Best fabric shavers 2023 UK
Jun 04, 2023
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Keep your favourite clothes looking good for longer
Pilling can quickly transform your favourite clothes from smart to shabby. But rather than painstakingly picking each bobble off your beloved jumper one at a time, fabric shavers (also known as debobblers) claim to swiftly remove them, leaving garments looking as good as new.
At the GHI, we wanted to know if fabric shavers were truly worth a spot in our clothes care line-up, alongside trusty classics such as the clothes steamer and iron. So, our experts raided their wardrobes and put a selection to the test to find out. Keep scrolling for their full verdicts but, at a glance, these are the buys that impressed:
Put simply, fabric shavers get rid of pilling (aka bobbles) that forms on clothes –usually in areas like underneath the arms where there’s more tension during wear. You can also use them on other textiles such as blankets.
On our list you’ll find two different types of de-piller: electric models that have blades to cut the bobbles away and manual ones in the form of a comb or roller that act more like a manual razor to pull away the pilling.
While they both achieve similar results, electric devices tend to collect the lint up into a bin as they go, making them a neater choice. With manual shavers, you'll need to gather the cutaway fibres separately, adding in an extra step. Our testers particularly liked the manual Gleener De-Piller below as it also features a built-in lint roller to help with this.
Whichever type you opt for, you need to be careful to avoid damaging delicate fabrics or wearing them down too much. Hold your fabric taut if you're using an electric fabric shaver to avoid cutting any holes, and pass the shaver lightly over your garments. Manual models tend to require more sweeps to fully remove all pilling, so again, use them gently to avoid stretching your fabric.
Our GHI experts gathered together their bobbliest jumpers and set to work to see which fabric shaver produced the neatest results.
Each device is used on cashmere, merino wool, lambswool and polyester, and our testers see how much it removes in one sweep from a set area of pilling. Then, they assess how long it takes to remove all pilling from the same area.
Throughout testing, our experts consider each product’s ease of use and design, including whether it’s neat to use and how comfortable it is to handle. They also assess the clarity of any instructions.
These are the models to turn to for a longer-lasting wardrobe.
This electric fabric shaver removed pilling with ease across cashmere, merino wool and more, making it ideal if your wardrobe is full of different fabrics. Testers liked that its well-sized head could cover a large surface area quickly and that it’s designed to tackle all sizes of pilling as it goes.
They also found it simple to use thanks to an ergonomic handle and an internal waste bin that trapped removed lint, keeping everything tidy, and emptied easily. It comes with two batteries to operate, a cleaning brush and a height adjustment cap for delicate textiles. Handily if this is your first fabric shaver, the accompanying instructions are clear too.
Does the thought of taking electric blades to your jumpers make you feel nervous? Then this manual debobbler is an excellent alternative. Despite requiring a touch more work to achieve the desired results, it did a great job of freshening up fabrics, particularly with merino wool, lambswool and polyester. Plus, it has three different heads so you can tailor it to different textiles, and there’s no worrying about batteries or recharging.
Testers found its handle comfortable and said it was good at getting into corners and seams. It requires more clean-up since you need to collect fluff as you go, but it does have an integrated lint brush to speed this up. It comes with detailed instructions, and you can store it neatly in an accompanying travel pouch.
For a de-piller that looks as sleek as the garments it’s working on, look no further than this premium electric model. It's rechargeable, so you don’t need to worry about batteries, but you still benefit from added power.
Testers found the debobbler’s large head covered their garments quickly, reliably removing pilling within a few sweeps. It worked the fastest on polyester, but all our wool was left looking refreshed. Note that while the lint is stored within the body, our testers recommend cleaning the blades regularly throughout use to prevent clogging. Otherwise, it’s another great buy for beginners with clear instructions, making it a trusty wardrobe addition.
If you’ve got a whole wardrobe in need of TLC, we wouldn’t recommend this comb as you’ll be working for a while. That said, if you need a debobbler for small touch-ups on the go, the compact design is ideal.
As it’s entirely manual, you have to put some effort in for the best results, and because it has just one texture, it's not suitable for more delicate fabrics. But for knitwear, testers found their jumpers started to look noticeably revived after a few sweeps. We found it wasn’t too messy to use either. One to keep in your bag or suitcase.
Hannah is our senior homes writer, specialising in reviewing the latest kitchen appliances, cleaning products, mattresses and bedding, and crafting equipment. Hannah has written about hundreds of products, from air fryers to smoothie makers to pillows, and is committed to finding the most reliable and best value for money buys. Hannah is also interested in sustainability in the home and has completed a course with the University of the Arts London in sustainable textiles, so she can help cut through the noise on what’s green and what’s not. Hannah helps to uncover the best cleaning hacks too, with a focus on easy, natural solutions. Hannah has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously worked as a freelance lifestyle and women’s sports journalist, working for Stylist, Sky Sports and more. Hannah has also previously worked in a florist and can normally be found caring for her house plants or sewing something new for her home or wardrobe. You can find Hannah on Instagram on @sewnbyhan
Senior Homes Tester
Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.
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