Getting out in nature is crucial to our well-being, but sometimes we can still come home with some unwanted guests. Burrs are super sticky seeds that attach themselves to our shoes and clothes in their attempts to spread and grow. Burrs can snag at textile fibers and cause itching and skin irritation when they get into our clothes. It’s important – and possible – to remove these stickers for the sake of our skin and garments. So how do you get burrs out of clothing?
You can use several methods to remove burrs from clothes, including a fine-toothed comb, duct tape, tweezers, or specialized burr removal tools. Though the process can be tedious – depending on how many burrs are stuck in the material, it can take quite some time – each method is easy and simple to perform.
In this article, we will go over each of the methods to successfully remove burrs from clothing, as well as what not to do when working on removing them. We will also cover what materials you can wear to help resist those sticky seeds when out in nature.
Can You Wash Burrs Out of Clothes?
The sticky seeds – known as burrs – can come from many types of plants. Some common types include burdock, foxtail, cocklebur, beggar’s ticks, and Queen Anne’s lace. Knowing which plants produce burrs can help you avoid getting these seed hitchhikers stuck in your clothes in the first place – but with such a wide array, it would be difficult for anyone to memorize the full list. Plus, even with the knowledge in mind, avoiding every burr that crossed your path would be impossible.
The first obvious question when trying to remove burrs from clothing is: will burrs come out in the washing machine? Most types of burrs are covered in small barbs. These tiny hooked prongs attach themselves to materials with surprising strength, where simply brushing at them with your hand will have little effect.
Washing your burr-covered clothing is a good first step to removing all burrs. Soaking the burrs and swirling them in water can help soften the stiff plant fibers, loosening their grip and making removal easier.
To remove burrs from clothing with a washer and dryer, follow the steps below:
- Remove as many large burrs as you can using your fingers.
- Set the washing machine to a delicate cycle, with the water temperature hot and the water level high. Use the same amount of detergent as normal. Refer to the garments care label to ensure that the material you are washing can withstand a hot heat setting before moving forward.
- After the wash cycle is complete, remove the items to the dryer and dry according to care labels.
- Once items are fully dry, remove them from the dryer and inspect for remaining burrs.
If you are dealing with a particularly intense amount of burrs, you may not want to risk all the debris clogging your machine as the burrs come free from the clothing. Additionally, if you have a high-efficiency front loading machine, you may not achieve the level of soaking necessary to be effective.
An alternative option to using a machine – that will give similar results – is soaking the affected clothing in a basin or bucket of hot water. Swirl and agitate the garments in the water, allowing them to soak. Any burrs that come loose will float to the top of the water, where they can easily be scooped out and disposed of.
Next, allow the garments to line dry – ideally in a sunny area. As the material dries, some of the remaining burrs will continue to fall from the fabric. For any extra stubborn spikes that remain after washing and drying, move on to one of the methods listed below.
How to Get Burrs Out of Clothes
Burrs can be annoying not only because they can be laborious to remove, but they will also leave prickles inside of your clothes that will be itchy and can lead to skin irritations and rashes. The amount of work it will take to get all of the burrs out of your clothing will depend on how many stick themselves to your outfit.
Before beginning any of the removal methods below, remove as many big clusters as you can by hand. If the burrs are especially sharp, it may help to use gloves when removing them so that the spikes don’t stick into your skin. Leather will be the best choice here since it is thick and is not as susceptible to burrs.
If the goal is to remove all of the itchy spikes stuck in your clothing, leaving them lying around where they could easily reattach themselves afterward would be counterproductive. When removing the burrs from clothing, it’s important to dispose of them in a designated place – where they won’t be able to get stuck to your clothes again. Also – since these spiky balls are seeds – left lying in the dirt, they can easily root on the spot, growing new plants.
In the long run, this will result in more opportunistic burrs looking for a new host to help spread their seed. Get a bucket, trash bin, or plastic bag and toss all removed burrs into the receptacle to be thrown away later.
1. Fine Toothed CombPerhaps not an obvious choice at first glance, a fine-toothed comb can be a miracle worker when removing burrs from clothes. If you don’t already have a fine-toothed comb on hand, you can easily purchase one at any grocery store or pharmacy for just a couple of dollars. Ideally, you will want to work with a plastic comb rather than a metallic one, as the plastic will be gentler on the material and less likely to snag.
It can do the job if you only have a fine-toothed metal comb. Just be sure to work with extra caution. If you are working with a sweater or delicate material, the use of a metallic comb should be avoided. Instead of tossing out an item infiltrated by sticky little seeds, use the method below to get your garment back to new.
- Lay your washed and dried garment on a flat surface.
- Pull the fabric taut and run the comb along the fabric over the area containing the burrs.
- Once a burr is caught in the teeth of the comb, flick the comb upward to remove it from the fabric.
- Use a tissue to remove burrs from the comb as it becomes full, being sure to throw them away in your designated trash bin – rather than lose them on the ground.
- Continue with this process, combing through the entire area of the garment affected by the burrs until all of the burrs have been removed.
2. Duct TapeThe wonder-product is famous for repairing almost anything that needs a fix: duct tape. This super sticky tape will grab onto burrs and can be used to remove most, if not all, of them from your clothes. It can also help remove any small spikes left after removing burrs with a comb. Follow the steps below to get rid of bothersome burrs using duct tape.
- Lay your garment on a flat surface and pull it taut.
- Cut a piece of duct tape several inches long and – with the sticky side out – fold over until ends overlap, creating a loop.
- Place your hand inside of the loop and dab with medium pressure over the areas containing burrs.
- Continue this process – replacing the tape loop as burrs begin to collect – until you have covered the entire area and all of the burrs have been removed.
- Discard burr-covered tape in a trash receptacle.
Another option that can work similarly to duct tape is a good-quality lint roller. Simply roll the sticky sheets over the entire affected area – peeling off sheets as they become less sticky – until you have removed as many burrs as possible.
3. TweezersThe most labor-intensive option, tweezers, is another tool that can be used to bring clothes back from a run-in with a burr patch. Unlike the methods described above, working with tweezers can take up more time because you can only remove one burr at a time. This is a great method if you only need to remove a few burrs or get burrs out of something made from delicate material. The precise nature of the tool will help ensure the fabric is snagged as little as possible.
To remove burrs from clothes using tweezers, clasp and pull out any burrs in your garment. If you run your hand over the fabric, it will be easy to feel where any individual sharp spikes may have been left behind. Run your hand along the fabric’s surface on the inside and outside of the item to ensure that no irritating stickers remain.
Tweezers can also be helpful as a finishing touch to any of the other methods we have already discussed. You will be able to pinpoint and remove any pesky burrs that may have been able to escape the comb or duct tape with this detail-oriented tool.
4. Burr Removal ToolsIf you spend a lot of time in areas known to be covered with burr-producing plants – or just outdoors in general – it may make sense to invest in a burr removal tool. These devices are specifically designed to remove the hitchhikers that attach themselves to your clothes and shoes as you walk by. There are several different burr removal products on the market that can run anywhere from $10 to $30. Burzoff – looks somewhat like a pumice stone. Its rough surface is used to brush off burrs attached to clothing, socks, shoes, and shoelaces. Burzoff is effective at removing many different types of burrs and thorns that embed themselves in fabric and is safe to use on most outdoor clothing. Due to its rough surface, you may want to use caution when delicate fabrics are involved.
Burr Paw – the Burr Paw is a non-abrasive mitten made from nylon that can be used to brush burrs and stickers from clothing, shoes, ropes, and other outdoor gear. The Burr Paw is puncture-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about irritating your skin while wearing the mitten to remove burrs from your clothing. And, they clean easily – simply rub the mitt together and stickers and burrs will fall right off.
How to Remove Burrs From
Wool is an invaluable and versatile material for outdoor wear. It will keep you warm, cool, and dry – it is also very susceptible to stickers and burrs. Many wool garments will be woven – and therefore prone to snagging – these items should be handled with care when removing burrs. Using tweezers is the best method to rid a garment of irritating stickers. It may take the most time, but this precise tool will be the best for salvaging your wool clothes.
If you have a thicker felted or boiled wool item – such as a jacket or vest – you may want to try removing them with a brush. Brushing wool items is common practice to keep them in top shape – the process for removing burrs from the material will be much the same. A clothes brush may do the job, though you may need something slightly stiffer – such as an equestrian brush – if you have a ton of burrs to remove.
When brushing a wool garment, work with the grain of the fabric, brushing with long strokes in one direction and then the other. Never stab the bristles into the material or use a scrubbing motion, as this will damage the fabric.
Depending on the extent of the burr exposure, this process could take some time but will be able to salvage your garment. It is not advisable to use duct tape on wool garments. The super sticky adhesive will no doubt remove some burrs, but it will also pull off wool fibers – compromising the natural integrity of the material.
Hunting takes you deep into nature, where you will often be surrounded by unavoidable areas filled with burr-producing vegetation. Luckily, most hunting clothes are made of durable materials – many of which are synthetic – so they will not generally need an extra level of care when removing burrs. While it will still be a nuisance to go through the removal process, any methods outlined above – a comb, tape, tweezers, or removal tool – can be used to get the burrs out of most of your hunting clothes. For any items made from wool, use the precautions listed above.
No material will be 100% safe from a sticky seed attempting to reproduce, but there are some materials that will be less susceptible to a complete burr takeover than others. A tightly woven duck cloth or canvas will give less opportunity for a burr to grab onto. Thankfully, these durable materials can be great options when venturing outdoors.
Denim is another great choice that can handle burrs relatively well. Though burrs can still stick to denim, it is thick and tightly woven, so they will be less susceptible than other materials. Denim – being so durable – will also be a plus if you do end up having to remove stickers – it isn’t likely to be damaged in the process.
Smooth nylon outerwear – like mud suits and rain jackets – should repel most stickers and burrs. These items can be a good choice if the weather permits. Of course, it won’t always be an option for hotter weather since this type of outerwear tends to trap warmth. Leather is also a great material that will combat burrs. If you have yard work or gardening to do, choose leather gloves that will repel an onslaught of stickers – while also protecting your hands.
Shoes are one of the items that can be most affected by bothersome sticky seeds since they have contact with the most brush as you are walking. Leather shoes are a great choice – for the right environment – durable and protective, and they will not get invaded by burrs like other fabric footwear.
What Not to do When Removing Burrs From Clothing
The process of removing burrs from clothes is pretty straightforward no matter which method you use – but there are a couple of things you should avoid while doing it. It may seem an effective choice, but you should never use a razor to try to get burrs out of your clothes.
While sliding a razor over the fabric will remove the burrs in part, it will be doing so by cutting them at the surface. Most burrs imbed themselves into the fabric by puncturing through to the other side. This means that – though the burr may appear gone on the outside – there will be many tiny pricklers left to irritate your skin on the inside of the garment.
Another important tip is to never work at removing burrs over carpet or rugs! Sticky seeds will burrow into the fibers of a carpet as soon as they fall on the floor – the longer the pile, the more difficult it will be to dig them out. Instead, opt for removing burrs outside or in a garage.
You should also never place an article of clothing covered in burrs on another upholstered item – including your car seats! Burrs are used as a means of plants spreading their seeds – they transfer quite easily. Always place an item infected with burrs on hard surfaces – ideally, keep the items out of the house until they have been cleaned. This will limit the spread of those pesky little seeds as much as possible.
Best Way to Remove Burrs From Clothing
Getting a jacket full of burrs is never desirable, and removing them won’t always be a walk in the park. Luckily there are several methods you can try that are cost-effective and easy to use. Using a fine-toothed comb is the best way to quickly remove burrs from a large surface area. Simply comb through the entire area until the material is smooth once again.
You can always finish off by running a lint roller over the surface or using tweezers to pluck out any stubborn stickers left behind. Whichever method you choose, it will be worth it and a much better choice than sacrificing the item to the trash and buying something new.