabric shavers do not use batteries and do not require charging. The pressure you apply to the fabric shaver determines how close to the material the blades get.

The downside to using manual shavers is that the process is slow and arduous. Plus, you have to be constantly conscious of not moving the shaver too fast.

On the other hand, an electric shaver makes de-pilling sweaters, wool coats, and furniture a breeze. You can select the heights of the blades, like you would with an electric hair clipper. The changeable shaving height gives you flexibility to work with all kinds of fabrics. Additionally, these models are made to be ergonomic and time-saving.

Many high-end models have dual power modes, so you aren’t limited by the cord. The disadvantage of battery-powered units is that the charge does not last long.

Fabric Shaver Shaving Heads and Blades

When shopping for a new fabric razor, the options may seem overwhelming.

For instance, there are different shaving heads with varying diameters. A 1.5-inch diameter is best for delicate fabrics, while 3-inch shaving heads are best for couches. As mentioned earlier, you can often adjust the height of the blades to work with different types of fabrics around the home.

But it is not just the height of the blades that matters. The overall design is important, too. The more blades the model has, the faster you will be able to remove those annoying lint balls.

The best blades are made of stainless steel. Look for fabric shavers with 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel, as it is resistant to corrosion. Unfortunately, most manufacturers do not give this information readily. You may have to research various products to find the best one.

Can You Use a Fabric Shaver on Cashmere?

a cashmere comb being used on a soft white woollen pullover

There are many kinds of fabric shavers, and many of them are all-natural. For instance, pumice stones (also known as sweater stones) have been used to de-pill wool and cashmere for many years.

However, not all fabric shavers are designed to work on cashmere. The best course of action is to read all the information provided by the manufacturer, so you choose the best fabric shaver for your wardrobe.

You can also use fabric shavers on:

  • Fleece tops and blankets
  • Wool sweaters
  • Alpaca wool coats
  • Suede boots and upholstery
  • Cotton shirts
  • Activewear leggings

How Do You Use a Fabric Shaver?

Because different shavers are better for different fabrics, it is helpful to know how to use both manual and electric shavers.

How to Use a Manual Fabric Shaver

  1. Select the garment that you want to de-pill and place it on a flat surface. Make sure the fabric has been smoothed out.
  2. Set the fabric shaver lightly against the piece of clothing.
  3. Gently guide the fabric shaver from the top to the bottom of the garment while holding the fabric taut. Avoiding raking at the fabric, as this could damage it.
  4. In sections where the lint is persistent, add a little pressure.
  5. Keep working in slow, easy strokes until you have de-pilled the entire item.

How to Use an Electric Fabric Shaver

  1. Put the item that you want to de-pill on a flat surface, such as a countertop, and smooth out the fabric.
  2. Turn on the fabric shaver.
  3. Work vertically while keeping the garment as flat as possible.
  4. Increase the pressure gradually or change the blade height to remove all the lint and pills.
  5. If you have a garment with heavy pilling, you may have to pause midway to clean out the container. Sometimes the shaver slows down when there is too much in the holding container.
  6. Keep working until all the lint has been removed.

Keep in mind that every shaver is slightly different from others. If you want the best results, carefully read the user manual. By following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can be more mindful and prevent costly mistakes. Additionally, before using the fabric shaver, try a practice run on the gentlest setting, so you can see which motion works the best.

a pile of pullovers with a cashmere comb resting on top


What does a fabric shaver do?

Both electric and manual fabric shavers remove the pilled fabric or lint from a piece of clothing. The fabric shaver clips off the pills, smoothing out the fabric so it looks as good as new.

Do fabric shavers ruin clothes?

No, when used correctly, shavers do not damage clothes. Remember, lint and pilling happens when friction has caused fibres to loosen and knot. Since you do not want those fibres pulling any further, it is good to remove them with the fabric shaver. However, if you don’t operate the shaver correctly, the blades can nick or cut into the fabric, making matters worse.

How do you use a fabric shaver?

The quickest, most efficient way to use a fabric shaver is to lay your garment on a flat surface. Make sure the fabric is smoothed out before grabbing your de-piller tool. Next, run the shaver over the fabric. If you own an electric model, there may be different settings and speeds to use. Set the fabric shaver to a higher height if the fabric is thicker. Delicate fabrics need a lower height.

Can you use a fabric shaver on a couch?

Yes, you can use a fabric shaver on a couch or any kind of upholstered furniture. You will need a fabric shaver with a wide head, around 3 inches, so you can cover the most area.

Lint and pilling can make some of your favourite garments look dingy and old. But, you can restore your clothes to pristine condition by using a fabric shaver.

Whether you choose manual or electric, a fabric shaver will de-pill your favourite sweaters, coat, and even towels, furniture, and blankets. With a fabric shaver’s many uses and features, you may wonder how you ever made it without one.

a woman relaxing in her bedroom wearing a cosy soft brown sweater
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