How to Remove Lint From Clothes

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Lint, magnified.
Lint, magnified.

Lint happens. Most often it collects on dark, porous clothing, but the fuzzy fibrous stuff can insinuate itself into any beloved fabric. Whether your lint problem takes the form of little lint pills on your socks or strident stratus invasions all up and down your sweater, you can get it out. The following is more or less a flowchart of lint removal techniques, from most common to most desperate.

Step 1

Try a lint roller. They cost a few bucks at a drug store. Essentially a lint roller is just a roll of sticky paper on a barrel attached to a handle. Lay your lint-spangled banner on a flat surface and hold one end of it steady as you roll the lint roller against the fabric. Repeat, tearing off sections of the paper as it becomes lint-saturated, until clear. Lint roller not working? This is not uncommon. Move to Step 2.

Step 2

Try duct tape. If you don't keep a few rolls of duct tape around your home and office, take a cue from the millions of handymen, housewives, and MacGyvers of the world who know the true powers of duct tape. One manifestation of duct tape's usefulness is its ability to remove lint from clothes. Wrap a length of it around your fingers, sticky side out, and roughly dab your lint-laden linen shirt. Repeat, replacing the tape as needed, until your clothing veritably shines. Other sticky things that can do this trick: cellophane or packing tape, masking tape, and sticky-backed packing label envelopes such as those you can get for free from Fed-Ex.

Step 3

Get in there and scrub the clothing with a 3M green scouring pad, slightly damp. Lint problem still not going away? We are running out of options, but fear not.

Step 4

Use an old single-bladed razor used for shaving hair from skin. This works for removing lint from clothes if you are careful. There are also products out there called electric lint removers that are just like a shaving razor but battery-operated and truly formidable. Run the razor or electric lint remover up and down the fabric.

Step 5

Consider the Sweater Stone (see Resources below). It's like a pumice stone but for removing lint from sweaters and other clothes. Try that if the previous steps leave you sad.

Step 6

Add a cup of vinegar in the wash with your linty clothes. This will loosen the bonds between the lint and your fabric.

Step 7

Consult a dry cleaner if all else fails.

Tip

  • Convert your hairbrush into a lint-removal tool. Buy a strip of Velcro (generic name: hook-and-loop fastener). Securely glue the hook side to the back of the hairbrush. Cover that with the loop side until ready to use.

Warning

  • Lint rollers, duct tape, cellophane or packing tape, packing labels and other sticky agents of lint eradication will leave an imperceptible sticky residue on your clothes. This can attract more lint later on. So, as soon as possible after using one of these items to de-lint an article of clothing, throw the clothing in the wash with some detergent and a few tablespoons of vinegar. This will minimize the threat of a lint insurgency.

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