Dryer Lint Worm Bin

I’ve written previously about my attempts to use dryer lint in my vermicomposting systems. Unfortunately that project didn’t really work out too well, since the bins I added the material to have a fairly fast turnover, due to worms getting harvested for orders on a regular basis. As such, I basically shelved the idea, hoping to revisit it at some point.

Well, that time has arrived!

I decided that, rather than adding lint to my active bins, I would instead set up a brand new system using only lint as a bedding material. Not sure why I didn’t think of it before – but hey, better late than never!

As I’ve written before, an ideal worm bin bedding should be 1) absorbent, 2) carbon-rich (high C:N) and 3) structured to allow for decent air flow. In all honesty, I think we have all the bases covered with lint – but we shall see.

Setting this system up had he wondering why I never thought of something like strips of old t-shirts as a bedding material. While it will likely take longer for cotton to break down than something like shredded cardboard, I think it would provide an excellent habitat matrix.

Remember back when I added a Natura Eco Cloth to my worm bin? Same sort of idea.

Moving on to methodology…

I basically set up this system the way I always recommend setting up a new bin. I added a thick layer of lint in the bottom, then a layer of food waste – and continued upwards with alternating layers. As per usual I finished off with an upper layer of lint.

As you can see in the picture, I was pretty lazy with the food waste – no chopping/blending etc. I am going to leave the system to sit for a week or so. During that time I will likely check on it, and mix and/or add water as needed.

Should be interesting!

I will of course keep all y’all posted!


P.S. One thing I almost forgot to mention. As I’ve written previously, I don’t really recommend this approach if you use dryer sheets, since I’m not really sure what chemicals might end up in the lint. If you haven’t tried re-usable dryer sheets, you might want to look into it – they lose their effectiveness after awhile (we don’t use anything currently), but it’s nice not having to buy new bounce sheets (not the mention avoiding the chemicals).

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    • Mike
    • April 9, 2009

    I’ve always wondered about the plastic content of
    dryer lint and if it’s harmful to worms. That aside
    it’s not something that would be wanted in compost.

  1. I add dryer lint to trap moisture, I believe it gives the microbes something to cling to.

    • Lee in Iowa
    • April 10, 2009

    I’ve added dryer lint to my outdoor compost for several years–assuming that most of our clothes are mostly of natural fibers. I’ll tell you this: If you don’t bury it, it will blow around your garden and make a mess. Also, it’s the last thing to “finish” and sometimes I pull the dregs of it (probably that plastic!) from my compost as I’m prepping to put it on the garden.

    Vacuum cleaner bags (IF you don’t have a houseful of wall-to-wall nylon carpet!) do much better! Mine are full of pet hair and dust, which the worms outside love! (I wouldn’t use that inside, as the superfine dust will just poof up and aerosol itself back into the house (and up your nose).

    • factorial
    • April 10, 2009

    Have you tested dryer lint as a base for your “homemade manure”?

  2. in my experience dryer lint does not work as well as i had hoped.
    it takes forever to breakdown, probably because of the non natural fiber content. the worms don’t mind it though, but I like it better when the bedding breaks down at the same speed as the other waste i add to my bin.

    • John Donaldson
    • January 26, 2013

    Re: Lee in Iowa
    I also threw in a paper vacuum cleaner bag filled w/ dust, dogs’ (multiple) hair, etc. into my bin. It’s being processed quite nicely; that despite that I have nylon carpet throughout the house.

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