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Bamboo as a Textile (FAQ)

Stand of Bamboo

Bamboo? That’s a plant, right?

Yup, but just like cotton, it can be made into a textile. Unlike cotton, however, it is much more ecologically friendly to grow and harvest.

Is fabric made from bamboo scratchy?

Nope! While a rough, scratchy paper can be made from bamboo with minimal processing, there is a great deal more that goes into the process of making fabric from bamboo. The plant’s fibers are broken down by chemical means, and then spun into a fine, soft thread called viscose (more information on this process may be found at Wikipedia). This viscose is then used to weave the fabric in question, and results in a very soft fabric with a nice, drapey feel. In fact, many think bamboo viscose to be second in softness only to silk!

Is bamboo fabric hypoallergenic?

Yes! While the mechanism is still not completely understood, bamboo has the ability to deter infestation with dust mites. This study by researchers in China shows that sleeping mats of bamboo are far more resistant to dust mite infestation than regular bed sheets. Since dust mites are a huge contributor of allergens in the home environment, it’s easy to see why bamboo duvet covers and sheets would be extremely helpful in the homes of allergy sufferers.

Are bamboo textiles durable?

Bamboo textiles are just as durable as any other textiles made from viscose and rayon (which may be made from many plant materials, including cotton and flax). While you may find some variation in manufacturers’ assembly quality, by and large, bamboo fabrics wear well and are easily cared for. Do be sure to check labeles, however. As in clothing, some bamboo bedding will say that it requires dry cleaning. While this need not be a show-stopper, it is definitly a cost consideration. Of course, if you’re willing to risk it, I’ve found that many items which say they require dry cleaning seem to hold up very well to gentle-cycle washings. That’s a judgement call you’ll have to make for yourself based on the construction quality of the item and how much you’d miss it if you were to ruin it trying.

Bamboo fabric is very earth-friendly!

One of the most wonderful things about bamboo is that it is such an easily renewable resource, especially when compared to resource-hogs like cotton. Did you know that it takes roughly 1/3 of a pound of chemical fertilizers in order to produce one pound of cotton? In addition, cotton plants must be re-sown and re-grown each year; bamboo plants will simply begin to regrow once they are cut to provide raw materials. and the rapid growth rate of bamboo is legendary. It’s even been featured on several MythBusters episodes due to its unique properties as one of the fastest growing plants on earth!

Other nifty bamboo facts

Bamboo fabric is very porous, and has a natural wicking action. This means that if you are a sweaty sleeper, the moisture will naturally be drawn away from your skin to evaporate. Also, bamboo kun (the antibacterial portion of the bamboo fibers) is not only anti-bacterial, but also anti-fungal! This was proven by a study in which volunteers who suffered from athletes foot (a fungal infection) wore socks made of bamboo fiber, and within two days the athlete’s foot was eradicated by the antimicrobial properties of the bamboo!

So there you have it! Bamboo is an amazing fabric that not only will help allergy sufferers and save the earth at the same time, but will also be luxuriant and soft against your skin while doing it. A true win-win product, if ever there was one!