From time to time people ask me if dryer lint (and/or the contents of vacuum bags) can be added to a worm bin or regular composter. I always take a somewhat cautious stance with the latter, since any number of worm-unfriendly or non-biodegradable things can be sucked up during household vacuuming sessions. That being said, I HAVE added a full vacuum bag to my large outdoor worm bin without any negative repercussions.
Dryer lint should be less of an issue since it will primarily consist of biodegradable fibres and perhaps some pet hair if you have dogs or cats. There will likely be some synthetic fibres in there as well, but the quantity should be small enough to make this only a minor concern (if at all).
I’ve got quite a bit of the stuff waiting to be put to good use, so I thought it might be fun to conduct a little test in one of my bins. As per usual, I couldn’t help cheating a little bit – I decided to soak the lint the ‘homemade manure‘ mix I made yesterday before adding it to the bin. I figured it would help to at least kickstart the decomposition process.
Lint ball being added in the corner of one of my worm tubs
The cotton and wool fibres in lint can take some time to decompose, as anyone who has tried to compost old clothes can attest. They are generally high-carbon (‘brown’) materials. Pet hair on the other hand is more of a long-term N source.
Anyway – it should be interesting to see what the worms do with it, and how long it takes to completely decompose. I will try to remember to add weekly updates on the blog!
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I hope to try this soon at home. I had considered it in the past, but wasn’t sure if it would be safe.
One point of potential caution: If you use dryer sheets or fabric softener, the lint will be coated with those chemicals. If you plan on composting the lint, it would probably be best if you don’t use softener or dryer sheets.
Great point – thanks for mentioning that! I knew there was something I was forgetting to mention.
I used re-usable dryer sheets, not the perfumy, disposable ones, so I tend to forget about that as an issue.
I use home made laundry detergent and for a dryer sheet I use a wad of aluminum foil that stops static in the winter. wondering if the aluminum foil (which doesn’t seem to break down any) has any chemicals in it that might get into the dryer lint? I like to keep it as much organic as I can.
I put a tablespoon of Epsom salts in the wash water. I’m going to try composting the lint.