Bedding Material 101 - Bamboo
amboo bedding has gained its popularity in recent years owing to its luxuriously soft and smooth texture and temperature-regulating feature. Softer than the finest cotton sheets, the texture is only comparable to silk, while at a fraction of silk's price and requires far less maintenance.
Properties of bamboo sheets
Bamboo sheets are cooling, breathable, and moisture-wicking, ideal for hot sleepers and climates. Research that compares the performance of cotton and bamboo in warm environment shows that "100% regenerated bamboo has a better isolation performance in hot environment. The heat storage rate in the human body can significantly be reduced by using 100% regenerated bamboo." (Solorio-Ferrales, 2017)
Bamboo sheets are cooling because of the hollow morphological structure of its yarns, which helps absorb excessive moisture. Moisture regain is a metric that measures the amount of moisture that a material is able to absorb when it is dry. For bamboo, this figure is around 11%, compared to 7% of cotton and 0.4% of polyester. In a nutshell, here are some pros and cons of bamboo bedding.
- Silky soft and buttery smooth.
- Moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating.
- Hypoallergenic, mildew-resistant and anti-bacterial.
- Deodorizing properties.
- Pricier than cotton.
- Gentle care is required.
- Cannot be bleached, and thus not suitable for hospitality uses.
- There are fake bamboo products.
Production process of bamboo fabrics
The raw material bamboo is an eco-friendly and among the fastest-growing and most water efficient plants on the planet. Unlike cotton plants that require heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, which pollute soil and water, bamboo naturally repels insects and pests (thus no pesticides are used).
Bamboo sheets are made from regenerated cellulose from bamboo commonly known as rayon. To produce bamboo rayon, the pulp of the bamboo plant is dissolved in chemical or organic solvent, and reconverted into bamboo fibre yarns. Following the steps, any chemical remains from the solvent will be washed off before the yarn gets used to weave fabrics.
Due to the use of chemical solvent in the manufacturing process, there have been voices questioning whether bamboo fabric is sustainable. A responsible production facility, however, has facilities and tools set up to ensure that the production process occurs in a closed-loop, with harmful solvents recycled and no toxic waste released into the environment.
Choosing bamboo bedding
Like cotton, there are certain criteria that define high quality bamboo bedding.
1. Fibre length and fineness
Similar to cotton, the length and fineness of the fibre yarns used for weaving bamboo fabrics directly impact the texture. Generally speaking, longer and thinner fibre yarns correspond to softer and smoother texture.
2. Weaving method and thread count
Weaving method refers to the way that the vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) yarns are organized. The most common weaving methods for bamboo fabrics are sateen and twill. The sateen weave features elegant sheen and buttery smooth surface, while bamboo fabrics with twill weaves tend to be more sturdy and durable.
The majority of bamboo sheets are 300 and 400 thread count. Those that claim to be more than 1000 thread count typically means that the fabric feels like 1000 thread count, if one looks closer at the descriptions.
3. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certificate:
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificate is issued by a reputable and independent testing institute that tests whether a fabric piece contains harmful substances.
According to OEKO-TEX, if a textile article carries the Standard 100 label, it means that every thread, button and other accessories of the piece has been tested without finding any harmful substances. The textile article therefore does not pose any chemical risks to human health.
As bedding is among the most intimate objects in our daily lives, we strongly recommend checking the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certificate before obtaining an item.
4. Avoid fake bamboo products.
Unfortunately knock-offs for bamboo sheets are common. For instance, microfiber is sometimes marketed as bamboo sheets and sold at an exceedingly low price. The cost of producing microfiber is only a fraction of bamboo, and the material also tends to trap heat.
For tips on how to identify fake bamboo sheets, check out our past blog post: Are You Getting Real Bamboo Sheets?