How to Get Lint Balls off a Mattress

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On June 25th, 2024
How to Get Lint Balls off a Mattress

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Mattress Pilling Causes: Mattress pilling, characterized by the appearance of lint balls on the mattress surface, can occur due to factors such as the type of fabric used, frequent usage, and the quality of sheets. Synthetic fibers are more prone to pilling compared to natural fibers, and low-quality sheets with looser weaves exacerbate the issue.
  • Effective Removal Techniques: Vacuuming is an effective method to eliminate lint balls from the mattress surface, while fabric shavers, lint rollers, or adhesive sheets can target stubborn lint balls. Using a soft-bristled brush to gently brush the mattress can also help remove lint balls. These techniques, when applied correctly, can restore the mattress to its original condition, providing a comfortable sleeping surface.
  • Preventive Measures for Pilling: To prevent mattress pilling, select bedding made from high-quality materials like cotton or bamboo, with a higher thread count for durability. Proper care and maintenance, including washing bedding on a gentle cycle with hot water and using mattress protectors, can minimize friction and prolong the lifespan of the mattress cover.

Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like an uncomfortable mattress surface. If you’ve noticed lint balls, also known as mattress pilling, on your mattress, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

Mattress pilling can occur over time, particularly if your mattress is made of synthetic fibers. These pesky lint balls can make your mattress feel rough and unpleasant, affecting your quality of sleep. But fear not! With our tips and techniques, you’ll be able to eliminate lint balls and enjoy a comfortable sleeping surface once again.

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So, let’s dive in and discover how to remove lint balls from your mattress. Say goodbye to restless nights and hello to rejuvenating sleep!

Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

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Understanding Mattress Pilling and Causes

Pilling occurs when small fiber balls begin to appear on the surface of your mattress cover. Several factors contribute to this issue, including the type of fabric used, the frequency of use, and the quality of your sheets.

Sheets made from certain materials, such as synthetic fibers, are more prone to pilling. The friction and movement between your body and the sheets during sleep can cause the fibers to break and form lint balls. Additionally, using low-quality sheets that are not tightly woven can exacerbate pilling.

To prevent pilling from occurring, it’s essential to choose high-quality sheets and mattress coverings. Natural fibers are less likely to pill compared to synthetic ones. Additionally, regularly rotating your mattress and using a mattress protector can help reduce friction and protect the fabric from wear and tear.

Vacuuming to Eliminate Lint Balls

One simple and effective method to completely eliminate lint balls from your mattress is to use a vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming not only helps remove lint balls, but it also ensures a cleaner and fresher sleeping surface.

To vacuum your mattress effectively, start by attaching an upholstery brush or a soft brush attachment to your vacuum cleaner. The soft bristles of these attachments will help dislodge lint balls without damaging the fabric.

Next, ensure that your vacuum cleaner is set to a low suction setting to prevent any damage to the mattress surface. Slowly glide the vacuum cleaner over the mattress in a back-and-forth motion, covering all areas to ensure a thorough cleaning. Pay extra attention to seams and edges, where lint balls often accumulate.

Effective Techniques for Removing Stubborn Lint Balls

While some lint balls on your mattress can be easily eliminated, others may require more targeted techniques for removal. In this section, we will explore effective methods to get rid of small fuzz balls and fix persistent pilling issues. By using the right tools and techniques, you can restore your mattress to its original condition.

Before starting, remove all bedding from your bed, including your mattress toppers or pads. Make sure your mattress is completely bare. Also, toss your bed sheets, pillowcases, and so on into the washing machine. Use the hottest setting to kill bacteria and dust mites.

Using a Fabric Shaver

A fabric shaver is a handy tool designed specifically to remove lint balls from fabric surfaces. It works by gently cutting away loose fibers and pilling, leaving your mattress smooth and revitalized. Simply glide the fabric shaver over the affected areas in a circular motion, applying gentle pressure.

Be sure to move the shaver in different directions to ensure thorough removal. Remember to clean the fabric shaver blade regularly to maintain its effectiveness.

Lint Roller or Adhesive Sheets

If you don’t have a fabric shaver on hand, a lint roller or adhesive sheets can also be effective in removing lint balls. These tools work by trapping loose fibers and pilling when swept across the mattress surface. Roll the lint roller or press the adhesive sheets firmly on the affected areas, applying even pressure.

As the lint roller or adhesive sheets become full, remove the lint and continue until all lint balls are removed.

Brush the Mattress Surface

Brushing your mattress with a soft-bristled brush can also be effective in removing lint balls. Start by gently brushing in one direction to lift the lint balls off the surface. Then, use a lint roller or adhesive tape to pick up any loose fibers. Repeat this process until the lint balls are completely removed.

Choosing the Right Bedding to Prevent Pilling

To prevent lint balls from forming on your mattress, it is crucial to choose the right bedding. High-quality sheets that are less prone to pilling are your best bet. Consider factors such as fabric type, thread count, and manufacturing techniques when making your selection.

Once you have chosen the best sheets for your needs, proper care and maintenance are essential to prevent pilling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and laundry care symbols for washing and drying, avoiding harsh detergents and hot water.

Be gentle with your sheets, and consider using pillow protectors to minimize friction and potential pilling from pillowcases rubbing against the fabric.

Fabric Type

Opt for types of sheets made from natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo, as they tend to have a longer lifespan and are less likely to start pilling. These fabrics also provide excellent breathability and comfort for a quality sleep experience.

It’s important to note that polyester blends are more prone to pilling compared to pure cotton or bamboo sheets. While cotton offers breathability and natural softness, polyester may not provide the same level of comfort or quality.

Thread Count

A higher thread count generally indicates a finer weave and better quality fabric. Look for sheets with a thread count of 200 or higher to ensure durability and resistance to pilling over a longer period.

Manufacturing Techniques

Pay attention to the manufacturing techniques used in the production of the sheets. Look for reinforced seams and strong stitching, as these details contribute to the overall quality and lifespan of the bedding.

Weave is another manufacturing to consider. For example, if you’re choosing cotton sheets, you’re likely to compare sateen and percale weaves. Of the two, percale sheets typically have a tighter weave, which can make them less prone to pilling compared to sateen sheets. The shorter floats in the weave offer less opportunity for fibers to rub against each other and form pills.

Preventing Pilling Sheets

When it comes to sheets pilling, washing your sheets on a gentle cycle with hot water can help remove any remaining lint balls and prevent new ones from forming. Hot water helps to loosen and dissolve the loose fibers, resulting in a cleaner and more pill-free fabric.

Remember to separate your sheets from other garments to prevent tangling and potential damage. It’s important to maintain the cleanliness of your bed sheet to prevent further pilling.

For more tips, check out our guide to bed sheet care:

Benefits of a Mattress Protector

Along with sheets that resist pilling, smart sleepers will look at mattress protectors to minimize friction on cover fibers. By providing an additional layer of protection, the mattress protector reduces direct contact with the mattress cover, minimizing wear and tear that can lead to pilling.

Additionally, in case of accidents such as spills or bedwetting, the mattress protector creates a waterproof barrier, preventing liquids from seeping into the mattress cover and causing stains. This makes cleanup easier as the protector can be removed and washed separately, preserving the cleanliness and integrity of the mattress cover.

As our guides show, cleaning a mattress after an accident can be quite the hassle:

Mattress protectors also create a barrier that prevents pests like dust mites from infiltrating your mattress. By sealing off the mattress surface, they deny pests the environment they need to thrive, helping to keep your bed free from infestations and ensuring a healthier sleep environment.

For more information, see:

Additional advantages of employing a mattress protector include:

  • Guards against dust mites, allergens, and bacteria in bed, promoting a cleaner sleep surface.
  • Absorbs sweat, maintaining a drier and more hygienic sleeping environment.
  • Prolongs the durability of your mattress by shielding it from damage and deterioration.

More Bedding Cleaning Guides

For pillows:

For other bedding items:


How do I stop my mattress from pilling?

To prevent your mattress from pilling, it’s essential to use a mattress protector or pad to create a barrier between your body and the mattress surface. Regularly washing your bedding, including the mattress protector, can also help prevent pilling by removing any abrasive materials or debris that can cause friction.

Additionally, rotating and flipping your mattress every few months can distribute wear more evenly and reduce the likelihood of pilling in specific areas.

What causes lint balls on a mattress?

Lint balls, also known as pilling, can occur on a mattress due to friction from body movement, rough bedding materials, or the presence of pet hair and debris. Over time, this friction causes the fibers of the mattress cover to break down and form small balls or pills.

While not necessarily harmful, lint balls can be unsightly and may affect the comfort and appearance of your mattress.

Does pilling on a mattress cover mean bad quality?

Pilling on a mattress cover doesn’t necessarily indicate poor quality, as it can occur with any fabric over time due to friction and wear. However, excessive pilling may be a sign of lower-quality materials or inadequate construction.

Investing in a high-quality mattress with a cover made from durable materials and following proper care and maintenance practices can help minimize pilling and extend the lifespan of your mattress cover.

What fabrics are the worst for pilling?

Fabrics that have shorter fibers and looser weaves tend to be more prone to pilling. Synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon are commonly known for their tendency to pill, as well as blends containing these fibers.

Additionally, fabrics with a high percentage of wool or acrylic may also be susceptible to pilling, especially if they are of lower quality or have been subjected to friction and abrasion.

How do you get lint off a bedspread?

To remove lint from a bedspread, you can use various methods such as a lint roller or lint brush to gently lift the lint off the fabric. Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove lint from the surface of the bedspread.

For more stubborn lint or pet hair, you may also consider using a damp cloth or adhesive tape to help lift the lint away effectively.

Are lint balls on a mattress normal?

Lint balls can occur on a mattress over time due to friction from body movement, rough bedding materials, or the presence of pet hair and debris. While some degree of pilling may be normal, especially on older or lower-quality mattresses, excessive pilling can affect the comfort and appearance of the mattress.

Regularly rotating and flipping the mattress, using a mattress protector, and following proper care and maintenance practices can help minimize pilling and extend the lifespan of your mattress.


Removing lint balls from your mattress is an essential aspect of maintaining a clean and comfortable sleeping surface. By understanding the causes of mattress pilling and implementing the appropriate techniques discussed, you can effectively remove lint balls and prevent their reoccurrence.

With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy a restful and uninterrupted sleep on a lint-free mattress for years to come.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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