Bamboo sheets and linens are prized for their silky cool-to-the-touch feel, their absorbency, and their natural antibacterial properties. The type of bamboo used to create the fabric, Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens), is typically grown in China and is considered a tropical grass. It grows quickly and without the need for excessive pesticides, water, or care, making it a popular choice for the eco-conscious consumer. Bamboo fabric is made by manipulating this grass into thin fibers that are processed much like the wood fibers used to create rayon.
Washing bamboo sheets is simple, but this luxurious fiber is prone to pilling if not treated properly. Make sure to wash bamboo sheets separately, on the gentle cycle, and in cold water, to assure this doesn't happen. With proper care, your sheets will offer you restful comfort for many years to come.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Clothesline or drying rack
- Soft-bristled nylon brush
- Wool balls
- Laundry detergent
- Oxygen-based bleach
- Enzyme-based stain remover
- Pine oil or phenolic disinfectant
|How to Wash Bamboo Sheets|
|Detergent||Regular laundry detergent|
|Cycle Type||Gentle or permanent press|
|Drying Cycle Type||Low heat or air-dry|
|Special Treatments||Do not use chlorine bleach|
|How Often to Wash||Every 7 to 10 days|
Sort Your Laundry
Make sure to wash bamboo sheets either by themselves or with rayon fabrics that won't shed lint. Washing them with cotton clothing may cause pilling.
To prevent snags and abrasions from garment buttons and zippers, it is also best to wash bamboo sheets with other flat fabric.
Load the Washer
Load the washer, but don't overload it. Overloading could result in more friction and wear and tear on your sheets. Overloading can also prevent your sheets from getting totally clean.
Select the Washer Setting and Water Temperature
Wash bamboo sheets on the gentle or permanent press cycle. Both cycles have shorter wash times, gentler agitation, and slower spin speeds, making them forgiving on the fabric.
Select the cold or warm water temperature setting. Hot water can cause bamboo sheets to shrink excessively.
Choose a laundry detergent that is specially formulated for use in cold water. This will help ensure your body soil is removed completely from the fabric with every wash.
Dry Your Sheets
Support wet fabric with a laundry basket when removing the sheets from the washer. Wet bamboo fibers are more likely to rip. Hang bamboo sheets on a clothesline or a drying rack to dry (this is the preferred method). If you need them to dry quickly, use the low-heat cycle on your automatic dryer. Adding wool dryer balls will speed up the process. Then, remove the sheets while they are still slightly damp. High temperatures may shrink and wrinkle bamboo sheets.
Treating Stains on Bamboo Sheets
Stains from blood, makeup, or food should be pretreated before washing your bamboo sheets in the washer. Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of a high-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 it time to break apart the stain molecules so they can be flushed from the fabric.
Body oil stains can be removed by mixing one part of distilled white vinegar with four parts of water and allowing the solution to sit on the stain for several hours, before washing your sheets as usual.
Do not use chlorine bleach to remove stains or whiten bamboo sheets, as it can weaken the fibers and cause your sheets to tear prematurely.
Bamboo Sheets Care and Repair
Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets when washing bamboo fabric. The chemicals from these products can weaken the fibers and leave a film on the fabric that compromises the natural moisture-wicking properties of bamboo.
To repair rips or holes in bamboo sheets, use polyester thread and a sharp needle to mend by hand or machine. However, if the fabric's strength has already been compromised, ironing mending tape onto the reverse side of the sheet may be a better fix, as a sewn repair may pull another hole in the fabric with use.
Storing Bamboo Sheets
Always properly launder your sheets before storing them long-term, away from sunlight. Bamboo fibers are prone to wrinkling, so rolling the sheets, as opposed to folding them, can eliminate the need to iron them before use. Whatever you choose, make sure to fold or gently roll the sheets, as sharp creases can cause fibers to break. Avoid storing your bamboo sheets in plastic containers that can trap mildew and cause yellowing. Instead, store linens on a shelf in a cool, dry, and dark place.
How Often to Wash Bamboo Sheets
You should wash bamboo sheets every seven to 10 days in the summer (or if you live in a warm climate) to get rid of body oil, dirt, and bacteria. During the colder months, washing your sheets every two weeks should suffice. Make sure to wash your sheets more often to kill germs, if someone in your family is sick, and then wash them again once the sickness has passed.
You should also wash bamboo sheets before using them, as bamboo fibers may feel stiff fresh out of the package. Washing them will give them a broken-in feel.
Since bamboo sheets and pillowcases are prone to wrinkling, some people prefer to iron them before dressing their bed. To do so, use a dry iron (no steam) on a low setting. You can also iron bamboo sheets when they come out of the dryer slightly damp, as this may lessen the needed elbow grease.
Extremely high temperatures can scorch bamboo fibers, and yellowing can occur as the fibers begin to burn. While some discoloration can be removed, burned fibers cannot be revived.
Tips for Washing Bamboo Sheets
- To avoid pilling on your bamboo sheets, use the gentle cycle or hand wash them, sort your laundry properly before washing, and don't overload the washer tub.
- Choose a laundry detergent that contains the enzyme cellulase to help break down pills and remove them.
- Wash your sheets in a pine oil or phenolic disinfectant if someone in your family has been ill. This will kill the remaining bacteria, even when washed in cold water. Take precautions if you have pets, however, as pine oil is toxic to animals, even by inhalation. Also, do not combine this type of cleaner with oxygenated bleach.
- Use an oxygen-based bleach soak to whiten bamboo sheets. Oxygenated bleach turns into hydrogen peroxide when combined with water, so it will also control bacteria.
- Skip harsh cleaners and chlorine bleach which can damage bamboo fibers, causing them to break and pill.
- Remove bamboo sheets from the dryer as soon as possible to lessen the abrasion from other fabrics
Is there a downside to using bamboo sheets?
Bamboo fabric tends to be coarse and stiff right out of the box, requiring immediate washing to break down the fibers. This fabric is also prone to wrinkling after washing.
Do bamboo sheets absorb sweat?
Bamboo fabric naturally wicks sweat away from the body, allowing your sheets to feel cooler and more comfortable than cotton ones. Users claim to sweat less when sleeping on bamboo sheets.
How long do bamboo sheets last?
When cared for properly, bamboo sheets can last up to five or six years. This is much longer than their cotton counterpart, which usually wears out after two years.