Pumice fuzz and pill removers: Do they work?

From brushes and combs to razors and masking tape, we try all sorts of products to remove the little fuzz balls that form on our sweaters and other clothing.

Now there appears to be a resurgence of an old pilling remedy that's essentially a form of pumice. It's not the compact type of pumice you use to remove calluses on your feet, but rather a lighter, more loosely structured pumice material.

I'd never heard of using pumice stone for de-pilling until I stumbled across two online. The Sweater Stone, made right here in the Puget Sound region since the late eighties. And Sweater Saver, by Hollywood Fashion Secrets. The rough texture of the natural pumice is supposed to grabs the pills and balls and breaks them lose. I bought the Sweater Saver to see how the pumice compares to the popular battery-operated sweater shavers many of us have at home.

The battery shaver worked great on a lightweight fleece jacket. The pumice also did well but seemed to leave a furry finish. Both devices worked well at removing pills from a wool sweater. I found the most notable difference with cashmere. The battery operated shaver removed the fuzz balls but left a nappy finish. It also tended to pull the delicate fibers into the shaving device. The pumice of the Sweater Saver removed the pills and left that soft, smooth finish cashmere is known for.

My verdict? Depending on what you're dealing with, pumice pill removers can do a better job than battery-operated shavers. They save money on batteries and depending on the brand, can last years. I'd still keep a battery operated shaver in my arsenal of fabric care tools- as they seem to do a better job when you're working with non-knit, tightly woven fabrics while the pumice seemed to leave a softer finish on cashmere and other knits that naturally have fine, soft hairs. Just keep a lint roller handy- because the pumice can really make the fur fly.

The Sweater Stone sells for around 8 dollars and is available online including Amazon, Vat19 and the Sweater Stone website. It's also available at a number of retailers, including Nordstrom, The Container Store, Joann Fabrics, Patagonia and West Elm Market. The Sweater Saver is a little smaller and sells for around 7 dollars. It's also available through Amazon, the Hollywood Fashion Secrets website, or you can buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond.