What’s eco about sheets and towels?

Have you noticed that there are less people to help you when you step into a store these days? And when you do find someone, can they answer your question and do they give you the right answer? Often not. 

Having the correct information at the point of sale is really important for us to make considered decisions…

“What is modal?” I asked a young assistant when looking at an article of bedding.

“Cotton,” she replied.

But it wasn’t. I looked it up on my phone as we were speaking: “Modal fabric, which is also known as HWM rayon, is a type of rayon that is commonly used in consumer textiles. This fabric is considered to be semi-synthetic since it is made from a combination of organic and synthetic material.”

So, I thought it would be good to look at some of the new fabrics in sheeting and towelling and explain what they really are.

In sheeting, there is: modal, Tencel and viscose – the major three fabrics. Each claims to be more organic than cotton, but when you look at the process of them, I fail to see how that can be.

Modal is very similar to Tencel and has similar properties. Modal is derived from beech trees, Tencel, also known as lyocell, is derived from the eucalyptus tree, and viscose is from bamboo.


So here is the big eco dilemma….

Part of the popularity of modal and Tencel comes from their ‘more eco-conscious production process and bio-degradable properties’. But actually, it’s not an entirely green product. Several steps in the production process show otherwise in the eco-friendly value stakes.

Using chemicals in the production stages damages the environment. Carbon disulfide used in modal production is a neurotoxin. One of the major disease control reports explains that it hurts organisms and can cause nerve and organ damage with prolonged exposure.

Because of this, manufacturers have started using chemical ‘scrubbers’ to reduce their environmental impact.

The production of modal, Tencel and viscose can place a heavy toll on forestation. Some companies use sustainable practices by planting regenerative beech and eucalyptus trees. However, not all manufacturers do, and those that don’t follow ethical practices risk that their production process may damage the environment.


While the new materials do come with some benefits, they also readily absorb water and body oils; this could lead to discolouring and marking, making the fabric look dirtier and weaker.

On top of these issues, the fabrics are frequently restricted to dry cleaning only in terms of maintenance, meaning that any sheets and mattresses made with modal, Tencel and viscose are more difficult to keep clean without pricey dry-cleaning services.

Regardless of which material you choose for your sheets, you need to be aware of the pros and cons of the choices that are out there, and their properties.

Cotton lends itself very well to a multitude of conditions. On the other hand, modal, Tencel and viscose fare well in the budget department while also feeling luxurious, but have a larger negative impact on the environment.

All are used widely in bedding today, and being conscious of how they perform and the environmental impact will allow you to make a considered decision when buying.

Resident online - sheets

So, what are eco-friendly towels?

Towels are one of the most used items in any home. They are essential for keeping us clean, dry and comfortable. However, many towels that are sold at your local supermarket or home retailer can contain harmful substances like formaldehyde and benzene which can be toxic if absorbed by the skin.

Again, these chemicals are often added during the manufacturing process, not only as a preservative but also to help create a softer towel fabric. Luckily, there is an easy solution: eco-friendly towels!

Eco-friendly towels are made from 100% organic cotton. Cotton towels are thicker, plusher and brilliantly delicate; however, they do take a little longer to dry.

A good weight of bathroom towel for ecological purposes is 500 to 650 grams and ideally double stitched on each side so that it will last longer with a header that won’t waste.

Bamboo, Tencel and microfibre towels all have the same processing issues as sheets.

Linen etc. buy towels that have an ecological treatment, not used on other towels readily available in Portugal or in the home shops. Indanthren is ecological and sustainable. This treatment was developed hundreds of years ago and ensures colour fastness. Towels treated with this are resistant to sun and chlorine and so last years longer.

These fluffy friends will help make your bathroom experience more enjoyable! With just a few simple changes, such as using these eco-friendly towels instead of toxic ones, you could significantly cut down on water use and chemical exposure while helping save the planet for future generations.

By Karen Love
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Lagos: (+351) 282 697 791
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Lagoa: (+351) 282 071 674
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