Written by AJ Durtschi

Why Do Cotton Sheets Pill?

Austin Linen Service | Why do cotton Sheets

Pilling is an annoyance that can plague most any type cloth, especially aged and low-quality cotton sheets, turning them into something much less desirable and very uncomfortable. By definition, a “pill” is a surface defect made up of a small ball of fibers. Though nearly all fibers can experience pilling, cloths such as silk and linen are less likely to pill than others.

Here are some of the causes of pilling as well as a few strategies to help you deal with and prevent it from happening to your sheets.

What causes pilling?

Cotton sheets and other types of delicate fabrics that go through long-term usage and repeated washings will experience frayed fiber endings that become tangled, leading to tiny knots or pilling that can pick up lint, dust, and other ripped and tangled fibers.

Any fabrics made from shorter fibers, such as cotton, will experience a higher likelihood of pilling. Cotton sheets that are made from a mixture of blended fabric, such as cotton-polyester, are more likely to pill than 100% cotton sheets.

How can you prevent pilling?

There are a few options available for you in order to prevent your sheets from pilling. Though you should consider doing this with all of your sheets and linens, washing sheets with a short wash cycle and gentle liquid detergent can help to prevent pilling while extending the life of cotton sheets and other delicate fibers.

Another option to prevent pilling is to simply invest in sheets that will not pill, such as Egyptian, Pima, and Supine Cotton. These cotton sheets are made from long, high quality fibers which won’t be easily tangled or knotted. While these higher quality cotton fabrics can be costly, the trade-off is having comfortable, attractive and long-lasting sheets that won’t pill.

For more information check out our blog and be sure to read our manifesto, Setting the Table to find out who we are and what makes us different.


  1. Debbie says

    I recently bought pima cottom sheets and they pill, 525 thread count. Wash them with only other sheets too. I have some that are cotton poly, they didn’t pill. It’s a crap shoot.


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