Bamboo clothing has hit the big time as more and more people are getting onto the benefits of this miracle fabric. For centuries, the mighty bamboo plant has been revered in the east - and has been used for everything from textiles to paper and even building materials. Only recently has the rest of the world discovered the delights of the coziest, softest, smartest, and arguably one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. There’s a lot to love about bamboo clothing and we are going to dive right into it all.
Bamboo Clothing Benefits
There are so many benefits to bamboo clothing - from being super soft to its signature sustainable credentials, we take a look at a few ways in which bamboo continually comes out on top.
For those who have sensitive skin, bamboo fiber can be a balm. This material is known for being hypoallergenic which means it doesn’t irritate or trigger allergic reactions. As a naturally antimicrobial material, it also doesn’t suffer mold or bacteria growth in the same way as other materials.
Bamboo is a savvy material and is a dab hand at knowing how to keep you cool and when to heat things up. It almost seems to adapt to the temperature and those thermoregulating properties can keep you warm on chilly days whereas the breathable and moisture-wicking elements of bamboo will keep you cool when the weather heats up.
Absorbs Moisture/moisture wicking
As mentioned above, bamboo is a naturally moisture-wicking fabric which is why it is also such a popular material for workout wear and as bedding for those who suffer from night sweats. In comparison to cotton, bamboo is 40% more absorbent which makes it a great fabric for those who are on the go. The makeup of the material also has tiny micro gaps which lets air pass through to the skin and keep your clothing from getting damp and sticky.
Bamboo is one of the most breathable materials out there. Super breathable, the microscopic holes within the fibers keep things airy and feeling fresh. Breathable fabric is not only more comfortable to wear but it stays fresher for longer which also means that you need to wash your clothes less. By washing your clothes less you aren’t only helping the planet and preserving water but your fabrics will also be more robust and durable as they aren’t being broken down by your washing machine.
Bamboo fabrics are also believed to be naturally antibacterial which backs up the benefits above. Being naturally antibacterial means fewer odors, plenty of freshness, and less need to wash your clothes constantly.
Bamboo fabric is naturally UV protective meaning that wearing bamboo can keep your skin safe from sun damage. This material can filter a whopping 97.5% of the sun’s UV rays making it a great choice for the summer months - especially when you take into account its breathability.
One of the main hallmarks of bamboo is the way it feels against the skin. This material has a super silky soft feel that is an absolute dream. This luxurious feel fabric feels so good because of the fibers are structured in a round and smooth way so it doesn’t cause any abrasion against the skin but instead seems to float against it.
Powerfully insulating, you won’t feel the chill when snuggled up in your bamboo clothes. While summers in bamboo are cool and breathable, the colder days call for something warm and this is where bamboo comes in. Bamboo has great insulating properties - the fact that it wicks away moisture from the skin, the softness of the material, and the structure of cross-sectional fibers all add up to a wonderfully insulating fabric.
Bamboo fabric prevents wrinkles
For those who want a fabric with low care conditions - bamboo is one of the best. This fabric doesn’t wrinkle easily no matter how many times you wash it. This means that you can wash it, dry it, and wear it without worry. The fact that it doesn’t wrinkle also makes it great for your traveling wardrobe too.
Bamboo is a sustainably grown crop
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of bamboo clothing is the fact that it is a more sustainable and planet-friendly choice in comparison to other fabrics. As we are becoming more aware of the damage that fast fashion is causing to the environment, finding sustainable alternatives is key. Bamboo is naturally a sustainably grown crop as it doesn't require any pesticides or herbicides to help it thrive as it has no natural pests. It also sucks up a lot less water than cotton, helps regenerate soil, and doesn’t need to be constantly replanted thanks to its clever root system.
No material is perfect and while bamboo is an eco-friendly fabric that definitely has a lot going for it, there are a few downsides to the material that should be considered. Of course, the pros outweigh the cons but knowing where bamboo’s weaknesses are can help you make an informed decision for your wardrobe.
Sometimes a great strength can also be a weakness and this is true when it comes to bamboo. Part of its sustainable makeup is the fact that it thrives in different soil qualities and can be self-sufficient when it comes to regrowth. However, this also makes it an invasive plant too and means that it can grow like wildfire and take space and resources from other plants.
Bamboo should be washed on a delicate cycle as it may be more likely to shrink in comparison to other tougher materials. However, by following the care instructions on the label you are sure to avoid this happening.
More expensive than cotton
Some kinds of bamboo textiles may be more expensive than cotton and this can be a consideration when you are trying to build a sustainable wardrobe on a budget. However, this is really only the case with organic and natural bamboo as opposed to bamboo rayon, especially when compared to the cost of high-quality organic cotton.
Not durable when wet
Bamboo holds a lot more water than cotton and this is why it is celebrated as being super absorbent. While this is a strength, again - it can also be a weakness as it means that bamboo takes longer to dry and is less durable when wet. As it holds a lot of water, this can make the fabric a little weaker when wet so be sure to follow the care instructions on the label for the best drying advice.
How is Bamboo Fabric Made?
To make most bamboo fabric - first, the plant is picked and crushed into a pulp. Then, the pulp is submerged in a solution (usually made up of sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide) to dissolve the cellulose. Whatever is left then goes through a spinnerette into another chemical solution which hardens the pulped liquid into strands. These strands can then be washed thoroughly to remove any leftover chemicals before being bleached and turned into yarn. This yarn is then combed, dyed, and woven into the soft silky fabric known as bamboo rayon.
If dealing with natural bamboo, the potentially harmful chemical part of the process is usually skipped and instead, the bamboo pulp will be put through a mechanical manufacturing process which will then be mechanically combed and spun into a raw material like yarn. As this method is more labor intensive and creates less bamboo fabric as a result, this kind of natural bamboo linen tends to be more expensive.
History of Bamboo Textiles
Bamboo has long been known as an ancient material and across Asia was used for everything from paper to weapons, roads to houses, but the use of bamboo as a fabric only became commercialized in the last 20 years or so. The first recorded patent of using bamboo as a fabric can be traced back to 1864 when a guy called Philip Lichtenstadt wanted to integrate bamboo into clothing and paper. But due to the high costs of this process back then, the idea was shelved.
Fast forward to the early 2000s and Bejing University turns bamboo into cloth for the first time. A couple of years later and bamboo fabric manufacturing is booming thanks to advancements in the processing of the plant, the knowledge that this material is more sustainable, and the way it feels against the skin.
Is bamboo clothing better than cotton?
Bamboo is considered to be more eco-friendly and sustainable than cotton in many ways because it is easier to grow. Bamboo uses less water than cotton, grows quicker, helps with greenhouse emissions, and can even help regenerate the soil. All of this makes it a more sustainable plant than cotton.
Is bamboo a good fabric for clothes?
Yes, bamboo is a great fabric for clothes and comes with many benefits. Bamboo clothing is considered to be super soft and luxurious. It is also naturally antimicrobial, has thermal regulating properties, is moisture wicking, and breathable too.
Is bamboo fabric good for your skin?
Bamboo fabric is great for sensitive skin. Being naturally hypoallergenic and super soft and breathable means that it won’t cause irritation and instead can feel soothing against the skin. The natural moisture-wicking and thermal regulating properties can also bring relief to those who tend to sweat heavily and want their clothing to keep them cool and dry.
Is bamboo clothing good for the environment?
A lot of the qualities of bamboo clothing are good for the environment as the plant is considered to be so sustainable. The bamboo plant is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet and can actually be good for the environment. However, some of the processes used to make some kinds of bamboo clothing do rely on chemical intervention. However, in comparison to many synthetic fabrics, bamboo definitely has less of a negative environmental impact.