In the quest for the best fabric, it makes sense to weigh up the pros and cons of what you choose to put on your body. From the clothes we wear to the sheets we sleep in, textiles play a major role in our life and can make all the difference when it comes to comfort levels. Even beyond the confines of comfort and what feels good against the skin, choosing the right kind of fabric can also have an impact on the planet. As we grow more conscientious about our consumer choices, there are two fabrics that seem to stand out from the rest - cotton and bamboo. Both are considered to be more ethical and easy on the skin than synthetic fabrics, these two have plenty of positive qualities going for them. But which one should you choose? Here, we take a look at all the pros and cons of cotton and bamboo viscose and work out which one comes out on top in terms of eco-friendly fun, and feel-good fabric.
All About Cotton Fabric
Cotton comes from the cotton plant. This is one of the most well-known fabrics on the planet and is famed for its thread count, coolness, and a soft touch against the skin. Cotton has earned its global reputation for being great and even though the quality can be quite broad it remains a firm favorite fabric.
Turning the cotton plant into a workable fabric is a big job but as we have been doing it for centuries, it has become a pretty commonplace practice. From manually picking the plant to machine harvesting, separating, carding, spinning, dying, and weaving - there’s a wealth of action to turn cotton into the cloth we can wear.
Pros Of Cotton
Soft and fresh - the feel of cotton is one that is constantly celebrated when it comes to being a fabric that makes the grade Cotton is a material that is soft and feels fresh against the skin. If it is of a higher thread count it also has that luxurious feel.
All natural - cotton is an all-natural fabric and for those who want to keep their clothing choices as close to nature as possible, cotton sets a great standard for your wardrobe and your cotton sheets.
Lots of body - cotton also has a lot of body to it and therefore the fabric looks quite full which adds to a great aesthetic. As the fabric can also be quite versatile it can be woven into a thicker or thinner fabric which means you can wear cotton throughout the year.
Moisture wicking - cotton is a moisture-wicking material which means it can keep moisture away from the skin and therefore keep you fresh and cool. This makes it a great choice for summer or for people who tend to sweat easily and also means it has some regulating properties when it comes to temperature.
Cons Of Cotton
Shrinking - while cotton is a great fabric, it can have the problem of shrinking if you don’t follow the care instructions when it comes to washing and drying properly. Always read the label to avoid this issue.
Stretching - cotton isn’t known for its natural elasticity which means that it could be more prone to stretching out and losing its shape. This is especially true in compassion to bamboo viscose which has a lot more natural elasticity to it.
Can be microbial - while cotton can be moisture-wicking and keep you cool, it doesn’t share the same antimicrobial properties as bamboo viscose meaning that it can collect micro-organisms from time to time.
Can fade - as cotton doesn’t hold its color as well as some other fabrics you may find that it fades over time and with frequent washing. It may also bleed color during the washing cycle.
Has an environmental impact - while better for the planet than synthetic materials, cotton can still leave its mark. It is a thirsty plant and can guzzle up to 8000 liters for every kilogram of cotton. It also needs fertilizers and pesticides to help it thrive, not to mention it can strip the soil quality where it is grown.
Interesting Facts About Cotton
- Cotton is an ancient plant with seeds found dating back to 450 BC
- Natural cotton isn’t white but is a tan color from the natural oils that mother nature uses as protection.
- Cotton plants tend to need around 200 days to grow
- There are four different types of cotton and 43 different species - from Pima cotton to Egyptian cotton, upland cotton, and organic cotton. Each is earmarked by the geography of where it is grown and its fiber count.
- Cotton makes up the mainstay material of up to 40% of all clothes produced
- Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight when it comes to water and actually gets stronger when it is wet unlike other materials
- American bank notes are made up of three parts cotton and one part linen
- The cotton industry has been valued at bringing in over 15 billion dollars every year
All About Bamboo Viscose Fabric
Bamboo viscose fabric is making a splash. Created from the cellulose fibers of the bamboo plant, this fabric is famed for its silky soft feel, and breathable and antibacterial properties, and because bamboo is considered to be kind to the planet.
To make bamboo viscose, the bamboo plant is harvested and the stalks are steeped in a solution to break them down into a pulp. This pulp is then chemically treated to turn it into a viscose solution before being ripened and washed so it can be spun into yarn to use for thread and fabrics.
Pros Of Bamboo Viscose
Super soft - one of the main pros of bamboo viscose is how amazing it feels against the skin. As soft as butter and superior when it comes to coziness, this intelligent material has a similar feel to silk without the hefty price tag.
Breathable - another reason to say a resounding yes to bamboo viscose is that its a truly breathable material. As it’s so breathable it makes for a great material for sheets and bedding and for workout wear too.
Thermoregulating - bamboo viscose is smart when it comes to keeping your temperature on track. This miracle material will keep you cool in the sweaty summer months, but will also keep you warm and cozy when it’s cold outside. This makes it a great choice for wearing year-round even as the seasons are shifting.
Antibacterial - naturally antibacterial, bamboo viscose is glorious for those with sensitive skin. If you tend to suffer from rashes or find many materials that don’t feel good against you, bamboo can be life-changing. The blend of antibacterial, antimicrobial, and moisture-wicking properties makes it great for keeping odor out and rashes well and truly away.
Durable - bamboo viscose is considered to be a very durable material and seems to be resistant to pilling. It’s also a super strong material and arguably stronger than its cotton counterparts. As it is more absorbent and has top-tier moisture-wicking properties, it also stays cleaner for longer.
No pesticides - bamboo doesn’t need pesticides and fertilizers to grow which makes it a good option for those who care about their environmental impact.
Less water - bamboo also uses a third less water when it comes to growing strong in comparison to cotton. Cotton can be quite thirsty but bamboo is way more self-sufficient and doesn’t require any irrigation input either.
Fastest growing - bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet which means that it can easily replenish its stock. It also doesn’t strip the soil of those much-needed nutrients, but instead gives back and can even improve soil quality.
Cons Of Bamboo Viscose
Nonnatural processing - one of the main criticisms of bamboo viscose is the fact that the processing part of turning the pulp into workable fabric requires some chemical input. Bamboo is a natural material but the manufacturing does need non-natural input to turn it into fabric.
Wrinkle-prone - bamboo viscose may be more prone to wrinkling than cotton but this is really down to the weave rather than a hard rule.
More absorbent - while absorbancy is considered a good thing it can also be a con as it means that bamboo viscose fabrics may take longer to dry than cotton.
Interesting Facts About Bamboo & Bamboo Viscose
- Bamboo is naturally organic as it needs no pesticides or fertilizers to help it grow
- Bamboo is also awesome at absorbing greenhouse gases and can pump out 35% more oxygen than other hardwood trees.
- Bamboo has been used as a material for over five thousand years but the bamboo fabric has only made it big in the last two decades.
- The bamboo plant is considered to be stronger than steel which is why it is such a popular material for using in construction and building
- Bamboo viscose is said to have 20% more elasticity than other materials making it great for those who want a little extra stretch to stay comfortable
- Bamboo fabric can also prevent over 99 of the sun’s harmful UV rays which keeps your skin cool and safe in the sun
- There are over a thousand types of bamboo and some species can even grow a whopping 3ft a day. The tallest bamboo plant is the Giant Bamboo and it holds the world record for standing proud at an impressive 164ft.
Bamboo Viscose vs Cotton: Which is better?
When it comes to picking a winner between bamboo vs. cotton, there are pros and cons for each and it really depends on what you are seeking in terms of style and sustainability. Overall, bamboo is the better material as it has way more properties than cotton in terms of how it interacts with the skin. The benefits of Bamboo viscose include it being as soft as cotton and is also moisture-wicking, but it has the added benefits of being hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, and having that natural stretch to it.
When it comes to sustainability, both fabrics have their pros and cons too. While cotton is an all-natural material and bamboo viscose relies on some chemical processing to make it pliable, cotton does seem to have a more heavy impact on the planet in terms of its growth. Unlike cotton, bamboo requires no pesticides or fertilizers, consumes very little water, can grow in harsh conditions, and gives back to the soil more than it takes.
Is bamboo viscose a good fabric?
For those who love soft fabrics that move with the body and have a ton of benefits, bamboo viscose is a good fabric. This fabric is not only breathable but is also antibacterial, and thermoregulating has moisture-wicking properties and is a great choice for those with sensitive skin.
Which is better cotton or bamboo?
Both bamboo and cotton have their pros and cons. Bamboo may be the better material all round as it has many intelligent properties such as moisture wicking, being hypoallergenic, and being as soft and breathable as cotton. Bamboo is also a more sustainable plant as it grows super fast and requires very few resources and no pesticides in its growing cycle. Cotton can be thirsty and needs pesticides and a longer span of time to help it grow.
Is bamboo viscose the same as 100% bamboo?
Bamboo viscose is a material made from bamboo, the difference is that, unlike raw or organic bamboo, it is put through a manufacturing process involving some chemicals to turn it into a yarn that can be used.
Is bamboo as breathable as cotton?
Bamboo is as breathable as cotton if not more. This is because bamboo has thermoregulating properties which help to regulate your body temperature. Bamboo clothing and sheets can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also has moisture-wicking properties which keep it breathable too.