Composting Hair: The Unexpected Way to Reducing Waste

is hair compostable
Hair is easily compostable because it is biodegradable and classified as organic material, which provides numerous benefits to plants. It also has a high nitrogen content, as well as traces of carbon, which helps to create a healthy compost with the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio.

The truth is that no matter how good your hair routine is, the human body is doomed to shed hair regularly, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Still, we can limit the amount of hair debris that ends up in landfills by composting it, and this article will walk you through the process.

Let’s get started!

Is Human Hair a Good Fertilizer?

Human hair is a fantastic fertilizer because it includes keratin, a naturally occurring protein that encourages plant growth.

Hair also contains trace amounts of calcium and phosphorus, essential plant nutrients.

Mississippi State University did a study comparing the effect of hair-based fertilizer on plants to that of commercial fertilizers sold in garden stores.

The results were excellent since the research team obtained a greater yield from the hair-treated plants than from the commercial fertilizer-treated plants.

What About Pet Hair?

Pet hair is entirely compostable and contains healthy nitrogen levels for your garden plants.

Because the shed fur adheres to the synthetic strands, your couch and carpet are suitable suppliers of pet hair.

You can also collect free pet hair from local pet grooming facilities to add to your compost pile.

Adding Hair to Compost: Types of Hair for Composting

Pet Fur

Throughout the year, cats and dogs shed their coats to remove dead hair from their bodies. When you vacuum up cat hair from your couch, add it to your compost pile as organic material.

The same principle holds for dog hair, which decomposes into a nitrogen-carbon balance ideal for composting.

While vacuuming your carpets and couches for pet hair, keep an eye out for synthetic fibers because these strands can’t decompose into organic matter and may taint your compost.

Because of the chemicals in these things, it is best to avoid composting pet fur that has just been treated or shampooed.

Human Hair

Did you know that the typical human body sheds 50 to 100 strands of hair every day and that you can always add them to your compost while most of these hair breaks cannot be reused?

Human hair also includes nitrogen suitable for healthy compost, and a large amount can be found adhering to your hair brush.

How to Compost Hair

Follow these steps to compost hair waste successfully:

1. Collect Untreated Hair Only

Your test hair must be devoid of chemicals such as bleach, hair dye, and sprays. Because chemicals can disrupt the composting process, this guideline applies to human and pet hair.

2. Shred the Hair

Due to its increased surface area, short hair decomposes more quickly than long hair.

If your hair isn’t too long, dump it in the compost bin. Shorter strands will decompose faster than longer ones if you shred them.

3. Mix With Green Material

Mixing hair with other wet biodegradable materials high in nitrogen, such as grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit, or vegetable peels, is necessary because the hair is dry.

Green materials will help your compost pile’s carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and give your garden’s plants more nutrients.

4. Layer Brown Materials First 

When building your compost pile, start with layers of brown materials instead of nitrogen-rich green ones because they retain water better.

Carbon-rich mulches like dried leaves, cardboard, newspaper, and sawdust can be used as brown materials.

Soak these browns to ensure that your compost tumbler has enough water to maintain the proper moisture levels.

5. Mix in the Hair and Green Materials

Layer the mixture of hair and green materials atop the browns and alternate between the two materials to get your desirable compost heap size. 

6. Turn the Compost

The decomposition process can move more quickly if your compost is turned weekly, although this is not necessary if you are cold composting your hair.

Your compost pile will get unevenly combusted if you don’t stir it often, and the process will eventually grind to a halt.

How Long Does It Take Hair to Decompose?

It takes roughly a month to compost one’s hair.

In contrast, the breakdown of hair as a fertilizer for plants is slow and can take up to two years for complete decomposition.

Human hair breakdown can also be affected by soil conditions, as composting speeds up when all the required components are present.

Is Hair Green or Brown Compost?

Hair is an excellent green material for composting with high nitrogen content.

Because it takes time for decomposition to begin, hair is not enough green material for your compost pile.

Adding eggshells and grass clippings to the mix of your compostable hair will help speed up the decomposition process.

Can You Compost Wigs?

That is not possible. The plastic materials used in synthetic hair extensions don’t decompose, leaving long strands that could choke your plants.

Even if your wigs aren’t made of natural hair, you should never throw them away. The glue that holds the strands together in wigs is made of synthetic materials.

Can You Add Hair to a Vermicompost?

Worms can decompose hair. Before composting in vermicompost, shred any animal or human hair to keep the worms from getting tangled.

Composting hair is a gradual process since it takes time for the bacteria in your hair to form.

Synthetic fibers and colored hair are both terrible for your worms because of the toxins they contain.

What Are the Benefits of Hair Composting?

Compost piles and plants alike benefit significantly from decomposing hair, including the following:

1. Sources Rich in Nitrogen

Even while it can take up to two years for the hair in your compost bin to break down completely, it is an excellent source of nitrogen for the bacteria in your compost pile.

2. Water Retention 

Moisture is retained in the soil while evaporation is minimized using hair as a mulch. Also, it helps keep the soil colder and is an effective weed-control method.

3. Aeration

In clay soil, hair is beneficial because it generates air pockets that allow oxygen to pass through and easier drainage.

Is Hair Harmful to the Environment?

Even though the hair is biodegradable, incorrect disposal can harm the environment. It is harmful to the environment to let human hair decompose in landfills because it emits polluting green gases into the atmosphere.

Hair takes a long time to disintegrate and can clog drains if correctly disposed of.

There is also the fact that synthetic hair extensions are nonbiodegradable. Yet, enormous amounts of these products wind up in waste bins daily.


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

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