Is Bamboo Fabric Eco-friendly?

I wanted to take some time this week to fill you on the information I have about bamboo! We see this fabric everywhere, but many of you wonder what the rage is? And is it founded?


Is bamboo fabric eco-friendly?


Here are some basic bamboo facts!

• Bamboo is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers

• Bamboo requires no irrigation

• Bamboo rarely needs replanting

• Bamboo grows rapidly and can be harvested in 3-5 years

• Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen that an equivalent stand of trees

• Bamboo is a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

• Bamboo is an excellent soil erosion inhibitor

Additionally, bamboo fabric is breathable, thermal regulating, wicks moisture better than polyester performance fabrics, will resist odor and is absorbent and fast drying keeping you dryer and more comfortable than any cotton or polyester fabrics.


But what about the chemicals used in bamboo production????

The main chemical used in the processing is sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda. Caustic soda is one of the most widely used chemicals in the world. It is used in food production, soap making, manufacturing of bio diesel, production of paper, and is used on nearly all cotton fabrics, including organic cotton, during wet processing. Caustic soda is approved for use on textiles under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).


While caustic soda is a strong chemical it poses no health hazard if used and disposed of properly.


The fiber should be produced in a ‘closed loop’ system where 100% of the sodium hydroxide and 74% of the carbon disulphide is recovered and recycled for further use.


Is this information true of all bamboo fabrics and suppliers? NO, bamboo can vary wildly from supplier to supplier. Be sure to shop around for the very best quality you can find! What makes it different? The first possibility would be that the fiber that was used is the mechanically produced variety, which does not produce a soft fabric, as opposed to the chemically produced type, which produces a very soft fabric.


In addition, even if the fiber was of the chemically produced variety, other factors can dramatically impact the softness of the finished fabric, as they can with any fiber. The type of yarn, open end or ring spun is a major contributing factor to how a fabric feels. Ring spinning causes the fibers to lay down in a parallel fashion, where open end yarns tend to have more fibers that have exposed ends, making that yarn less soft to the touch than ring spun.


Finally, during wet processing (the scouring/bleaching/dyeing and finishing process) many variables exist. Some of those could certainly result in a change in the hand on the fabric. A pH level that is too high, temperatures exceeding the limits of the fiber, any surface applications such as anti-curling agents, flame retardants, softeners, etc.; any of these could impact the look and the feel of the finished fabric.


Be confident in your use of bamboo, nothing is softer, squishier, and more comfortable against the skin!


Jeanne Cain

About Jeanne Cain

I am the SAHM behind Nature’s Fabrics and The Covered Caboose. Our business has grown from sewing a few diapers for our kids, to supplying Mom’s (and Dad’s) all over the world with fabric. We offer a complete line of knit fabrics as well as the DItto Daddy line of clothing and trainers.
We are drawn to nature, and all things natural. We live on a small farm in rural NW PA raising beef cattle and a few highland cattle.


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