Always enclosed in your shoes, socks should provide proper blood flow and fit to your feet. While synthetic materials suffocate the skin of your feet, natural fabrics let them breathe and ensure maximum comfort. However, when it comes to bamboo, in particular, there are some advantages and disadvantages of bamboo socks to consider.
Dissecting their practical, health, and environmental impact, we decided to delve deep into the sustainability of bamboo socks, exploring why they’re beneficial both for your health and the environment. So, let’s dive right into it.
Are Bamboo Socks Sustainable?
Absolutely! Bamboo socks are hypoallergenic, sustainable, and biodegradable. The production of the fabric itself requires no pesticides or fertilizers, as it naturally repels pests and diseases. What’s more, bamboo socks feature moisture-wicking properties, keeping your feet healthy and sweat-free.
Why Is Bamboo Ideal for Socks?
Unlike synthetic fibers, bamboo does not have to be sprayed with finishes in order to be moisture-wicking. The textile is inherently hypoallergenic, antibacterial, thermoregulating, and most importantly, moisture-wicking – meaning it absorbs moisture and sweat from your feet.
So, bid farewell to sweaty feet – bamboo socks will keep your foot companions dry, odor-, and sweat-free.
What Are the Disadvantages of Bamboo Socks?
Bamboo socks are not only expensive but also high maintenance. If you don’t follow the care instructions carefully, they might shrink. They’re also slow to dry, as compared to cotton socks.
However, alongside the practical disadvantages of bamboo socks, we should also look at its larger environmental impact and sustainability.
Slow to Dry
The biggest practical disadvantage of organic bamboo socks is that they take longer to dry. If you’re an eco fashionista who prefers to air dry clothes, this is going to be especially problematic. The reason behind this lies in bamboo’s moisture-wicking properties – the fabrics holds on to water more, as compared to wool, linen, or cotton.
Yet, if you air dry your socks in sunny weather, it’s possible to speed up the drying process. Alternatively, you can machine dry it on a low heat setting.
Sustainability Concerns: Greenwashing Around Bamboo
When shopping for a pair of bamboo socks, you may think you’re making a conscious choice. With rampant greenwashing around the fabric, however, this is only an innocent assumption.
Converting rigid bamboo fibers into soft yarns poses many challenges to retailers, which necessitates the use of sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. Unfortunately, chemical processing alters the physio-mechanical properties of the fabric, decreasing its protection against mold, bacteria, and fungi. For this reason, it’s crucial to avoid greenwashing around the fabric, assessing whether it’s mechanically or chemically processed.
If you’re looking to leverage the full spectrum of its benefits, look for bamboo that’s organic and produced under strict regulations. The GOTS standard ensures that bamboo contains a minimum of 70% organic fibers, adhering to strict regulations and environmental standards.
Pay Extra Attention To The Texture
Among the disadvantages of bamboo socks, the biggest one lies in its texture. Unfortunately, only chemically processed bamboo fabrics appear snuggly, comfortable, and soft to the touch.
The soft, synthetic bamboo fabrics are called viscose or rayon, which, despite their pleasant texture, harm your health and the planet. They are made of wood pulp derived from bamboo. To produce them, the plant is chopped into small chunks, treated with caustic soda, and later processed to isolate the cellulose.
Ultimately, 100% organic bamboo fabric feels rough and scratchy to the touch. Given that, look out for the biggest red flag in the bamboo socks space – brands advertising bamboo fabrics as silky, smooth, and soft most likely use synthetic viscose or rayon.
With compounds like carbon disulfide or the aforementioned sodium hydroxide, synthetic bamboo production involves a toxic cocktail of chemicals. Natural bamboo fabrics, on the other hand, are soaked in natural enzymes.
Hence, before falling for the trap for soft textures, make sure that the fabric is organic and mechanically processed. This way, you will protect your feet from a myriad of toxins and potential carcinogens.
Care Instructions for Bamboo Socks
Natural bamboo socks require sensitive care and regular washing. To ensure that the fabric retains its properties, you should wash the socks separately in cold water while using a gentle detergent.
You may use a non-toxic fabric softener in certain cases. However, avoid ironing or tumble drying bamboo socks – this way, you’ll be able to preserve their texture, color, and antibacterial properties in the long-run.
To sum up, here are some bite-sized care instructions to follow for bamboo socks:
- Hand Washing: When it comes to delicate fabrics that are prone to damage, hand washing is the safest method to disinfect your items. Simply fill the sink with cold water with a few drops of gentle detergent. Use your hands to wash the items in gentle motions, then rinse with cold water.
- Machine Washing: Using a gentle cycle and a mild detergent, wash your bamboo socks in a separate mesh laundry bag. This way, you’ll be able to reduce friction during the wash cycle – hence, protecting your items.
- Adjust The Water Temperature: Like other plant-based fabrics, bamboo is sensitive to high temperatures. So, make sure to only wash it in lukewarm or cold water to avoid shrinkage.
Is Bamboo a Sustainable Material?
Unlike cotton, which is a widely used plant-based fiber, organic bamboo does not require the use of pesticides to grow. This makes it an excellent choice for sustainable textile production.
Bamboo is derived from the bamboo plant, which grows very fast, is cheap, and widely accessible in tropical climates. Typically, it is harvested in every 3-4 years, converting the woody chunks of the plant into a soft mass, which is later manually transformed into yarn.
While the production process is time- and labor-intensive, it does not expend any substantial resources, assuming the absence of chemical processing in its production. Therefore, as a renewable resource that necessitates less space to grow, bamboo is considered a sustainable material.
Bamboo textiles are derived from bamboo leaves and the inner pith of the plant, which are manually extracted through steaming and transformed into pulp. Unfortunately, in the case of viscose or rayon, which is artificially treated bamboo, the pulp undergoes intense chemical processing, particularly, through carbon disulfide and sodium hydroxide (also known as lye).
Considering this, among the biggest disadvantages of bamboo socks lies in their unknown origins. Many retailers refuse to disclose information on manufacturing processes, falsely advertising synthetic bamboo fabrics as eco-friendly.
The Fastest Growing Plant
Regarded as the fastest growing plant in the world, bamboo can grow more than a meter every day. In fact, the Moso bamboo plant can grow up to 1.2m in a day and reach 24 meters in 40-50 days.
The growth of the plant can be facilitated entirely by natural rainwater. This removes the need for artificial irrigation or chemicals, ensuring its organic status.
Soft and breathable, bamboo textiles are ideal for hygiene products like masks, mattresses, or medical apparel. In fact, research shows that 100% bamboo fibers exhibit better antibacterial properties, as compared to cotton.
When it comes to socks, the textile brings additional benefits of deodorization, thermoregulation, and antistatic properties, which are important for the health of your feet.
After all, the skin of your feet is always in contact with various viruses, bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms – so, it is crucial to prioritize socks made of natural fabrics like bamboo that prevent infection and irritation.
Bamboo represents a strong and sturdy material, which has been in use for thousands of years around the world. The fabric truly stands the test of time, prolonging the lifecycle of your favorite pairs of socks.
Naturally, bamboo contains “bamboo kun”, an anti-microbial agent that prevents fungi, repels harmful bacteria, and eliminates odor. The natural component is rooted deep into the bamboo cells, preserving their anti-odor properties for years on.
Pro Tip: When choosing your favorite pair of bamboo socks, take notice of whether it features bamboo kun, ensuring that it keeps harmful bacteria away from your feet.
Mechanical vs Chemical Manufacturing
Bamboo socks tend to feel either very soft or ramie-like, depending on whether the fabric is chemically or mechanically manufactured. However, the latter is challenging to determine, which is among the biggest disadvantages of bamboo socks.
In order to maximize its antibacterial properties, it is crucial to opt for mechanically manufactured bamboo, as it retains the natural ‘micro gaps’ of the textile and its inherent structure. Besides, it is more environmentally friendly due to the lack of chemical processing.
So, as a sustainable fashion enthusiast, make sure to do some background research on fabric manufacturing when investing in bamboo socks.
Are Bamboo Socks Antifungal?
Fashion retailers claim that many bamboo products, including socks, are antifungal while providing little to no evidence to back it up. Yet, they refuse to disclose information on how the bamboo is sourced, making it impossible to investigate the antifungal properties of the textiles that they use.
Are Bamboo Socks Good for Your Feet?
Research shows that feet contain more sweat glands than any other area of your body. For this reason, the moisture-wicking, antifungal, and antibacterial properties of bamboo socks are the secret to happy feet.
Are Bamboo Socks As Warm As Wool?
While both fabrics feature thermoregulatory properties, wool socks are considered to be warmer than bamboo ones. The former have better insulation properties, however, are not as moisture-wicking.
How to Wash Bamboo Socks?
To maintain their longevity, you should wash bamboo socks by hand in lukewarm or cold water. Avoid aggressive rubbing and friction, only using gentle, pH-neutral detergents that are suitable for delicate fabrics.
How Long Can You Wear Bamboo Socks For?
Assuming that you follow care instructions carefully, bamboo socks can last you for a year or longer with regular use. However, in case of stretching, shrinking, or staining, it’s reasonable to replace them faster.