Are Paper Towels Compostable? Things You Need To Know

In a world where sustainability is paramount, it’s crucial to consider every aspect of our daily lives, including our cleaning choices. This article will answer the burning question, “Are paper towels compostable?” while delving deep into the world of eco-friendly cleaning. You’ll learn about the composting potential of paper towels, the benefits of choosing them, and explore alternative solutions for a greener and cleaner environment.

What are Paper Towels Made Of?

Paper towels are made from a combination of fibers, most commonly from wood pulp. They go through a process of pulping, drying, and bleaching to create the soft and absorbent sheets that we use for various cleaning tasks. The fibers used in paper towels come from both natural and synthetic sources, but the majority are derived from trees.

Are Paper Towels Compostable?

When it comes to composting, the answer is both yes and no. While paper towels are made from biodegradable materials, not all paper towels are suitable for composting. This is because some paper towels are treated with chemicals, such as bleach or dyes, which can contaminate the compost.

If you want to compost your paper towels, it’s important to choose ones that are free from chemicals and additives. Look for paper towels that are labeled as “compostable” or “made from recycled materials.” These towels are typically made from unbleached or chlorine-free fibers, making them safe to compost.

How to Compost Paper Towels

If you’ve opted for compostable paper towels and want to contribute to a greener planet, follow these steps to compost them effectively:

How to Compost Paper Towels
  1. Separation: First, ensure that your compostable paper towels are free from contaminants like plastic, metal, or non-compostable items. Remove any adhesives or staples.
  2. Tear into Pieces: To expedite the decomposition process, tear the paper towels into smaller pieces. This increases their surface area and promotes quicker breakdown.
  3. Layering: Place the torn paper towels in your compost pile or bin. To maintain a healthy compost ecosystem, layer them with other compostable materials, such as food scraps, yard waste, and leaves.
  4. Aerate: Regularly turn and aerate your compost pile to ensure proper decomposition. Compostable paper towels require adequate airflow to break down effectively.
  5. Patience: Composting takes time. Depending on various factors like temperature, humidity, and the composition of your pile, it may take several weeks to several months for the paper towels to fully decompose.

Benefits of Choosing Compostable Paper Towels

Opting for compostable paper towels is a small but impactful step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are some benefits of choosing compostable paper towels:

Benefits of Choosing Compostable Paper Towels

1. Reduces waste:

When you choose compostable paper towels, you are taking a step towards reducing waste. Unlike regular paper towels, which end up in landfills and contribute to environmental pollution, compostable paper towels can be broken down and turned into nutrient-rich compost. This helps to divert waste from landfills and reduces the overall impact on the environment.

2. Supports sustainable practices:

Compostable paper towels are made from renewable resources such as bamboo or recycled paper. By choosing these towels, you are supporting sustainable practices that help to conserve natural resources. This is important in the effort to reduce deforestation and promote a more sustainable future.

3. Improves soil health:

When compostable paper towels are properly composted, they break down into organic matter that enriches the soil. This helps to improve soil health, fertility, and its ability to retain moisture. By using compost made from these paper towels, you can enhance the growth of plants and contribute to a healthier ecosystem.

4. Reduces carbon footprint:

Composting is a natural process that reduces the production of greenhouse gases. When paper towels are composted instead of being sent to landfills, the organic material breaks down in an oxygen-rich environment, reducing the emission of methane gas. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, so composting helps to mitigate these effects.

5. Promotes circular economy:

Compostable paper towels are part of a circular economy, where waste is transformed into valuable resources. By composting these towels, you are closing the loop and ensuring that they are returned to the soil as beneficial nutrients. This promotes a more sustainable and efficient use of resources, creating a cycle of regeneration.

Alternatives to Compostable Paper Towels

While compostable paper towels are a great choice for eco-conscious individuals, there are alternative options worth considering for various cleaning needs:

Alternatives to Compostable Paper Towels

1. Reusable Cloth Towels

Reusable Cloth Towels are a great alternative to paper towels. They can be washed and used multiple times, reducing waste and saving you money in the long run. Cloth towels also have the added benefit of being more absorbent than paper towels, making them great for cleaning up spills or drying dishes. You can easily find reusable cloth towels in stores or online, and they come in a variety of sizes and materials to suit your needs.

2. Bamboo Towels

Another alternative to compostable paper towels is bamboo towels. Bamboo is a fast-growing and sustainable resource, making it an eco-friendly choice. Bamboo towels are soft, durable, and absorbent, making them great for various cleaning tasks. They can be washed and reused, reducing waste and saving you money.

3. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber cloths are another option to consider. They are incredibly absorbent and can easily pick up dust, dirt, and grime. Microfiber cloths are reusable and can be washed and used again and again. They are great for cleaning surfaces, and windows, and even for dusting.


In conclusion, while not all paper towels are compostable, choosing compostable options can have a positive impact on the environment. Remember that there are alternative options available, such as reusable cloth towels and bamboo paper towels, for a more sustainable approach to cleaning. By making conscious choices in your cleaning routine, you play a crucial role in preserving our environment for future generations.


Can I compost paper towels with food waste?

Yes, you can compost paper towels along with food waste. They can provide a source of carbon in the compost pile, helping to balance the nitrogen-rich food scraps. However, it’s important to tear the paper towels into smaller pieces to help them break down more easily.

How long does it take for paper towels to compost?

The time it takes for paper towels to compost can vary depending on factors such as the type of paper towel, the composting conditions, and the size of the paper towel pieces. In general, paper towels can take several weeks to several months to fully break down in a compost pile.

Can I use compost made from paper towels in my garden?

Yes, you can use compost made from paper towels in your garden. As long as the paper towels are fully composted and have broken down into a dark, crumbly material, they can provide valuable nutrients and organic matter to your soil. Just make sure to mix the compost into the soil thoroughly to ensure even distribution.

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