What’s The Difference Between Bamboo and Tencel Sheets?

With the different types of bed sheets available these days, it can be confusing to navigate the differences between all of them. What are the softest? Which ones last the longest? Does this type or that type pill easier? In this article, we’ll examine the difference between two of the newer types of sheets available on the market: tencel and bamboo.

What Are Bamboo Sheets Really Made of?

The truth is that sheets that are labeled as being made from “bamboo” are a tad bit misleading in that it makes it sound like the sheets are somehow made of strangely spun bamboo fibers, but this just isn’t the case.

Bamboo is a type of grass that grows all over the world. It grows quickly and is sturdy enough that it has been used for many different applications for thousands of years. Fabric the way we know it, however, has been a recent development in the usage of bamboo.

There are two different ways that bamboo becomes fabric; mechanical processing or chemical treatment. The mechanical method requires that the bamboo be crushed into a pulp and then a natural enzyme is used to finish it off. When the fibers are combed out afterward and then spun, we get bamboo thread.

Chemically treated bamboo isn’t as “clean”, because it involves using lye or caustic soda to break down the bamboo instead of crushing it mechanically. The chemicals that have to be used aren’t that good for nature, so the mechanical method is preferred by environmentalists. Bamboo produced through this method is referred to as a type of rayon.

Characteristics of Bamboo Sheets

  • Soft
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Antibacterial
  • Durable

What Are Tencel Sheets Really Made Of?

Tencel is a brand name of a another type of fabric that has been processed from wood pulp (Eucalyptus wood, to be exact) in a similar fashion to the bamboo we just covered. Generically, it’s called lyocell. The processing method used to make Tencel is purely chemical, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the process to make it is bad for the environment. Tencel is made using a “closed loop process”, which means that all of the solvent that is used is reclaimed during production and does not escape into the environment.

Characteristics of Tencel Sheets

  • Soft
  • Breathable, but not as much as natural fibers
  • Resists wrinkling & shrinking
  • Color fast
  • Hydrophilic – absorbs moisture well

Should I Buy Tencel or Bamboo Sheets?

The main difference between these is that Tencel is lyocell derived from eucalyptus trees, while bamboo sheets are made from either lyocell or viscose that is derived from bamboo. In the chemical production of bamboo, the solvent used (methylmorpholine N-oxide) is harmful to the environment.

In terms of feel and comfort, these sheets are very similar. They’re soft and durable overall; the slight negative mark on Tencel is that they absorb water and may have a tendency to mildew if they’re not dried soon after washing.