Why Do Bamboo Sheets Pill? 8 Tips to Prevent Pilling

So, you just purchased a new set of bamboo sheets and after a few washes, they are pilling. What is going on? Is there something wrong with your bamboo sheets? Chances are high that it’s just the nature of the fabric type and has nothing to do with the quality of the sheets.

But before we talk about why your bamboo sheets are pilling let’s start by identifying what pilling really is and why it occurs.

What is pilling?

Have you ever worn a sweater or another type of knit item and noticed those little balls of fabric all over the surface? That’s pilling.

Pilling is a lot like those little knots that pop up in sweaters. It is the result of loose fibers that work their way out of the knit fabric to create those little balls. Pilling usually occurs after washing, but can happen over time due to abrasion.

Why do bamboo sheets pill?

The most common reason bamboo sheets pill is washing them in water that is too hot. Other reasons that can cause bamboo sheets to pill include; using harsh detergents, drying them in direct sunlight, or excess friction from a washing machine.

Do all bamboo sheets pill?

Both bamboo rayon, as well as bamboo viscose sheets, are prone to pilling. Some blends of bamboo and cotton sheets suffer less from pilling. However, they aren’t as soft or breathable as pure bamboo sheets.

How do I stop my bamboo sheets from pilling?

Following proper washing instructions and reducing friction will help reduce pilling in your bamboo sheets.

Here are some more tips to help reduce pilling in bamboo sheets:

1- Wash in Cold Water- Only wash bamboo sheets in cold water. For tough stains that require a hotter setting, use the delicate cycle and wash in lukewarm water.

2- Use Gentle Detergent- Look for a detergent that is gentle and free from harsh chemicals. Avoid detergents that have any of the following in their ingredients:

  • Bleach
  • Dyes and Perfumes
  • Phthalates
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
  • Petroleum distillates
  • Formaldehyde

3- Reduce Friction- Consider putting your bamboo sheets inside of a pillowcase before washing and set your washing machine to “delicate”. This will reduce the abrasion that is caused by the inside of the washer drum. Furthermore, avoid overloading your washing machine to reduce friction during agitation cycles.

4- Wash Separately- Be sure to wash your bamboo sheets separately from other items such as towels, jeans, or items with zippers, buttons, or other metal objects. This will reduce the risk of pilling caused by chafing or snagging.

5- Less Washing- You should try to keep your bamboo sheets clean for longer and reduce the number of times you need to wash them. I have put together a complete guide with simple tips to keep in mind before jumping into bed next time.

Guide to keep your bamboo sheets clean for longer!

6- Correct Size- Mattresses come in different shapes and sizes and using the wrong sheet size will cause them to pill more frequently. Make sure to use the right size sheet that isn’t too tight or too loose over your mattress.

7- Sunlight- Keep your bamboo sheets away from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to UV light can damage the fabric and weaken it over time. This will make the bamboo fabric stiffer and less elastic.

8- Drying in the Dryer- Tumble drying your bamboo sheets can cause them to pill and become rough because of friction. I would recommend line drying them instead which will dry much faster and preserve the fabric’s quality over time.


Pilling in bamboo sheets is common but can be prevented. Washing your sheets in cold water, using gentle detergents, and reducing friction will help reduce pilling. Furthermore, line drying your sheets will reduce pilling and is a great choice for preserving the fabric’s softness and quality over time.

If you do notice that your bamboo sheets are starting to pill then take the steps listed above to help keep pilling under control and extend their life. Follow these simple tips and you will significantly increase the lifespan of your sheets, making them last for years to come.

Molly E

Molly is a mother, wife, and part-time blogger. She has a passion for finding the latest Green Products for all her family needs!