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Winning the Fight Against Lint

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 22 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Lint Remover Duct Tape Lint Roller Fluff

We all know about lint – those tiny little specks that can cause so much irritation. Clinging to your clothes, your coats, your linen, sometimes even your hair! But fear not – the fight against lint is not hopeless. Here are some tools to help you win the battle.

What is lint?

There is no distinct definition of or distinct source of lint. It is made up of tiny fibres, fuzz or fluff, often made of cotton, and usually due to the deterioration of clothing which has been through many cycles in the laundry. Sometimes, pet hair and other small particles, such as shredded tissue or bobbles of wool from sweaters, are also included.

Where does lint appear?

Everywhere! However, it is well known that dark-coloured garments seem to be lint magnets. Certain fabrics – such as wool or synthetic fabrics – are also more likely to attract lint. You can also find lint in your washing machine – usually in the lint traps on the side but occasionally also wedged in various crevices around the drum and cover.

How do I remove the lint on my clothes?

There are several ways you can tackle lint on your clothes. You can purchase commercial “lint rollers” from places such as supermarkets, pharmacies, department stores and even hardware stores. These will have several disposable layers of sticky material which will pick up lint and fuzz when rolled up and down your clothing. A fresh layer of sticky material can be revealed the next time you want to use it simply by pealing off the dirty layer on the roll.

For a home-made and possibly cheaper version, get a strip of duct tape and press the ends together to form a loop with the sticky side on the outside. Slide your hand inside the loop and now press it firmly against your clothing, peeling back to remove any lint, dust, hair and fuzz adhering to the surface. However, this will usually take longer as each strip of duct tape will only cover a small area and so it will have to be continually replaced.

There are now actually motorised devices made for removing lint from a variety of fabrics. Just like the lint roller and the tape, you simply run the lint remover over the surface of the clothing and the device will pull off any lint for you. It is probably less messy as it involves no sticky material and simply needs to be emptied when you are done.

Finally, some people advocate the use of razor blades to remove lint and fuzz on clothing. This can be done by running the blade firmly across the fabric in one direction, picking up lint, fuzz and hair as you go. Wiping the razor clean between swipes with a damp cloth will help to reduce static. Be aware, though, that this method might damage certain types of fabric so only use this on clothing made of very smooth fabric that you know won’t get damaged.

Is there any way I can prevent lint?

While it is impossible to eliminate lint completely, it is possible to reduce and prevent it as much as possible with a few simple steps. First of all, try not to use the dryer to dry your laundry. Hang your clothing up to air dry, preferably outdoors, in a breeze. Not only is this better for the environment and your energy bills but it will also eliminate almost all lint and fuzz from your clothing, as most fuzz comes from the dryer. Even if there is a bit of lint clinging to your clothes, the breeze will usually blow away any specks and fuzz attached.

If you must use the dryer, then make sure to always empty the lint trap before starting each drying cycle. Shake out each item of clothing when you take it out of the washing machine before putting it in the dryer – don’t just transfer the entire wash over in a huge clump.

Check all pockets before putting clothes in the washing machine. Tissue left in pockets is one of the biggest culprits of lint! Remember also that cotton usually produces lint whereas synthetic fabrics usually attract lint – so it might be a good idea to separate these two types of clothing in the wash.

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