Here’s our guide to the pros and cons of bamboo sheets including types of weave patterns, cost and comparison vs cotton sheets. A relatively new product on the market, bamboo sheets were eyed with skepticism by some when they first appeared. They quickly gained enthusiastic proponents, who spoke of unrivaled comfort, softness, and an enhanced sleep experience. If you’re curious about the hype, you’re in the right place.
What are Bamboo Sheets
Bamboo is an invasive plant species that can live underground for up to five years before breaking the surface. Once it’s burst through the soil, however, it grows rapidly.
The fastest growing varieties can add up to three feet to their height in a single day. Bamboo is technically a grass, not a tree, despite its rigid structure and durability.
Bamboo can be used to create two types of material used for bedsheets. The first, and most common, is created via the viscose process, where harsh chemicals are used to dissolve the rigid structure into a pulp.
The pulp is then fed through a special machine that allows the manufacturer to extract a substance called cellulose. In a living plant, cellulose forms a rigid barrier between cells.
These deconstructed barriers are spun into fibers, which are then woven together to create the product you see on store shelves, labeled bamboo sheets.
The other type of material is called bamboo linen. Rather than dissolving the entire plant into pulp, this process requires separating the stalk into three parts.
The exterior and interior of the stalk are stripped away and discarded, leaving behind the long fibrous strands that live between the outer bark and the inner core. These are called bast bamboo fibers. The process is similar to the process used to create linen from flax.
Since bamboo regenerates so quickly, it is prized as a renewable resource, and therefore carries the connotation of eco-friendliness.
However, the viscose process uses harsh chemicals that are not environmentally friendly, so eco-conscious consumers may prefer to purchase bamboo linen.
Like linen derived from flax, this fabric tends to be a little rougher to the touch, and is fairly wrinkle-prone. Fabric made from the viscose process is much softer and resists wrinkling and creasing.
Types of Bamboo Sheets Weave Patterns
The texture of bamboo sheets is not only dependent on the manufacturing process used to create the fibers, but also the way those fibers are woven together. The three most common weaves for bamboo sheets are percale, twill, and sateen.
Percale sheets are lightweight and are prized for their breathability. They tend to feel crisp and cool, making them popular in tropical environments. This crispness can translate into creases and wrinkles.
The ribbed structure of this weave makes twill bamboo sheets incredibly durable and long lasting. It feels a bit rougher than percale or sateen weave sheets.
Soft and silky, sateen weave bamboo sheets are a pleasure to touch. They drape beautifully and resist wrinkles. On the flip side, they also retain more heat than twill or percale weaves.
Bamboo Sheets Pros
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Bamboo sheets are extremely durable and long lasting. They hold up well to washing and drying as long as care instructions are followed, and are unlikely to shrink.
Bamboo absorbs and holds dyes better than materials like cotton, so sheets with colors and patterns will stay vibrant for longer.
Sleepers who tend to sweat during the night may notice that they stay cooler with bamboo sheets on the bed. This is due to the exceptional moisture-wicking properties of bamboo fibers.
Up to 40% more effective at absorbing moisture than cotton, bamboo sheets help your skin stay dry and keep the air moving around you, leading to better thermal regulation.
Bamboo sheets are also naturally antimicrobial. Because fewer chemicals are used during the production of bamboo, there is a lowered risk of an allergic reaction to bamboo sheets.
Bamboo Sheets Cons
Most of the cons of bamboo sheets come down to personal preference. For example, cotton sheets get softer with every wash, while bamboo sheets hold their structure and maintain the same softness and integrity throughout their lifetime.
Bamboo sheets are slightly more expensive than other kinds of sheets, but the difference is minimal, especially when you consider their long lifespan.
Folding bamboo sheets will result in creases when they are unfolded and laid on the bed. For most consumers, this isn’t an issue, as the sheets will be covered by quilt, bedspread, or duvet.
If wrinkle-free sheets are a priority for you, stick to sateen weave bamboo sheets, hang your sheets flat for a few hours before making the bed, or simply iron them using the lowest heat setting. See these hypoallergenic 100% bamboo sheets on Amazon. (aff link)
Bamboo Sheets Cost
A set of bamboo sheets is likely to cost at least $35 to $50, with higher-quality products, such as bamboo linen sheets, priced up to $200.
They are usually slightly more expensive than cotton sheets of a similar quality. Cotton sheets also start at about $40 to $50 per set, but the price range extends all the way up to $500 for premium Egyptian cotton.
While bamboo sheets tend to cost more upfront, this difference in price is mitigated somewhat by their durability.
A set of bamboo sheets, properly cared for, can be expected to withstand five to six years of daily use. Cotton sheets, on the other hand, will usually need to be replaced after two or three years of daily use.
Are Bamboo Sheets Healthier than Cotton?
Yes. Although bamboo is technically a grass, it is similar to wood in many ways. One of the most important similarities is its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties.
The structure of the fiber actually repels bacteria and fungus. This means that pesticides and anti-fungal treatments are usually not necessary during bamboo production, and so fewer chemicals end up in bed with you.
The protection doesn’t fade when the bamboo is harvested, so bamboo sheets retain their creepy-crawly repellent properties.
Cotton, on the other hand, does not come with this natural protection. Cotton plants often require the help of antibiotics and pesticides to grow.
The resulting fabric can be treated with chemical sprays or washes during the manufacturing process to increase their resistance to microbes, but these chemicals also increase the likelihood of an allergic reaction or skin sensitivity.
Have we left out any pros and cons of bamboo sheets? Let us know what you think of these types of bed sheets in the comments. For more related information visit our gallery of the types of beds.