We Were Wrong! Organic Bamboo Sheets Are Antimicrobial

We always thought that the Federal Trade Commission was right when they told us that bamboo fabrics aren’t antimicrobial.  Read more about the FTC’s attack on bamboo textiles and see what else they were wrong about.

But a recent study shows that we were both wrong.

Here is a link to the study, in case you’re interested.  But in case you don’t want to read through the scientific terminology, here is a summary of the study in laymen’s terms.

Why Antimicrobial Fabrics Are a Good Thing

Biodeterioration is the phenomenon by which bacteria and other microorganisms can damage fabrics.  They may damage them in a number of ways, including staining the fabrics, or reducing their strength and/or flexibility.  Natural fibers are significantly more prone to biodeterioration than are manmade fibers, and most especially when these natural fibers are in hot, humid conditions.

Cotton fibers are especially susceptible to biodeterioration by infestation (of bacteria) due to their porous structure.

As is noted in the study, antimicrobial textiles and fabrics “inhibit the growth of bacteria or germs, control the spreading of disease and reduce the chances that a wound might become infected after injury.”

Why They Did the Study

If you reread the article about the FTC’s attack on bamboo textiles, you’ll remember that many claimed that those marketing bamboo textiles as either antimicrobial or hypoallergenic were doing so because of a substance called bamboo kun.  Bamboo kun is found in bamboo in nature, and is antimicrobial, but naysayers claimed that there was no way that bamboo kun retained its antimicrobial process after going through an extensive manufacturing process.


We wish we’d known 20 years ago how great bamboo is.

And we agreed with them.

But we’re glad that some German scientists decided to get to the bottom of things, because everyone was wrong.

The Experiment

The scientists selected three samples of jersey knit fabrics, all with similar thread counts.  One of the samples was made of cotton, one of viscose rayon (also known as rayon from bamboo), and one was made of regenerated bamboo (which differs slightly from viscose rayon in that it goes through a less intensive manufacturing process).

Staphylococcus epidermis, a bacteria that causes what is known as the dreaded staph infection, was added to each of the three fabric samples for 24 hours.  Two bacteria were put on each of the three samples.

staphylococcus epidermis

Staphylococcus epidermis, the culprit of the dreaded staph infection.

The Results

After 24 hours, the scientists counted how many Staphylococcus epidermis colonies they found on each of the samples of fabric.  Here is what they found:

Regenerated bamboo:  30 colonies

Viscose rayon:  53 colonies

Cotton:  127 colonies

And if these numbers don’t scare you enough, here’s what else the scientists found.  They found that each of the fabric samples eliminated a certain percentage of the bacteria, as follows:

Regenerated bamboo:  74.8%

Viscose rayon:  59.5%

Cotton:  0%

The scientists also pointed out that it was possible that the bamboo fabrics were antimicrobial because of traces of sulfur that may have been left on them after the manufacturing process.  However, the scientists could not find conclusive evidence to support this hypothesis.

This Is Exciting!

bamboo sheets

We love Fiber Element’s bamboo sheets the most.

We have never been so happy to be wrong before!  Obviously, we loved bamboo textiles and fabrics before because they are eco-friendly and soft, but now we love them even more because they are antimicrobial as well.  Just another benefit to add to the softest sheets in the world.

So go check out some bamboo textiles right now.  We really like the bamboo sheets they have at Fiber Element, and they give 5% to charity as well!