Is Bamboo Antibacterial?

Bamboo is something that was once associated with pandas, but now it is more commonly known for being eco-friendly.

In recent years, as there has been a huge push on switching to products that are better for the environment, the full potential of bamboo has quickly been recognized.

Now there are all sorts of eco-friendly alternatives that are produced using bamboo. 

In the wild, bamboo has naturally antibacterial properties, and this has got a lot of people wondering if these properties translate into the various different eco-friendly products made using bamboo.

So, are bamboo clothes, bamboo toothbrushes, and bamboo towels antibacterial? 

In this guide, we’ll be establishing whether, or not, bamboo is antibacterial, whether, or not this matters, and lots more. So with no further ado, let’s dive right in. 

Is Bamboo Antibacterial?

In short, yes, bamboo is antibacterial. Bamboo is a plant, and just like many other plants, bamboo is also naturally antibacterial. This is a fact that wasn’t known for a very long time, but was suspected.

Then in 2012, the Journal of Textile Institute conducted a study which proved that bamboo carries natural antibacterial properties.

This study was conducted on Australian-grown ‘Moso Bamboo’, and the antibacterial properties were found in the ‘lignin’ of the plant. 

Lignin is found within the cell walls of the plants, and it is made up of a series of complex polymers. It is lignin that gives bamboo its solid shape and appearance, and it is also lignin that protects the bamboo plant from harm by weather and external forces. It is partly able to do this because of the natural antibacterial qualities of Moso Bamboo. 

But, Moso Bamboo isn’t the only plant of this kind that is thought to have antibacterial qualities. It is also thought that Japanese bamboo carries antibacterial qualities too.

However, in Japan it is thought that the antibacterial properties of the plant are not found in the lignin, instead it is found in the shoots.

This is why Japan is considering using bamboo shoots as antibacterial material in the near future.

However, this study didn’t solely find that bamboo is antibacterial. In fact, they also found that bamboo could potentially be a source of antibiotics in the future.

The study found that Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli are located in the skin of the bamboo shoot.

This potentially means that in the future, we could be prescribed antibiotics sourced from bamboo in the future. 

Why does it matter if Fabric is Antibacterial?

Bamboo isn’t the only plant that carries antibacterial properties, but for whatever reason, bamboo is the plant that a lot of people focus their attention on. Perhaps this is because bamboo is widely used to produce so many eco-friendly products.

In particular, one thing that a lot of people tend to focus on is whether, or not, these antibacterial properties continue to exist once the bamboo has been transformed into fabric. But why is this?

It is not always important for fabric to be antibacterial. But, there are some situations in which it does matter. In recent years, bamboo has been used to create a variety of different cleaning products and tools.

Additionally, bamboo has also been used to create things such as toothbrushes. With all of these different pieces of equipment, antibacterial properties are very important. 

Antibacterial, or antimicrobial, properties mean that bacteria, and other microorganisms (like germs) cannot attach to the surface of the material.

As well as preventing these harmful microorganisms from attaching to the surface of the material, these properties also prevent them from growing on the fabric.

This means that any germs which do find themselves on the surface of this material, will not survive, reducing the risk of illnesses and infections associated with bacteria and germs. 

Do Bamboo Products have Antibacterial Properties?

So, we know that bamboo in its natural form has antibacterial properties, but what about once the bamboo has been transformed into its new form?

The simple answer is that we don’t know. In its natural form, bamboo is antibacterial, and this is because of the lignin within it.

So, the only way for bamboo products to still have these antibacterial properties is if the lignin has been preserved during the transformation process. 

A lot of the time, manufacturers will not consider the preservation of the lignin during the process of creating items using bamboo.

Due to this, you will find that a lot of the time, bamboo products do not retain the natural antibacterial properties, and so they are not antibacterial. 

However, this will depend entirely on the type of product that is being made using bamboo, and the manufacturer that is making the products.

For example, with some types of bamboo products, like the ones that we mentioned earlier, antibacterial properties would be more important.

Due to this, you might find that some manufacturers advertise that their products are antibacterial, in which case it is likely the manufacturer has taken extra care to ensure that the lignin is not damaged during the production process. 

What Does This Mean?

So, we have given you a lot of information in this guide regarding whether, or not, bamboo is antibacterial, and this can be a little confusing. With that in mind, let’s have a quick run down of the facts. 

It has been scientifically proven that in its natural form, bamboo does have antibacterial properties. The majority of the time, these are found in the lignin, but they can also be found in the shoots of the bamboo.

The natural antibacterial properties of bamboo are very appealing for some manufacturers, especially those using bamboo to create products where these properties are important. 

However, just because bamboo naturally has antibacterial properties, this doesn’t mean that they will automatically be transferred into products that are made of bamboo.

Whether, or not, this happens will depend entirely on the production process, and if the lignin has been preserved during this time.

So, yes, bamboo is antibacterial, but just because of this, you shouldn’t assume that any bamboo products that you buy are also antibacterial as this will depend entirely on the manufacturer and the processes that they use.