When it comes to buying clothing, the fabric options have expanded far beyond just cotton, hemp, silk, polyester, and viscose. Bamboo and Tencel are two organic materials that have become solid choices. There are several similarities between the two, from raw materials (they’re both rayon fabrics made from cellulose), to the manufacturing process, and to their final properties. Here’s a comprehensive guide comparing bamboo and Tencel in order to help you make an informed decision on which fabric is right for you.
Bamboo. As it can grow up to one yard per day, bamboo is a sustainable wood source, which makes it environmentally sound. When harvested, bamboo’s roots aren’t destroyed, which means that the plant can continue growing. Bamboo fabrics are smooth, soft, durable, and breathable, “wicking” moisture away from the body. Bamboo clothing washes well at low temperatures, dries quickly, and doesn't require softener or any special washing care.
Tencel. The eucalyptus trees Tencel is made from are a sustainable energy source. Plus, the Tencel fabric production process stops the solvent from leaking into the environment and doesn’t use dangerous chemicals. Therefore, Tencel is one of the better environmental choices when it comes to clothing material. Tencel shirts have a smooth, soft feel and are suitable for those with sensitive skin, that’s easily irritated. Tencel fibers are very durable, absorbent, hygienic, and breathable. It's a material that you can easily wash, it will dry quickly, and it doesn't require softener.
The main difference between the relative newcomer Tencel and its sister material, bamboo, is the solvent used in the dissolution process turning wood into pulp. In the chemical production of bamboo, the solvent is sodium hydroxide, which is corrosive and can be harmful to the surrounding environment. Tencel, on the other hand, uses N-methyl morpholine N-oxide (NMMO), a solvent that isn’t as harmful to the environment. Additionally, Tencel recycles 99% of the water that is used in its production, which is not the case for bamboo.
Another important difference is that while bamboo is a plant that doesn’t require many pesticides, Tencel is made from guaranteed sustainability harvested trees; plus, the production process is closed-loop. This makes Tencel the more sustainable option out of the two materials.
And that’s why at NUMI, we use 95% Tencel and 5% Lycra to make our top-notch undershirts for women - long sleeve, short sleeve, mock neck, scoop neck, and more. So they can be super-soft, comfy, and luxurious. It’s the perfect combination for a compression slimming shirt you can wear under any top!