Bamboo fabric, like any other fabric, varies in quality.
Always check the quality (GSM weight) of bamboo terry. GSM stands Grams per Square Metre. The higher the GSM the more absorbent the fabric. The most absorbent used for nappies is 450GSM (SuperPee™) fabric. Most good quality bamboo terry nappies will be between 360GSM-370GSM. Anything less than that will be a lower price but you risk compromising absorbency, if you start looking at 320GSM or sometimes even less, they are cheaper but you may be better going to cotton, if you want a budget option.
LittlePants standard quality products are all 370GS and SuperPee™ products are 450GSM.
The base frame
In bamboo terry fabric, all the loops are woven into a base frame. My research over several years has come up, time and again, with the information that bamboo needs weaving into a polyester base frame, to give durability to a delicate fibre, and to make sure that the loops do not pull, snag and run, and the fabric retains it’s shape. Therefore all LittlePants bamboo terry is 100% bamboo loop woven into a polyester frame.
Absorbency and bulk comparisons
The most absorbent bamboo fabric used in nappies and nappy products is 450GSM SuperPee™. My experiments (unscientific) have shown this has the same absorbency as hemp fleece, which is the most absorbent hemp fabric used in nappy making (hemp is always mixed with cotton for nappy making, as hemp on it’s own is a very coarse fabric and it needs the cotton to soften it) Hemp fleece is slightly less bulky than SuperPee™ fabric, but is more expensive. Bamboo terry is a lot slimmer than cotton terry when comparing like for like absorbency.
Beware hidden MF cores
Many layered so-called bamboo terry nappy products contain a hidden core of Microfibre, so check the details of what you are buying. There is little point in putting microfibre underneath bamboo – MF is used as a fast absorber, but if the wet has to get through the bamboo first, it is not going to do the job. This is particularly prevalent in so-called ‘bamboo’ inserts, but also occurs in some bamboo fitted nappies, so read the small print. If you need a fast absorber layer, add it separately and make sure it is nearest to the skin - a cotton muslin makes an excellent fast absorber if you need to. nb no LittlePants products contain hidden cores.
Mixed fibre terry fabrics
It is possible to get mixed bamboo and cotton terry fabrics, which may be used for nappy products. In my opinion this is not a good mix for nappy making. If you mix bamboo and cotton fibres into one fabric, you end up with a fabric which is still bulky, not as absorbent as 100% bamboo loop terry. However, it still needs the gentle laundering required for bamboo fibres. Therefore in my opinion it is not a good idea use mixed cotton/bamboo fibre terry fabric for nappies.
Laundering bamboo terry
Bamboo terry needs an initial cool, short wash to remove manufacturing residues, but after that it can be washed at higher temperatures. It will become more absorbent after a few washes, but as it is already a very absorbent fabric, there is no need for multiple washes before first use. It will be plenty absorbent enough after it's initial prep wash to use and be quite adequate to last a good time before you'll need to change your baby.
Ideally wash with bio powder at 40ºC on a regular basis, but you can wash at 60ºC if you need to. That may reduce the long term life of the fabric if you do it on a regular basis, but it won't kill it dead! Even washing in a 90ºC wash will not instantly kill the fabric! Similarly using fabric softener will not do any permanent damage to your nappies. It will wash out next time, ad will still leave your nappies perfectly acceptable absorbency wise, and they will feel wonderfully soft!
Bamboo is best not dried against direct heat, but drying near a radiator is fine. Single layer bamboo dries very quickly anyway - it's only when bamboo is layered tat the drying time gets disproportionately extended.