How to Wash Bamboo Sheets

Light gray bamboo sheets in woven basket on top of bare bed

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 30 mins - 3 hrs

Bamboo sheets and linens are prized for their silky and cool-to-the-touch feel, absorbency, and natural antibacterial properties. Bamboo is a popular new source for creating fabric because it grows quickly without the need for excessive pesticides, water, or care. The bamboo fabric is made by manipulating the grass until it separates into thin fibers that are processed much like the wood fibers used to create rayon.

Fun Fact

The bamboo used to create fabrics, Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens), is typically grown in China and is a tropical grass, not the tall ornamental bamboo found in gardens.

Washing bamboo sheets like those from Cariloha Bamboo is simple if you use the proper washing machine cycles and water temperature. With the proper care, your bamboo sheets will offer restful sleep for many years.

 Detergent  Regular laundry detergent
 Water Temperature Cold
 Cycle Type  Gentle or Permanent Press
 Drying Cycle  Low heat or Air-Dry
 Special Treatments  Do not use chlorine bleach
 Iron Settings  Low

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine or large sink/tub
  • Automatic clothes dryer
  • Clothesline or drying rack
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush
  • Wool balls

Materials

  • Laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Pine oil or phenolic disinfectant
  • Dryer sheets (optional)

Instructions

Whether you use a washing machine or hand wash bamboo sheets in a large sink or bathtub, follow the same guidelines for cleaning products, water temperature, and drying.

Materials and tools to clean bamboo sheets

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  1. Pretreat Stains

    If there are stains from blood, make-up, or medications on the sheets, they should be pretreated. Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of a good quality detergent. Work the stain remover into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled nylon brush. Allow the stain remover to work for at least 10 minutes before adding the sheets to the washer. This gives the stain remover time to begin breaking apart the stain molecules so they can be flushed away from the fabric.

    Use an oxygen-based bleach soak to whiten or brighten the sheets. Oxygenated bleach turns into hydrogen peroxide when combined with water, so it will help control illness. The dryer's heat (or sunshine if line-drying) also helps kill germs.

    Warning

    • Do not use chlorine bleach to remove stains or whiten bamboo sheets. as it can weaken the fibers.
    • If someone is ill and your bamboo sheets or towels need to be disinfected, choose a pine oil or phenolic disinfectant. Take precaution if you have pets, though—pine oil and phenolics are toxic for animals, even through inhalation. Do not to combine the phenolic with oxygenated bleach.
    Gray bamboo sheets sprayed with enzyme-based stain remover

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Select the Washer Settings

    Bamboo sheets should be washed on the gentle or permanent press cycle. Both cycles have shorter wash times and slower final spin speeds that are more gentle on the fabric.

    Select the cold water temperature setting. Hot water can cause the bamboo sheets to shrink excessively.

    Washing machine set on a gentle cycle

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Select a Laundry Detergent

    Since bamboo sheets should be washed in cold water, choose a laundry detergent that is formulated for cold water. This will help ensure that body soil is removed completely from the fabric.

    Tip

    Take the time to read the laundry detergent label. Detergents containing a high percentage of enzymes clean more thoroughly than those that are mostly water and surfactants. Detergents that contain the enzyme cellulase will help break down pills and remove them.

    Laundry detergent bottle held between gray bamboo sheets

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Load the Washer

    To prevent snags and abrasions from garment buttons and zippers, it is best to wash bamboo sheets with other flat fabrics. When loading the washer, do not overload the washer drum.

    Gray bamboo sheets placed in washing machine

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Dry the Sheets Properly

    When removing the sheets from the washer, support the wet fabric with a laundry basket. Wet bamboo fibers are more likely to break and cause a rip. Ideally, bamboo sheets should be air-dried on an indoor drying rack or outdoor clothesline. However, if you need to dry them more quickly, use the low heat cycle of an automatic dryer. Add a few wool dryer balls to speed drying. Remove the sheets while they are still slightly damp. High temperatures can shrink and wrinkle bamboo sheets excessively.

    Gray bamboo sheets clipped to clothes line to air dry

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  6. Iron With Low Temperatures

    If you decide to iron bamboo sheets or pillowcases, use a dry iron (no steam) at a low setting. Extremely high temperatures can scorch bamboo fibers. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. While some discoloration can be removed, burned fibers cannot be revived.

    Bamboo sheets ironed on a low temperature

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Tips to Prevent Pilling on Bamboo Sheets

Some bamboo sheets are prone to pilling. Pills appear on fabric when groups of short or broken bamboo fibers become tangled together in a tiny knot or pill. The pills form due to rubbing or abrasion during normal wear and use. Here are some tips to help prevent pilling:

Repairs

To repair rips or holes in bamboo sheets, use polyester thread and a sharp needle when mending by hand or machine.

Storage

When storing folded bamboo sheets, do not create sharp creases that can cause fibers to break. Fold gently or roll the sheets. Avoid storage in plastic containers that can trap mildew and cause yellowing. Store linens in a cool, dry, and dark place.