How can I reuse or recycle dust/lint from vacuuming?

Polly has emailed us with a Compost This question:

Can I emptied my hoover bag into my compost bin? I know you can compost dryer lint so wondered if it was the same.

Like with tumble dryer lint, it depends what the lint/dust is most made up of – but most of the time the answer would will be yes. The contents of your vacuum’s bag/canister tends to made up of dirt brought in on shoes (compostable), human/pet hair (compostable), human/pet skin skin cells (compostable) and, depending on how tidy you are when you eat, food crumbs (compostable). Probably the biggest thing to be wary of is if your carpet sheds a lot of fibres – if it’s a synthetic carpet, you don’t want to add that to your compost really but if it’s natural fibre (such as wool), then it’s fine.

You should to take to mix it well into your existing compost – that’ll both add moisture to the dry dust (and help start the composting process) and stop it being a suffocating layer on the top. Because everything is in pretty small particles anyway, some people say you can skip the compost stage and just dump it straight onto your garden – again though, dig it in or the dust will just blow around when you get the slightest breeze.

Any other advice? Or other suggestions?

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8 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle dust/lint from vacuuming?”

  1. louisa says:

    Oh, I meant to add: if you use “disposable” paper bags in your hoover, it’ll be better (but messier) to rip them open to mix them in. Throwing the whole bag in and dousing it with water (to start the breaking down process) is a whole lot better than nothing though– just watch out for any plastic or metal bits.

  2. Cipollina says:

    Like with dryer lint, a great part of the lint in the hoover bag also comes from our clothes – and those are often of mixed fibres, even in cases when they are tagged 100% cotton/wool/whatever. I can’t find the source now, and I don’t remember exacly how much of one type of fibre there has to be in something in order to be called 100% that fibre, but it’s not 100%!

    I’m not joking, 100% wool is almost never 100% wool – especially in carpets, but also in clothes. There are reasons why a 100% wool carpet doesn’t get felted and shrink when you steam-clean it, and some wool yarn for knitting, for instance, is coated in plastic to keep it from shrinking in the wash, but is still called 100% wool.

    I also like to add that if you use carpet in the garden (to cover the compost, to smother weeds, to protect the pond liner, or whatever), it is *always* better to use a 100% synthetic carpet, because then you are able to get it *all* off again should you want to remove it, whereas a 100% wool carpet will always leave its impossible-to-pick-up non-biodegradable fibres in the soil as its wool parts decompose.

  3. roger says:

    Don’t know where i heard this, or if it will work, or be hazardous to health, but you can stuff toilet roll tubes with tumble dryer lint as firelighters for barbecues or just general firestarting. I suppose you could use hoover contents. But i’m not saying it’s safe or functional.

  4. Shawn says:

    I save up two or three canisters of hoover lint, (I have a bag-less machine) in old pillow cases. When the pillow case is full simply tie off or sew closed the top. Throw that in the clothes dryer and, presto you have a new/recycled pillow!

  5. Helen Smith says:

    Hello Shawn

    Put it out in the garden in hedges etc and the birds will take it for lining their nests. They are building furiously at this time of year and will be really grateful…


  6. DJ TOMMO says:

    You can burn it on a back yard bonfire or bbq

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