Can You Compost Paper Towels?:The Detailed Guide To Paper Towels Composting

Can You Compost Paper Towels

The short answer: paper towels that are free of synthetic chemicals and other materials, which cannot attract pests or damage the quality of soil can put into the compost. Paper towels usually breakdown quickly when compared with other household waste such as avocado scraps and potatoes scraps.

This is because the bacteria in them helps quicken the composting process by increasing the microbial activities of the decomposition microorganisms.

Read on for a detailed step by step guide on how to compost paper towels effectively.

Are Paper towels Recyclable or Compostable?

As earlier explained, paper towels are compostable. And composting is one way of recycling paper towels into a useful resource. So, paper towels are both recyclable and compostable.

One important way of recycling paper towels is in the production of biofuel. Paper towels and other organic waste are employed by waste management industries in order to produce biogas and other biofuels for use in our homes and place of work. Paper towels are not bad for the environment and they will not become a nuisance if they are disposed of and recycled.

How to Compost Paper Towels

Composting paper towels is not a difficult task, which only requires you to follow some easy steps.

But, before then, you need to know what types of compostable materials are paper towels. This will help you produce a well-balanced compost.

Are Paper Towels Greens or Browns Compostable Materials?

Basically, compostable materials are classified into two types: green organic matters and brown organic matters. The green organic matters or compostable materials contain a high amount of nitrogen while the brown organic matters contain more amount of carbon.

To produce a well-balanced compost, you need to balance these compostable materials in correct proportion.

Paper towels are mostly made from the woody part of plants, which is a part of the plant that contains a high amount of carbon. Since paper towels are made from this part of the plant, then paper towels can be considered as brown organic matter or compostable materials. This is because they are mostly made from materials that contain a high amount of carbon.

With this in mind, here is the step by step guide on how to compost paper towels:

Prepare your compost bin or pile: get a plastic dustbin and make a locally made compost bin.

Tip: learn how to make a compost bin from the plastic dustbin

However, if you are ready to invest the money, you can buy a compost bin at a garden center or online store.

Locate a good Spot for the Compost bin: find a well flat surface that receives a reasonable amount of sunlight daily and place the compost bin. The place should be free from attack by pests such as rodents.

Add the paper towels and other households waste: you located a good place for your compost, the next thing is to add the paper towels and other kitchen waste and households waste such as grass clippings, weeds, trimmings, vegetables, and fruits peels, shredded newspapers, chopped tree branches, and sawdust.

You need to add these materials in an alternate order or form. That is you need to alternate between browns and greens.

You can find out different brown organic materials and green compostable materials in this guide.

Alternate between these materials and the paper towels while adding them to the compost bin. The paper towels should be placed first in the compost bin together with other brown materials such as shredded newspapers, chopped cardboard, chopped straw and hay, and sawdust.

Then, the second layer after adding the paper towels layer should be a layer that contains green compostable materials such as coffee grounds, banana peels, grass clippings, weeds, and other fruit peels.

If you like, you can add one shovel of garden soil after adding the green layer. This soil helps the decomposition of microorganisms such as earthworms and also improves the rate at which air can be passed into the compost.

After adding the first layer of browns, the second layer of greens, and the third layer of garden soil, continue to add the waste in the following order as described below.

Shredded paper towels+other browns> greens> garden soil> shredded paper towels+other browns> greens> shredded paper towels+browns> greens> shredded paper towels+other browns> greens and so on until the compost bin is full.

Cover and give time for the Compost to decompose: when you added all waste and the compost bin is full, cover the compost bin with the lid and give it time to decompose. Watch carefully for any pests especially rodents so that they will not come and mess up with your paper towels compost.

Turn the compost timely: you need to sacrifice some of your time in a week for turning in the compost. This is important because the turning helps generate heat and this increases air passage. These factors heat and air are required for speeding up the composting process.

You need to turn your paper towels compost at least two times a week. This is enough to push those waste on top to the bottom or middle of the compost bin so that they can be decomposed fully.

Tip: Learn more on how to a compost

How long does it take paper towels to Decompose

Paper towels are not like other compostable materials that take forever to decompose. They do not take time especially when the paper towels are layered in the compost properly. It can take about 2-6 months for a paper towel to decompose using a hot composting method.

However, if you employed the cold method of composting, it can take you longer than this time.

Tip: find more information about the time and what to do when compost is ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you dispose of Paper Towels?

Paper towels can be cleaned by recycling them together with other kitchen waste such as banana peels, eggshells, and other garden waste such as grass clippings.

Related FAQ: How To Shred Cardboard For Compost

Can you compost paper towels with ink on them?

It depends on which materials the ink is made from. If the ink is made from synthetic materials, it will be hard for the microorganisms to decompose the paper. Additionally, the materials may contain chemicals that may affect plants and soil quality.

However, if the ink is made from organic materials such as plants’ leaves, which are biodegradable. They can be composted since the ink is made from organic materials.

Can you compost paper plates?

Yes, you can compost paper plates. This is only if the paper plates are not coated or contain synthetic and special materials.

Related: Can You Compost Bread: The Ultimate Bread Composting Guide

Can viva paper towels be composted?

One important thing you need to understand about composting these kinds of materials is to know the individual chemicals that were used in the production of paper towels. If the chemicals are certified environmentally friendly and compostable, you can go ahead and them to your compost. And this includes paper towels such as Kirkland paper towels.

What items cannot be composted?

Other organic materials that cannot be added to the compost include meat scraps, fish scraps, dairy products, fats, grease, oils, charcoal, and diseased plants.

Can moldy food go in Compost?

It depends on which fungus makes the materials moldy. Some fungus is very dangerous to plants and so when added to the compost and the compost is used to fertilize the plants, the fungus may regrow and infect the plants.

So, the best way to avoid this problem, make sure while adding moldy waste, you know where the waste or scraps are coming from. For instance, you can add moldy bread to your compost.

Also read: Composting Pine Needles: The Detailed Guide

Can cooked pasta go in Compost?

Cooked pasta is compostable and can be added to the compost. This is because pasta is among the starchy foods. And starch is biodegradable.

Can you put too many coffee grounds in Compost?

Coffee grounds are compostable. However, you need to balance the ratio between browns and greens in the compost. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen and they are greens in your compost. You do not need too many greens in your compost as this can affect the quality of your compost. You need to add 1 part of greens to 1 part of browns or 2 parts browns to 1 part of greens in the compost.


Paper towels are materials, which are frequently used in our various homes. Instead of trashing them, you can make something resourceful out of them. And that is composting them.

In this article, I looked at the step by step guide on how to compost paper towels. I also cleared the myths about adding paper towels in the compost. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.

Learn more about paper towels

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