How to Get Burrs Out of Clothing

how to remove burrs from clothing

Every hiker has experienced it, especially those of us who don’t always stick to the path only to realize later on that grass spurs are stuck all over our clothes. If you didn’t know burrs are basically weeds that stick to your clothes.

Burrs can irritate the skin even without long exposure, and almost always a rash begins to form.

Unless you were lucky enough to be wearing burr resistant clothes, get ready for a time-consuming task.

It is important to remove burrs properly and with the utmost care. Otherwise, you will remove the burr from your clothing, but the spikes will still be in the fabric. This will cause irritation and itchiness later on.

It can be a very tricky process, since burrs can be painful. There is also the risk of ruining the fabric of your clothing if you’re not careful enough.

This is essentially a step-by-step process, with some additional tips such as how to remove burrs from your clothes when you’re in the field.

How to Get Burrs Out of Clothing

Soak the Clothes

Leave the clothes that have burrs on them to soak in a bucket of water that has some washing detergent mixed in with it. This will soften and reduce the grip of the sticker burrs, making the removal process easier.

After letting them soak for a good while hang them to dry, ideally in the sun.

Some people prefer to put the clothes right in the washing machine rather them letting them just soak, but there is the risk of the burrs coming off and blocking up the filter of your machine.

If you do opt to wash them, make sure that you use a delicate setting, set the water level to high, and the temperature to hot. The swirling water will relax the stiff burr’s spikes, softening their grip and making them easier to remove.

Again, instead of hanging the clothes and waiting for them to dry, some place them in the dryer and most of the burrs will come off there. Personally, I don’t like the idea of having burrs inside my dryer as I wouldn’t want them getting stuck anywhere that they shouldn’t. Maybe the process is made easier, but there’s a risk.

Use a Comb

After the clothes have been washed and dried, place them on a flat surface. You will need a fine-tooth comb, ideally made of plastic and not metal because it is gentler.

Although a lint remover could also work if you don’t have a comb. Whatever you do, just do not use a razor. The blade would only cut the spikes and they would not be completely removed. Plus, you could ruin the material your clothing is made out of.

It is important to be very careful during this process, otherwise there is a chance that the burr gets removed but its spikes have broken off and are still in your clothes. You must also be patient so as not to stretch and damage the fabric.

With the comb, move down the material until a burr gets trapped. Then, flick your comb upwards to remove the burr. You should use a tissue, or wear special gloves, to then place the burrs into a plastic bag for disposal after.

If the fabric your clothing is made out of is something sensitive, such as cashmere, you should skip the comb process and go straight to using tweezers. Really using a comb is arguably the best way to remove burrs from clothing.

Duct Tape

Duct tape seems to be able to fix anything, and it’s very useful for getting burrs out of your clothes, especially any leftover spikes.

Simply cut a piece of duct tape large enough to completely cover the area attached with burrs, stick the tape to your clothing well, and then take it back off in one swift motion.

You should also repeat this process with the clothing inside out because those spikes tend to imbed themselves quite deeply into fabric, and this will avoid any itching and irritation the next time your wear your clothes.


There is a chance that, despite the above methods used, some spikes from the burrs still get left behind. You will have to run your hand over your clothing to be sure.

In this case, you’d have to go in there with tweezers. Once you’ve done that, roll a lint remover over the clothing (inside out too) to definitely get the job done.

Burr Removal Tools

Firstly, there are tools made especially for removing burrs from clothing that are perfect for using out in the field.

There are countless different tools of all sorts of shapes and sizes out there – I’d suggest taking a browse and seeing if any of them are suitable for you so that you won’t have to go through all of this process each time.

My favorite ones are the small, porous stones that are made of recycled materials. I think this one is absolutely perfect for using in the field when hiking or camping.

If burr removal tools aren’t for you, you could always just carry a plastic, fine-tooth comb with you at all times.


I hope you have found these methods helpful, and most likely after this endeavor I can imagine you might be looking into getting some burr resistant clothing.

Make sure to be extra careful if you are hiking with pets, because getting burrs out of their fur is even more difficult.

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