What is Bamboo Viscose? What You Should Know

Source bamboo growing

What is Bamboo Viscose?

Bamboo viscose, also known as bamboo rayon, is a regenerated cellulose fiber that has become a popular textile for comfortable clothing and bedding. Consumers love it for the silky soft, sweat-wicking, and breathable feel of the fabric. Clothing made from bamboo is often marketed as being environmentally friendly since the bamboo source grows quickly and abundantly worldwide and requires little in the way of fertilizer or water. The production of turning the bamboo into viscose or bamboo rayon requires an extensive chemical process so the environmental impact and benefits can be somewhat questionable.

Charastictics of Bamboo Viscose

Clothes made from bamboo viscose are characterized by a lightweight, silky soft, smooth feel that is breathable and moisture-wicking. Many consumers love the gentle feel on the skin that is surprising for a relatively inexpensive fabrication. It is usually thermo-regulating, so it is cozy in winter, and cool in summer, this same feature also makes it an excellent choice for exercise gear since it helps keep your body temperature regulated.

How to Clean and Care for Bamboo Viscose

You should always check any garments label before laundering. Generally, bamboo should be washed in cold to warm water with a gentle detergent. Depending on the clothing item you may want to use a gentle cycle when washing. Bamboo viscose can be air-dried or dried on a low heat cycle. Don’t use bleach on bamboo viscose and you can iron this fabric on very low heat.

Is Bamboo Viscose Environmentally Friendly

It depends. The bamboo grows very quickly doesn’t need fertilizer or pesticides to grow. It also doesn’t need much water, so it generally just needs rainwater as its water source. It is also fast-growing (some species grow up to one meter a day) and regenerating. It sounds good, right? Not so fast. The problems arise when the source bamboo is turned into the bamboo viscose. The bamboo is dissolved in a chemical solution of carbon disulfide and then pumped into a vat of sulfuric acid. The substance that comes out of the vat is what is then formed into the threads that ultimately become bamboo rayon. This chemical process can be harmful to workers’ health and the surrounding environment in which it is made.

Some of the more environmentally conscious brands process the bamboo in a closed-loop system where all of the chemicals are recycled or captured and contained, which can be better for the environment and the workers than a lot of the general bamboo viscose processing.