There’s a lot of confusion regarding bamboo fabric compared to cotton fabric. What are the the differences, or benefits, of bamboo fabric and cotton fabric? We’d like to address the differences in how bamboo fabric is made vs cotton fabric. What are the main differences between Bamboo and Cotton? Is bamboo fabric better than cotton, and why? Is growing cotton bad for the environment? What are the pros and cons of bamboo sheets? Let’s dig in!

What are the FTC Articles on Bamboo Fabrics About?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires textiles that are derived from bamboo plants to be labeled as Rayon, or as Viscose. They state that both terms are interchangeable and are the same thing. The process of converting a stalk of bamboo in a fabric is called rayon, or viscose. Therefore, the FTC claims, that fabrics made from bamboo cannot be ‘only’ called Bamboo. They must be called rayon from Bamboo, or viscose from Bamboo. With emphasis on the ‘from’, meaning it started out as a bamboo stalk but has become rayon or viscose after the bamboo pulps have been processed.

Why Does the FTC Care How Bamboo Fabric is Labeled? 

Many believe that the cotton industry didn’t like the bamboo textile industry honing in on their market. Cotton’s had the corner on the bedding market for hundreds of years.  It seems that the large and powerful cotton lobby has hired expensive lawyers to fight back against the bamboo fabric industry, because they’ve been gaining market share. The goal was likely to defame bamboo fabrics by forcing them to use terminology such as rayon or viscose.

This ruling causes the fabrics to sound as if they’re not derived from a natural plant. Most people think of rayon as that synthetic fabric that came out in the 70’s that was touted as being wrinkle-resistant, and called polyester. Therefore, if the cotton industry forced the bamboo industry to label their products as rayon or viscose, the general population would think of it as a synthetic (manmade) textile.

What is the Benefit of Bamboo Sheets?

There are so many benefits to sleeping on Bamboo Bed Sheets. The luxurious feel and drape of the fabric against your bare skin is probably the most common feedback from our loyal customers. They love the coolness the bamboo fabric offers. When you move your arm or leg you find a cool spot that helps hot sleepers immediately cool down. People who suffer from skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis also enjoy the smoothness of the fabrics as they don’t irritate sensitive skin. Hot sleepers also love that bamboo wicks and evaporates moisture much faster than cotton, helping you sleep cool and dry.

Bamboo bedding is also resistant to bacteria and odors, so sheets stay fresh longer. We call it a ‘Smart Fabric’ because bamboo can sense if you’re hot or cold and adjust to your needs. This means 2 people who sleep very differently can both be comforted by bamboo’s thermal regulating properties.

How Is Bamboo Fabric Made?

Bamboo plants are designated as a ‘grass’ but the stalk is so rigid and firm that its often thought of as a type of tree. In the early 20th century, the process of making bamboo fibers was perfected. The soft inner pith from the woody part of the stalk is what is used to make the bamboo fibers or yarns. It starts with extracting the cellulose from the stalk, crushing it and the soaking it in enzyme solutions that help it break down into an alkali cellulose.

It is left to dry for 24 hours, and then carbon disulfide is added to cause the compound to sulfurize into a gel-type mixture. This then becomes a slurry or mash, that is then forced through a nozzle called a spinneret. This transforms the cellulose into strands that are then dried, run through a fiber mill and then fluffed before they are dyed and spun into yarns or threads.

The end product is considered Viscose from Bamboo, or Rayon from Bamboo, used interchangeably. Viscose and Rayon mean the ‘process’ of converting a bamboo stalk into a fiber. The FTC then requires that companies that sell bamboo textiles use those terms in labeling their fiber content. BedVoyage’s Bamboo bedding is made from these wonderfully fine and smooth viscose fibers, which creates the incredible hand-feel of a silky-cashmere fabric. You can check out our Bamboo Sheets Reviews to see how people rave about sleeping on bamboo!

What Does Oeko-Tex on the Label Mean?

Oeko-Tex is a third-party certification organization that verifies that the textiles a factory is producing have been checked to be free of harmful chemicals. They check that the products are not harmful to humans or the larger ecosystems. Oeko-Tex does not make products themselves; they just verify other companies products. It is meant as a tool for the consumer to feel confident in the purchase of the textiles they are buying. It also means that every component of the end-product has been tested, from the zippers to the buttons.

Oeko-Tex also stays ahead of regulations by updating their criteria catalog annually. This ensures they’re staying on top of now or amended international requirements. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is the most common certification, but the Made In Green is even more stringent. It takes the actual factory into consideration and reviews the processes they use to make the products. This is the crème de la crème of the certifications.  BedVoyage products are proud to carry both the Standard 100 and Made In Green certifications across our different product lines.

What are the Main Differences Between Bamboo and Cotton Growing?     

To begin with, Bamboo Bedding and Cotton Bedding are created from 2 completely different plants, as the title implies!  During the growing process, bamboo stalks do not need any fertilizer or pesticides. Pests are not attracted to bamboo stalks, as in; don’t munch on them.  There is an inherent quality to bamboo, called Bamboo Kun. This means that it naturally inhibits pests, bugs and bacteria. Bamboo also grows incredibly fast on its own, up to 3 feet per day.

Moso bamboo is the type of grass used in most bamboo textiles, and it’s rare to find any that have been ravaged by pests. Bamboo is also cut at the base during harvest, allowing the plant to regrow and be harvested again. Another reason it is considered a highly sustainable plant is that it needs half the amount of water that trees need to grow, and it’s a soil conservation plant.

Is Growing Cotton Bad for the Environment?

The growing of cotton requires very toxic chemicals to keep the pests at bay. Some are highly toxic such as glysophate, diuron and tribufos, and others are endocrine disruptors. Parathion is an extremely toxic pesticide commonly sprayed on cotton farms. Farmers and people that live close to heavily polluted cotton farms can suffer health injuries. Conventional cotton farming uses over 68 million pounds of pesticides annually and is the third-largest consumer of pesticides in the USA.

It is said that 1 man’s cotton T-shirt can take up to 2 pounds of toxic chemicals to create. For more information on the toxic chemicals used in growing and processing of cotton, you can visit here.  Many don’t know that hypochlorite bleaching is used to make cottons white.

When you sleep on cotton bedding, do you worry that some of those toxic chemicals are still in the fibers, and can get into your skin while sleeping? As people become more aware of this, this consider it a real concern.

What Chemicals are Used in Bamboo Processing?

There are chemicals used in the breaking down of bamboo stalks into slurry. The common chemical is sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda. This chemical is also used in the manufacturing of soap, paper and cotton. Carbon disulfide is used after the drying process, which turns the mash into a gel-type mixture for processing. BedVoyage’s textile factory in India uses a 100% recyclable facility, in which zero water used in the manufacturing is put back into the waterways. In fact, they are not even connected to the public sewer main and emit no pollutants into the air. They are a green-certified factory, by India’s toughest standards.

Why Does BedVoyage use a Twill Weave?

There are a few styles of weaves that we could choose from: Sateen, Twill and Percale. The differences are how the warp (lengthwise) and weft (runs perpendicular) are passed through each other’s threads. Some people feel that a Sateen weave has a softer hand-feel, but it can pill much faster. Pilling is when nubby balls appear on the fabric. This occurs when friction causes the fine tiny threads to loosen and ball up together, this is uncomfortable to sleep on as your skin can feel the bumps.

Twill weaves add strength, durability, and non-pilling structure to the fabrics. It is made by creating an offset in the warp threads, which creates a diagonal line when you look at it closely. You’ll see this in blue jeans, furniture fabrics and chinos.  Additional benefits of using a twill weave are that they drape well, show fewer stains and are opaque. Thin, cheap sateen bamboo fabrics can be held up to the light and literally be seen through, and they can pill and tear easily.

We want our BedVoyage fans to have long-lasting linens that they can use and love for years, so we only offer Twill weave in all our bedding lines. Please check out our entire line of Bamboo Bed and Bath Linens, there is something for the entire family!

White Bamboo Sheet Set

100% Bamboo Sheet Set - White

$149per set
Melange Bamboo Sand Duvet Cover

Melange Bamboo Duvet Cover - Sand

$89per set
Bamboo Ivory Sheet Set

100% Bamboo Sheet Set - Ivory

$149per set