Can You Compost Tea Towels?

Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 11:38 am

Tea towels are a type of dish towel that is used to dry dishes and clean up spills. They are made from cotton, which is a natural fiber. And because they are natural this means they can be composted.

They are biodegradable and can be composted as long as they are not made from synthetic fibers.

How long do cotton linen towels take to decompose into compost

Can You Compost Tea Towels?

Cotton and linen are both made of cellulose, one of the most common organic materials found in nature. Cotton and linen are also natural fabrics that can be processed into compost at home. They will take 8 weeks to decompose.

Cotton and linen are two different fabrics. Cotton is a natural fiber that is made from the cotton plant. Linen is made from flax, which is a plant that grows in cool climates. Natural fibers are biodegradable, meaning they will break down into compost if left on the ground for long enough.

Composting tea towels is generally acceptable, but there are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Material Composition: Tea towels can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, linen, or blends of different fibers. It’s best to compost tea towels made from natural fibers like cotton or linen. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester or nylon, do not break down easily in compost and may leave behind microplastic residues.
  2. Cleaning Agents: Be cautious about what has come into contact with your tea towels. If they have been used with harsh cleaning chemicals or substances that could be harmful to the composting process, it’s best to avoid composting them. Residues from chemicals or cleaning agents can disrupt the composting environment.
  3. Torn or Worn Out: If your tea towels are torn, excessively worn, or no longer suitable for their intended use, they can be cut or torn into smaller pieces before being added to the compost pile. Smaller pieces decompose more quickly.
  4. Layering: When adding tea towels to your compost, it’s a good practice to layer them with other compostable materials, such as kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter. This helps create a balanced compost pile and ensures that the towels break down more efficiently.
  5. Balanced Composting: Composting works best when it’s a balance of “green” (nitrogen-rich) and “brown” (carbon-rich) materials. Tea towels, being made of natural fibers, provide a source of carbon. Make sure your compost pile has enough nitrogen sources, like kitchen scraps, to maintain this balance.
  6. Moisture Control: Tea towels can retain moisture in the compost pile. This can be a good thing in moderation, but too much moisture can create a soggy, anaerobic (lacking oxygen) environment. Ensure that your compost pile has proper aeration and drainage to avoid issues with excess moisture.
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In summary, you can compost tea towels made from natural fibers like cotton or linen, provided they have not been contaminated with harmful chemicals. Be sure to balance your compost pile with a mix of green and brown materials, maintain proper moisture levels, and cut or tear the tea towels into smaller pieces for faster decomposition. It’s a sustainable way to dispose of old or worn-out tea towels while contributing to your compost’s nutrient-rich organic matter.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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