FACTS ABOUT PILLING AND CHAFING
Pilling is a fabric surface problem caused by the balling up of loosened fiber ends which are held to the surface of the fabric. Chafing is a fabric abrasion-producing hairy or roughened fibers. Chafing often produces a color change caused by a change in the light reflectance of a fabric. Sometimes, a chafed fabric will reveal un-dyed portions of the yarn. This problem is referred to as frosting. Pilling and chafing occur from the friction and mechanical action of the dyeing process (during manufacture), normal wear, or during the dry cleaning, wet cleaning, and spotting processes. Pilling and chafing is common in soft-texture fabrics such as woolens but also occurs in worsted and hard-finish fabrics.
Fiber blends of rayon and polyester are susceptible to pilling and chafing because the stronger polyester fibers abrade the weaker rayon fibers. The fabric condition can also occur in wool blends. Wools, cotton, acrylic, and blends of these fibers use short staple fibers in producing yarn. Short staple fibers work themselves out of the yarn and twist themselves with other fibers still held securely in the yarn. The resulting ball of fiber is called a pill.
Examine the texture of all fabrics carefully for pilling and chafing. Pay attention to the specific wear areas of the garment (collar, cuffs, pockets, waistline, crotch, and underarms. Hold the garment at an angle to detect any chafing of the fiber or change in texture. Inform customers of any fabric change, which can be accentuated by the mechanical action of dry cleaning.
Classify hard-finished rayon and polyester blends as soft wool. Place loose knits in a net bag. Run 3-5 minutes in a moisture-free load with solvent relative humidity below 70%. Reclaim at the minimum temperatures required by the type of solvent used.
Use special padded silk brushes or wrap a handkerchief around a bristle brush when applying mechanical action. A bristle brush should be used for brushing only by angling the brush and using the side of the bristles. Use an ample amount of dryside or wetside lubricants to reduce friction on the spotted area. Apply leveling agents to a wet area and allow it to dry. Do not dry clean fabrics in a wet or damp condition.
Garments that can be wet cleaned should be soaked in cool water (90º F.) with a mild synthetic detergent. Rinse by hand in the same temperature water. Extract the fabric lightly and hang it to dry.
Routine procedures depend on the fabric, weave and knit construction.
There are many corrective tools that can be obtained from a supply distributor or jobber. This includes special brushes, and electric razors. A pumice stone is also effective and can be obtained from your supplier. Hang the garment from a sturdy hanger and hold it taut when applying these aids. Use a spotting air gun to blow away the loosened pills. A localized chafed area can be corrected by using a safety razor. Extreme caution must be observed.
Pilling and chafing occurs on many fabrics due to the weakness of the fabric blends. Rayon and polyester fabrics will readily pill because the stronger polyester yarns abrade the weaker rayon yarns. Some of this pilling may show up when the garment is dyed and made into the garment in manufacture. Manufacturers may remove some of the pills and try to sell the fabric. Pilling and chafing also occur on soft wools, wool blends, acrylics, and cotton due to the short-staple fibers breaking away from the loosely twisted yarn and forming pills. Careful inspection at the counter is necessary to identify garments on which pilling has occurred during normal wear. Careful classification in dry cleaning and limited mechanical action used during spotting will reduce the intensity of the problem. Corrective aids may correct the existing problem but not prevent it from recurring.