How to Prevent Pilling on Cotton-Flannel Sheets

Large Plaid Fabric Textured Background Pattern image by James Phelps from

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Gentle detergent
  • Fabric softener (optional)

Pills are small balls of fiber that form on the surface of some fabrics. Flannel sheets with pilling are scratchy and uncomfortable. You can prevent pilling on cotton-flannel sheets through proper selection and care. Buy quality, 100 percent cotton sheets that feel smooth to the touch and have a minimum weight of 4 oz. per square yard. Avoid sheets that look or feel thin or rough, or that contain polyester or other synthetic fibers. Launder your sheets gently, avoiding high heat and excess agitation or tumbling.

Wash new sheets in cold water without detergent on the gentle cycle, prior to first use. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Launder cotton-flannel sheets regularly with in cold or warm water with a gentle detergent. Use the gentle cycle and agitate for a minimal time period. Add fabric softener or vinegar to the rinse water, if desired.

Hang sheets to dry, if possible. Alternatively, dry by machine using low heat only, and remove from the dryer promptly. Do not over-dry cotton-flannel sheets.


  • Use a sweater shaver to remove pills from cotton-flannel sheets.

    Let sheets soak undisturbed if a longer wash time is desired.