Can worms eat clothing?

clothing hanging to dry

The short answer? Yes. However, there’s a ‘but’ in there. Let’s talk about this in more detail.

Earthworms aren’t very choosy. They’ll eat practically anything. Whatever you can compost, you should be able to feed your worms. After all, worms are a big contributing factor in the composting process. This includes peels, scraps, paper, cardboard, plant trimmings, and much more. However, there are some things that are inadvisable to put in your compost heap, which you should certainly not be giving to your worms.


Earthworms can eat clothing!

If you’re out of things to put in the worm bin, you might have to start getting creative. This is when you get the non-edible stuff out. If you have a couple clean rags lying around, you may be tempted to give those to your worms. Clothes, when torn, can be upcycled and used in a couple more ways, but once they’re at the end of their lifespan, there’s nothing left to do but throw them out.

If you have clothing or fabric that’s 100% organic and which contains no pesticides, dyes or any other chemicals which may harm your worms, you can give it to them. Just be extra careful while making sure that it’s safe for them, because they are tiny creatures, and a chemical-laden piece of clothing may be the end of them.

Just cut the clothing up into little pieces, moisten them, and they are now ready to be put into your worm bin! It shouldn’t be a large part of their diet, but you can give your worms cotton clothing every now and then as long as you remove all hooks, zippers, buttons, tags, etc.


Unconventional food ideas

Here are some things you may not have thought earthworms could eat, but will be surprised to find that they can!

  • shredded newspaper
    Paper, cardboard and hay (or brown matter). Make sure you shred it and soak it in water before giving to your worms.
  • Eggshells (great for balancing pH levels in your worm bin)
  • Towels or 100% cotton rags
  • Fruit cores, stems and leaves
  • Teabags and coffee grounds
  • Moldy bread (grind up before giving for best results)
  • Manure (dry poop such as that of goats and rabbits is excellent)
  • Hair and nail clippings

So, the next time you trim your hair, go ahead and add the trimmings to your bin. Your squiggly little friends will love it!


What not to feed your earthworms

While earthworms aren’t choosy, there are some things that aren’t great for them, and some that are outright risky. Here are a few:

  • Acidic things such as citrus, tomatoes and pineapples (it can be toxic to worms)
  • Onion and garlic (too acidic)
  • Glossy or colored paper
  • Meat and bones
  • Oil (it can coat their body and prevent them from breathing)
  • Spicy or salty food
  • Dry grains
  • Dairy products (mostly because it smells awful while decomposing)
  • Poisonous plants
  • Inorganic matter such as plastic, metal and glass
  • Grass (while plant trimmings are okay, too much grass will distress your worms)

This list may look long and daunting, but trust us, in time you’ll get the hang of it. Print it out on a piece of paper and tape it somewhere near the worm bin so you don’t accidentally end up giving them something harmful.


So these were some simple dos and don’ts to keep your worms healthy and productive, and your worm bin smelling good. If you are ever in doubt, do your research before giving something to your worms.