According to a study published in May 2014 at the Department of Textile Engineering of the Jawaharlal Darda Institute of Engineering and Technology in Maharashtra, India, bamboo is much more comfortable than cotton.
Here are the essential facts of comfortable bamboo fibres versus cotton fibres:
Bamboo fibres are hairier than cotton fibres, sometimes three times longer than cotton fibres. The average upper-half length of bamboo versus cotton fibres is about 39 versus 30, while the average length overall is about 36 versus 24. However, when made into yarn, bamboo is less hairy, providing a smoother surface and producing smoother woven or knitted textiles.
The length of the fibre means that the cloth woven from it has fewer ends. This makes a softer fabric because there is a greater area of smoother fibre sides than tips. Bamboo fabric is therefore more comfortable as it has longer fibres, and short fibres are uncommon - almost half the index of cotton.
Cotton fibres are stiffer and rougher than bamboo fibres. Bamboo fibres are stretchier by 4.78 %, making it more tensile resilient. Fabric made from them also maintains its softness even after strain is applied due to the durable and naturally soft quality of the fibres themselves.
Bamboo makes a better fabric because its fibres are more resilient and elastic. They do not fray or tear easily, even when pressure is applied. Bamboo weaves also regain their original form after the pressure is removed. Even when wet, bamboo fibres exhibit good tensile resistance and adequate tenacity.
In comparison, cotton fabrics are stiffer than bamboo fabrics, giving greater resistance when worn, for instance.
Furthermore, bamboo fibres resist pilling - or entanglement - because the fibres are long, smooth and do not easily fray. They also have a much lower rate of spirality - or uneven loops in the weave - for the same reasons, meaning that there are fewer pattern and shape distortions in the weave that cause a rough feel. Bamboo fabrics also have a greater GSM, or weight, for the same reasons, which contribute to its durability without affecting its softness.
This all makes bamboo more comfortable than cotton, even after long use and many washings.
Other Bamboo Comfort Factors
Bamboo weaves generally produce fabrics with micro gaps and micro holes. These holes increase its breathability, moisture absorption and moisture wicking properties. With the ability to draw moisture away from the skin and release it for faster evaporation, items made from bamboo are more comfortable to have closer to the skin. It is the best material for sportswear, sanitary pads, nursing pads, and clothing and all types of bedding for warm climates.
Bamboo fibres can be spun without blending, creating a fabric that is softer and has better drapability - the way it hangs - than cotton. This makes an excellent material for clothing, curtains and furniture covers.