Over the years, bed sheets have been made of many things besides cotton, but one of the most surprising as of late has been sheets made of bamboo fiber. Using bamboo as a textile, however, has been done for centuries to make everything from hats to scarves to shirts and other types of clothing.
Egyptian cotton has also been used for centuries to make textiles for many different types of linen and clothing products and has long been known for its high quality and durability.
What’s the difference between the two?
Let’s find out.
Bamboo: How It's Made Into Textiles
Bamboo textiles are made from the fibers of plants in the Bambusoideae subfamily. There are around 1,400 different species across 115 different genera. In past history bamboo was used mostly for building structures and when used in clothing, only in a structural capacity, such as the ribs of corsets.
Recently, though, there have been different technologies developed that have allowed bamboo fiber to be used in many other textile type applications.
We have a guide to Bamboo sheets where everything about the process of making sheets from Bamboo is made clear and simple.
Egyptian Cotton: An Ancient Textile
Egyptian cotton comes from the plant Gossypium barbadense, also called extra-long staple or ELS cotton. This is a species of cotton that has been expressly bred over thousands of years to produce extra long cotton fibers that are known to result in high quality end products, such as premium bed sheets and clothing.
There are a few varieties of ELS cotton, however, depending on where you are in the world.
- America has Pima cotton
- Egypt has ELS Giza
- India has Suvin
- China has Xinjiang
- WISICA Sea Island cotton is grown in the Caribbean
Even though there are other types of ELS cotton grown worldwide, it’s generally accepted that Egyptian Giza cotton is the highest quality cotton there exists today. There are multiple varieties of Giza cotton produced in Egypt, including:
- Giza 45
- Giza 70
- Giza 77
- Giza 87
- Giza 88
- Giza 92
- Giza 93
Of these, Giza 45 is known to be the best quality of them all.
The Unfortunate Truth About Them Both
The problem with both products is that there have been no stringent marketing standards set down for either of them, resulting in a mass amount of confusion as to which products are legitimate and which are not.
In the case of Egyptian cotton, the confusion results from the fact that any cotton grown in Egypt, even if it’s not ELS Giza cotton, still can legally carry the label of “Egyptian cotton”. The cotton used in the product may be inferior, shorter staple cotton or it may be ELS cotton blended with shorter staple cotton.
What’s unfortunate about most products labeled as being made from bamboo are actually made from rayon that was made using the cellulose that was extracted from bamboo fibers. The bamboo is heavily chemically treated to get to the point where it can be turned into rayon.
This has caused some manufacturers to get in trouble for false advertising with the FTC in the United States, because even though the rayon was made from bamboo, that’s not the same thing as saying that the resulting product, such as sheets or shirts, is made directly from bamboo fibers.
The video below explains.
The Features of Bamboo Sheets
Bamboo sheets are known to be moisture wicking, antimicrobial, deodorizing, and antibacterial. The antimicrobial properties, however, don’t generally survive the production process when bamboo is turned into rayon. When products are actually rayon that is made from bamboo, they must be labeled correctly: “rayon made from bamboo”.
Some consider the fibers in bamboo sheets to be softer than cotton, so many sets aren’t labeled with a thread count.
Bamboo sheets are also durable, but if you leave them in the dryer, they will wrinkle easily.
They are generally not easily damaged with bleach, although the dye used on the material may suffer when exposed to it.
The Features of Egyptian Cotton Sheets
Pure cotton sheets are great for a few different reasons.
The first thing is that they are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, but they also are more temperature stable. On warm days, they will feel cool; on cold days, they will feel warm.
Cotton is also a hypoallergenic fabric, so it’s best for people who have trouble with skin irritations or allergies.