Bedding as Bedding?

“You know you are a worm-head when……you are shocked when your friends tell you they spent $200 on new ‘bedding’.”
~ You know you’re a Worm-Head Part-Deux

My wife recently informed me that it was time to get new sheets (the old ones seemed fine to me – but…well, I play with worms for a living so what do I know! lol). I told her in no uncertain terms that I would “take care of” the old ones.

She gave me THE look, (You know you’re a worm-head when you know THE look I’m talking about) but let me take them away with me nevertheless. Bless her tolerant heart.

I wanted to try something a bit different. I wanted to literally attempt to use bedding…as bedding. While I was recording my lesson on (yep, you guessed it) bedding, for the Easy Vermicomposting course, I suddenly had a little brain-wave (doesn’t happen all that often, so I pad attention) – perhaps old cotton clothes and sheets etc could be considered a “primary bedding” material!! Eureka!

I’ve used lint and hair as bedding. I’ve added old cloths (not to be confused with clothes) to worm bins, I’ve made a vermicomposter out of an old pair of jeans…heck, I’ve done a LOT of weird things in the name of…{cough}…vermicomposting progress. But for some reason it’s never occurred to me to add my old clothes etc to my worm beds.

Cotton IS a fairly resistant material – that’s important to mention – but it’s absorbent and allows air to flow quite nicely (two important criteria for something to be considered a “primary bedding” in my books).

To get the ball rolling, I recently decided to rip up one of our sheets (others will follow…hopefully before my wife sees where I’ve stashed them), and added it to “The Beast“. I’ll be very interested to see how things progress from here.
Stay tuned!

**For Even More Worm Fun, Sign Up for the RWC E-mail List!**
Previous Post

Bentley’s “Ultimate” Winter Worm Food Bin

Next Post

Scuttle Fly “Slop Traps”


    • John Duffy
    • December 14, 2012

    What is it about “the look?”…Nobody can do it like a wife…Did you get the obligatory hand on the hip to go with it?
    …anyway, I see no reason why cotton sheets wouldn’t work just fine for worm bedding.
    Now Bentley, if we catch you tucking-in your worms every night we might have to have the folks from Happy Village come to see you 😉

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • December 14, 2012

    Just a note. I heard a long time ago that old white COTTON t-shirts added to a bin will disappear. Now there are so many synthetics added I would wonder about the “bio-degradability” of them. I would think that ANYTHING that is labeled 100% cotton would do just fine. HOWEVER, a small caveat. The label that says 100% cotton just might NOT be cotton. I would cut that off just to be safe.

    • Curtis
    • December 14, 2012

    I’m curious to see how this goes. My guess is that it will take a long time for the cotton to degrade, which could be great depending on your application. I think I like cardboard or manure best, so that I don’t really have to worry about there being enough “food,” since they seem to be able to process those beddings as food quite readily.

    • ONEMAN
    • December 15, 2012

    I think that if your getting black gold on the sheets then you should stop the JEANS EXPERIMENT? Or at least put on a new pair over the top of your pants?????????? I Know your wife does not want a small wriggler in her bed in the morning !!! But how far do you have to go to keep them warm!!! lol

    • ONEMAN
    • December 15, 2012

    Hi .Tom Bergstrand you are so right. What now then??????????????? I have no answer, have you? If i had the spam then i would probably give it too the worms? yuck!!!

    • ONEMAN
    • December 15, 2012

    If its Natural or in any way organic then it will work!!! Simple as that ? How nature is wonderful.


    • ONEMAN
    • December 15, 2012


    • John W.
    • December 18, 2012

    I would think bedding like that would be great for helping hold in moisture as well! I think I would keep it as a top covering. I try to keep something like paper bags or burlap on the top so I can water it and it disperses water evenly and keeps water in. Eventually the worms break it down. I would think they would break the sheets down even if they are on top too.
    Good luck.

    • John W.
    • December 19, 2012

    Well this post has inspired me (and maybe made my wife roll her eyes)
    But when she tossed my 100% cotton shirt out yesterday…I grabbed it and put it in my worm in after cutting it up some!

    • Bentley
    • December 20, 2012

    John D – There may have been some hand-on-hip emphasis! lol
    I should mention, though, that “THE look” isn’t limited to the female species (hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers in that camp). As our female worm-heads will know, non-vermicomposting husbands and partners in general can give “THE look” as well. lol
    Tom – great point! Always good to look at the label before tossing in the bin!
    Curtis – I seem to recall adding a t-shirt to a system back when I first got into vermicomposting, and it seemed to take a LONG time to break down. I agree this can be a good or bad thing depending on your goals. If you mainly want lots of great vermicompost as fast as possible it might not be ideal. But if you want to raise worms, it could help to create a really nice habitat for them.
    ONEMAN – For all my dedication to these creatures, and my efforts to keep them warm – I can honestly say that no worm shall ever experience the warmth of our bed (or I’d find myself sleeping in the outdoor worm bed)! LOL
    John W – up on top (solely) is a great strategy, and perhaps a bit less annoying (since it might be challenging to move materials around in the bin with a lot of cloth mixed in). Keep us posted on your t-shirt trial.

    • Flytraplady5
    • January 2, 2013

    I have been wondering about cotton clothing myself
    will be gr8 to see how this turns out

    • oneman
    • January 3, 2013


    Its a slow process but well worth a go! You gain nothing bye doing things the same way so try it and expand your knowledge and discover something new. You will be surprised. Then tell us all about it please. I have done this myself and i need to instill the point that you have to record every thing from day one no matter how little. I have a diary with start area/worm input/ food input and bedding input. I know that this is not the recommended food/bedding split ( i use 50/50 with waste scraps and brown cardboard but it varies every week to what i can re use.

    The fact is i use a hand blender in a bucket about once a week with rain water and any brown cardboard/egg boxes/trays etc and scraps. My bucket is a peddle bin liner that you use in the kitchen. not sure what it holds but about 28 pints of water with the bin/scrap limited to about 1/4 of the bin with scarps/bedding will only come half way up (enough to get the hand blender to the bottom.. This all comes down to a soup when blended. Its a average indoor kitchen pedal bin liner half full bin with craps and bedding. PLEASE, PLEASE, Remember that this soup needs to age for 2 weeks/more, out side before you feed our worm friends. They do not like fresh and tend to scarper to the top of the compost bin and have a debate about re housing!!! Best worm separation method i have ever found ( if not a bit cruel to them)

    Millions of them congregate at the top of the heap to protest there living conditions and then you can scoop them all up in one go!!!

    The casts will still be there though and they tend to lay more little lemons when they have too much food or need to change so a fantastic worm separator, Just not the eggs.

    Kind Regards

    • Flytraplady5
    • January 3, 2013

    I leave my cardboard boxes out by my gravel driveway. after a couple of rains, the boxes are completely soaked and even have some soil/grit on them if you leave them a month or so, some mold will start growing on the cardboard.The cardboard tears us easily when it is this wet
    Have jest made my first worm bin using this method so the jury is still
    I live out in the country so the neighbors don’t see my cardboard

    • Trent H
    • January 11, 2013

    I used old blue jeans in my out door beds last year and they worked great. I was surprised to see how fast the worms processed them. Now I save all the old cotton fabric and use it as bedding in the out door beds.

    • Casey Wilder
    • January 14, 2013

    Hey, Bentley. Keep us posted on how this goes. Towards the end of December, I actually cut up some old cotton t-shirts and denim jeans and threw some of it as mixed bedding in my worm factory. If I think about it (or see you posting about this again) ill let y’all know how tshirts and denim are doing in my system.

    Take care!

    • Sue LIEM
    • September 15, 2021

    Instead of a newspaper sheet or in addition to it I use a layer of cotton clothing in all of my bins since 8 months now. Not as much bunched up as in Bentley’s pics beause that way worms can’t get out and too much work to get them back in the bin/bedding/food; just a few creases here and there as added surface. Denim is not as “fluffy” and I use this only in my VB48 (larger surface area) in combination to softer clothing (T-shirts are excellent). It seems to minimize the amount of worms venturing and climbing the bin walls.
    As per John W. (December 18, 2012) comment above: “it disperses water evenly and keeps water in”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your Free Vermicomposting Guide!

* Join the Red Worm Composting E-Mail List Today *