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Can I Compost Cotton wool?

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cotton-padYou might be able to compost cotton wool (aka absorbent cotton).

First, you have to make sure that it’s actually 100% cotton wool. Some “cotton wool” products are blended with synthetic fibres to help them hold their shape (for example, some face pads) or are coated with a synthetic material to make them less “woolly” (for example, medical dressings). The cotton will break down quite quickly but the synthetic material is unlikely to decompose at all: it’ll either stay intact in the heap or little fibres will spread throughout the compost.

If it is pure cotton, the next issue is what you have used the cotton wool for. If it has come into contact with chemicals such as oily cosmetics or disinfectants, or anything else on the “don’t compost” list, you probably don’t want them contaminating your compost heap.

If you use a lot of cotton wool products, do try to cut back if you can as cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world: reusable substitutes are increasingly available these days or you can make your own washable pads or scrubbies, if you’re that way inclined.

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