Gleener Review: ETA Update following Marilyn's report

Several people mentioned a gadget called the Gleener on Angie's recent knitwear post. Having tried and failed with a battery operated shaver (made nicks and holes) and brushes (smoothed but failed to de-pill) and pumice stones (wore holes in some stuff) I decided it was worth an attempt. 

Here's my review. 

The good: 

  • Inexpensive (under $20)
  • No batteries or electricity required. 
  • Comes with several heads for different types of garment. 
  • Easy to use.
  • And...most important...seems to work ...

(cough cough) at least sometimes

The bad:

  • Takes patience to use effectively. 
  • Doesn't really work on poor quality knits and that brings us right back to our basic problem -- we can't tell from the name or the reputation of the maker or even sometimes from the feel, what the quality is like. 

I tried it on four of my sweaters. I used the same medium attachment for all. 

First, on a new-this-year BR cardigan, supposedly merino, but more of a "shetland" type knit, to my mind. It has pilled under the arms and where my crossbody bag goes. It's hard to see the pills on the light grey. But the Gleener did take them off, with a bit of pressure. For the most part. ;) 

Second, an older J. Crew Collection cashmere tee. I think I got this in 2012 or 2013. It is quite high quality and does not pill a whole lot -- mostly just under the arms. I was able to remove a lot of the pills on this one quite easily and it looked better after Gleening.

Note -- this sweater has also become softer/ nicer to wear with washing -- a characteristic I note in higher quality cashmere but not necessarily in the cheaper stuff. That's one reason I've kept it so long. 

Third, my most frustrating sweater ever. You wouldn't have believed how lovely and soft and also interesting (because of the knit's texture) it looked at first. Gorgeous. pilled in the first MINUTE of wearing and is basically nothing but pills. And why does this frustrate me so much? Because it happens to be a hugely useful item for me and I can't get rid of it! (Normally it is active/ loungewear for me now, but I wore it on my recent Spain trip, for instance, even though it is a mess, because it is just that versatile, lightweight, and warm.) Anyway. I don't think you can see much difference between the befores and afters here and Gleening, while it collected a lot of fuzz and pills, made no appreciable difference to the look of the thing. Not worth the effort and bother. 

Fourth, my older Pure Amici cardigan. It is well loved and much worn. It's very soft cashmere and has pilled a fair bit over the years. The Gleener worked quite well on this one, too. 

I'm not sure what to deduce from all of this. The J. Crew Collection and the Pure Amici were both higher priced items to begin with, and they do seem easier to maintain in decent shape. But is that always the case? Probably not. 

The first sweater is 80% wool/ 20% nylon. 

The second is 100% cashmere. 

The third is a wool/ cashmere blend. 

The fourth is 100% cashmere. 

Is the Gleener worth it? A resounding maybe. :)   I will keep it and use it...but I won't bother with it on the truly incorrigible knitwear fails. 

ETA: Tried a more robust attachment on my "problem" sweater and although you can't really see it here -- it helped a lot! Looks much better!!

With this update, I would say TRY it if you wear a lot of knits and want to keep them looking nice. It's not a perfect tool but if you experiment with the heads you might be happily surprised. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • kkards replied 8 months ago

    Thank you for the review. I’ve also been considering this since it got mentioned in the post. Based on your review I’m back where I started...maybe I should or maybe not, lol. Actually I think I’ll keep looking

  • SarahD8 replied 8 months ago

    Thanks for this thorough review, Suz! I like the visuals. :-)
    So, your data suggest that the Gleener works well on 100% cashmere. Hmmmm....

  • lisa p replied 8 months ago

    Interesting . I would derive a certain amount of satisfaction from the removal of the fuzz and pills but it doesn’t seem to work better than anything else , by the sounds of it . I’ll likely pick one up next time I’m in Cdn Tire tho ....

  • Marilyn replied 8 months ago

    I just picked up the Gleener today....for Canadians it's available at Canadian Tire.  I have a The Laundress Sweater Comb that I really like and does a fantastic job on my merino, cashmere and smoother knits.  However, this particular BR "Aire" sweater fabrication is a problem. 58% wool, 40% nylon, 2% spandex.  Clearly the nylon content is the problem with this one. And like Suz's "third" sweater I love it for several reasons and it's a workhorse for me so I'm persevering with it.

    The Gleener is basically a sweater comb with a handle.  The cool thing is that unlike the sweater comb it comes with 3 heads for different knits.  I used the heavy duty #1 head for this sweater.  It actually did a pretty decent job.....better than the sweater comb.  I used a manicure scissor to trim the fuzzy bits at the hem and cuffs.  This sweater will never be smooth but I can keep it presentable with some elbow grease.  I found that the handle makes it easier to use than the comb.  And I really like the lint brush on the other end.  It's nice to have both things on one gadget. I do think it's important to choose the correct head size for the particular knit you're working on.   I was left with a sizable pile of fluff on the dining room table.  My husband was impressed! :)

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Marilyn, that is great!! I agree the handle is a real plus. And it may take some experimentation to choose the right head for each job. Maybe I should try one of the other heads on my problem sweater and report back.

  • Marilyn replied 8 months ago

    It's worth a try, Suz.  I started with my ugliest of sweaters.  I think it will be great on my better quality and smoother knits. 

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    It worked a lot!! Not perfection but much better! 

  • Marilyn replied 8 months ago

    That's excellent, Suz! :)

  • MsMaven replied 8 months ago

    Aha! I said. That gadget looks a lot like my cat's FURminator. She loves to be brushed and combs and has a variety stashed around the house. I had worked over a disappointing Boden cardigan I got last year. Sweater stone didn't work well, and I decided I'd never buy another Boden cashmere sweater. 

    So I got the cat comb (the FURminator) and got the rest of the pills off the sleeve and underarm! I think it's worth it to get a Gleener if it does as well or better. 

  • Kari replied 8 months ago

    “ that brings us right back to our basic problem -- we can't tell from the name or the reputation of the maker or even sometimes from the feel, what the quality is like.”

    Agreed, this is so frustrating. (Or price point!)

  • Angie replied 8 months ago

    Thanks, Suz! GREAT review. Appreciate the time an effort you took to do this and share.

    I was VERY busy last week de-pilling knitwear and some woven. It was VERY satisfying! The post will be out next week - this week is trends. Sneak peak:

    1. Fuzz Shaver - BEST on big areas. Very effective. 100% better. 
    2. Gleener and Combs -  same results. Effective. 90% better
    3. Brush - 100% effective as a SECOND tool to use after #1 and #2. Fabulous. Works well in lightly fuzzy knute too. Use with strength. 
    4. Sweater Stone - Useless. Created grey sand, a smell and damaged the wool.

    PATIENCE, good light, a gentle hand, time, elbow grease, the right tools, fuzz all over the place = GREAT results. 

  • Anne replied 8 months ago

    I also bought this device after reading about it in the forums!

    I tried it on a 100% wool LL Bean sweater of my husband's that has fuzz all over it. It took off *some* of the fuzz, but didn't restore the sweater anywhere close to its original look and feel. I sent it to the cleaners today to see what happens with it there. 

    I also tried it on a new French Connection acrylic blend sweater (no wool) that had pilled a little under the arms after the first wear. I didn't notice a difference. 

    For both sweaters I used the blade (is that what they're called) recommended by the company for the type of knit it was. I stroked in a downward direction.

    Maybe I'm not using it properly???

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Anne, I found I had to use the stronger (bigger) blade on my wool/ cashmere mix along with considerable pressure. The one recommended for cashmere worked on my cashmere -- not perfectly but pretty well. It also took patience and good light. 

    Angie -- that is great to know! Maybe I will get the other implement also.Thank you for the preview!

    Your experience with the sweater stone was exactly like mine -- I found it horrible. It ruined something I tried it on, so never again. 

  • rachylou replied 8 months ago

    Hmm... I definitely need a de-pet-hair-er... Excellent consumer testing Suz! :)

  • shevia replied 8 months ago

    Thank you for your dedicated fieldwork Suz :) ! Your experience more or less confirms my sense that a better, longer fibered knit is more amenable to shaving than a shorter fiber, lesser quality one that will soon be bald as it keeps pilling and being shorn. The problem is it is very difficult to know which is which before you buy, except, possibly, in the case of very high end dedicated knitwear makers. I will try to post some illustrations this week.

  • Marilyn replied 8 months ago

    I think the bottom line is that these tools will tidy up a quality knit quite nicely but if you end up with a poor fabrication that immediately goes fuzzy and pills you're out of luck.  Yes, they can be tidied up but as soon as they're worn again you're back at square one. 

    I was going through my sweaters yesterday and have two from Aritzia that are 60% rayon 40% nylon.  Both sweaters have stayed pristine over two winters.  Zero fuzz and upkeep other than laundering.  So, there has to be more to it than nylon and acrylic content.  Short fibred cotton may be a culprit too.  Rayon is certainly stronger than cotton.

  • Suz replied 8 months ago

    Marilyn, I agree. There are lower and higher quality blends. 

    And you can't always tell from the feel. The Zella sweater feels lovely and lofty, like a much higher priced item. I think it's partly the lovely textural effect that makes it get so bleah looking. So the very thing that made it attractive is also the feature that makes it pill more, or look worse when it does pill. 

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