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Bamboo Sheets – Benefits and Drawbacks Revealed [No Hype]

Are you thinking about buying a bamboo bed sheet set?

Then you’ll want to read this article in full first because the bamboo textile market is subject to a lot of hype – to the extent where the FTC has charged some companies with false advertising.

So in addition to listing the benefits and drawbacks, I’ll also be busting 4 common myths that are thrown around in the bamboo bed sheet world so that you can shop with confidence and avoid being disillusioned.

Some of what I’m about to reveal in this post goes against the grain of what you’ll read on many of the manufacturers’ websites – so I’ve included some links to external sources to prove that I’m not making any of this up.

And feel free to chime in with your own thoughts on and experiences with bamboo sheets in the comments section at the end of this article.

Let’s get straight into the pros and cons of bamboo bed sheets.

Bamboo Sheets – Pros and Cons

Man and woman sleeping in bamboo bed sheets.

Image source: stock photograph used with permission.

So, are bamboo bed sheets any good?

Well, looking at the pros that I’ve listed below, it’s my personal opinion that yes, bamboo sheets offer a lot of benefits and advantages that make them superior to many ‘traditional’ bed sheets such as cotton.

However, as explained in more detail in the next section – not all bamboo bed sheets are the same.

This is because although the bamboo plant is the raw material, the final product can have differing qualities depending on the manufacturing process used.

So to keep things simple, I’ve listed the pros and cons that you can expect from the most popular type of bamboo bed sheet that you can buy on the market – bamboo viscose.

Bamboo viscose is also known as ‘rayon derived from bamboo’, ‘bamboo rayon’, or ‘regenerated bamboo’.

Pros

Here are the benefits that you can expect when you buy a bamboo viscose bed sheet.

i) Very Soft

Bamboo bed sheets feel very soft against your skin.

It’s also common to find that your bamboo sheets will get softer as you wash them because the sheet normally doesn’t have rough thread ends, and so the fibers can loosen up a little to make them feel softer to the touch.

Many are in agreement that bamboo sheets are generally softer than cotton sheets.

ii) Durable

When looked after correctly, a high quality bamboo sheet set could last you more than 5 years.

Bamboo sheets are considered to be more durable than cotton sheets by many.

iii) Keeps You Dry

Bamboo sheets are great if you suffer from night sweats because the material is able to wick away moisture from your skin.

This means that rather than just absorbing your sweat and soaking the sheets, the bamboo sheet also pushes the moisture towards the edge of the material where it can evaporate.

This means that bamboo sheets actually work with your body to regulate your temperature and keep you dry.

iv) Regulates Your Temperature

Bamboo sheets are able to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

This is because in addition to wicking away moisture that could otherwise reflect your own body heat back to you, the material is also highly breathable to dissipate extra heat too.

Conversely in winter, bamboo sheets will also trap heat like a normal sheet to help keep you warm and cozy.

If you have a memory foam mattress that’s retaining heat and causing you to sleep hot, then a bamboo fitted sheet could be just the job to help you stay cool and dry at night.

v) Good For Your Hair and Skin

Because bamboo sheets are so soft, this can help prevent split ends because the material is less abrasive when compared to other materials like cotton and so your hair won’t catch on the sheet.

Similarly, bamboo sheets can help keep your skin from drying out because by regulating your temperature, this will reduce the need for you to sweat and so you’ll be better hydrated.

vi) May Help With Sensitive Skin

Bamboo sheets made to the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 can be better for your skin than other types of sheets because not only are the sheets very soft, the OEKO-TEX® approval means they also lack harmful chemicals that can irritate your skin.

This can make bamboo sheets a good choice if you have eczema or sensitive skin.

However, as I explained in detail in my guide to washing bamboo sheets, I would still recommend pre-washing your bamboo sheets using the baking soda and white vinegar technique to remove any residues from the manufacturing process (as opposed to locking them in when washing with a normal detergent).

vii) May Help With Allergies

As I’ll reveal in the next section, the potential antimicrobial qualities of bamboo sheets are typically overstated.

However, because bamboo sheets are so good at wicking away moisture, this can create a more hygienic sleeping environment that may help to repel allergy causing dust mites.

This means that a bamboo bed sheet set could be the perfect addition to your hypoallergenic mattress.

Cons

There are definitely a lot of bamboo bed sheet benefits, but there are also a few drawbacks to keep in mind too.

And they are as follows.

i) Wrinkling

Probably one of the biggest drawbacks to bamboo bed sheets is how much they wrinkle out of the wash.

The good news is that if you hang-dry them instead of tumble drying, many of the wrinkles will drop out.

Most manufacturers will state on the care label that you can iron your bamboo sheets on a low heat setting – which will remove the wrinkles.

ii) Shrinkage

Bamboo sheets are prone to shrinking when exposed to too much heat.

This is why the care label will often tell you to wash your sheets in cold or cool water and either air dry or tumble dry on low.

And unless your sheets have been preshrunk, you should expect your bamboo sheets to shrink by around 5% after the first wash regardless of the heat settings used.

iii) Cost

100% bamboo bed sheets are typically more expensive than other types of sheets.

You can buy bamboo sheets that are much cheaper, but they are often blended with polyester or another synthetic fiber.

This might not be a problem for you, but synthetic fibers tend to trap heat and are less breathable – potentially causing you to sleep hot and miss out on the temperature regulating qualities of 100% bamboo sheets.

iv) Hype and False Claims

One of the biggest problems when buying bamboo sheets is finding a manufacturer that doesn’t exaggerate the potential benefits of what bamboo sheets can do.

Which brings me to the next part of this article – busting the most common myths surrounding bamboo bed sheets and textiles.

4 Bamboo Bed Sheet Myths Exposed

The word 'Truth' carved into stone.

Image source: stock photograph used with permission.

Ok, so this might upset some of the bamboo bed sheet manufacturers and even some of the other affiliate review sites.

But I’m now going to expose 4 common myths and half-truths in the bamboo textile market.

And I’m not making a mountain out of a molehill here for no good reason.

Because the following points are made in light of the FTC’s press release where they have charged 4 sellers of clothing and other textile products with ‘deceptive labeling’ [1].

This key report – coupled with the further external research cited below – means that when you’re shopping for bamboo bed sheets and clothes, you need to keep the following points in mind.

1: All Bamboo Sheets Are the Same [False]

Not all bamboo bed sheets are the same.

Because although a company may label their sheets as being ‘bamboo’, how the bamboo plant is processed in order to make the finished sheets can result in products with varying qualities.

For example, the majority of the bamboo sheets available on the market are actually made from rayon.

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber made by chemically reshaping cellulose from a range of possible sources which can include bamboo.

However, when bamboo sheets are created using rayon derived from bamboo, the chemical process actually destroys most (if not all) of the natural properties of the bamboo plant.

So much so, that the FTC states that:

‘Textiles made from rayon (or viscose, which is the same thing) that was created using bamboo as a plant source may be labeled and advertised as “rayon (or viscose) made from bamboo.” [2].

Hence the ‘deceptive labelling’ ruling.

So unless your bamboo sheets are made from 100% natural bamboo (also called bamboo linen) that was processed mechanically with enzymes instead of chemicals, then many of the natural properties of the bamboo plant will have been lost.

This revelation gives rise to the following points below.

2: All Bamboo Sheets Are Antimicrobial [False]

As per the FTC’s ruling, bed sheets made out of rayon/viscose derived from bamboo do NOT retain their antimicrobial properties due to the chemicals used.

However, you’ll still see many bamboo manufacturers saying that their bamboo viscose/rayon sheets have antimicrobial qualities.

This is a half truth in the case of bamboo viscose/rayon.

Because these sheets are highly breathable and great at wicking away moisture.

Which can lead to a more hygienic sheet that could make it harder for microbes like dust mites to live in the sheets.

Thus giving some possible validity to such antimicrobial claims.

However, if a sheet is made from 100% natural bamboo using a mechanical process then the sheet will more than likely retain its natural antimicrobial qualities.

The downside is that 100% natural bamboo sheets are hard to find because they take much more time and money to create when compared to rayon.

3: All Bamboo Sheets Are Organic [False]

The vast majority of bamboo sheets are NOT organic.

This is due to the toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing process of bamboo viscose/rayon.

According to the NRDC, the only ‘true green’ bamboo sheets are those made from 100% natural bamboo that are processed using enzymes to break down the bamboo into mush that can then be mechanically combed out [3].

Many manufacturers say that their bamboo is derived from ‘organic sources’ but this does NOT mean that the finished bed sheet is 100% organic due to the intermediary steps that involve the use of the harsh chemicals in the rayon process.

The take home point here is that if a manufacturer says or tries to create the impression that their sheets are 100% organic then you can immediately discard this claim if they also state that their sheets are made from bamboo viscose or rayon derived from bamboo – the same goes even if the sheet is made from lyocell.

4: All Bamboo Sheets Are Eco Friendly [False]

The vast majority of bamboo sheets are NOT made using an eco friendly process.

This is because most bamboo sheets are made from viscose/rayon which use toxic chemicals.

This led the FTC to say in their press release that ‘…the rayon manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and results in the emission of hazardous air pollutants…’ and used this as the basis for charging the companies with the false claims that their products were manufactured using an environmentally friendly process [4].

So when you’re shopping for bamboo sheets, you should be aware that unless the sheets are definitely made with 100% natural bamboo using the mechanical process (which most are not), then it’s highly unlikely that the sheets were made in a truly eco friendly manner.

Are Bamboo Sheets Worth It?

Despite the marketing hype, I personally think that bamboo bed sheets are worth buying if you’re looking for a bed sheet that:

  • Is ultra-soft.
  • Is very durable.
  • Can help you stay dry if you have night sweats.
  • Can keep you cool if you have hot flashes or sleep hot.
  • Can keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • Can keep your hair in good condition and guard against split ends.
  • Is good for your skin because it will cool you down and prevent dehydration through too much sweating.
  • Can prevent skin irritation and the worsening of conditions like eczema.
  • Can help with allergies by providing a more hygienic sheet that may repel allergy triggering microbes like dust mites.

What’s the Best Type of Bamboo Bed Sheet?

The best type of bamboo sheet is the one that fits your needs the closest.

And if you click the button below, you can see my reviews for the best bamboo bed sheet sets for quality, luxury, mattress thickness, affordability, and more.

Sources and References

[1], [4] FTC – FTC Charges Companies with ‘Bamboo-zling’ Consumers with False Product Claims. Accessed 13/2/20.

[2] FTC – Bamboo Textiles. Accessed 13/2/20.

[3] NRDC – Not All Bamboo is Created Equal. Accessed 13/2/20.

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