Can you empty vacuum dirt into compost?

There are so many things to compost, yet some others are a big no-no. To compost, you need to have organic matter or else it won’t compose. It may even do some harm to your composting pile, so be aware.

It is not advisable to empty your vacuum dirt into your composting pile because it may have dust, small plastics or other chemical products that aren’t organic and won’t breakdown. It is risky to use it in composting and reintegrate in your food-chain by using it to cultivate your own food. 

My biggest concern when composting vacuum cleaner dirt is that I don’t have any way to know exactly what kind of dirt is in it. It may have lots of organic matter, however, it may also contain synthetic fibers, small pieces of plastic or other chemical contaminants that may kill your worms.

How to dispose of or recycle vacuum cleaner dirt

  • Check with your local authorities because they can have special rules for dirt disposal. 
  • If possible, take your vacuum cleaner outside to prevent making a mess.
  • Remove the bag from the vacuum cleaner and put it in a sealed bag.
  • Put the sealed bag into the trashcan.
  • Clean your vacuum cleaner with one or two squirts of water and vinegar to prevent smells.
  • Put a new bag into the vacuum cleaner and it’s ready for the next time.

Do not attempt to recycle or reuse the vacuum cleaner bag after they’ve been sealed as it may reintroduce dust into the environment.

When buying a new vacuum cleaner, try to choose one that has a bagless system. This will reduce waste and will reduce your costs with vacuum cleaner bags.

If you have one of this bagless vacuum cleaners:

The procedure is exactly the same, but when it’s time to remove the bag, you put the dirt directly into a bag and you will want to clean the reservoir after this.

Why is this armful to compost?

By putting inorganic materials into your composting pile, it may provoke an imbalance in your pile by adding chemicals. It may even kill your worms in extreme cases. By adding plastics or other chemicals into composts will reintroduce those chemicals directly to your food-chain if you use compost to fertilize your garden and produce your own food.

That’s not a thing you want, we want to get rid of plastic, not to reintroduce it in our food. We have so many problems with these micro plastics, it is alarming.

This study made by EcoCycle shows exactly this. How plastic used in food packaging gets a way into composting and then to the soil. Those fragments will contaminate everything they are in contact with. Our food and the water we drink daily may be contaminated with microplastics.

When buying something, look for this symbol:

Only when the packaging material has this symbol, it is safe to compost. Otherwise don’t even think of it. You may be doing more harm than good.


Hi, I'm Sérgio and I'm passionate about saving the environment reducing my carbon footprint and making better choices. Here I will share some tips that I'm learning on my journey of having a way of live that is more sustainable.

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