This $55 Gadget Will Save Your Sofa (and Living Room) from Looking Dated

published Jan 12, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Living room with sage/olive colored walls, gallery wall, black credenza, 2 peach armchairs with throw pillows, gray patterned rug, gray wardrobe/cabinet, patterned floor to ceiling curtains, sofa with patterned throw pillows, glass and gold oval coffee table
Credit: Erin Derby

Whether it’s a budget option or an entirely custom piece, a couch is a significant investment for anyone to make. And having tested many different couches for work, I can tell you that a good-quality one starts at around $1,000 and climbs swiftly upwards from there, so it’s not a purchase that most people take lightly. Plus, couches are considered investment pieces not only due to their price, but also because they’re something we expect to hold onto for many years to come. Personally, I’ve realized that the adage “penny wise, pound foolish” rings true, so I’ve directed my energy into making educated purchases and taking fastidious care of my things — couches included. 

Throughout my time testing various couches, I’ve found that loosely woven fabrics, like tweed, or highly textured knits have more of a tendency to pill, but even the most durable performance fabrics can become worn or pilled — especially if you have kids and pets who are rough on the couch. If pilling is something that irks you, I’d definitely recommend looking for a couch covered in leather, velvet, or a fabric with an above-average rub count, but most of us aren’t in a position to discard a couch once it’s developed some pilling. 

That’s where an ingenious little gadget called the Steamery Pilo fabric shaver comes in. It does exactly what the name implies, and although I believe it was originally designed to remove pills from clothing, I’ve found that it revives worn-down upholstery like nothing else.
How does it work? Well, the inner chamber holds a series of ultra-thin razor blades that spin rapidly when the shaver is turned on, and the perforated metal plate on top ensures only raised pills get trimmed off. Think of it like an electric face razor: The blades spin and remove hair close to your skin, but the guard protects you from being nicked. 

Credit: Caroline Mullen
1 / 2

It’s immensely satisfying to watch it work, as it deftly removes pills with only the slightest bit of pressure. The brand recommends moving it across the surface of the fabric in circular motions, and definitely be gentle on the corners and piped edges of your couch cushions, and keep the shaver as flat against the fabric as possible to prevent fibers from getting stuck. Check out my before-and-after images above, and you can see the difference this gadget makes up close. Once satisfied with the restoration of your fabric, empty the lint collection chamber and prepare to be delighted yet again by all the fuzz you’ve removed from your couch. If you notice it running slowly, it may need a charge, but it also may need to be emptied or have a buildup of fuzz in the blades. 

I have put this fabric shaver on so many gift guides throughout the years, because it’s one of those things you don’t know you need until you have it. I’ve had the original model of the Pilo fabric shaver for 5+ years now (with virtually no issues), but I’m considering an upgrade to the updated version, called the Steamery “Pilo No. 2.” This new version has twice as many spinning blades, a larger surface area, and the functionality to shave while charging, which is a game-changer for someone like me, who always forgets to charge things before using them. 

Oh, and of course this little wonder works just as well on knits, fleece, cotton, wool, and many other materials, so even though I have a velvet sofa now, I’m keeping this fabric shaver around for sweaters, throw blankets, pillows, and more.