Paper towels are a common household item that can be composted and turned into nutrient-rich organic mulch for backyard or apartment gardens. However, it is important to note that only unused paper towels are compostable, and used paper towels must be carefully evaluated before adding them to the compost pile.

The decomposition process of paper towels in a compost pile takes anywhere from fourteen to forty-five days, depending on factors such as wetness, size, and chemicals or greasy residue. Wet paper towels decompose faster, and smaller pieces of paper towel also decompose more quickly. Chemicals or greasy residue on used paper towels will slow down the decomposition process.

It is important to know what not to compost when it comes to used paper towels. Meat, oil, butter, grease, dairy, cleaning products, human or animal waste, and viruses are all items that should not be composted with used paper towels. These items can create anaerobic bacteria, foul odors, unwanted pests, and harmful pathogens that are not fit for compost.

While tossing the occasional dirty paper towel with a bit of cooking grease into an indoor compost bin is generally not a problem, it is recommended to bury these paper towels under brown matter, soil, other food waste, or very in-process composting matter to avoid any compost problems.

Overall, composting paper towels is a great way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich compost for gardens. By following the guidelines for what can and cannot be composted with paper towels, individuals can effectively contribute to a more sustainable environment.