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What is Bamboo Fabric: Types, Properties, How is Made and Used

In recent years, the world has witnessed a surge in ecological consciousness, fueling the widespread embrace of sustainable alternatives across various industries, including the fashion and textile sectors. Among these breakthroughs, bamboo fabric has surfaced as a versatile option for those in pursuit of comfort without sacrificing the health of our planet.

What is Bamboo Fabric?

Bamboo fabric refers to textiles made from bamboo fibers. Throughout history, bamboo, a naturally sustainable plant, has been used in various ways. In ancient China, bamboo was skillfully employed in traditional craftsmanship for weaving baskets and mats. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), innovative individuals extracted bamboo fibers, spun them into yarns and created a fabric reminiscent of silk, known as “bamboo silk” at that time.

In the 20th century, advancements in technology and the textile industry brought about a resurgence of bamboo fabric. In the 1990s, new production methods were developed, enabling the large-scale manufacturing of bamboo fabric.

How is Bamboo Fabric Made?

The production process of bamboo fabric mainly involves the following stops:

  1. Harvest mature bamboo stalks, typically selected when they are around 4-6 years old. Remove the leaves and inner pith, leaving only the stalks as raw material. The remaining bamboo can continue to grow.
  2. The bamboo culms are crushed and treated with enzymes to extract natural cellulose fibers.
  3. The extracted cellulose fibers are soaked in a chemical solution to dissolve them, and then the mixed solution is extruded through a spinneret to form fibers.
  4. The fibers are spun into yarn and then used to create fabrics through weaving or knitting.
  5. Finally, the fabric undergoes various finishing processes, such as dyeing, to achieve the desired appearance and characteristics.

It’s important to note that the production of a bamboo fabric involves the use of chemicals and different types of bamboo fabric may have distinct manufacturing processes.

Types of Bamboo Fabric 

Bamboo Viscose

This is the most common type of bamboo fabric. It is produced using a chemical process similar to the production of viscose. In this process, bamboo pulp is dissolved in a chemical solution containing sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. The resulting solution is then extruded into fibers and further processed using textile procedures to create bamboo viscose fabric. 

Lyocell Bamboo Fabric

Also known as bamboo lyocell, this fabric is produced using a closed-loop environmentally friendly process and is considered a variant of lyocell fabric. It involves dissolving enzyme-treated bamboo pulp in a non-toxic solution, such as amine oxide, to create a cellulose solution. These treated materials are then extruded and processed into bamboo lyocell fabric through spinning and weaving.

Mechanically Produced Fine Bamboo Fiber

This fabric refers to a type of bamboo fiber obtained without the use of chemical agents through mechanical processing. In this method, bamboo is mechanically crushed and carefully combed to separate the fibers. These fibers are then spun into yarn for weaving. Mechanically produced fine bamboo fiber retains the natural properties of bamboo and minimizes the use of chemicals.

Bamboo fibers can also be combined with other materials to craft bamboo fiber blend fabrics that encompass the distinctive qualities of bamboo alongside the characteristics of other fibers. Common materials for blending include cotton, linen, hemp, and more. The specific blending ratio plays a pivotal role in defining the fabric’s properties, and these blended fabrics can manifest unique performance enhancements.

How Much Does Bamboo Fabric Cost?

Typically, the bamboo fabric falls within the mid-price range when compared to other natural fiber fabrics like cotton. However, if you want to know its actual cost, you should consider some factors that are closely related to the price such as the type of bamboo fabric, its quality, production processes, and brand. 

Bamboo viscose fabric’s price is usually relatively lower. Due to their environmentally friendly production processes, lyocell bamboo fabric and mechanically produced fine bamboo fiber tend to have higher prices. Among these, mechanically produced fine bamboo fiber involves labor-intensive mechanical exceeding the cost of cotton.

The cost of bamboo blend fabrics is influenced not only by the factors mentioned above but also by the blend materials, their proportions, and the quality of the fibers used. For instance, blending bamboo with cotton is unlikely to significantly increase the cost since cotton is a common and affordable natural fiber. However, if bamboo is blended with premium fibers like silk, the resulting price would be higher due to the higher cost of silk.

How is the Bamboo Fabric Used?

Bamboo fabric, with its distinctive characteristics and versatility, is gaining popularity across various industries and everyday consumer products. The properties of this fabric make it perfect for some of your clothing projects, particularly for intimate garments like T-shirts, sportswear, socks, and underwear, ensuring both comfort and peace of mind for wearers.

Additionally, it finds application in creating sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers, as well as common household textiles such as towels and curtains. Furthermore, bamboo fabric can be utilized in the production of personal care items like cleaning cloths, as well as medical textiles including bandages.

Bamboo Fabric Pros and Cons

Bamboo Fabric Pros:

This fabric offers a soft and silky texture comparable to silk, along with a fine unit density, providing you with a pleasant touch and excellent drape. The fabric’s pores allow for smooth airflow, enabling it to absorb and evaporate a significant amount of moisture. Its moisture-wicking ability is three times that of cotton. 

Bamboo fabric possesses antibacterial properties, making it safe and harmless. Additionally, it offers benefits such as mite resistance, odor control, and insect repellence, which are particularly advantageous for individuals with sensitive skin.

Bamboo Fabric Cons:

The production of fabric typically involves chemical processes that may utilize chemicals not considered environmentally friendly. Extracting bamboo fibers can be challenging, requiring complex procedures that increase costs. In addition, if you use improper care, it may cause the fabric to shrink or pill.

Is Bamboo Fabric Breathable?

Yes. Its natural characteristics enable excellent air circulation, making it suitable for you to use in warmer weather conditions. This airflow assists in dissipating moisture, contributing to temperature regulation and ensuring a dry and comfortable body.

Is Bamboo Fabric Toxic?

Bamboo fabric is typically non-toxic. 

However, you need to be mindful of the chemicals employed in fabric production processes. Out of the aforementioned types, both lyocell bamboo fabric and mechanically produced fine bamboo fiber are considered non-toxic. To ensure the fabric’s non-toxicity and responsible production, you can seek certified fabric that guarantees the absence of harmful substances, such as the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification.

Is Bamboo Fabric Sustainable?

The sustainability of bamboo fabric depends on the production processes. 

The raw material is naturally sustainable, biodegradable, and boasts robust renewable properties. However, the techniques and chemical agents used in production may contradict sustainable principles. Therefore, you can find that compared to bamboo viscose, the other two types are sustainable.

How to Care for Bamboo Fabric

Caring for bamboo fabric is generally easier, but when you are dealing with bamboo blend fabrics, it’s important to be mindful of potential specific care requirements. It’s always a good practice to examine the care label and adhere to the instructions to ensure the fabric’s longevity.

While most bamboo fabrics can withstand machine washing, you’d better not overload the machine with a substantial amount of fabric to prevent friction and potential damage. Opt for a mild detergent and a gentle wash recycle using cold or warm water to preserve the fabric’s color and minimize the risk of shrinkage.

For extended fabric life, you can consider air-drying or using a low-temperature dryer. Finally, store the fabric in a cool, dry location.

Embracing Bamboo Fabric in an Eco-Conscious Lifestyle

Bamboo fabric seamlessly combines comfort, style, and sustainability, making it an ideal choice for responsible consumers. This innovative fabric empowers you to go beyond your personal needs, as committed to a sustainable future, and play a role in safeguarding delicate ecosystems. By indulging in the softness and versatility of bamboo fabric, you can actively contribute to a positive impact on our planet.

More Resources:

Bamboo Fabric vs Cotton – Source: Sinosilk

Bamboo Vs. Silk Pillowcase – Source: Sinosilk

Bamboo vs Silk Sheets – Source: Sinosilk

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