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Here's the Truth About Those 'Environmentally Friendly' Bamboo Textiles

Bamboo is a popular fabric choice, especially for sheets. But is it really bamboo you're buying?
Published

Presidents' Day is behind us, and traditionally that weekend brings a multitude of mattress sales. If you purchased a brand new mattress, then maybe now you need new sheets. If you're eco-friendly, you might even be considering bamboo sheets.

But be warned: Just because the label says bamboo, doesn't mean it's actually bamboo.

It's Not Bamboo, It's Rayon

Special thanks go to user "jaspers" for alerting us to current warnings about so-called bamboo fabric. Bamboo sheets may begin with actual bamboo, but they're not as natural as you might think. Textiles made from bamboo fiber don't feel soft and cozy, so in order to get that luxurious feel, they undergo a processing stage that involves some serious chemicals and solvents. By definition then, bamboo sheets are in fact rayon, a semi-synthetic fabric that's made from wood pulp and reconstituted into fibers.

Bamboo fabrics are thus not eco-friendly, like the name might suggest. According to the FTC, producing bamboo-based rayon releases pollutants into the air, and the cost and time required to do so negates any benefit to using the abundantly replenished bamboo plant.

In addition, one of the main benefits of bamboo is said to be its antimicrobial properties. But rayon products that are made from bamboo don't actually retain those antimicrobial properties. That's because no matter what rayon is made from, by the time the product is finished, it has zero traces of the original plant that went into it.

Natural Alternatives

Rayon is a commonly used material, so this revelation about bamboo might not bother you. However, if you're intent on finding other natural fabrics, consider organic cotton, hemp, organic wool, and silk.

If you're still interested in bamboo fabrics, try to find a company that can provide evidence for their products. They should have scientific test and analyses that clearly show their items are made from true bamboo fiber, and not some overly-processed material.

Readers, what do you say? Are you intrigued by bamboo? Or would you prefer other natural fabrics for your new sheets? Sound off below!


Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015, after many years of becoming well-versed in technology issues as a communications professional for a software company. She first entered journalism in college, reporting on issues facing frugal students for CollegeCandy.com. Julie lives in DealNews' hometown of Huntsville, AL.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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8 comments
JoeC
Thank you for the information. I too was fooled by the company and will try not to let it happen again. Keep up the good work!
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@bkaupp Hi there, we tried to make it clear that this isn't necessarily a reason not to use the fabric; many people wear rayon clothing for example. It's more so to make sure people are aware that it's not eco-friendly like the name would suggest. You can still buy bamboo sheets, I hear they're super comfy! But we just want people to know what they're buying.

To me, it's like yogurt... it's advertised as healthy, but a lot of them are filled with sugar. It's still delicious and you're totally welcome to eat it, but it's important that we're all aware of what it is. It's not some health smoothie, and that's fine, so long as you're not downing cup after cup thinking you're going to lose weight. Bamboo sheets are rayon, and if you like them, then go for it; but don't buy them because you think you're helping the environment.
bkaupp
So when people sell polyester, microfiber, or other synthetics, why don't we get all pissed off because it isn't advertised as being made from fossil fuel? Rayon has been known to be wood pulp for years. But like with the sudden growth in desire to be gluten free, it is now a fad to hate the material.

I also find it slightly hilarious that Dealnews is getting on this clickbait bandwagon, since they currently have four deals on this evil devil fabric.
ForeverDeals
OMG - what an eye opener! I feel duped once again from false advertising!
zjunk
It's not just sheets - this is, in fact, a pretty massive environmental issue as well. Not just bamboo but a lot of other woods are used, frequently from rainforests.

There's an environmental campaign on this from the Rainforest Action Network at http://www.ran.org/out_of_fashion
albert81014
Very good information kfin.
kfin
@too cool for school

Full disclosure, I sell sheets for a living, including bamboo rayon and microfiber sheets. However, I'm just going to answer your question. No sales pitches here.

Rayon from bamboo fabric is very absorbent. Supposedly 50% more absorbent than cotton. But that doesn't guarantee that you won't feel sweaty when you sleep. That depends on more than just your sheets.

Microfiber fabric is also absorbent, but I'm not sure if it's a bit more or slightly less absorbent than cotton.

The best sheets for hot/sweaty sleepers is Tencel. It manages moisture better than any other sheet fabric I know of. You can look up more info about Tencel fabric here (no product links):

http://www.lenzing-fibers.com/en/tencel/

http://www.nrdc.org/...ganic-and-cotton-tencel.asp
too cool for school
My question about bamboo (or in actuality, Rayon) sheets and also microfiber sheets, is ARE THEY ABSORBANT like cotton or do they feel sweaty?
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