You made the great decision to invest in bamboo sheets for your bed, but now you need to take steps to keep those sheets in great condition. There are definitely a number of things to keep in mind when using and cleaning your sheets. Some of these things apply to any high quality bedding, and some are really specific to bamboo.
Wash Them Before First Use
The viscose or lyocell bamboo fabric for most sheets will shrink a bit on first washing. Manufacturers plan for this shrinkage, so if you try to put them on your bed withhout washing them first they will seem to big.
Although you should usually wash your bamboo bedding in cold water, on this first wash you can go with warm or even hot water. This will help with the shrinkage process.
Also one thing to note is that when you take the sheets out of the wash they might feel a bit stiff and canvas-like. This is totally normal, and as the fabric dries it will return to the super soft feel you expect from viscose bamboo.
Tips for Washing Bamboo Sheets and Pillowcases
There are several things to keep in mind when washing your new sheets.
- Close any zippers that are on pillowcases or duvet covers if you have those. This will protect the zipper itself, and will reduce the chance of the zipper rubbing against the delicate bamboo fabric.
- Wash all of your bamboo bedding in cool water with a gentle liquid detergent. Make sure to avoid enzyme-based detergents as these will cause the fibers in the bamboo fabric to break which will lead to pilling on sheets and pillowcases.
- Don’t mix your bamboo bedding with other fabrics in the wash. Mixing bamboo with other fabrics will cause abrasive action between the other fabrics and the bamboo bedding. Over time tihs will cause a lot of wear and tear on your bamboo sheets. Particuarly bad is mixing bamboo fabric with denim.
Tips for Drying Bamboo Sheets and Pillowcases
Most of the bamboo products that you purchase will say something to the effect that you should not use a machine dryer at all, but that you should line dry your bamboo products outside. This isn’t an option for many of us (I say as it is 15 degrees and snowing outside my window right now).
In case you live somewhere that it is not 70 degrees and sunny with gentle breezes every time you need to dry your bamboo sheets, you can use a dryer. This really isn’t going to cause damage as long as you make sure that you use the gentlest setting available on your dryer and that there are no zippers, other fabrics, or loose objects in the dryer with your sheets, pillow cases, or other viscose bamboo fabric.
Dealing with the Wrinkles
If you don’t know already, you will soon enough: bamboo sheets and fabrics are definitely prone to wrinkles. The best way to keep from having a wrinkled mess on your hands is to follow these steps:
- Remove the items from the dryer as soon as they are done drying.
- Smooth them out by hand if you are putting them on your bed right way. If not, then you can use a very lightly heated iron (preferrably with some cotton fabric between the bamboo and the iron itself) to smooth out the sheets.
One positive thing to keep in mind is that viscose bamboo fabric is very fine and soft, so the wrinkles are not the big creases that you might be used to with stiffer fabrics such as cotton. The wrinkles are incredibly shallow and will come out very easily if you press them by hand or with light ironing. The moral here is: don’t overdo it! The wrinkles will come out with very little help.
On ironing, Melissa Ozawa of Martha Stewart Living said the following about ironing fabrics:
Test a small area on the inside of the garment to make sure you have no problems. Sometimes delicate fabrics can develop a shine while being ironed because the pressure can cause the fibers to knit together and it can cause a sheen. In that case, and whenever you’re in doubt about the sensitivity of the fabric, use a pressing cloth of cotton or muslin laid between the iron and the garment for an added layer of protection.
Also avoid using dryer sheets. These can definitely damage the fabric.
How to Store Bamboo Sheets When Not In Use
Many people prefer using their bamboo sheets exclusively in the summer months since they are known to help you sleep cooler. This isn’t really necessary since they are thermoregulating, and help keep you warm in the winter as well, but some people like a thicker sheet in the winter.
So, if you aren’t using your bamboo sheets for a long period of time, you should take a few precautions to make sure they are properly stored. Here are our tips:
- Don’t store them in a plastic bag or container. Bamboo sheets are moisture wicking, so storing them in plastic can trap moisture leading to mildew. Store them in something which allows air to circulate.
- Store your sheets somewhere with a steady, cool temperature. Somewhere that heats up a lot will weaker the viscose bamboo fibers over time. This means definitely keep the sheets away from vents, radiators, and heaters when they are ins storage.
A Few Additional Tips
While bamboo sheets require a little more care and attention to detail than some other options, they will definitely last just as long with the proper steps.
If you notice excessive pilling on the sheets, this is probably a manufacturing defect. Make sure you buy from a reputable supplier, and they will replace sheets in this condition within the first 6 months or 1 year (if pilling hasn’t shown up by then, it isn’t likely to). Please don’t buy bamboo sheets at a state fair or other flea market type setting. These sellers will disappear on you, and won’t stand behind their product.