Are Paper Towels Recyclable or Compostable? Lets go Green

Do you make an effort to reduce your environmental impact when cooking? Us too! When it comes to creating a sustainable kitchen, you need to take into account a wide range of elements, including anything from the paper towels you use to the question: “can you compost them?”.

You must determine if the used paper towels you want to compost have been tainted with components that prevent them from being decomposed. Only then should you put them in the compost bin.

white roll paper towel for kitchen and home

Can you compost or recycle paper towel?

Towels made of paper, paper plates, napkins, and tissues are all examples of paper goods; unfortunately, none of these items can ever be recycled.

Unfortunately, the answer is no; paper towels can’t be recycled. These items are unsuitable for the recycling bin for many reasons, the most significant of which are the production process and the contamination of the product itself.

However, to compost paper towels, they must be clean and devoid of any oil, chemical residue, or excessive bacteria buildup. You may compost paper towels as long as they are clean and unused. This includes paper towels that have been used to wipe down surfaces, wash dishes, or dry your hands.

Why Can’t You Recycle Paper Towels?

Before the paper towels make it to a shop shelf, they go through a series of processes that cause a complete transformation in the composition of the paper material from which they originated.

Then, once they have been brought into our homes and put to use in a variety of ways, they get polluted, become wet, and are broken down even more. To put it simply, paper towels are not manufactured in any way, shape, or form to be recycled.

How Can We Decrease the Amount of Waste Paper Towels?

When it comes to cleaning up little messes, a convenient and easy-to-use home product that works well is paper towels. However, since they cannot be recycled, they make up a significant portion of the garbage that ends up in landfills. The best course of action is to cut down on using them or not use them at all.

To decrease waste, make an effort to get numerous washes out of a single towel, and do not remove more towels off the roll than you need. If the only thing you’re using to clean it is water or soap, you may let it dry and then use it again. Alternately, you might chop it into smaller pieces and try to use it for a longer time that way. If you have no choice, go for the brown towels that haven’t been bleached and can be composted. As long as they were exclusively used to consume food, they are eligible for disposal in the compost bin the majority of the time. Composting may be possible even after using non-toxic cleaners and sprays derived from plants in certain cases.

An Alternative to Paper Towels

Even the brown, unbleached varieties of paper towels are not suitable for recycling, although there are “greener” alternatives to paper towels. Since these items are designed to clean or wipe up accidents, they are inherently tainted with residue, which may include food waste or cleaning chemicals. Although this feature is what makes them such a useful item for the home, it also prevents them from being recycled.

Towels or Cloth Napkins

Consider switching to cloth napkins if you currently wipe your hands with paper towels after meals. Towels and napkins made of cloth may be purchased in a wide range of styles, measured dimensions, and hues from a store that has a large selection of these goods. Cotton, hemp, or bamboo that has been produced in an environmentally responsible manner is the ideal material to search for. The vast majority of them may be used for a very long time since they are simple to clean and rinse several times, and they also dry quickly. Even if they add more effort to your to-do list, washing dishes using non-toxic soap and using just a little amount of water will help minimize consumption and waste.


Paper towels are often the first cleaning tool that people reach for when they need to clean glass surfaces or mirrors. They are readily available in an infinite quantity, and each of those handy squares may be torn off with relative ease and used for a variety of purposes. The use of newspapers, on the other hand, maybe just as effective, if not more so, in removing streaks and stains from such surfaces.

Reusable Wax Wraps

There may be an alternative material that performs at least as well as paper towels, depending on how you use them. If you need to store or transport food, like lunches or leftovers, think about reusable wraps instead. These wraps are often manufactured from organic cotton and sustainable beeswax, both of which are options that are beneficial to the environment. They are resistant to moisture, long-lasting, and may be readily cleaned using a solution of dish soap and warm water.


Towels constructed from paper that are both absorbent and disposable are known as paper towels. Because they can soak up water, people are using them for jobs including the cleaning and drying of damp surfaces in the home.

There are a wide variety of brands of paper towels, each of which designs a certain kind of paper towel product. Some are constructed with unique characteristics, such as increased scrub strength, increased absorbency, or reduced weight, among others.

The purpose for which paper towels were used is the final factor that establishes whether or not they are eligible for disposal in the compost bin, although paper towels themselves are biodegradable. Paper towels that have been used to wipe up plant-based meals, water, or soil are all appropriate for the composting process. Composting should not be attempted using paper towels that have been soiled with grease or cleaning agents (even environmentally friendly cleaning products!).