Knowing exactly how to get burrs out of clothes can make your life a whole lot easier.
My hiker friends tell me the same story every time they went on a hike: they were making their way up the mountain, enjoying the view, and the next thing they knew, their jeans were covered by these prickly seed balls.
Burrs are very annoying to handle. Not only can they pierce through the fabrics and irritate your skin, but they are also difficult and time-consuming to remove.
However, if you know the right methods to deal with burrs, you won’t have to worry too much about this problem the next time you go camping. So, no need to waste another second, let’s jump right in!
What Are Burrs And Why Do They Stick To Clothes?
A burr (sometimes called bur) is a seed or dry fruit with hooks or teeth (1). Those hooks help them stick on animals’ fur or people’s clothes, causing skin irritation, rash, and minor injuries. Moreover, burrs can easily damage your clothes, especially the ones with fuzzy material.
Do you want to know why they stick to clothes? You are their means of transport. Plants with burrs depend on animals and humans to distribute their seeds, with burrs being their seed dispersal mechanisms.
Burrs are extremely hard to avoid, especially the small ones. People usually get them when they walk past brambles or through tall weeds. So if you can, you should try to stay away from those areas to prevent burrs from sticking to your jeans.
6 Foolproof Ways To Remove Burrs From Clothes
Because of their size and sharp bristles, dealing with burrs can be tricky. But, with the tips below, you shall know how to get them all out with ease.
1. With Your Washing Machine
Place your burr-covered clothes in the washer with any detergent you like. You should use the hottest water temperature your clothes can withstand and set the water level to high.
Hot water can help soften the hooks on the burrs, and the tumble cycle can help remove them from clothes.
Next, you can dry them outdoors or in a tumble dryer.
However, if you are dealing with big burrs, you shouldn’t use a washing machine due to the risk of clogging your filter. Instead, soak them in hot water and detergent. Then allow them to air dry.
Either way, once your clothes are thoroughly dried, check to see if there are any bristles left on the clothes. If there are, use the following steps to remove them altogether.
2. With Duct Tapes
Lay your clothes flat on the floor or on a table and find some duct tapes. Using wide ones can make the process easier.
Cut out a large piece of duct tape and stick them over the burrs and then lift them, don’t yank them out to avoid ruining the fabric. Repeat until all the remaining burrs are gone. And just like that, it is done!
3. With A Flea Comb/ Fine-Tooth Comb
Another helpful trick is using a comb, wooden and plastic are both okay. Just be sure the teeth of the comb are fine and thin, flea combs are even better.
Again, lay your clothes flat out. Take your comb and start scraping the burrs out. Don’t scrape them near other clothes because the burrs might stick to them. Prepare a bucket to catch them or do it outside.
Note that if you’re handling clothes with delicate fabrics, you should pick them out one by one gently and slowly instead of scraping them.
Watch this video to know more:
4. With A Plastic Spray Can Cap
The caps on your spray can or aerosol can are more useful than you think. Similar to the comb method, take the can cap and scrape all the burrs out. Be patient and thorough to make sure all of them are gone.
If you don’t have a spray can cap, there are many things that can be used as an alternative. For example, thin plastic cups, mason jar lids, bottle caps, dividers, rulers…
See how this man removed burrs from his clothes using a spray can cap! Watch this video:
5. With Tweezers
The tips mentioned above involve a lot of rubbing and scraping that might damage the fabrics. So if you are handling delicate clothes, I recommend you use tweezers instead. Using tweezers can be time-consuming, but it is the most suitable method for thin garments.
It is pretty simple, take a pair of tweezers and pluck the burrs out individually. Again, this will take a while, but you need to be extra careful when you’re dealing with sensitive materials.
6. With Your Hands
This method can’t always be applied because the bristles of most burrs are sharp and pointy. But if the burrs are small and soft, and you don’t have any tools available, this will be the easiest and most accessible option for you. You should also wear gloves to avoid skin irritation.
What you want to do is rub the areas covered by burrs very hard using the palm of your hand. Apply as much pleasure as possible for this to work.
Afterward, check to see if there are any burrs left, then you can pick them out manually with your fingertips.
If you like to see how to remove burrs by hand, take a look at this!
What You Should Never Do When Removing Burrs
Now that you have learned about what you should do when dealing with burrs, let’s have a look at the things that can only make matters worse.
1. Using A Razor
Shaving the burrs with a razor won’t remove every part of the burrs away, small pieces of burrs will remain in your clothes, irritating your skin and damaging the fabrics. There are many other effective and less dangerous ways that you can try instead.
2. Using Scissors
Similar to shaving, cutting is absolutely not recommended. First, it is not effective at all because you will leave some parts of burrs in your clothes. Second, you might accidentally cut the clothes with the scissor, creating a bigger problem.
3. Using A Metal Comb
Combs are amazing tools for removing burrs. However, a metal comb, especially the one with fine teeth, can stab the fabric and ruin it. If that is the only one you have, I suggest you slowly pick the burrs out one by one.
Save Your Time By Avoiding Getting Burrs On Clothes
By now, I hope you can acknowledge some helpful tips on how to deal with burrs. However, getting burrs out of clothes is a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience and attention. Doing this multiple times can be tiring and tedious.
So if you don’t want to go through all those steps every time you return home from a hiking trip, let’s find out some ways to prevent burrs from being stuck on your clothes in the first place.
1. Avoid The Plants With Burrs
If you can recognize the plants with burrs and stay away from them, you won’t need to worry about them sticking to your pants. The most common ones are burdock, cocklebur, beggars-ticks, enchanter’s nightshade, and stick-tight (2).
Do some research about them before your hiking or camping trips. Remember what they look like and don’t come near them. Warn others about them too.
2. Wear Burr-Resistant Clothes
Burr-resistant clothes or any clothes made from woven nylon are extremely useful when you go on an outdoor adventure.
Burrs can not stick to woven nylon, they will just fall right off. So you should invest in garments made from this material to save you the trouble of removing them afterward.
Take a look at these frequently asked questions for more information regarding this topic. You can also give me some questions of your own down in the comment section.
How To Get Burrs Out Of Clothes: In A Nutshell
If you like going hiking or camping, it’s possible that you are no stranger to burrs. Some even said it’s unusual to see anyone going home after a camping trip without some prickly balls stuck to their pants. Nevertheless, no one enjoys these unwanted souvenirs.
Knowing the proper ways to handle them can save your shirts and jeans from the trash can and charity bag. Depending on what is available to you, you can pick the most suitable method and try it out on your own.
I hope you find all the things I shared helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section, and don’t forget to like and share this article.
- Wikipedia, 2021. Bur.
- Daily Herald, 2017. How burs disperse seeds in fall.