washing bamboo sheets

ebear1271December 16, 2008

I just bought a set of sheets that are made of 60% bamboo and 40% cotton. It says to wash them on cold and gentle but I can't bring myself to wash sheets in cold water. Since I've never had any material made of bamboo I was wondering if anyone knows if it would be damaging to wash them in warm water? Thanks!

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I wash white cotton sheets in a temp of 120F. I have two sets of bamboo sheets and because they are colors I wash them in warm water of 105F. Doesn't seem to be any problem with them.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Slightly OT, has anyone tried the new microfiber sheets Bed Bath & Beyond is touting as a better alternative to flannel?

I thought one objective with sheets was to wash them at sufficiently high temperatures to kill bed bugs. Still true?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:12AM
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Bamboo sheets need a cold water (or at least cool) water wash. Washing them in warm or higher temperature cycles will likely cause them to pill *very* quickly (like in a wash or two).

What most people don't know is that bamboo sheets should really be labeled "RAYON"! Because chemically that's basically what they are.

In order to turn bamboo into something you can spin and make thread out of, it requires a tremendous amount of chemical processing. There are some companies who do it organically. But keep in mind that organic does not mean chemical free... lye is organic and "natural". Basically what they're doing is the same thing they do to corn to make plastic from corn - denaturing cellulose to turn it into vegetable oils and amino acids.

So... If you think of bamboo fabric as rayon, you'll know exactly how to handle it. And you'll also know it's not exactly the most ecologically sound material either. Personally, I'd stick to organic cotton instead.

For more info on bamboo fiber manufacturing, see the link below.

- IT Geek

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo fiber manufacturing

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:22AM
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I have bamboo sheets, towels and blankets.
I LOVE how soft they are and my towels are so absorbent!
I wash in warm water with no problems.
Not wild about what IT Geek found out regarding the chemical processing, but they are keepers! =)
Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:41PM
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I will continue to wash my sheets in warm water. I've had them for several months. If what ITgeek says becomes true with my bamboo sheets I will stop purchasing them. I do not like washing items in cold water. Not too much of a problem I guess since I prefer cotton to almost any fabric out there - not into silk, polyester or leather either.

Not interested in microfiber sheets. YUCK.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 12:48PM
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Thanks for all of the responses! I think I will continue to wash the sheets in warm. I got them on clearance at Linens & Things so if they do get messed up at least it will be an inexpensive lesson learned! I did a quick check on the web and you can get material made of bamboo that is not processed with toxic chemicals. Maybe this will become the wave of the future! jerrod6 I completely agree with you, cotton is the way to go. I don't use fabric softener so any synthetic materials build up a ton of static in the dryer. Silk is nice too but given the current state of the economy..........

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 5:53PM
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I get silk and satin mixed up. I was on satin sheets ONE night. All I know is that I had to keep putting myself back in the bed, because everything was so slippery I was constantly on the verge of falling out of it. Not much sleep going on that night, trying to hang on to something to keep from falling out.

I got my bamboo sheets at Linen & Things a few months before they went out of business so I guess I missed the sale. Like the sheets though.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 12:33AM
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BTW, remember the temperature of "warm" varies wildly across machines and machine types - as well as across seasons for machines that don't do auto temp control. So your "warm" could be "cool" in a machine that takes tap cold and mixes a little hot into it so it can effectively dissolve detergent.

Regarding sheets processed using "non-toxic" chemicals, remember just because something won't kill you doesn't mean it should be released into the environment or against your skin. Also the non-lye/caustic based processes require a lot more mechanical processing - and thus energy expended to make them.

As ecology goes, there is no free lunch. Products with the least environmental impact can usually be had from a product produced locally, with local raw materials, local labor and sold within the region of production. For those of us in the south, that means local organic cotton, spun by local mills and woven by local weavers. This is how our grandparents and great-grandparents bought. Too bad we're so wed to shipping products in from overseas now.

- IT Geek

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 8:30PM
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I wash everything in cold water. (I also line dry everything except for socks, towels, and underwear)

I bought my Mom bamboo sheets and she swears by them. (they are the good kind -- organic)

I don't know why some people have issues washing things in cold? It is so much better for clothes, your wallet, and the earth. (every little bit helps!)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 2:21PM
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Well, some of us disagree with your assertions that cold washing is better for clothes, wallet, and Earth. There's also disagreement with the idea, unstated but presumably implied, that cold water gets laundry clean enough.

On the latter question, see "The Case for Cold" in the article linked below. Some of the major appliance manufacturers do not agree that cold-water washing works for everything.

Better for clothes: Are you saying that fabrics labeled for other than cold wash will last longer if washed in cold? I've never heard that. I have heard that clean fabrics last longer. Since I don't believe that cold washing works well enough in most cases, I think I'm conserving my fabrics by washing warmer.

Better for wallet and Earth: By my calculations, annual cost to heat laundry water, by electricity, would range between $22 (10 cent/KWH rate, HE washer) to $132 (20 cent/KWH rate, non-HE washer). More detail in this thread:


Not that much energy, cost-wise or impact-wise, if it gets you clean clothes, towels and bedding. And note the references, in the article below, to detergent requirements for cold washing. Using better detergent is going to cost you, maybe enough to offset the energy savings. And more detergent loading also has environmental impact, on the manufacturing/distribution end as well as the wastewater end.

Speaking from my own experience, I'm amazed that we used to think our linens and towels (formerly washed in sort-of "warm" and "hot") were "clean", now that we're washing in truly hot water and have experienced a whole different level of clean. Given that you're using only cold, I suspect your towels and linens aren't clean at all. And, umm, frankly, pardon me, maybe your underwear too.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.appliancemagazine.com/editorial.php?article=2055&zone=1&first=1

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:20PM
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I have had our bamboo sheets for almost a year. Love them. I do most of our wash in warm (reds I usually wash in cold). They have not started pilling at all. I think I purchased ours at Target so I don't think they're top of the line or anything.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:36PM
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If you buy from fiberelement.com they have really nice sheets, but they're so easy to take care of! You do have to wash them in cool water, but you can tumble dry them on the lowest setting. Super easy to take care of and they haven't started pilling after lots of use! Great sheets!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fiber Element

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 4:40PM
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If possible, it's best to wash sheets with a profile wash -- that is cold prewash followed by hot (140 degree) main wash. The cold prewash will help loosen any stains and the hot wash eliminates dust mites and helps kill bacteria. If someone has been ill, I wash on 160, which is essentially a sani cycle. My old machine went up to 200F wash -- boil wash essentially -- and I did sheets at that temperature but found it was hard on them long term.

Clothes with elasticizers -- like yoga or gym stuff -- can be washed in warm or cold water but not hot since heat helps degrade the elastic.

No reason towels should not be washed in hot (140 degree) water if the desire also is to help kill bacteria.

Silk is a fiber. Satin is a weave that produces a soft surface. There can be silk-satin or satin-weave cotton.

My sheets are all 100% cotton or linen. I don't see any advantage going to other fibers, especially not polyester for sleeping. Microfiber is poly based and something of a grease/dust magnet, which is why those cloths are great for cleaning in the kitchen. I wouldn't want to sleep on chemically manufactured sheeting.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:35AM
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As suburbanmd stated, washing in cold water saves very little energy or $$ and generally requires more or a harsher detergent to get good results. "Cold" depends on what part of the country you are in. I lived in northern Michigan for a few years and cold wasn't even an option for rinsing. Not using the dryer would save way more energy/$$.

Bamboo is naturally anti microbial. I have many bamboo towels that I wash at 105 with no issues. Much above that and they aren't as soft or absorbant. Cotton towels I go as high as 205 with no problems. The bamboo towels are great for my teenage son who tends to throw them in his closet when wet and shut the door. I really need to look into bamboo socks for him....

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:44AM
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I always follow the bamboo care instructions on this link. I don't know if warm water will pill them...but I am glad they haven't yet since I only use cold water.

Here is a link that might be useful: bamboo care instructions

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 11:47PM
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I try to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Once brought white sheets without reading the instructions - they said no bleach! Since I have to put sheets, towels, etc. in the dryer, I have no problems washing with cold. The soap, not the heat, is what kills the germs, from what I have heard. The dryer heat will kill any remaining germs.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 3:36PM
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