Does Mulberry Silk Pill? Exploring Durability & Maintenance

I’m often asked if mulberry silk pills by readers curious about purchasing silk items. As someone who owns various mulberry silk products, it’s a great question!

In this article, we’ll explore the unique characteristics of mulberry silk, reasons for pilling, and best practices for keeping your silk as smooth as the day you bought it.

beige mulberry silk drape

What is Pilling and Why Does it Occur?

Before we dive into mulberry silk specifically, let’s review what causes pilling in fabrics. Pilling refers to the formation of small balls of fibers on the surface of fabrics.

It happens when loose fibers catch onto each other during wear and washing, twisting into tiny pills.

Several factors can contribute to pilling:

  • Fiber content – Some fibers like wool and silk are more prone to pilling than smooth fibers like polyester.
  • Weave and quality – Tightly woven, high quality fabrics resist pilling better than loose, low-grade fabrics.
  • Friction – Areas that rub together a lot while wearing and washing generate pills faster. Armpits, collars, cuffs, and seats are common friction zones.
  • Care and washing – Harsh care and washing can accelerate pilling by increasing friction and loosening fibers.

So in theory, any fabric can pill under the wrong conditions. Next, let’s see how mulberry silk stacks up.

black mulberry silk textile

Does Mulberry Silk Pill?

Mulberry silk has some intrinsic qualities that make it less likely to pill than fabrics like wool:

  • As a smooth, continuous filament fiber, mulberry silk resists pilling better than staple fibers like wool or cotton with short, broken strands.
  • Quality mulberry silk has an extremely tight weave, limiting loose fibers.
  • The smooth surface of mulberry silk doesn’t readily catch onto other fibers.

However, mulberry silk is still delicate compared to synthetics. Friction and wear from use, washing, and drying can still loosen fibers over time.

So while high-quality mulberry silk is less prone to pilling than wool or cashmere, it’s not immune.

I’ve found that mulberry silk pillowcases and sheets hold up well with proper care. But silk clothing tends to show wear faster, especially around the underarms, cuffs, collar, and hem.

I have a mulberry silk blouse that started pilling slightly around the wrist cuffs after a year.

white mulberry silk fabric yardage

Factors That Contribute to Pilling in Mulberry Silk

If you notice pilling on your mulberry silk items, here are some likely culprits:

  • Quality – Inferior quality mulberry silk woven with shortcuts or low momme weight (silk density) is more likely to pill. Luxurious 22 momme+ mulberry silk is extremely dense and smooth.
  • Weave – Tightly woven fabrics like charmeuse resist pilling. Loosely woven habotai or chiffon can pill more over time.
  • Washing and drying – Frequent washing and machine drying generates friction that loosens silk fibers.
  • Friction zones – Areas that rub together while wearing and washing pill the fastest.

I’ve put together a comparison table summarizing how different types of mulberry silk fabrics stack up when it comes to pilling:

Silk TypePilling ResistanceReasons
CharmeuseExcellentVery tightly woven
ChiffonModerateMore loose weave
Crepe de ChineGoodHas texture but tight weave
HabotaiModerateLoosely woven
OrganzaGoodSheer but substantial weave
SatinVery GoodSmooth, lux weave

So if you want mulberry silk that avoids pilling, I recommend sticking to high-quality charmeuse, satin, or crepe de chine.

blue and beige mulberry silk fabric

Preventing Pilling in Mulberry Silk

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to mulberry silk pilling. Here are my top tips:

  • Invest in the highest quality mulberry silk you can afford. The momme weight indicates density and quality.
  • Choose tightly woven silk types like charmeuse or satin over loosely woven fabrics prone to loose fibers.
  • Wash gently by hand in cold water using a mild detergent, or opt for dry cleaning when possible.
  • Limit friction by turning garments inside out before washing. Use a mesh bag for delicates.
  • Air dry only and avoid machine drying to prevent heat damage.
  • Use a sweater stone now and then to gently remove surface fuzz and prevent pilling buildup.
  • Consider silk liners or shields in friction zones for clothing items.

With proper care and quality silk, you can enjoy smooth, pill-resistant fabric for years of wear.

black mulberry silk swatch

How to Remove Pilling From Mulberry Silk

If your beloved mulberry silk has developed those pesky pills, don’t despair! Here is my tried and true process for effectively removing pills without damaging the delicate fabric:

Supplies Needed

  • Sweater shaver/fabric depiller
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Mild soap solution

Step-By-Step Depilling

  1. Lay item flat on a clean, smooth surface. Examine closely using magnifying glass to locate pills.
  2. Hold and gently stretch fabric taut in area to be treated. Be careful not to pull too tightly.
  3. Using even, gentle pressure, shave pills off with a sweater shaver. Work in direction of fabric grain. Check underside and repeat as needed to remove pills.
  4. Use tweezers to remove any remaining visible pills.
  5. When pills are removed, gently brush fabric with a soft toothbrush.
  6. Fill sink with lukewarm water and a drop of mild soap. Swish item gently to wash away pill residue. Avoid twisting or wringing.
  7. Roll item in a towel to absorb moisture. Avoid rubbing.
  8. Lay flat to air dry. Repeat process monthly or as needed to prevent pill buildup.

With some patience and the right tools, you can breathe new life into your treasured mulberry silk!

I looked into whether mulberry silk stretches, and it has some surprising properties.

green and beige mulberry silk fabric

Repairing Pilling on Mulberry Silk

If your silk has extensive pilling damage beyond surface removal, you may need to consider repairs:

  • For sentimental heirloom items, professional reweaving services can meticulously repair damaged areas and restore a smooth surface. This specialty service doesn’t come cheap but may be worthwhile for cherished pieces.
  • For clothing with localized damage, invisible mending is an option. This involves carefully darning damaged areas by hand to disguise holes and tears. Pilling can be minimized but results won’t be perfect.
  • For household items like pillowcases or sheets, visible mending embraces the imperfections. Decoratively stitching over damaged areas adds to their character and story while stabilizing flaws.

In some cases of extreme pilling, the silk fabric itself begins to break down. Then it’s time to consider whether repairs are truly worthwhile, or if replacement is a better investment.

blue and beige mulberry silk cloth

Can You Reverse Mulberry Silk Pilling?

While we can’t technically “reverse” pilling that’s already occurred, the good news is that removing surface pills can restore silk to a smooth, like-new condition.

As long as the silk fibers themselves remain intact without extensive breakage, you can eliminate pills and prevent new ones from forming with proper care.

However, if friction and inadequate washing habits persist, new pills will inevitably form no matter how thoroughly you remove existing ones.

So prevention through quality and care is key for long-lasting results.

Does Mulberry Silk Eventually Stop Pilling?

With ongoing use and aging, all fabrics will eventually deteriorate and pill to some degree. 

But high quality mulberry silk, if cared for properly from the start, can remain smooth and pill-free for many years.

The momme weight, weave density, quality controls during manufacturing, and appropriate washing and wearing practices all influence how the silk will wear:

  • Loosely woven 10-12 momme silk may show pilling within 5 years.
  • Medium-weight charmeuse could resist pilling for over a decade.
  • Luxurious 22 momme+ silk with meticulous care can stay smooth for 20+ years.

So while no fabric lasts forever, highest quality mulberry silk holds up exceptionally well over time.

Taking proper preventative steps allows you to enjoy the fabric’s smooth surface longer before pilling occurs.

black mulberry silk cloth

Disadvantages of Mulberry Silk

While mulberry silk resists pilling better than many fabrics, it’s not impervious. And it comes with other care and durability drawbacks too:

  • Pilling still occurs eventually: Friction and wear will cause even high-quality silk to pill over time in frequently used zones.
  • Perspiration damage: Silk is prone to discoloration and degradation from body oils and sweat.
  • Sunlight fading: The proteins in silk break down when exposed to UV light.
  • Heat and water sensitivity: Improper drying and washing causes irreparable damage.

For garments, performance synthetics like polyester and nylon may be more durable. And for household use, cotton sateen resists pilling well.

But personally, I think mulberry silk is worth the extra care!

I found out how mulberry silk reacts to washing, and it can indeed shrink if not cared for properly.

green and beige mulberry silk textile


So does mulberry silk pill? While no fabric is immune to pilling, quality mulberry silk resists pilling better than most.

Prioritizing dense, tightly woven varieties along with proper preventative care allows you to enjoy smooth silk for many years before signs of wear appear.

And when those inevitable pills do crop up, a little diligent depilling restores silk to its former glory.

I hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of maintaining your beloved mulberry silk pieces.

With quality silk products and gentle care methods, you can reduce pilling and keep items smooth and lustrous for the long haul.

And if you do get pills, don’t despair! With some patience and the right tools, you can give a new lease on life to your treasured silks.

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