Making compost is equal parts art and science.

While many people focus on the optimal carbon to nitrogen ratio, some of these people aren’t considering the various nutrients that could be missing from the final product if a lack of variety is used to make the compost. Yes, the macronutrients are important for your compost health, but so are the micronutrients that come from using a large variety of composting ingredients!

So, here are 39 items you can compost at home.


A large percentage of what you can compost comes from food. Here are the best of the best to throw in your compost pile!

1. Fruit And Vegetable Waste

Fruits and vegetables produce plenty of biomass that doesn’t get eaten. Banana peels, apple bores, vegetable stems, etc are great additions to compost.

2. Expired Produce

We’ve all bought/grown too much produce and let it go bad. Throw it in the pile!

3. Leftovers

Just like produce goes bad sometimes before we get to it, leftovers are sometimes so abundant that they end up going bad. Throw them in the compost pile and ensure they are covered well if they contain meat, dairy, or fats.

39 items you can compost

4. Egg Shells

Rinse them and crush them for a good amount of calcium added to the compost.

5. Cooked Bones

If you can grind cook bones down to powder you have bone meal, a great addition to compost and soil.

6. Meat

Read above for how to compost meat products.

7. Spoiled Dairy

Most people think composting dairy isn’t possible because of the pests it may bring. All it requires is a deep cover so no smell escapes.

39 items you can compost

8. Tea And Coffee

Tea leaves and coffee grounds are great for compost. So are the tea bags and compost filters if they are made from compostable materials!

9. Stale Bread

Unless you have livestock that would relish some stale bread, add it to the pile for a good boost in a variety of micronutrients.

10. Expired Grains

Remember that tub of oats you bought 5 years ago at the back of the pantry? Toss it in and recycle those nutrients!


Aside from food waste, manure is the best way to get a ton of nutrients into your compost pile. You just need to ensure you handle it safely and age it long enough to dispose of pathogens.

11. Horse Manure

Horse manure is awesome but it tends to be seedy. Hot composting is recommended.

39 items you can compost

12. Cattle Manure

This is the black gold that most composters are after! Mix it with some straw and you are good to go.

13. Pig Manure

Pig manure isn’t recommended by most composters because of the chance of pathogens. Time and heat are your friends here.

14. Rabbit Manure

You don’t have to compost rabbit droppings, but it doesn’t hurt if you don’t have an immediate use for them!

15. Sheep Manure

Another herbivore that produces high-quality composting material.

16. Chicken Manure

Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen so it will need ample amounts of carbon material to balance.

39 items you can compost

17. Goat Manure

Goats are browsers and eat different things than sheep and cattle, meaning the manure is rich in unique nutrients as well!

18. Fish Manure

Fish manure is awesome for the garden but can be messy to deal with. Pet fish will enjoy a tank cleaning while you throw the wastewater in the compost pile for moisture and nutrients!

19. Humanure

This is taboo but completely doable. Aging human manure and keeping it off consumable plants is your best bet. Use it around ornamentals instead.

Compost From The Outdoors

You can produce a lot of biomass on the homestead from your day-to-day activities. Here are some of the best compost ingredients you’ll find outside.

20. Lawn Clippings

Empty the mower bag straight on the pile.

39 items you can compost

21. Weeds

Weeds are rich in nutrients even though we don’t want them around. Don’t waste the biomass.

22. Tree Trimmings

Chipping tree trimmings gives you wood chips for plenty of carbon in your pile.

23. Exhausted Garden Plants

When you clear the garden, put all of those plants in your compost pile. Talk about a large amount of biomass!

24. Fall Leaves

Leaves are abundant in the fall, so pick them up and recycle those nutrients.

39 items you can compost

25. Pest Infested Produce

Hot composting only!

26. Disease Infested Produce

Hot composting only!

27. Slaughter Waste

Blood and viscera compost wonderfully if you can keep pests away. It has to be buried deeply.


These are things that don’t really fit in the other categories but still provide great fuel for the composting process. Try them out and see the results!

28. Junk Mail

Shred it and throw it in as long as it isn’t glossy.

29. Newspapers

Same process as junk mail.

39 items you can compost

30. Cardboard

All those online orders come with compost ingredients!

31. Nails

Fingernail and toenail clippings.

32. Hair

We all get hair cuts, so put those hair clippings in the compost!

33. Greywater

Use greywater-friendly soaps if you want to use this to wet down dry piles.

34. Egg Cartons

Obviously, I don’t mean the Styrofoam ones. Stick with the paperboard.

39 items you can compost

35. Paper Towels

Shred them up and throw them in when you need more carbon.

36. Nut Shells

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts all have beneficial shells you can utilize.

37. Cotton Waste

Old clothes, rags, q-tips, and cotton balls apply!

38. Dryer Lint

As long as you are only drying natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, etc), the lint is compostable.

39. Pet Fur

Just like you can compost your hair clippings, you can compost all that pet fur from grooming.

Ready To Make Some Compost?

You don’t have to use all 39 of these composting ingredients. Ensuring you get the right C:N ratio would be quite difficult with this array of ingredients

While you could always cold compost all of these ingredients and ignore C:N ratios, you could use what ingredients you have the most of and calculate your C:N ratio to create high-quality compost quickly and efficiently!

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