QUESTION: Can Kleenex go in compost? Seems like a waste to throw them away or flush them. – Tracy F
ANSWER: Kleenex and other tissues, on their own, pose no problems in composting and function like paper as a carbon-rich “brown” ingredient. However, the heat level of the average compost heap is not high enough to kill the pathogens that Kleenex will contain after it’s been used to blow one’s nose or for other sanitary purposes. That means Kleenex that’s come into contact with bodily fluids, whether you’re sick or not, should not be used in composting if you are going to be touching the compost with your hands regularly, but probably ok otherwise. More importantly, you should avoid composting any tissues that have been used to clean up pet waste or oil, or tissues you’ve used in conjunction with cleaning products and other substances that contain chemicals.
The exception when it comes to Kleenex that may contain germs is Bokashi composting, as the fermentation process it involves kills pathogens and puts an end to the risk of passing along disease. Because of the extra organic material, people who are using Bokashi composting to recycle Kleenex will just need to add a little more bokashi compost accelerator (also called bokashi bran) than usual to their kitchen composter.