That's right, panda fodder makes for some luxurious linens. Bamboo-based fabrics are made by processing the woody, perennial evergreen plant into fiber. Among its many benefits, bamboo fabric is soft, breathable, and naturally more wrinkle resistant than cotton. Bamboo bedding is also becoming a popular alternative to traditional cotton options because of its sustainability. In fact, the fastest-growing woody plant on the planet might just be the world's most sustainable resource. Unlike cotton, bamboo does not require pesticides or fertilizers, so its more environmentally friendly. Read on to find out how to get a better night's sleep with bamboo.
Bamboo sheets are naturally breathable to keep you comfy and dry. Micro-gaps in the structure of the fiber make for permeable, yet absorbent fabric that quickly evaporates sweat, so you won't get stuck to your sheets. But you won't even have a chance to get sweaty, since bamboo sheets trap less heat than cotton. Bamboo fiber has natural thermal regulating abilities to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Even though bamboo sheets are super soft and lightweight, they last a long time. The longer the fiber, the better, stronger, and the smoother fabric will be. Usually bamboo fibers are stretched as opposed to woven together, which makes them more durable and less prone to pilling and tearing than other types of woven fabrics.
If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or dermatitis, bamboo is for you. Bamboo's organic, naturally smooth fibers won't irritate sensitive skin. Dust mites are teeny tiny bugs that feed off of our dead skin cells, and can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. These gross little dudes thrive in warm, humid environments. But bamboo sheets wick moisture away and regulate temperature, so you can say "sayonara" to dust mites and the allergies they rode in on.
According to the Handbook of Natural Fibres, "Bamboo fibers are the most abundant renewable biomass materials that can be used in textiles." Bamboo fiber is considered sustainable because it is such a rapidly renewable resource, but it has many more eco-friendly qualities. Unlike cotton, the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet, bamboo is naturally pest-resistant, so it doesn't require any poisonous pesticides. It's literally a grass, so it grows quickly—some varieties can shoot up over a yard in a day. Also, it produces much more fiber per acre than its cotton counterpart. Plus, it uses a fraction of the amount of water since very little bamboo is irrigated. When it comes time to harvest, bamboo is chopped down and regenerates on its own. This eliminates the need for annual replanting, which can lead to soil erosion. Actually, since bamboo roots stay in the soil, they actively help preserve soil and prevent soil erosion and flooding.
We must note that since much of the bamboo is grown and processed in China, so it does have a bit of a carbon footprint by the time it makes it to your home. However, the plant tries to make up for this by producing over 35% more oxygen than trees. Also, the process that turns bamboo into fiber uses chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment unless the manufacturers us a "closed loop” process that recycles them.
Here are a few things to consider before purchasing bamboo sheets.
You may be used to purchasing the highest thread count, but you're not going to find any 1,000 thread count bamboo sheets. Most bamboo fiber sheets have a thread count between 300 and 450. Really high thread count sheets cost hundreds of dollars, and there's no real way to verify that you're getting what you paid for anyway. However, as previously mentioned, bamboo's long, continuous fibers are stretched instead of woven. Longer length = better quality.
To keep bamboo sheets in good condition, the use of bleach, hot water, and fabric softener are not recommended. According to the Handbook of Natural Fibres, bamboo sheets like to be machine washed in cool water on the gentle cycle using a mild soap. Also, it is recommended that you hang them up to dry, however bamboo fabric does dry faster than most fabrics.
This is kind of complicated to explain, but if you just steam the stalks and mechanically smash them to get the fibers out, aka "mechanically processed bamboo," you get a super course fiber. Instead, they extract the cellulose and put it through a process which ends with reconverting it into cellulose bamboo fiber threads which are spun into bamboo fiber yarns. This is referred to as "bamboo viscose" or "rayon made from bamboo" because it is similar to how rayon is manufactured. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that unless a yarn is made directly with bamboo fiber (aka "mechanically processed bamboo”), it can’t be called bamboo. Instead, it must be called "rayon" or "rayon made from bamboo".
Not very soft, wrinkles easily.
What most bamboo textiles are made of.
Similar to bamboo rayon, but uses a "closed loop" system to recycle the non-toxic solvent.
Lighter, finer, stronger, and stretchier bamboo/viscose rayon, but doesn't make a good fabric for bedding because it is usually too thin and airy. Unlike viscose, it can be tumbled dry.
Slightly stronger than 100% pure bamboo, but not as soft and less sustainable.
Twill is more stiff, while sateen is more silky.
Available in seven colors and sizes (twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king, and split king), these deep pocket sheets fit up to 15" mattresses. The three-piece sheet set comes with two pillowcases. They have a thread count of 300 and are anti-static, which is great, since you aren't supposed to use fabric softener on them.
These are made of a rayon/cotton blend and no thread count is listed, but we do like the sateen weave on these, which is treated with antimicrobial silver chloride to inhibit bacteria, mold, mildew, stains, and odors. The pillowcases envelope your pillows, plus they're an extra four inches wide. This set is available in four attractive neutrals and eight sizes (twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, split king, California king, split California king) and comes with a one year limited warranty.
We just love the adjectives that Purple™ uses to describe their sheets: "Soft as a baby panda. Stretchy as a superhero suit. Wrap your bed in the perma-hug of a sleepy baby unicorn." These sheets come in four colors, including purple, and eight sizes (twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, split king, California king, split California king). Shipping is free, plus you can try them for 30 days with a full refund if you aren't happy, and they come with a one year warranty. The sheets themselves are made of 90% bamboo-derived viscose and 10% spandex which makes them extra soft and stretchy. They fit most mattresses, up to 16-inches in height and don't have any seams to speak of.
Cozy Earth guarantees that there bamboo sheets are the softest in the world. They are made of 100% viscose from bamboo fabric which is certified to be derived from sustainable, pesticide-free bamboo. These hypoallergenic sheets come in white, promising no harmful dyes or excess chemicals. Cozy Earth's bamboo sheets also come with free shipping and a 30 night guarantee. This sheet set will fit mattresses up to 20". Grab some lounge wear while you're at it, since it's one of Oprah's favorite things.
Layla bamboo sheets are also made of 100% viscose from bamboo. They come in white or gray, with six size options: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, or California king. Layla claims their sheets feel like they have twice the thread count of cotton and are three degrees cooler than cotton. These also come with free shipping, but they have a whopping 120 night money back guarantee and a big fat five year warranty that covers all materials and workmanship.
All of Ettitude's 100% bamboo sheet sets are great, but this CleanBamboo™ Charcoal sheet set takes the cake because they are infused with naturally antimicrobial bamboo charcoal which keeps them odor-free between washes.