Can You Compost Paper Towels? And How To

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you and be incredibly grateful.

Paper towels are convenient, comfortable to use, and we love them for that. Well, at least most of us. But what becomes of them after use? Can they be used beyond cleaning? Do they have other uses unrelated to cleaning?

Yes, paper towels can have multiple uses if you want. The best part? These uses can often be eco-friendly. In this article, we’ll discuss used paper towels, how they can be composted, and other details you will find helpful



Can You Compost Paper Towels?

Yes, you can. And anyone can if they are willing to. If you use paper towels, you may have tried to find ways to put them into good use after drying or cleaning with them. Composting to the rescue! You can simply put your used paper towels in your garden’s compost bin.

However, before you do that, you first have to put a little detail into consideration, and that is; what you cleaned with it! As much as you would want to max out all of your used paper towels by composting, you also want to make sure you are doing so safely.  If your used paper towel falls into any of the following categories, you should consider discarding it entirely instead of composting

Used to clean chemicals

If you cleaned off a strong chemical/cleaning product with a paper towel, it is best to discard such in the trash and forget about composting them. Harsh chemicals can alter the macro and microorganisms in your compost bin, defeating the entire purpose of composting.

Greasy paper towels

Paper towels used in cleaning up butter, oil and any other greasy item should not be added to composts. This is because they push the air out of composting, causing the breeding of anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that do not live where air is present), and you do not want this.

How To Compost Paper Towels

Paper towels can go into the compost pit/bin if they do not fall into any of the categories above. This may include paper towels used to clean up dust, wipe washed dishes, and clean hands after washing.

As most paper towels are considered brown matter and rich in carbon, many experts recommend adding them into separate compost bins and then using the formed compost as a cover for the soil on landfills.  This way, paper waste is substantially reduced, and the fertility levels and texture of the soil improved.

Many also recommend using papers previously used as food napkins and hand wipes in composts because of the bacteria already present. These bacteria are known to help with decomposition and ensure quicker decomposing.

When using paper towels in compost, keep the following in mind;

  • Paper towels made from trees will take longer to decompose as it needs more time to break down the thickness of the paper. Some may require up to a month for decomposing to happen unless a compost accelerator is included. Usually, though, results can be quicker if the paper towels are wet and worms are also allowed to work on them.
  • Unused paper towels can also be excellent choices for composting as they are rich in nitrogen and other beneficial components
  • To quicken decomposition, shred both used and unused paper towels in small pieces or, even better, wet them before dumping them in the bin.


If you enjoy composting and also try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, you would agree that paper towels make good compost ingredients.   They are safe, gentle and do not require too many steps to use. Beginners to composting may also find out that they are some of the most available and easily composted items and, as such, wasteful to discard them.

To help you improve your garden compost and minimize waste, we discussed reusing paper towels and some of the ways they can be used as composts. We also shared some possible reasons a used paper towel might be best discarded instead of using in compost bins. Know other paper towel composting tips? Share in the comment section below.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE is a participant in the Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and any other website that may be affiliated with Service LLC Associates Program.