Discover the Green Solution: Can I Compost Paper Towels?

Can I Compost Paper Towels?

If you’re someone who is conscious about reducing waste and taking care of the environment, composting might be one of the eco-friendly practices you have adopted. It’s a fantastic way to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich soil that can be used in your garden or potted plants. But when it comes to composting, many people wonder if paper towels can be included in their compost pile.

The Basics of Composting

Before we dive into the question at hand, let’s quickly go over the basics of composting. Composting is a natural process where microorganisms break down organic matter over time, resulting in a dark, crumbly substance known as humus. This humus-rich material serves as an excellent fertilizer for plants and helps improve soil structure.

Paper Towels: To Compost or Not to Compost?

When it comes to paper towels, the answer is not so straightforward. While they are made from paper fibers which are generally considered biodegradable, certain factors need to be taken into account before tossing them into your compost bin.

Factors Influencing Whether Paper Towels Can Be Composted:

Type of Paper Towel:

Absorbency Level:

Paper towels with heavy-duty absorbency may contain additives like synthetic fibers or chemicals designed to enhance absorption capabilities. These additives can hinder decomposition during the composting process and introduce unwanted elements into your soil.

Bleaching Agents:

Sometimes, white paper towels undergo bleaching processes involving chlorine compounds that may leave trace amounts behind. These chemicals can negatively impact microbial activity in your compost pile.

Dyes and Inks:

Colored or printed paper towels often contain dyes or inks that can be harmful to the environment. It is best to avoid composting these types of paper towels altogether.

Condition of Paper Towels:

Cleanliness:

Paper towels soiled with oils, food remnants, or cleaning chemicals should not be composted. These contaminants can disrupt the balance of your compost pile and attract pests.

Thickness and Size:

If your paper towels are excessively thick or large, they may take longer to break down compared to thinner ones. Cutting them into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost bin can expedite decomposition.

Tips for Composting Paper Towels:

To ensure a successful experience when attempting to compost paper towels, consider following these helpful tips:

Choose Unbleached and Non-Printed Options

Select unbleached paper towels made from recycled content as they are generally safer for the environment. Avoid using printed versions to steer clear of potential ink-related issues during decomposition.

Avoid Heavily Soiled Paper Towels

If you need to dispose of heavily soiled paper towels contaminated with substances like grease or cleaning products, it’s better to discard them in the regular trash instead of including them in your compost pile.

Separate Your Paper Towels


To simplify matters further, separate clean paper towels from those used exclusively for household chores. Clean ones designated solely for drying hands will have fewer contaminants that could potentially harm your compost.

Shred or Tear Your Paper Towels

To accelerate decomposition, consider tearing or shredding your paper towels into smaller pieces before adding them to your compost bin. This will increase the surface area available for microbial breakdown and speed up the process.

The Final Verdict:

In conclusion, while it is possible to compost paper towels under certain conditions, it’s crucial to be mindful of the type and condition of the towel you’re using. Opt for unbleached and non-printed versions whenever possible, avoid heavily soiled towels, and cut them into smaller pieces to enhance decomposition. By following these tips, you can minimize potential issues and contribute positively to both waste reduction efforts and soil enrichment through composting!