Tencel is a modern material that’s growing in popularity in the linens and clothing industries. You can find it in just about any modern textile, but there’s no information about the material itself listed on the tag. So if you see Tencel in a product that you buy, you may be wondering what it is.
Tencel is actually the brand name for lyocell. However, the name Tencel is so popular because the company that manufactures Tencel is the only major producer of lyocell. It’s like saying “Kleenex” but meaning generic facial tissue.
The main appeal of lyocell is that it’s a biodegradable fabric, even though it’s man-made. That’s pretty atypical of a man-made material. So how does this work?
Lyocell is made from wood pulp cellulose. Essentially, wood chips are turned into a pulp, which is then laid out to dry in the form on one large sheet and then rolled into a spool. This spool is then broken up into small squares and then dissolved into a liquid solution. Then the cellulose solution is squeezed through a spinneret, producing long filaments that are then set as fibers and dried.
A lot of people tout lyocell as an eco-friendly material, since its manufacture results in very little waste. However, the manufacturing process still requires a large amount of energy. In addition, lyocell does not easily accept dye, so chemicals are applied to it during the dyeing process.
So what are the benefits of lyocell?
It’s a fairly low-maintenance fabric. While most natural fibers wrinkle easily, like cotton or linen, lyocell is resistant to wrinkles. It’s also machine-washable. Plus, it’s a breathable material that wicks moisture away from your skin, so if you tend to sleep hot, this fabric will feel cool and soft. Its texture is similar to that of rayon, so if you know what rayon feels like, you have a pretty good grasp of the weight and feel of lyocell fabrics.
We carry several brands — such as Malouf, DreamFit, and Home Source — that use Tencel in their products. You’ll find that these textiles have a light yet luxurious feel that’s very comfortable, especially during warmer months. You can find Tencel in most bedding products, from mattress protectors to sheet sets and even to pillows, so you can make your whole sleep environment delightfully soft and comfortable.