BREAKING NEWS: Bamboo Sheets Are Antimicrobial

BREAKING NEWS:  Bamboo sheets are antimicrobial.

And what exactly does that mean?  If something is antimicrobial, that means that it kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms.  So another word for antimicrobial would be antibacterial.  Which basically means that if something is antimicrobial, it kills germs.

You may remember that a while back there was a fiasco with the Federal Trade Commission and companies that sold bamboo sheets.  In essence, the FTC wanted to crack down on any companies that were marketing sheets solely as “bamboo sheets” rather than “sheets made from rayon from bamboo”.

The FTC also claimed that bamboo sheets were not antimicrobial, as they had been marketed.

bamboo sheets

Bamboo sheets are antimicrobial.

However, a scientific study published in the Journal of Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences has proven that the FTC was wrong.  Bamboo sheets are in fact antimicrobial.

You can read the whole study yourself here.  But for those who don’t want to slog through the scientific language, here is the gist of the study:

The FTC and many others assumed that the companies marketing bamboo sheets as hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, etc., were claiming so because of a substance called bamboo kun.  Bamboo kun is a substance found in bamboo that is antimicrobial.

But it was argued that because the bamboo rayon process was so chemically intensive, that there was no way that any trace of bamboo kun could be found in bamboo textiles after manufacturing.

Bacteria and microorganisms can cause damage to fabrics known as biodeterioration.  This can cause problems from stains to a loss in strength and flexibility.  Natural fibers are the most susceptible to biodeterioration, particularly in hot, humid conditions (as so many clothes and sheets often are).  Cotton fibers are particularly prone to biodeterioration in the form of infestation (of bacteria) because of their porous structure.

According to the study, antimicrobial fabrics “inhibit the growth of bacteria or germs, control the spreading of disease and reduce the chances that a wound might become infected after injury”.


Three samples of jersey knit fabrics with similar counts were selected:  one made from cotton, one made from viscose rayon (or rayon from bamboo), and one made from regenerated bamboo.  (Regenerated bamboo fabric differs slightly from viscose rayon in the process by which it’s manufactured.)

Staphylococcus epidermis, a bacteria that causes what we call a staph infection, was added to each of the three fabric samples for a 24-hour period.  Two bacteria were added to each sample.

staphylococcus epidermis

Staphylococcus epidermis, magnified.


After the 24-hour period was finished, the scientists counted the number of Staphylococcus epidermis colonies on each fabric sample.  The results were as follows:

Regenerated bamboo:  30 colonies

Viscose rayon:  53 colonies

Cotton:  127 colonies

As if these numbers don’t speak clearly enough, the scientists also found that the fabrics eliminated the following percentages of bacteria:

Regenerated bamboo:  74.8%

Viscose rayon:  59.5%

Cotton:  0%

The scientists also noted that there was a possibility that the antimicrobial properties of the bamboo fabrics could be related to traces of sulfur left on them after the manufacturing process, but the evidence was inconclusive.

In Summary

Fiber Element had previously refrained from marketing its bamboo sheets as “hypoallergenic”, “antimicrobial”, and “antibacterial”.  We thought that the FTC was correct in its assumptions that the antimicrobial properties of bamboo would be lost in the manufacturing process.

However, thanks to this study, we can now market our product as antimicrobial, and do so with pride.

And because of this, we feel better than ever about our product.

So do yourself a favor:  buy some bamboo sheets right now and sleep better not only because they are soft and eco-friendly, but because they are antimicrobial as well.

bamboo sheets

Don’t they look so clean?


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