Buying 100% viscose from bamboo sheets can be a pretty big investment. As we discuss in our comprehensive buying guide, it is very unlikely that you will find a quality bamboo sheet set for less than $100. Some of the higher end brands could cost as much as $300. This post will help answer the top 5 questions our users had before taking the plunge and investing in this high-quality bedding option.
1. How Do I Take Care of My Bamboo Sheets?
As with all sheets, you should aim to wash your bamboo sheets about every two weeks. Maybe a little more frequently in the summer and less frequently in the winter (since you sweat more in the summer heat). The three most important things to keep in mind when washing your bamboo sheets are:
- Wash them in cold water on the gentle cycle. Repeatedly washing your sheets in hot water will harm the viscose bamboo fibers over time and can cause the sheets to weaken. This can lead to pilling or tears in the fabric. Viscose bamboo is a somewhat delicate fabric like silk so it really needs a gentle touch.
- Don’t mix them in with other laundry! Obviously zippers and hooks can cause damage to the sheets, but less obvious is that rough fabrics like denim can cause wear and tear on the sheets during the washing and drying process. This is the leading cause of pilling in bamboo sheets: as the rougher fabric rubs against your bamboo sheets it causes the viscose bamboo fiber to start to fray. This shows up as pilling on your sheets surprisingly quickly. Really, just don’t mix them in with other laundry!
- Avoid enzyme based laundry detergent. If you are unsure what that is, or unsure if your detergent contains enzymes, read the label on the detergent carefully. It will advertise it pretty prominently since these enzymes are added to help break down stains. Unfortunately, they also break down viscose bamboo fabric.
2. How Long Will My Bamboo Sheets Last?
I’ve seen some bamboo sheet manufacturers websites out there (who will remain nameless) claiming their sheets will last 15 years if cared for properly. No way! Even if they did last that long, you should not be using the same set of sheets for 15 years. Ideally you should replace your sheets every 2-3 years unless you are cycling between multiple sets of bed linens. You are sleeping on these every night for 8 or so hours so they simply get worn out after a few years.
Vicki Fulop, one of the co-founders of brooklinen had this to say in an interview:
After regular use and wash cycles, the fibers of your bed linens can start to break down and show signs of wear and tear. Having said that, it doesn’t mean your sheets will all of a sudden fall apart after two years, just that if they’re starting to look and feel worn out, and you want the optimal condition and comfort for your bed, two years or so is a great time for a refresh.
Two years seems a little aggressive to me, but Vicki is definitely more of an expert than I am. So your bamboo sheets should last you about the same amount of time as cotton sheets: about 2-3 years of constant use.
3. I’ve Heard Bamboo Sheets Get Wrinkles. Is That True?
Yes and no. They absolutely pick up wrinkles right out of the wash and if you put them on the bed they will look wrinkled. There are two things to keep in mind though. First, these are very soft wrinkles: just running your hand over them will make them go away. They are not the hard creases that you get with stiffer cotton sheets. Second, you can definitely just iron them out with the lowest possible heat setting on your iron, and maybe putting an extra layer of fabric between the sheet and the iron.
4. What’s the Difference Between Bamboo, Rayon from Bamboo, Viscose from Bamboo, and Bamboo Lyocell?
We have a whole blog post on this, but the short answer is that rayon and viscose from bamboo are exactly the same thing.
Bamboo Lyocell is slightly different. The fabric feels almost identical to viscose or rayon, and it has nearly identical moisture-wicking properties, but the process used to turn the bamboo into fabric is slightly different for Lyocell. This process is a bit more environmentally-friendly than the viscose process so if environmental concerns are your top priority, then I definitely recommend going with Bamboo Lyocell sheets.
5. What Threadcount Should I Look For in Bamboo Sheets?
This is a pet peeve of mine. Threadcount is the most overrated measure of sheet quality that exists. It started out sensibly enough with cotton sheets: more threads that were packed into each square inch of fabric meant a denser, higher quality sheet. Unfortunately, manufacturers then went crazy using gimmicks to claim their sheets were 1800 threadcount or 3600 threadcount. Beyond the gimmicks, this threadcount measure only ever made sense for cotton! For man-made fibers like viscose or Lyocell bamboo, threadcount doesn’t really tell you anything. In fact, in my experience lower threadcount bamboo sheets are smoother and softer than higher threadcount sheets.
Anyway, to answer the question: the two most common threadcounts for bamboo sheets are 320tc and 500tc. I’ve really not been able to tell the difference between the two just by feel. The difference between the quality of the brand of bamboo sheets you buy is a much bigger factor than the threadcount. So ignore your urge to look at threadcount and go with 100% viscose bamboo or 100% bamboo lyocell from a trusted brand.