Is Bamboo Cloth Diapers Synthetic or Natural fibers?

27 Feb
Giant Bamboo in Ecuador
Image via Wikipedia

Both our girls have bad eczema so we only use cloth diapers made from natural fibers to prevent the condition from getting worst plus I am just not comfortable with the thought of my baby’s bum covered in plastic. I am a huge fan of organic cotton diapers because they are so luxuriously soft, breathable and I am sure my baby’s butt love the feel too.  I am always on the lookout for top quality natural diapers to add to my store  Natural Pure Essentials. I was very happy when companies started making cloth diapers from bamboo because I had read of all the great natural antibacterial properties bamboo has…until I started doing research.

Is bamboo really natural? Bamboo is a natural however to convert it into a fabric it has to be broken down or processed.  Bamboo fibers are made in 2 ways 1. mechanically or 2. chemically. When bamboo fiber is manufactured mechanically, the bamboo is dissolved (broken down) using natural enzymes and the result is called bamboo linen. When bamboo fiber is manufactured  chemically, the result is called bamboo rayon. The term rayon is used to describe the method used to create fiber not an actual product All rayon is made from a natural source such as bamboo, wood and cotton pulp.  Bamboo rayon is processed (broken down) into cellulose using seriously highly toxic chemicals such as caustic soda  and then regenerated to make bamboo.

Why is bamboo rayon classified as a synthetic fabric if it comes from a natural source?  Base on my understanding, natural fiber does not need to be altered, treated, converted to be used. For example, cotton can be picked once ready, cleaned by hand and weave into yarn to be used. Bamboo rayon however cannot be used in its’ natural state but has to be either mechanically or chemically broken into strands or cellulose before it can be made into fibers.

Manufacturing bamboo using the mechanical method is very expensive and therefore companies choose to use the chemical method. Bamboo linen is said to be scratchy and not smooth and soft while bamboo rayon is soft. This may also help to explain why cloth diapers are made with bamboo rayon. Many companies use bamboo natural antibacterial properties as a selling point but one should note that bamboo rayon does not retain its antibacterial properties after undergoing so many chemical baths.

Because bamboo is an  eco-friendly and sustainable grass, many companies are now looking into safer, environmentally friendlier and cost efficient ways to manufacturer bamboo naturally. I found one cloth diaper company that stated the bamboo used in their diapers is manufactured using the closed loop system which basically is a system that prevents the toxic gas from escaping into the air.

So the bottom line, bamboo rayon is natural as it is derived from a natural. However, the most common way to make bamboo into fiber means it has to be subjected to tons of chemicals.  Bamboo rayon is a much better alternative to microfiber, micro suede micro fleece and is hypoallergenic, breathable, and absorbent.


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