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Article: What Causes Bed Sheets to Pill?

what causes bed sheets to pill

What Causes Bed Sheets to Pill?

If you've ever wondered what causes bed sheets to pill, you're not alone. It's a common question that arises when you invest in what you believe are quality sheets, only to find tiny balls of lint appearing over time. These little bobbles can be a real eyesore.

Not only that, pilling can turn what should be a luxurious experience into a scratchy annoyance.

That's why we've pulled back the covers on this all-too-common issue and dived into the nitty-gritty of pilling – what it is, what causes it, and, most importantly, how you can prevent it from happening.

What this article covers:

Why Do Bed Sheets Pill?

Pilling on bed sheets occurs due to various factors, often related to the quality of the fabric and the conditions they're subjected to.

Let's dive into the nitty gritty:

Low-Quality Fabric

The quality of fabric used in bed sheets plays a significant role in the overall experience you have during your slumber, and indeed, in the longevity of the sheets themselves.

When sheets are made using low-quality fabric, they're often constructed from shorter fibers or a mix of materials (that might include synthetic fibers).

Based on our observations, these shorter fibers have a tendency to break due to everyday use and regular washing. When these fibers break, they tend to twist around themselves and other fibers, creating small balls of fabric on the surface of your sheets, known as pills.

Pills can be quite uncomfortable because they create rough, uneven patches on your sheets, which can interfere with your comfort during sleep. They also make your sheets look worn out and old, even if they're relatively new.

what causes lint balls on sheets

This is why at California Design Den, we only use high-quality, long-staple cotton in our sheets, as is the case with our 100% pure cotton sheets. Longer fibers mean fewer ends to fray, leading to a smoother, stronger fabric that's resistant to pilling, even after repeated use and washes.

This commitment to quality ensures not only a luxurious feel for your skin but also a product that maintains its integrity and appearance over time.

High Heat

Exposure to high temperatures is another significant factor that contributes to the pilling of bed sheets. When sheets are washed in hot water or dried on high heat, the fibers can weaken, break, and eventually form pills.

The heat damages the integrity of the fibers, particularly in fabrics that aren't designed to withstand high temperatures, leading to accelerated wear and tear.

Whether you've purchased our popular Everyday Soft Cotton Sateen Solid Sheet set or another of our luxurious options, we recommend washing your cotton sheets in cold water and tumble drying them on a low setting to maintain the quality of the fabric.

Did you know that our sheets have been tested for pilling? This means that they are a more durable option than your average microfiber sheets.

Excessive Friction

Our research indicates that another common cause of pilling on bed sheets is excessive friction. Regular use, combined with tossing and turning during the night, can cause the fibers in the sheets to twist and eventually form small balls or pills.

This is particularly true for sheets made from lower-quality materials.

what causes pilling on sheets

We combat this issue by offering high-quality sheets that have been certified by notable independent authorities OEKO-TEX and GOTS, ensuring they're free from harmful chemicals and are safe for sleepers and the environment.

At California Design Den, we're dedicated to ensuring you get a premium sleep experience with our range of high-quality sheets, including the twin fitted sheet, king size flat sheet, and queen fitted sheet among others!

How to Prevent Sheets From Pilling

Now that you know the causes, let's delve into the solutions. Pilling can be a nuisance, but with the right care and knowledge, you can keep your sheets smooth and comfortable for longer.

Choose Quality Sheets

One of the most effective ways is to invest in high-quality sheets that don't pill. But what does "quality" mean when it comes to bed linens?

Thread Count

When it comes to bed sheets, thread count is often touted as a measure of quality. But what exactly does it mean, and how does it affect the feel and durability of your sheets?

Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. It's calculated by adding together the numbers of lengthwise (warp) and widthwise (weft) threads within that area.

For instance, if a sheet has 100 warp threads and 100 weft threads in each square inch, it would have a thread count of 200. This metric serves as an indicator of the softness and feel of a fabric.

Quality sheets can have thread counts ranging from 200 to 800 and beyond. Generally, a thread count of 200 is considered a minimum for decent-quality sheets. Anything lower might not feel as soft and could result in a less comfortable sleeping experience.

what causes sheets to pill

At California Design Den, we offer a range of sheets with thread counts ranging between 400 and 1000 to cater to different preferences. Our 600-thread count Deluxe Comfort sheet set strikes a balance between softness and durability, ensuring a luxurious feel without compromising on longevity.


The weave of a bed sheet plays a crucial role in determining its feel, durability, and overall quality. Essentially, the weave refers to the manner in which threads are interlaced to form the fabric.

Different weaves offer varied textures and appearances, affecting the sheet's breathability, softness, and even its propensity to wrinkle, which is worth considering when you're looking for the best non wrinkle sheets.

Percale is a traditional one-yarn-over, one-yarn-under weave, resulting in a matte finish with a crisp feel. Percale sheets are lightweight and breathable, making them perfect for those who tend to sleep hot. They offer a smooth and cool touch, ideal for warmer climates or summer months.

Sateen weave is characterized by a pattern where three or more warp threads go over one weft thread. This structure gives sateen sheets a silky feel and a lustrous, shiny appearance.

How to Remove Pilling From Sheets

Pilling can detract from the comfort and appearance of your sheets, here are several manual methods to effectively remove them and restore the smooth texture of your linens:

Regular Razor

A simple and effective method is using a regular shaving razor. Lay the sheet flat on a hard surface, pull the fabric taut, and gently glide the razor over the pilled areas.

This will shave off the pills without damaging the fabric. Ensure you use a sharp razor and work with caution to avoid snags.

what is pilling on sheets

Tape Or Lint Roller

While this might be a more time-consuming method, it's gentle and effective. Lay the sheet flat and press a piece of tape (like packing or masking tape) onto the pilled area, then lift it off. The pills will stick to the tape.

Alternatively, a lint roller can be rolled over the sheet to pick up the pills.

Bed Sheet Materials That Are Less Prone to Pilling

Long-Staple Cotton

One of the desirable cotton types in the bedding industry is long-staple cotton. What makes it stand out? Long-staple cotton produces longer fibers compared to regular cotton.

These longer fibers are spun into finer, stronger threads, which are then woven into a tighter and smoother fabric. The result? Sheets that are not only softer and more luxurious but also more durable and resistant to wear and tear.


Bamboo sheets are not only eco-friendly but also resistant to pilling. The natural properties of bamboo fibers make them smooth and durable. They are also hypoallergenic and have excellent moisture-wicking properties, a suitable option for those wondering, “why do my sheets make me sweat?”

One of the standout products from our range of bamboo sheets is the Soft & Cooling Bamboo Sateen sheet set, which includes a decorative flat sheet, a fitted sheet, and two breathable pillowcases.


Pilling on bed sheets can be a frustrating issue, but understanding its causes is the first step to prevention. Factors like low-quality fabric, exposure to high heat, and excessive friction play significant roles in the pilling process.

Our findings show that by investing in high-quality materials like long-staple cotton or bamboo, and following proper care guidelines, the longevity and smoothness of your sheets can be preserved.

California Design Den, we offer a wide range of products that are designed to resist common issues like pilling. So, the next time you're in the market for new sheets, visit our online store!

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