Dryer lint in compost

Can I Compost Dryer lint?

(From the Household waste category | )

You might be able to compost dryer lint – it depends on what you’ve been tumble drying.

As well as animals (and human) hairs and other random things (like bits of paper) that didn’t get washed away, lint is made from stray fibres from your clothes. If your laundry is made from natural fibres (such as cotton towels or sheets), then the dryer lint will be compostable (the hair and paper will rot down just fine).

Dryer lint from synthetic fibres will not break down – it’ll spread throughout the compost so you probably won’t be able to see it. It’s up to you whether or not you want those little invisible synthetic fibres in your soil.

Don’t compost lint if you’ve used dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are not only made from synthetic materials that are prone to shedding, they’re soaked in perfumes and other chemicals – you don’t want those in your compost heap. (You might want to try using dryer balls instead – they’re said to help soften up clothes in the same way as the sheets, but are reusable and not perfumed.)

Lint does not usually make it into the compost pile, but its reuse can be very beneficial in creating rich soil.

Believe it or not, there are many waste materials that can be added to your personal compost. From apple cores to yard clippings, many organic items are beneficial to your heap, offering a great way to further utilize them instead of opting for the trash. Most consumers, however, are unaware of more uncommon items that can be added to mix, such as dryer lint. While some of us may be skeptical to try composting dryer lint, examine it a little closer. Dryer lint contains carbon and fiber, but only decomposes well with an even mix of both green and brown materials. Brown materials, like dry leaves, wood chips, straw, sawdust, corn stalks and newspaper, are usually abundant in the yard or around the home. On other hand, green materials, including items like food scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, manure and weeds, which are full of nitrogen, supply your compost with the most amount nutrients. Dryer lint is considered a brown material, as it is a source of carbon that helps add bulk and allows air to flow through the compost. To get started composting with dryer lint, designate a container in your laundry space for saving lint. Every few dryer loads, clean the lint trap. Unattended lint traps are a potential fire hazard and can become dangerous when left unattended over long periods of time. Disperse of the lint with no more than an inch depth of each layer. Sprinkle some water on top and rake this into the compost. This practice will help you from being overzealous with the portions and will ensure that you maintain a balanced pile. Adding dryer lint to the compost is a simple enough task, but it should not be overdone in the compost. Having the balance of both green and brown materials with sufficient moisture is crucial to a great composting system. While green materials are the “powerhouses” of the compost, do not forget to add in the brown materials, which add stability in the equation. Next time you are doing laundry, before tossing out your next bunch of dryer lint, consider adding it to the compost pile out back. Small actions like these can make a big difference in your compost’s stability, but they are also beneficial to reducing consumer waste and promoting a sustainable lifestyle.

Composting Dryer Lint

From time to time people ask me if dryer lint (and/or the contents of vacuum bags) can be added to a worm bin or regular composter. I always take a somewhat cautious stance with the latter, since any number of worm-unfriendly or non-biodegradable things can be sucked up during household vacuuming sessions. That being said, I HAVE added a full vacuum bag to my large outdoor worm bin without any negative repercussions.

Dryer lint should be less of an issue since it will primarily consist of biodegradable fibres and perhaps some pet hair if you have dogs or cats. There will likely be some synthetic fibres in there as well, but the quantity should be small enough to make this only a minor concern (if at all).

I’ve got quite a bit of the stuff waiting to be put to good use, so I thought it might be fun to conduct a little test in one of my bins. As per usual, I couldn’t help cheating a little bit – I decided to soak the lint the ‘homemade manure‘ mix I made yesterday before adding it to the bin. I figured it would help to at least kickstart the decomposition process.


Lint ball being added in the corner of one of my worm tubs

The cotton and wool fibres in lint can take some time to decompose, as anyone who has tried to compost old clothes can attest. They are generally high-carbon (‘brown’) materials. Pet hair on the other hand is more of a long-term N source.

Anyway – it should be interesting to see what the worms do with it, and how long it takes to completely decompose. I will try to remember to add weekly updates on the blog!

lint, composting, vermicomposting, cotton, wool, composter, worms, red worms

Is Lint Recyclable?

Recycling facilities DO NOT collect lint but there are many ways you can reuse (or “upcycle”) dryer lint. Your dryer needs to use more energy to do its job if it is full of lint, so it is important to clear out that lint trip between each use. Collect it in a safe place (so it doesn’t catch on fire) and try some of the following ideas:

  1. Compost: Dryer lint breaks down quickly and easily in your compost bin. It enriches your soil and helps offset the smelliness of your food sraps.
  2. Firestarting/ Kindling: Dryer lint is highly flamable and works great for starting fires in your fireplace, firepit, or barbecue. Simply stuff it into an empty toilet paper tube and place on top of charcoal or dry wood.
  3. Crafting:Handmade Paper -Put lint, used paper (wrapping paper, newspaper, printer paper), and water in your blender and blend until soupy. Poor into paper mould and presto! Check out the full recipe here or watch the video below.
  4. Crafting: Lint Mache -Lint can also be recycled into a paper mache-like plaster by mixing with hot water and flour. Check out the full recipe here.

Note: never use dryer lint to stuff toys or pillows. This is VERY unsafe as it is very flamable.

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Composting is a magic process where kitchen waste transforms into rich, black soil. Even those of you without one of these magical boxes in the backyard probably know that you can compost fruit and veggie peels, coffee grounds and paper towel – but how about hair? Or coffee?

Clearly compost

Read on for a list of the weirdest things you can pop in your backyard compost bin to become black gold.

1. 100% Natural Cotton balls and Q-tips

One of the strangest things I encountered when I recently took my zero waste adventure was suddenly looking at everything in my life in a new light. I’d long ago switched out my cotton balls for washcloths, instead, but I’d never thought about whether I could compost Q-tips – you can! 100% cotton and cardboard Q-tips and cotton balls can be tossed into your compost bin and will get broken down by microorganisms and bacteria just like everything else.

2. Dryer lint from clothing made from natural fibers

As soon as it’s even mildly warm outside, you’ll find me rushing outside with a basket full of wet laundry to hang on the clothesline. I like how meditative the process is, how fresh it makes my clothes smell and I love the energy savings. I live in Canada, though, so there many months where line-drying clothes would mean making tee-shirt popsicles. Enter the dryer and its byproduct – dryer lint. To prevent fires it’s always a good idea to clean out dryer lint after every load. But if your clothing is made up of 100% natural fibers (like organic cotton, linen, wool and silk) instead of throwing it out, you collect it in a jar or a bowl and add it to your compost pile!
Important note: Dryer lint is only compostable if all of the material you are drying is 100% natural fiber like organic cotton. Most clothing is made from synthetic fibers that are not compostable and actually pollute the environment. So before you start chucking dryer lint into the pile, make sure you’ve only dried natural fibres.

3. Coffee grounds and paper filters

After brewing your morning cup, don’t throw out those grounds! Used coffee grounds and even paper coffee filters make a great addition to your compost pile; doing so is a great way to reduce waste. If you’re not a coffee drinker but you still want to be part of the movement to rescue coffee grounds from an untimely end, stop by your local coffee shop. Many coffee shops have started giving away used coffee grounds to avid composters just like you.

4. Fur and hair

If you’re skilled (or broke) enough to do home haircuts, stop throwing the clippings into the trash! You can add hair, and fur, to compost piles instead. The material biodegrades quite quickly, and although pet hair and hair clippings probably don’t make up a huge portion of your weekly garbage bag, every little bit counts. Plus,any more incentive to get your hair done is a good one in my books!

5. Stale food

When we think about composting, we typically think about “green” waste – peels, trimmings, the limp lettuce at the back of your crisper. But your compost bin can also help you get rid of stale bread and crackers, expired spices, and plain rice or pasta. Next time you clean out your pantry, take a good look at what you’re throwing out! There’s a great chance that it could be composted, instead.

6. Paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard can also be sent to the compost pile to be broken down. Image Credit: yaasa /

In some ways these are the most innocuous items on the list – there’s really nothing weird about phone bills or cereal boxes. But I have always always recycled these, rather than composting them. Call it a habit acquired from the many years of working in an office and not having a compost bin at home, but when you really think about it, composting is also a fantastic choice for these items. Recycling is a great process, allowing us to reclaim material and process it for reuse, but it’s not impact-free. It still requires an immense amount of energy to process old paper and cardboard into their recycled selves, whereas allowing the material to break down in your compost bin takes no energy at all. (Bonus – For those concerned with identity theft, you know no one’s going to go digging through your compost bin.)

7. Clothing

Shopping secondhand means that my clothes are always a little worn when I get them and then I wear them out completely, so by the time I’m done with a pair of jeans or a shirt, there’s no chance of anyone else wanting them, either. I sometimes cut old sheets or tee shirts up into rags, but I’ve always struggled what to do with clothing that’s too old or stained to wear. Apparently, I could have been composting it! Clothing made from 100% natural fibers like cotton, wool, or silk can be put into your compost bin to biodegrade. Clothing can be quite bulky, so I’d use this option sparingly, but it’s good to know nonetheless!

8. Natural wine corks

If you’d really like to hide the evidence of how much you love the vino, recycle (or reuse!) the bottles and then throw the natural corks into the compost bin. The natural cork will biodegrade and no one will be the wiser! Then you can get back to drinking 😉

9. Vacuum bags and vacuum dust

As long as there aren’t large pieces of non-compostable material in your vacuum debris (bits of plastic, twist ties, beads, etc.), you can just add the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister to your compost. Most household debris is made up of dust, dry skin (OK, ewww) and hair – all readily biodegradable in your bin.

10. White glue and masking tape

As the mom of a prolifically creative preschooler, it made me unreasonably happy to discover that white glue and masking tape didn’t mean that a piece of paper was necessarily destined for the trash. Arts and crafts are rarely recyclable, but when you use white glue and paper materials (or even 100% cotton balls) you can add a little culture to your compost pile by composting artwork.

And there you have it. Some of these you may have been aware of – others not so much. Want to add something to the list? Leave us a suggestion in the comments below.

Feature image credit: Gabor Havasi /

In a previous post, I discussed whether or not dryer sheets are even necessary, and while they do have some drawbacks, there are plenty of benefits as well. If you happen to use them at home, like many of us do, you need to dispose of them somehow after they’ve been used.

While most people likely toss their dryer sheets right into a trash can, are there other, better ways to dispose of them? One potential option is to compost them, and that’s what I’ll focus on in this article.

While we’re at it, let’s also tackle the dryer lint that your dryer spits out after each load. Can this be composted, or does it need to go right in the trash?

Let’s find out.

Can You Compost Dryer Sheets?

Most dryer sheets are made of a synthetic material (usually polyester) and are not safe to compost. Synthetic materials simply won’t break down in your compost pile and provide no value for it.

With that being said, compostable dryer sheets do exist and can easily be found online. They are made of natural materials that easily break down when composted.

Next, let’s move on to dryer lint.

Can You Compost Dryer Lint?

If your dryer load consists of clothes made of natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, yes, you can compost the dryer lint. However, if your load includes synthetic materials, such as polyester, it’s not as clear cut.

The lint that you pull from your dryer is thought to be made of mostly material that results from the breakdown of your clothing made of natural fibers. Your synthetic clothes should produce very little lint, but the small amount produced could end up in your compost pile, which isn’t ideal.

Something else to consider when composting dryer lint is whether or not a dryer sheet was used. Most dryer sheets contain chemicals that you wouldn’t want to add to your compost pile, and some of these chemicals may end up in your dryer lint.

What to Do with Old Dryer Sheets and Dryer Lint?

While dryer sheets and dryer lint can often be composted, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Luckily, you have options when this is the case.

1 – Start a Fire

Dryer lint is known to easily catch fire, which is why it’s important to always remove the lint from your dryer after a load. If you regularly have campfires though, it might benefit you to save the lint from each dryer load to use as an easy fire starter.

2 – Clean Glass Surfaces

A great way to reuse dryer sheets is to use them to clean glass surfaces. This could include a computer screen, your bathroom mirror, and more. Used dryer sheets do a nice job of cleaning glass without leaving any lint behind.

3 – Use It for Stuffing

Another way to repurpose dryer lint is to use it as stuffing. Dryer lint has a nice, soft consistency to it, which is perfect for stuffing cushions, pet beds, or stuffed animals.

4 – Freshen the Air

Most dryer sheets are scented, and while some of the pleasant odor goes away during a drying cycle, some of it remains. Freshen up the air in some of your stinky areas (inside shoes, closets, cars, etc.) by putting a few dryer sheets in them.

5 – Create Pet Bedding

If you have a small pet at home, like a hamster, they will happily take your used dryer lint off of your hands. Dryer lint that’s composed of natural fibers works well as bedding for small animals.

6 – Reduce Static Electricity

Since the main purpose of dryer sheets is to eliminate static, it probably isn’t too surprising that you can use old dryer sheets to reduce static on your clothing. Simply keep a few used sheets around your house or in your car, then run them over your clothes when needed.

7 – Use It for Packaging

Similar to the stuffing idea above, dryer lint works well as packaging material. Because it’s thick, but soft, it does a nice job of protecting your packaged items. With that being said, it would take quite a bit of lint to use it exclusively as packaging material for anything more than a small package.

8 – Stunt the Growth of Weeds

Another way to use dryer lint is to layer it under the soil in your garden to stunt weed growth. If you’re familiar with the sheets of weed barrier you can buy at a local hardware store, you can simply use dryer lint in the same way.

9 – Remove Pet Hair

If you have pets that shed a lot, a creative way to reuse dryer sheets is to use them to remove pet hair or fur. Simply run a used dryer sheet over your clothing to remove the hair. This can work on furniture as well.

10 – Throw Them Away

While not the most eco-friendly option, a reasonable alternative to composting your dryer sheets and lint is to simply throw them away. This is probably the most commonly chosen option for most people, as it happens to be the easiest.

Final Thoughts

Both dryer sheets and dryer lint can be composted when the right circumstances are met. However, there are also instances when it doesn’t make sense to compost either of these items.

Fortunately, there are other ways to either reuse or dispose of your dryer sheets and lint. When composting doesn’t make sense, simply choose the method that’s most appropriate for you.

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