Does Bamboo Make a Soft Fabric?

I asked myself this very question the first time I heard about bamboo bedding.  I felt like there was no way that the hard plant could possibly be comfortable to sleep on.  However, I was amazed the first time I slept on bamboo sheets.  After I slept on my bamboo sheets, I felt like my 600 thread count luxury Egyptian cotton sheets were the worst thing I’d ever slept on.

Why does bamboo make a soft fabric?

Bamboo makes a soft fabric because there are actually two different types of fibers that are found in bamboo.  One of these fibers is mechanical and the other is chemical.  The chemical fibers are those that are used to make bamboo bedding, and consequently they are the reason that bamboo bedding is so soft.  These chemical fibers in bamboo are called viscose, which you can obtain by treating the chemical fibers in bamboo with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide, two natural compounds.  This is the same process used to produce transparent cellulose film, which gives you an idea of just how soft bamboo bedding is (because cellulose film is quite soft itself).  Hence, bamboo fabrics, which are generally made of this viscose which is then manufactured into rayon, are some of the softest fabrics you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Bamboo viscose.

Bamboo viscose.

Why does the viscose have to be treated with chemicals?

This is all part of the process of turning the hard bamboo plant into a fabric that is soft enough for your baby to sleep on.  Sodium hydroxide, which is more commonly known as caustic soda, is used in a wide range of processes worldwide.  Some of these include the production of soaps, paper, foods, and all manner of fabrics, including all cotton fabrics.

Is caustic soda dangerous?

Caustic soda is not dangerous to human health, as long as it is disposed of properly after it has been used in manufacturing processes.  It only helps bamboo bedding to become as soft as it possibly can.  It is quite easy to recycle the caustic soda during the manufacturing process, so that it can be reused several different times.

Does this mean that bamboo bedding is not eco-friendly?

Not at all.  There are several reasons why bamboo fabrics are highly eco-friendly, and the fact that a chemical compound is used to achieve the ultimate softness possible is not cause for the fabric to be considered a hazard to the environment.  Here are just a few of the reasons bamboo fabrics should definitely be considered ‘green’ products:

  • Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, so it is easy to more than replenish after you’ve harvested bamboo stalks.
  • There is no need for pesticides or fertilizers for bamboo to grow efficiently, unlike the majority of other crops, such as cotton.
  • Bamboo keeps soil from eroding, which keeps the earth where it grows fertile and lush.
  • A bamboo forest produces more than 30% more oxygen that a forest of trees the same size.

But is the bedding itself eco-friendly?

Bamboo bedding is considered anti-microbial or anti-bacterial by many because it has several appealing properties.  Bamboo fabric is more breathable than most kinds of fabric, and because of this it also wicks moisture much more efficiently than most as well.  Consequently, bamboo fabric does not trap odors like its cotton cousins or other types of fabric like silk or satin.  All of these properties serve to make bamboo fabric a very eco-friendly product.

Why should I buy bamboo bedding?

For all the reasons listed above!  First and foremost, if you want to improve your sleeping habits, comfort is a good place to start.  You will never be dissatisfied with the softness of the bamboo fabrics, and it will help you to sleep like a baby.  Additionally, because bamboo fabric is an eco-friendly product, you can help the environment in a small way just by making your bed a little more comfortable.  Additionally, because bamboo fabrics wick moisture and are more breathable, you’ll feel better about the smells coming from your sheets than you would otherwise.

Even my cat loves bamboo sheets.

Even my cat loves bamboo sheets.


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