Can you compost napkins?

napkins in compost
Yes, you can! As long as your napkins are unused or relatively clean, they should not pose a problem for your compost bin, providing they are not oily from foods like meat or dairy.

Are napkins compostable?

Paper napkins can be composted! 

It is actually one of the most responsible ways to dispose of napkins as long as you adhere to a few simple rules.

Can used napkins be composted?

Sometimes. In general, it depends on the purpose for which the napkin was used. It is entirely safe to compost napkins that are food-soiled with compostable food. The same is true for napkins that have been used to absorb water.

Composting napkins used to wipe up non-compostable substances is not recommended.

You can compost items such as meat and dairy, and napkins used to wipe such items if you conduct Bokashi composting.

Microorganisms present in a Bokashi bucket will safely decompose all items within it.

In addition, it is important to take care when composting napkins that have come into contact with non-edible materials. Chemical spills and pet waste are often cleaned up with napkins.

You should discard these napkins in the trash, not in your compost pile.

Make sure to also check our video on how to compost paper towels.

What types of napkins can you compost?

It is possible to compost all paper napkins. Considering that paper napkins contain carbon, they are an ideal choice when a compost bin contains too many “green” materials.

Some types of colored paper cannot be composted. In the case of paper napkins, however, there is little to worry about.

Inks and dyes used in creating paper napkins have already been deemed food-safe. As a result, there is very little chance that these compounds will affect your compost pile.

Are napkins green or brown?

When it comes to composting, paper (and, therefore, paper napkins) are considered brown materials.

How long does it take for napkins to compost?

If the conditions are right, your paper napkin should decompose within six months. 

How to compost napkins

Just shred the napkins into smaller pieces like any other paper product you would compost. Since it is a great source of carbon, it is good to add alongside food scraps and food waste.

Paper towels contaminated with cleaning products or other chemicals should be disposed of in the black cart.

Napkins are great for home composting since they are meant for reuse and are not welcome in the recycling process.

So, to keep doing your part in supporting sustainability, your napkins can skip the recycling bin and the bin for household waste and instead be a part of the composting process.


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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