How to wash bamboo bedding – care practices to maintain softness

Keep your bamboo bedding in top condition with these four easy steps

(Image credit: Brooklinen)

Bamboo bedding is one of the best options for the perfect sleep year-round. Not only is it hypoallergenic, but it is also naturally antimicrobial and wicks away moisture. Not to mention, it is soft, meaning it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter without affecting your allergies.

So, how do you wash bamboo bedding to protect these important qualities? Laundry and fabric-care experts say it depends on what products you use when doing laundry.

Here, they detail the step-by-step for washing bamboo bedding to retain its softness.

How to wash bamboo bedding

Just because bamboo bedding is thought to be naturally antimicrobial doesn't mean you can get away with not washing your best bed sheets. It is still important to know how often to wash your bed sheets to improve your sleep hygiene.

Experts recommend washing bedding every one to two weeks, depending on if you sleep alone or with a partner, if you share your bed with pets, or if you are a hot or sweaty sleeper. With that in mind, this is how to wash bamboo sheets when laundry day rolls around.

1. Separate your bamboo bedding

A large wicker laundry basket with a removeable lid in the doorway of a country bathroom

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Before washing bed sheets of any kind, it is always a good idea to separate laundry, begins Tamara Jarrar, Founder and CEO at Bellabu Bear, bamboo fabric specialists:

‘Separate your bamboo bedding into light and dark colors to prevent color bleeding,’ she begins. ‘I also recommend avoiding washing bamboo bedding with rough items, such as jeans, towels, or zippered items, to prevent abrasion and pilling. You can also turn the bedding inside out to protect the fabric during washing,’ Tamara adds.

‘Remember to avoid overloading the washing machine,’ she continues. ‘Bamboo fabric needs room to move in the washer for a thorough cleaning. Always check the care label on your bamboo bedding for any specific instructions.'

2. Wash cold

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When dealing with natural fibers like bamboo, it is usually safer to opt for a cold wash, rather than a hot one. This protects the fibers from shrinkage and breakage, explains Donna Chambers, bedding expert and owner of Sensa Calm. Washing too hot will cause your bamboo bedding to lose its softness and can affect its moisture-wicking properties. ‘If your bedding has stains, pre-treat them with a gentle stain remover,’ she adds, as it will make it easier for a colder wash to do its job.

There are plenty of laundry detergents formulated specifically for use in colder temperatures if you are concerned about killing dust mites or bacteria, such as Tide Pods from Walmart.

3. Avoid using fabric softener

A laundry basket with fodled sheets and laundry detergent bottles

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Knowing how to use fabric softener in laundry is not as straightforward as we would like it to be. While it certainly has a place in some laundry loads, it is best avoided when washing bamboo bedding – even when you want to soften your bedding up a bit, warns Eliana Coca, cleaning expert and owner of E.C. House Cleaning. Despite its name, fabric softener can coat the delicate bamboo fibers and make them stiff, resulting in scratchier sheets. It also damages the natural antimicrobial properties and prevents moisture wicking.

‘For detergent, choose a mild, liquid detergent that is free of bleach and fabric softener,’ Eliana continues. ‘Harsh chemicals can weaken the bamboo fibers over time. I recommend brands like Seventh Generation, at Walmart or Method laundry detergent at Amazon, which are both eco-friendly and gentle on fabrics.

4. Air dry where possible

laundry room with wooden drying rack and shirt

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There are several benefits to air-drying laundry, but it is essential for bamboo bedding, urges Tamara Jarrar, bamboo fabric expert. Any process that minimizes how much heat your bedding is exposed to and reduces abrasions is a must to help prolong the life of your bedding, she explains.

‘To extend the life of your bamboo bedding, air dry it on a drying rack or clothesline. Avoid direct sunlight, which can fade the fabric.

‘If you must use a dryer, select a low heat setting and tumble dry on low. Remove the bedding promptly to avoid wrinkles. Using dryer balls can help keep the fabric soft and reduce drying time. Then, only iron if necessary, and use a low heat setting. High heat can damage bamboo fibers


Do bamboo sheets shrink after washing?

As with many natural fiber bed sheets, bamboo sheets can be prone to some shrinkage when they are first washed. As long as you wash the sheets correctly, paying attention to the laundry symbols on the care label, this shrinkage should be minimal and not affect use. If your bedding shrinks significantly, check that you washed it on the correct heat and settings, and contact the retailer if there are any issues.

Why are my bamboo sheets scratchy?

If your bamboo sheets feel scratchy, it might be that they have been washed, dried, or ironed on too high a heat. High temperatures cause the bamboo fibers to break, leading to rougher material and damage. To avoid this, wash, dry, and iron on cold (skipping the dryer and iron altogether if you can) to keep your sheets soft.

It is not just how you wash your bamboo bedding that can impact its lifespan. To keep your bedding softer for longer, bedding expert Donna Chambers recommends ‘storing your bamboo bedding in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent discoloration and degradation. Only handle with clean hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt to the fabric,’ she adds.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.