Skip to main content
Closeup of someone's feet, clad in old holey socks and rubber flip flops. Image from
Compost is more than just veggie peelings and leaves. Yes, it's now fairly common knowledge that tons of household items can be used as an ingredient for "black gold." Shredded junk mail is an everyday addition in many homes, for example. Ditto used tissues, wilted flower arrangements and spent tea bags.

Recently, I got to wondering what other, more unusual things people are composting. Things that might be overlooked, even by green-minded people like myself. I came up with the following short list of 20 surprising -- and sometimes downright gross -- items that can be composted. Enjoy!

1. Gum
2. Latex condoms
3. Old wool or cotton socks
4. Grungy old undies
5. Tampons and cardboard applicators
6. Your hair and/or your pets' hair
7. Cage litter from small pets (hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, birds, etc.)
8. Nail clippings
9. Stale Halloween candy
10. White craft glue
11. Jell-O
12. Dead starfish
13. Melted ice cream
14. Granite dust
15. Old leather gloves and wallets
16. Wine gone bad
17. Liquid from canned fruits and vegetables
18. Dead bugs
19. Wine corks
20. Urine

Number 7 is one I enthusiastically recommend. Until I began adding gerbil cage litter to my compost bin a few months ago, my mixture was always too wet. My little critters, however, produce a wonderful remedy for that. Sure, there's some animal waste in discarded cage litter, but it consists mostly of finely shredded cardboard and hay.

As for everything else on the list, well, let's just say yes to most of them and a very loud "NO" to a few others. I'm all for being green ... but some of these items are downright disgusting!

Want more ideas? Check out lists from Eco Salon, Green Diva Mom, PlanTea and You Grow Girl.

What unusual and/or gross things have you tried to compost? Let us know!


Add Your Comments

  • New Users
  • Returning

If you are posting a comment for the first time, please enter your name and email address in the fields above. Your name will be displayed with your comment. Your email address will never be displayed.

Add Your Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password.

To create a live link, simply type the URL (including http://) or email address and we will make it a live link for you. You can put up to 3 URLs in your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted — no need to use <p> or <br /> tags.


Follow Us

  • No features currently available.

  • More Hot Topics The Daily Fix  •  DIY Warrior  •  Home Ec  •  Handmade
    DIY Disaster Doctor  •  In the Workshop  •  Product Picks

    Home Improvement Videos