You Can Compost That! 10 Strange Items You Can Compost

Most of us know the basic compostable items: vegetable scraps, yard debris, non-waxed cardboard, paper… But there are many, many more items in and around your home that can be composted! Here are 10 of the oddest things you may not have realized you can compost:

1. Used clothing Clothing items that are 100% cotton, wool, or silk are biodegradable. To speed up the breakdown process, cut the fabric into small pieces or tear it into thin strips. This is a great one (and often overlooked) because if you have an item that cannot be donated due to stains, holes, age, etc, you can compost it instead of throwing it away. It’s true that eventually it will break down in a landfill but it will happen much more quickly in your compost pile. Used shoes made from organic matter (hemp, jute, sisal, leather) can also be composted, although they will likely take a lot longer to decompose than lighter-weight fabrics and textiles.

2. Hair and fingernail clippings- Both pet hair and human hair is compostable and will usually break down within a few weeks. Fingernail and toenail clippings are also good additions to compost.

3. White glue- Elmer’s and other white glues are made from synthesized compounds derived from raw materials. While the exact ingredients are proprietary, it is compostable according to a variety of resources.

4. Soap (ivory and castile)- toss your soap shavings into the compost pile, too!

5. Human urine- This is a gross one, but it’s true. Human urine is nitrogen-rich, which is great for plants.

6. Dryer lint- Clean out the lint trap and toss it into compost! Dust bunnies, crumbs and dirt from the dustpan, and other household dust and dirt is great material for the compost pile.

7. Pencil shavings- No more emptying the piles of shavings into the trash. They’re fully compostable. Other wood items (toothpicks, bamboo skewers, and fireplace ash) can also be mixed into your compost.

8. Latex- Many people either don’t realize or forget that natural latex rubber is plant based and is biodegradable. Latex condoms, latex gloves, and latex balloons can all be composted and will break down in about six months.

9. Vacuum bag contents- a lot of newer vacuums have a canister not a bag, and as long as their aren’t any wrappers, small toys, or other inorganic matter inside, you can just empty the canister straight into the compost bin!

10. Cage cleanings from small pets- Pet bedding and droppings from small pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and lizards are all compostable. You can also compost algae from fish tanks.


When you stop to think about it, it’s actually surprising how many household items are in fact biodegradable. Paper, tissues, cardboard, food scraps, paper towels, q-tips and cotton balls–all are compostable. You could significantly reduce your household’s trash output by diverting some of these easily-composted items from the trash into a dedicated compost pile. And don’t forget that eventually all that decaying matter will give you back nutrient-rich superfood for your plants. Win-win.