Are Bamboo Sheets Better Than Cotton?
Everywhere you look, bamboo sheets are gaining traction for the superb advantages they offer. Not only is bamboo a sustainable material than most options, but it’s also incredibly strong with a high-quality feel and significant benefits.
Some might argue that other types of sheets provide the same properties, mainly organic cotton. This is a common misconception which we hope to put to bed with the following article (mind the pun).
How are the Different Bamboo Sheets Made?
Before we compare bamboo sheets with the organic cotton variety, it’s essential to clarify a few things. Bamboo sheets are not all made equal.
In fact, there are a few different types of bamboo sheets, and here’re two common ones, namely the Bamboo Lyocell and bamboo rayon/viscose.
They make bamboo rayon sheets according to common manufacturing methods. This means they cook both the leaves and shoots in a strong chemical concoction. The chemicals used in this process are so harmful that the Federal Trade Commission inhibits producers from using words like “100% bamboo” to describe rayon or viscose sheets.
Such a manufacturing process removes the anti-microbial and other natural qualities of bamboo from the fiber. That’s why producers must label their sheets as “rayon” or “viscose” made from bamboo.
Bamboo Lyocell sheets are made the old-fashioned way through an extremely sustainable process that creates the least impact on the environment and the people handling it. They crush the woody parts of the bamboo plant and use harmless solvents to break the bamboo walls into massive, mushy fibers that you comb out and weave into yarn. The gentle solvent is then recycled and reused along with water in a closed-loop system.
Bamboo sheets from HyggeB are made from 100% Organic Bamboo Lyocell.
What is Lyocell?
Lyocell is a cellulosic fiber made from dissolving bamboo pulp. It’s known for being super soft and resistant to wrinkles. That’s why Bamboo Lyocell sheets aren’t as wrinkly as standard bamboo rayon or viscose sheets.
It makes Bamboo Lyocell sheets an ideal pick for hot sleepers because they feel silky soft and cool to the touch. Also, thanks to their hypo hypoallergenic property that is preserved in the lyocell process, Bamboo Lyocell sheets are perfect for anyone with sensitive skin.
You can learn in more detail how the different bamboo sheets are made here.
Why the Emphasis on “Organic” Cotton?
You’ll notice throughout this article we use the phrase “organic cotton” instead of just “cotton.” That’s because organic cotton sheets differ from regular cotton sheets.
Regular Cotton Sheets
Regular cotton crops use tons of water and pesticides. Then, they’re processed using a chemical-laden process that may even include GMO ingredients. Despite being harmful to health, most manufacturers usually label these sheets “all-natural”. That’s why consumers must be vigilant when shopping for sheets. Look for a proper certification that shows you’re buying “organic cotton sheets.”
Organic Cotton Sheets
Organic cotton sheets are made from long-staple cotton, which makes for a durable sheet set. Long-staple organic cotton offers better colour retention and better resistance to pilling when compared to regular cotton sheets.
Organic cotton sheets are also grown according to sustainable farming methods, which makes them an eco-conscious option. They’re usually labelled as “certified organic” and carry an endorsement from the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Organic Content Standards (OCS).
Now, if you think the difference between organic and regular cotton is jarring, wait till you see the difference between Bamboo Lyocell sheets and organic cotton sheets!
Bamboo VS Cotton Sheets
Compared to Bamboo Lyocell sheets, organic cotton sheets don’t really measure up. While organic cotton cultivation doesn’t require the use of pesticides, it’s still very taxing on the environment. Unlike bamboo which can grow on its own with very little water, organic cotton crops need constant irrigation. Organic cotton is also 5 degrees hotter than bamboo, which means it may not keep you as cool.
After making a side-by-side comparison between bamboo sheets and organic cotton sheets, this is what we found:
Bamboo is More Breathable
One of the best attributes of bamboo sheets is that they’re breathable. That’s because there are micro gaps in the fibers which release heat whenever you get hot. The same micro gaps can also trap heat when you get cold, so they’re suitable for all climates.
Organic cotton sheets usually run warmer and feel heavier on the body compared to lightweight bamboo. Although some organic cotton sheets are crisp, they can’t acclimate to the changing temperature needs of your body during the night like Bamboo Lyocell.
Bamboo is Softer and More Comfortable
Bamboo fabric is very soft, often described as feeling like cashmere. Bamboo fibers are also long, which means there’s less fabric pulling than cotton. The softness and quality of bamboo can withstand multiple washes without diminishing in performance.
Bamboo is Moisture-wicking
If you sweat in your sleep, bamboo draws the moisture away from your body and evaporates it three times faster than cotton. This means you and your sheets will stay dry and comfortable throughout the night.
Bamboo is Antibacterial and Hypoallergenic
Another unique quality with bamboo fiber is its antibacterial qualities. It’s also hypoallergenic and resistant to dust, mould, microbes and pet allergens.
Since they’re so fine, bamboo fibers are non-irritating to sensitive skin. This might have something to do with the fact that Bamboo Lyocell isn’t coated with formaldehyde or flame retardant chemicals like much of the cotton industry.
As a result, you’ll see a bit of wrinkling on bamboo sheets. But, you can rest easy knowing that you’re snoozing on sheets that offer healthy sleep benefits. Besides, wrinkles on bamboo sheets shake out after the first wash and dry cycle.
Bamboo is Better for the Environment
You’ve probably heard by now that bamboo sheets are the most environmentally gentle sheets you can buy. Bamboo requires a third of the water needed to grow cotton, and it has no natural pests. It’s also easy to keep bamboo crops organic as they can be replanted every year.
Regular cotton, on the other hand, is made from a thirsty crop and growing cotton uses about 16% of the world’s pesticides. You can mitigate some of these factors by looking for organic cotton instead. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides.
Nevertheless, bamboo is a renewable and highly versatile natural resource. While it can take up to 60 years for the tree forests that are taken down for cotton to recover, bamboo forests can be harvested sustainably in 3 to 5-year cycles.
The general rule of thumb is that a thousand thread count of cotton is equivalent to 250 thread count of bamboo. This means bamboo is the softer material even when it has a lower thread count.