According to a study on bamboo and cotton fabrics from the Department of Textile Engineering of the Jawaharlal Darda Institute of Engineering and Technology in Maharashtra, India, bamboo is much more comfortable than cotton.
Below are the main facts of comfortable bamboo fabrics versus cotton fabrics:
Length of Fibres
Bamboo fibres are hairier than cotton fibres, being sometimes three times longer. The average upper-half length of bamboo has an index of almost 39 versus cotton fibres at almost 30. The average length overall of bamboo versus cotton is about 36 versus 24. However, when spun into yarn, bamboo is less hairy and thus provides a smoother surface and produces smoother woven or knitted textiles.
The length of a fibre equates to softness because the fabric woven from it has fewer ends overall, and fewer ends stick out of the yarn. This makes a softer fabric because there is a larger area of smoother fibre sides than tips. Bamboo fabric is therefore more comfortable because of its longer fibres. Moreover, short bamboo fibres are uncommon, almost half as many as cotton has.
Quality of Fibres
Cotton fibres and the fabrics they make are stiffer and rougher than bamboo. Bamboo fibres are also stretchier by 4.78 %, and have greater tensile strength. Fabric made from bamboo in addition maintains its softness even after stress is applied because its fibres are naturally durable and soft.
Bamboo produces a more durable fabric because its fibres are more resilient and elastic. They do not fray and the fabric does not tear easily, even after being stretched. Bamboo fabric also regains its original form – or the form of the weave – afterwards. Even when it is wet, bamboo fibres exhibit good tensile resistance and adequate tenacity.
In comparison, cotton fabrics are stiffer so they give greater resistance when worn, for instance.
Bamboo fibres also resist pilling – or entanglement – because of the longer, smoother fibres, and because they do not easily fray. For the same reasons, they also have a much lower rate of spirality, which means there are less uneven loops that occur during the weaving process. This means that there are fewer distortions in the pattern and shape of the fabric, which cause it to feel rough. Bamboo fabrics furthermore have better GSM, or weight, which contribute to its durability without affecting its softness.
All these factors make bamboo more comfortable than cotton. even after prolonged use and many washings.
Bamboo fabrics almost invariably have micro gaps and micro holes in them. These holes make the fabric more breathable, moisture absorptive and moisture wicking. Bamboo fabrics draw moisture away from the skin and bring it to the surface for faster evaporation. Thus, items made from bamboo are more comfortable close to the skin. Bamboo is the best material for sportswear, sanitary pads, nursing pads, and clothing and all types of bedding for warmer climates.
Bamboo fibres can moreover be spun without blending, creating a pure fabric of softer fibres that has better drapability than cotton. This makes an excellent material for clothing, curtains and furniture covers as it is more comfortable against the skin and hanging on the body.