A composting bin

Can I put pet hair in my compost bin?


It's complicated, whether you can put pet hair into your composting bin, so read on!

Key info
No category📂
6 months - 2 years⏳

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

Composting Pet Hair and Fur: A Complete Guide

Pet hair and fur can be composted, but they require some special consideration compared to other compostables. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about effectively and safely composting dog fur, cat fur, pet fur, pet hair, human hair, and animal hair.

Can You Compost Pet Hair and Fur?

Yes, pet hair and fur can be composted. Hair and fur contain nutrients like nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen that plants need to grow. They are considered "green materials" in composting.

The extremely high carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio of fur and hair means they break down slowly. The C:N ratio should ideally be 30:1, but pet fur has a ratio around 150:1. This is why fur and hair take 6 months to 2 years to fully decompose.

While fur and hair can be composted, they require some special care compared to other materials. Follow our tips below for best practices.

Pet Fur and Hair Composting Guidelines

Cut It Up - Break up clumps of fur and shred longer hair before adding it to your compost pile. This increases surface area for microbes to act on.

Mix It In - Distribute fur and hair throughout your compost pile. Don't let it accumulate in clumps, which resist decomposition.

Balance It Out - Add high-nitrogen materials like food scraps alongside the hair to create a better C:N ratio. This gives microbes nutrients to break down the fur.

Avoid Chemical Treatments - Don't compost fur or hair that has been chemically treated for things like fleas. The chemicals can harm your compost. Stick to untreated fur and hair.

Maintain Proper Moisture - Dampness is key for decomposition. If hair makes your pile too dry, add water or wet foods like fruit scraps. Good airflow will also help.

With the right balance and care, fur and hair can enrich your soil without issue. Now let's cover what types of hair and fur can and cannot be composted.

What Animal Hair and Fur Can Be Composted?

Here are the most common pet hair and fur types that are safe to compost:

  • Dog Fur - Very compostable. Follow mix-in and balance guidelines above.

  • Cat Fur - Compostable like dog fur. Ensure clumps are broken up pre-composting.

  • Small Pet Fur - Fur from rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs etc. can be composted.

  • Livestock Hair/Fur - Hair from cows, horses, sheep, goats, alpacas etc. is fine.

  • Feathers - Break feathers up before adding to your compost pile.

  • Human Hair - Like pet fur, mix human hair in rather than clumping it.

As you can see, hair and fur from most pets and animals can be effectively composted with a bit of work on the front end.

What Pet Waste Should Not Be Composted?

While hair and fur are fine, certain types of pet waste should stay out of backyard compost piles:

  • Dog & Cat Feces - Contain pathogens harmful to compost microbes.

  • Cat Litter - Even compostable litters can contain germs. Best not to risk it.

  • Chicken/Bird Droppings - Risk of transmitting diseases through compost.

For pet poop, use a specific dog waste composter rather than mixing it into your main compost pile. Products like the Doggy Dooley safely break it down underground without contact with food composts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Composting Pet Hair and Fur

Below we answer some common questions on composting different types of pet hair and fur:

Can you compost dog fur?

Yes. As a nitrogen source, dog fur decomposes well when shredded and mixed into compost properly. Follow general guidelines above.

Can you compost cat fur?

Cat fur composts just as well as dog fur. Take care to break up clumps and mats before adding to your compost pile. The more surface area, the better.

How long does pet fur take to break down in compost?

Due to the extremely high carbon content, expect pet fur to take 6 months to 2 years to fully decompose. This is normal, as long as you balance and mix it per guidelines.

Can pet hair go in green bins/curbside collection?

Rules differ by municipality. Some accept pet fur in curbside green bins, others do not. Check local guidelines before putting pet fur in curbside compost.

Can you compost human hair?

Yes. Like animal fur, human hair naturally breaks down in compost piles with proper moisture and mixing. Chop up longer hair before adding.

Can you compost feathers?

Feathers can be composted much like fur and hair. Cut or tear them up beforehand for easier breakdown. They take 6+ months to decompose fully.

We hope this guide gave you confidence in composting pet hair and fur safely and effectively. Follow these tips and your furry friends can help fertilize your garden for years to come. Let us know if you have any other composting questions!

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