Composting has many excellent benefits. It allows you to recycle organic material which can then be used to help to enhance your soil. And of course it’s an environmentally friendly way to reduce trash. But before you get started you’ll need to know what not to compost.

Human Feces

Human feces can contain dangerous disease pathogens and sometimes parasitic worms. For these reasons it is not generally composted although it technically can be, if it is allowed to age and is properly treated.

However, with the associated risks involved it is therefore not recommended for the average gardener. On the other hand adding urine in compost is safe. In fact urine can give your compost a big nitrogen boost and is completely sterile.

Pet Feces

Feces from pets such as dogs, cats, and birds should not be used in your compost. Despite the fact that dog waste does contain many nutrients it can contain parasites that are dangerous for humans. Dog poop compost can also be quite messy.

A much better idea are dog waste bins. Many of these are designed to function similarly to an in-ground septic tank. Cat litter and waste should be kept out of your compost pile as well. Cat feces may contain roundworms which are particularly dangerous for children.

Toxoplasma gondii can also sometimes be found in cat feces. When it is transmitted to a woman that’s pregnant it can cause severe damage to her unborn baby. Feces from pet birds may also carry potential diseases and end up being mixed with bird seed that cause weeds to grow.          

Diseased Plants

Many plant diseases such as blight and clubroot can be extremely persistent. It can take up to around one hundred and eighty degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease pathogens and most compost piles will not reach such high temperatures.

So to keep diseases from spreading to your garden diseased plants should be burned. Burying them is also an option.


Composting weeds is typically okay if they haven’t yet flowered or produced seeds. If they have don’t add them to your pile as seeds will most likely remain dormant when composted and then germinate when added to your soil in the future.

Most compost simply doesn’t get hot enough to destroy weed seeds. Specific weeds such as: creeping buttercup, ground elder, and couch grass should be burned. If they are added to your compost they will be sure to multiply.

Anything Toxic

Do not add any toxic materials to your compost. (Knowing where your materials come from can help to make sure this doesn’t happen accidentally.) This includes plants and soils which have been sprayed with herbicides or insecticides.

When near busy roadways many plants can actually become coated with harmful lead emissions as well. So to be on the safe side and don’t add plants from these types of locations.

Items That Won’t Decompose Easily

Many items just take too long to break down. Big pieces of wood, shells from various types of seafood, and rags are all examples of things not to compost. Pruning from trees should be chopped up or put through a chipping machine first if they will be added.

That’s because their bark contains lignin which is much harder for bacteria to break down. Make sure to shred heavy cardboard if you would like to add it as well.

Too Many Acidic Items

People often wonder can you compost orange peels and other acidic fruits. The answer is yes and this also goes for other acidic materials like oak leaves and pine needles too.

However you won’t want to do so in very large amounts unless you are adding something to neutralize them such as limestone. If you have large quantities of acidic materials you may want to set up a separate compost pile specifically to supply your acid-loving plants.

Grease And Oil

While smaller amounts of grease and oil in compost are fine, such as the amount the average house would normally get rid of, anything more than that should be avoided.

Not only can grease and oil attract backyard pests of many different types, and smell bad, but they can also slow down many of the essential processes that are at work in your compost.

Be sure to follow the basics of composting and use this list of what not to compost. If you do, you’ll quickly be on your way to producing the black gold your garden craves.

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