The Spruce’s Mary Marlowe Leverette included Cariloha sheets in her article, “How to Wash Bamboo Sheets” that includes all the helpful steps and tips to preserving and enjoying your sheets for years to come. The Spruce is all about home design ideas and useful how-to articles to make your best home. It receives more than 3.2 million unique monthly views.
How to Wash Bamboo Sheets
By Mary Marlowe Leverette
Bamboo sheets and linens are prized for their silky and cool-to-the-touch feel, absorbency, and natural antibacterial properties. Bamboo is a popular new source for creating fabric because it grows quickly without the need for excessive pesticides, water, or care.
The bamboo fabric is made by manipulating the grass until it separates into thin fibers that are processed much like the wood fibers used to create rayon.
The bamboo used to create fabrics, Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens), is typically grown in China and is a tropical grass, not the tall ornamental bamboo found in gardens.
Washing bamboo sheets like those from Cariloha Bamboo is simple if you use the proper washing machine cycles and water temperature. With the proper care, your bamboo sheets will offer restful sleep for many years.
Detergent: Regular laundry detergent
Water Temperature: Cold
Cycle Type: Gentle or Permanent Press
Drying Cycle: Low heat or Air-Dry
Special Treatments: Do not use chlorine bleach
Iron Settings: Low
What You’ll Need
Equipment / Tools:
Washing machine or large sink/tub
Automatic clothes dryer
Clothesline or drying rack
Soft-bristled nylon brush
Enzyme-based stain remover
Pine oil or phenolic disinfectant
Dryer sheets (optional)
Whether you use a washing machine or hand wash bamboo sheets in a large sink or bathtub, follow the same guidelines for cleaning products, water temperature, and drying.
If there are stains from blood, make-up, or medications on the sheets, they should be pretreated. Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of a good quality detergent. Work the stain remover into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled nylon brush.
Allow the stain remover to work for at least 10 minutes before adding the sheets to the washer. This gives the stain remover time to begin breaking apart the stain molecules so they can be flushed away from the fabric.
Use an oxygen-based bleach soak to whiten or brighten the sheets. Oxygenated bleach turns into hydrogen peroxide when combined with water, so it will help control illness. The dryer’s heat (or sunshine if line-drying) also helps kill germs.
Do not use chlorine bleach to remove stains or whiten bamboo sheets. as it can weaken the fibers. If someone is ill and your bamboo sheets or towels need to be disinfected, choose a pine oil or phenolic disinfectant. Take precaution if you have pets, though—pine oil and phenolics are toxic for animals, even through inhalation. Do not to combine the phenolic with oxygenated bleach.
Select the Washer Settings
Bamboo sheets should be washed on the gentle or permanent press cycle. Both cycles have shorter wash times and slower final spin speeds that are more gentle on the fabric.
Select the cold water temperature setting. Hot water can cause the bamboo sheets to shrink excessively.
Select a Laundry Detergent
Since bamboo sheets should be washed in cold water, choose a laundry detergent that is formulated for cold water. This will help ensure that body soil is removed completely from the fabric.
Take the time to read the laundry detergent label. Detergents containing a high percentage of enzymes clean more thoroughly than those that are mostly water and surfactants. Detergents that contain the enzyme cellulase will help break down pills and remove them.
Load the Washer
To prevent snags and abrasions from garment buttons and zippers, it is best to wash bamboo sheets with other flat fabrics. When loading the washer, do not overload the washer drum.
Dry the Sheets Properly
When removing the sheets from the washer, support the wet fabric with a laundry basket. Wet bamboo fibers are more likely to break and cause a rip. Ideally, bamboo sheets should be air-dried on an indoor drying rack or outdoor clothesline. However, if you need to dry them more quickly, use the low heat cycle of an automatic dryer. Add a few wool dryer balls to speed drying. Remove the sheets while they are still slightly damp. High temperatures can shrink and wrinkle bamboo sheets excessively.
Iron With Low Temperatures
If you decide to iron bamboo sheets or pillowcases, use a dry iron (no steam) at a low setting. Extremely high temperatures can scorch bamboo fibers. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. While some discoloration can be removed, burned fibers cannot be revived.
Tips to Prevent Pilling on Bamboo Sheets
Some bamboo sheets are prone to pilling. Pills appear on fabric when groups of short or broken bamboo fibers become tangled together in a tiny knot or pill. The pills form due to rubbing or abrasion during normal wear and use. Here are some tips to help prevent pilling:
Use the gentle cycle or choose hand washing, which is even more gentle.
Sort laundry properly before washing.
Do not overload the washer tub past its capacity. Cramming it as full as possible does not leave room for clothes to move easily and causes damage to the surface of the fabric.
Skip harsh cleaners and damaging bleach which can weaken fibers causing them to break and pill.
Choose a laundry detergent that contains the enzyme cellulase to help break down pills and remove them.
Add a commercial fabric softener to the rinse cycle. The ingredients in fabric softener coat the fibers of the fabric so that abrasion is lessened.
Line dry bamboo sheets. If using the dryer, remove them as soon as possible to lessen abrasion from other fabrics.
To repair rips or holes in bamboo sheets, use polyester thread and a sharp needle when mending by hand or machine.
When storing folded bamboo sheets, do not create sharp creases that can cause fibers to break. Fold gently or roll the sheets. Avoid storage in plastic containers that can trap mildew and cause yellowing. Store linens in a cool, dry, and dark place.
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