Bamboo is one of the hottest trends in bedding, and for good reason. It’s a soft, durable, and naturally healthy fabric when produced by quality manufacturers. This bamboo sheets buying guide will take you through what you need to know to make the best purchase decision. We’ll explain the benefits of bamboo sheets, how it goes from plant to fabric, thread count, weave, and other buying concerns.
We’ll explain care and maintenance of bamboo sheets, what décor considerations, and how to take advantage of sleep-night trials to make sure you get the best bedding for your buying dollar. Let’s get started.
Why Choose Bamboo
One of the reasons behind the popularity explosion in bamboo sheets over the last few years is that they’re sustainably sourced and therefore more eco-conscious. Plus, they’re comfortable. If you’ve ever wondered how the tropical wood-like plant made it from the jungle to the bedroom, we’ve got the answers you want.
We’ll dig into when bamboo became a top trending sheet material and why and explain how bamboo sheets are crafted. Not all bamboo is made equal so it’s important to understand how these sheets are made so you’ll know what to look for, signs of quality, and how to tell if they’re worth the investment.
From Bamboo to Bed Sheets
Bamboo is a top sustainable resource for fabric because it grows where other crops and plants will not and requires far less water than cotton and other materials. Bamboo is cut down to the root but immediately starts regrowing and comes back sturdier and more robust.
Bamboo can be processed either mechanically or chemically. When processed mechanically, the bamboo is crushed and enzymes are added to break it into pulp. the fibers are then combed out and spun into yarn that’s then used to make the fabric. Because it is so labor intensive and time-consuming, bamboo linen is a relatively rare product.
The other option is to process the bamboo chemically, producing fabrics called lyocell, rayon, or viscose. Chemicals are used to soften the harvested bamboo and then the softened cellulose fibers are crushed and processed to produce threads that are woven into fabric to make sheets, clothing, and other textiles.
You may hear bamboo fabric described as being made of either Bamboo Rayon or Bamboo Viscose, and it’s important to recognize the two contain subtle differences even though some sellers use the words interchangeably. Both are made from cellulose fiber from the bamboo plant (which is a grass, not a wood).
Rayon is silk-like because of the chemical process used to create it. To make bamboo rayon, the fibers are heavily processed and reconstructed. Rayon is very absorbent and easier to dye. Viscose is made from pulp that is soaked, shredded, aged, spun into thread, made into yarn, and finally woven into fabric.
Rise in Popularity
So why is bamboo trending as a bedding choice? Over the past several years, bamboo has become one of the top sheet fabrics of choice. Some of the best features of bamboo sheets include:
- Renewable resource – Bamboo grows fast, requires little water, and doesn’t need harsh pesticides to keep it healthy.
- Antimicrobial/antibacterial – Bamboo is 99.8% antibacterial so it kills germs, odors and more. It’s also naturally antimicrobial which helps reduce risk of bacteria and virus growth.
- Hypoallergenic – Very few people have allergies to bamboo fabric, making it one of the least likely materials to trigger an unwelcome reaction.
- Moisture-wicking – Bamboo wicks water away from the body at double the rate of cotton, keeping you much drier.
- Extremely soft – Bamboo rayon is among the softest sheet fabrics on the market, drapes nicely, and sleeps comfortably.
- Durability – Premium bamboo sheets made with very long fibers get softer and stronger over time and can last up to 20 years.
Thread count is a significant factor in choosing sheets. Thread count is calculated by adding together the number of threads woven vertically and horizontally across one square inch of fabric.
In a well-made sheet, the higher the thread count, the softer and stronger the sheet should be. Anything greater than a thread count of 400-600 should be regarded with suspicion. That count is high enough to be comfortable but not so high that it’s potentially a scam.
Many manufacturers use multi-ply yarn and count each strand in the thread which can inflate thread count by three to four times, misleading consumers. The best sheets are made from single ply yarns.
When you’re ready to buy a set of bamboo sheets for healthy sleeping, there are several factors to consider to get your money’s worth and a good night’s sleep. We’ll explain what thread count is ideal, what weaves there are to choose from, how to clean and take care of your sheets, and what to consider when choosing the color of your new bamboo sheets.
For bamboo sheets, a thread count of 300 is a good number, if it’s an accurate count based on single-ply yarn. Higher thread counts can be good choices, but only if they’re well made and the number is not a marketing trick. A better-made sheet with a lower count is often softer than higher counts. That’s why reading reviews is critical so you know what to expect.
The weave is how the yarn strands are interlaced to create the fabric. There are three main weaves you’ll see in bamboo sheets – percale, sateen, and twill. Here’s a look at how each feels, performs and affects durability.
- Percale – This weave is a simple one-over, one-under. Bamboo sheets woven this way will be of a lighter weight with a crisper feel and great fabric strength. These have a distinctive feel.
- Sateen – This weave is three or four over and one under in both directions. Bamboo sheets woven this way are silkier and have a subtle sheen to them. They are thicker sheets.
- Twill – This weave is over and under but in an offset pattern creating a diagonal rib pattern. Bamboo sheets woven this way are stronger and drape nicely. These are stronger sheets.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Bamboo sheets need special care and the first thing to do is read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some things to avoid with your sheets is letting peroxide or alpha hydroxy creams touch them. These chemicals can discolor the sheets. Bleach is also not recommended, even for white bamboo sheets.
Fabric softener and dryer sheets are not recommended nor needed since high-quality bamboo sheets are soft by nature. Chemicals can break down the bamboo fibers decreasing the lifespan of your sheets. Recommended washing is every one to two weeks in cold water, washed separately.
Mild liquid detergent (not powder) is preferable. High heat damages the fibers so if you can line dry your bamboo sheets, that is best. If that’s too much hassle, tumble dry on low but not until completely dry. Bamboo sheets may wrinkle so if you iron them, do it on a low setting.
If you buy good-quality bamboo sheets and take good care of them, they can last for 15-20 years. Because of this excellent longevity, you should think carefully when choosing your color. Dark, rich colors may fade even though the fabric stays in good condition, so you may want to avoid these.
You’ll probably change your duvet or comforter and other bedding accessories while your bamboo sheets last and last. We recommend you consider a neutral color that will complement evolving décor. If white sheets aren’t your thing, a neutral gray or taupe can fit with many palettes for years to come.
And don’t forget, that neutral colors and décor choices help create a calm sleep environment. You don’t want anything too visually striking because that can excite your brain rather than getting it into a restful state you need to fall asleep fast and sleep well.
Other Things to Consider
Some final matters to consider while buying bamboo sheets is whether you want to invest more in organic and understanding what the return, sleep trial, and warranty policies are before you buy so you know your options.
Organic means that something is grown without harsh pesticides and chemicals in the cultivation process. Because bamboo is naturally antimicrobial and doesn’t require irrigation and needs little water to grow, most bamboo is grown under conditions that are considered organic. However, it’s more of a challenge to find certified organic bamboo sheets. If you want organic, you’ll need to do some extra legwork and be prepared to spend a bit more money.
Warranty & Return Policy
You should understand the difference between return, warranty, and sleep trial. A return is when the company lets you bring back something you don’t like. With sheets, some brands will only accept sheets that are unused, meaning they haven’t been slept on or laundered; for some, it can mean not removing the sheets from the packaging.
Other manufacturers offer a sleep trial where you can try the sheets at home to see if they will work for you and return them if they do not.
Warranties apply to defects in workmanship such as hems coming apart, seams tearing, pilling, excess shrinkage, etc. They do not cover regular wear and tear that occurs with use.
It’s important to understand what terms are offered before you purchase. It also depends on where you buy the sheets. For instance, if you buy through Amazon versus direct from a manufacturer, you may not get a sleep trial, warranty terms may be limited, and returns may be more of a challenge.
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