Benefits and Features of Bamboo Fiber Clothing and Textiles
By Leslie Roberts
Bamboo fabric is used for a range of clothing, such as shirts, dresses, socks and slacks, and because of its antimicrobial properties, is ideal for active wear. Bamboo is often blended with 30% cotton to add structure to garments; it is also used for sheets and pillowcases, because its smooth fiber lends a satin feel plus bamboo sheets also feel warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Bamboo fiber is made by pulping the grass until it separates into thin threads which can be spun for weaving into cloth. Bamboo fiber resembles cotton in its un-spun form ~ a puffball of light, airy fibers. Bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable resources and its fiber is a revolutionary new fabric that has unparalleled advantages, including strength, versatility and luxurious softness. But the manufacturing process still requires development to support the “green” claim of an environmentally-friendly product.
Environmental benefits of bamboo
• Cleans the air, requires less energy and water to grow, reclaims land, can be grown without pesticides and can be harvested sustainably, and is 100% biodegradable.
• Naturally soft. Bamboo apparel is softer than the softest cotton, and it has a natural sheen like silk or cashmere. Bamboo drapes like silk or satin, yet is less expensive and more durable. Bamboo/Organic cotton blends are also extremely soft but heavier in weight.
• Allergy reduced. Bamboo’s organic and naturally smooth fiber properties are non-irritating to the skin, making it ideal for people with skin sensitivities or other allergies and dermatitis. Some people can still experience chemical sensitivities, however, depending on the manufacturing process used to produce the fiber.
• Thermal regulating. ensuring that you are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Bamboo clothing’s excellent wicking properties also make it ideal for warm summer days.
• Absorbs moisture. A cross-section of bamboo fiber reveals various micro-holes, allowing bamboo cloth to have superior absorption. This allows bamboo cloth to absorb and evaporate human sweat rapidly. Bamboo fiber is four times more absorbent than cotton.
• Breathable. The porous qualities of bamboo fiber account for its breathability; clothing made of bamboo resists clinging during hot weather or exercise.
• Anti-bacterial. Bamboo fabric contains a naturally occurring anti-microbial agent, kun, that prevents bacteria from cultivating on it, which means it helps keep you odor free.
• UV protection. Bamboo naturally provides added protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
• Because of its anti-bacterial and UV resistant properties, bamboo fiber clothing is particularly well suited for performance and exercise wear.
Caring for bamboo clothing and textiles
In general, bamboo fiber clothing can be machine washed in cool water with mild soap on the gentle cycle. Manufacturers often advise against using fabric softeners or bleach. Although shrinkage is minimal with fabrics made of bamboo, it’s best if garments can hang to dry. (Bamboo clothing dries faster than most other fabrics.) Because bamboo clothing is naturally wrinkle-resistant, so ironing is not always required.