A Fabric Shaver Will Make Your Pilled Sweaters and Furniture Look Good as New

Are your old sweaters pilling? Has your cat scratched your upholstered furniture? Before you add those worn-out items to a donate pile, check out this problem-solving gadget you didn't know you needed.

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December 16, 2020

Each fall, I always pull out my favorite sweaters from storage, which usually sparks my desire to buy some new fall and winter pieces to add to my wardrobe, but when I'm still working from home, which I'm truly grateful to be able to do, it's hard to justify buying new clothes when I barely cycle through the ones I already own. A few of my favorite well-worn sweaters that I pulled out this year have started to pill, but they're not quite ready for the donate pile. I've noticed fashion bloggers rave about fabric shavers in the past couple of years, and rather than donate my current sweaters and buy new ones, I thought now would be the perfect time to test out this handy gadget.

Fabric shavers, or defuzzers, are exactly what they sound like; they're basically razors for fabric fuzz. When threads from fabrics start to fray and pill, it's tempting to tug at the fuzz, but that can loosen them further. Fabric shavers glide over the fabric to provide an even cut of any fuzz that has accumulated without aggressively pulling or tugging at any intact threads. When used carefully, removing pilled fuzz with a fabric shaver can make clothes (and even furniture!) look good as new. I, along with a couple of my colleagues, decided to try out two popular and top-rated fabric shavers, a rechargeable budget option from Conair and a sleek, stylish option from The Steamery. We tried both on everything from cashmere to knit sweaters to upholstered furniture, and here's how they worked.

The rechargeable Conair model, also available in a battery-operated option, is one of the most popular and widely available models we found when researching. It features an adjustable guard with three settings that determines how close the blades get to the fabric, making it easy to go from delicate fabrics to thicker materials. The lint chamber is larger than the Pilo fabric shaver, so we found we could use the Conair model on multiple items before needing to empty the lint chamber. Sometimes lint did get stuck near the blade, making it struggle to remove as many pills, so it's important to clear that area, too. The charging cable for this one is extra long, which means you can use it while it's charging, but it does take up a little more room to store. My colleague and HGTV producer Karen Webb says, "This one packs a punch and gets an aggressively clean shave without damaging your product."

The Pilo Fabric Shaver is the most aesthetically pleasing fabric shaver we found; it features a round shape, matte finish and subtle branding and comes in several pretty colors. It also fits perfectly in the palm of your hand and is great for traveling. This rechargeable model has an impressive 50-minute battery life, and it comes with a magnetic protective cap, a short, compact USB charging cable and a cleaning detail brush that makes removing lint from the storage bin much easier. The Pilo shaver works well on delicate fabrics with smaller pills and fuzz such as fleece jackets and cashmere, but it doesn't work as well as the Conair on thicker sweaters with larger pills.

Managing Editor Kayla Kitts can attest that cat owners will definitely find this gadget useful. "I had resigned to the fact that my new-ish sectional sofa had become a backup scratch post when the cats were too lazy to saunter to the other end of the house to use their actual scratch post," she says. "Within minutes of using the Pilo shaver on the sofa's legs, there was a noticeable difference (not just by me; my husband even gawked!) on the areas where the cats had gone to town. The Pilo’s gentle motor was effective but operated with a delicate footprint. I can’t believe I’m just discovering this 'hack!'"

Overall, both products worked great, and we're obsessed with fabric shaving now — it's so satisfying, and my sweaters look brand new!

The Steamery's Pilo Fabric Shaver is a great option for anyone who has delicate fabrics they'd be concerned about damaging or business travelers who want a compact model for bringing on the go. While it's not as compact or stylish, the Conair defuzzer is a great value and a solid overall choice for someone who wants a versatile fabric shaver for a variety of surfaces. It's also a great choice for anyone with a big family or a lot of clothing items they'll need to de-fuzz frequently.

The left side shows a pilling merino wool sweater, and the right side shows the sweater after removing the fuzz with The Steamery's Pilo Fabric Shaver.

The left side shows a pilling merino wool sweater, and the right side shows the sweater after removing the fuzz with The Steamery's Pilo Fabric Shaver.

Should You Save or Splurge on a Fabric Shaver? 01:17

Fabric shavers magically make old sweaters and furniture look good as new! See how two popular options compare when used on cashmere, fleece and upholstered furniture, and snag one for yourself.

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