Are bamboo tea towels better than cotton?

bamboo tea towels hanging on a washing line with a mountain background

Yes, we think so! Bamboo tea towels are more sustainably made, absorb water much better and super strong bamboo makes them more durable than cotton tea towels.

Sustainability; Bamboo vs Cotton

In terms of sustainability, bamboo tea towels are often considered more environmentally friendly than cotton. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires fewer resources, such as water and pesticides, compared to cotton.

Bamboo is also typically harvested using sustainable practices, as it can regenerate quickly without the need for replanting.

On the other hand, conventional cotton production is known to be water-intensive and often involves the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Even organic cotton, when it avoids the use of pesticides, is still water intensive using almost 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton, which is equivalent to approximately one t-shirt or a pair of jeans.

Whenever you’re faced with a bamboo fabric vs cotton option, bamboo will always win hands down when it comes to sustainability factors.

Absorption; Bamboo vs Cotton

Cotton fibers may have a natural ability to absorb moisture, making them excellent for tasks like drying dishes and wiping up spills, but they hold onto that moisture making them breeding grounds for bacteria.

Bamboo towels are often considered more absorbent than cotton towels due to several factors related to the structure and properties of bamboo fibers.

One key factor is the microstructure of bamboo fibers. Bamboo fibers have a unique round and smooth cross-section, which allows them to have more surface area compared to the flat and twisted shape of cotton fibers. This increased surface area provides more opportunities for the fibers to come into contact with moisture, enhancing their absorbency.

Bamboo fibers are highly hygroscopic, meaning they can attract and hold water molecules. This inherent moisture-wicking property of bamboo makes it excellent at absorbing liquids. When used in towel manufacturing, bamboo fibers can quickly draw moisture away from surfaces, such as wet hands or dishes, and into the towel itself.

Bamboo towels also tend to have a looser and more porous weave compared to cotton towels. This increased openness in the fabric structure allows for better water penetration and absorption. The loose weave also facilitates faster drying, preventing the growth of bacteria or mildew within the towel.


Durability is an important factor to consider when choosing tea towels. Cotton tea towels are known for their strength and durability. They can withstand frequent washing and tend to retain their shape and texture over time.

However, bamboo tea towels are also generally durable. Bamboo fibers have a higher tensile strength compared to cotton fibers. Tensile strength refers to the ability of a material to withstand tension or pulling forces without breaking.

Bamboo fibers are known for their strong and sturdy nature, allowing them to withstand daily wear and tear, repeated use, and frequent washing. This inherent strength contributes to the overall durability of bamboo towels.


In terms of look and feel, both bamboo and cotton tea towels have their own aesthetic appeal.

Cotton tea towels often have a classic, natural look and feel. They come in various colors, patterns, and textures, allowing for a wide range of design options. Bamboo tea towels, on the other hand, have a smooth and silky texture. They can add a touch of elegance to your kitchen with their lustrous appearance.

Furthermore, bamboo towels are generally less prone to pilling compared to cotton towels. Pilling refers to the formation of small, tangled balls of fibers on the surface of the fabric. Bamboo fibers have a smoother surface and are less likely to undergo the friction that causes pilling. This characteristic helps maintain the aesthetic appeal of bamboo towels and ensures their longevity.

Color options for both bamboo and cotton tea towels are typically plentiful. Cotton tea towels can be easily dyed in a variety of vibrant colors, allowing for more customization. Bamboo tea towels often retain their natural light color or may be dyed using eco-friendly dyes. The color options for bamboo tea towels may be slightly more limited compared to cotton, but they can still complement your kitchen d├ęcor effectively.

What about blended fabrics?

Tea towels can be made from a blend of bamboo and cotton fibers, offering a combination of their respective benefits. Blended tea towels may have enhanced absorbency from the cotton fibers while retaining the sustainability and softness of bamboo. These blends can provide a good balance between functionality and eco-consciousness.

Ultimately, the choice between bamboo and cotton tea towels depends on your personal preferences and priorities. If sustainability is a key concern, which for us it is, bamboo tea towels may be a preferable option.

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