Is Muslin Cloth Biodegradable? (And Compostable)

Muslin cloths are plain-woven cotton fabric famous for its soft and delicate texture. History shows that this material originated in Mosul, present-day Iraq, by Indian Muslims. Later, the fine handwoven fabric got into Europe through importation.

Different Muslin comes in varying weights and textures. You can put Muslin clothes into various use such as making garments, cleaning, food making, and backdrop. Even though they are generally lightweight materials, they are well-used fabrics in the textile industry.

Thus, in this blog post, we will discuss if muslin fabrics are recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, and everything you might need to know about Muslin. Let’s get started!

Is Muslin Biodegradable?

In this emerging eco-friendly era, everyone is trying to reduce environmental pollution created by all their choices. Isn’t it amazing that you can also contribute, encourage and keep the environment friendly by choosing a suitable fabric?

Muslin cloth is a plant-based fabric made from organic cotton. Although weaving this material used to be traditionally done by hand, manufacturers now use machines to produce large quantities in little time.

Muslin is a biodegradable material. It can quickly decompose and release eco-friendly chemicals when biodegraded. However, if the cotton has some partial polyester, nylon, and other synthetic material, it is essential to note that you should not biodegrade them because they are plastic.

These Muslin made from other materials are sometimes referred to as synthetic Muslin, while cotton is known as natural Muslin. Artificial Muslin should not be biodegraded because not only will their organic breakdown take a while. It will also release toxic chemicals into the environment because of the chemicals from the plastic materials.

The time frame for a muslin clothe to degrade completely can take anywhere between one to five months. It depends on the weight and thickness of the material, so ensure that you only biodegrade organic Muslin.

In addition, Muslin can be dyed or bleached for aesthetic reasons, amongst others. Hence it is essential to note that Muslin fabrics that have been stained or bleached should not be biodegraded.

The Muslin has been alternated with chemicals to get the new look. Thus, to biodegrade such material will lead to the release of chemicals that are not environmentally friendly due to bleach or dye.

Can Muslin Be Recycled?

Technically, no. You cannot recycle a Muslin. What you can do is reuse them. Recycling Muslin can be stressful, unlike the usual plastic, paper, or glass disposal.

Many recycling facilities do not accept textiles due to the energy and money required to recycle them. Therefore, the best option is to reuse them and then biodegrade them.

Muslin has been around for centuries and usually has a delicate and light texture, so it’s ideal for making lightweight garments. It is also an excellent material for dyeing and printing projects because they are cheap.

Here are some other unique ways to reuse Muslin:

1. Beauty regime

Muslin fabrics are a blessing when it comes to a beauty regime. They are excellent fabric for exfoliating skin, even said to be better than exfoliation brushes by experts.

All you need is to get a befitting cleanser, apply it, then wipe off the applied face cleanser in circular motions with a warm wet Muslin to clean off residue or dirt on the skin. You could also use these fabrics for lip exfoliation to get rid of flaky, dry lips.

2. Kitchen materials

Muslin is a savior in the kitchen because not only do they act as kitchen tools, such as a strain in making butter and cheese or a filter in making wine. They are also used to make DIY teabags, keep leafy greens fresh, or store food in the refrigerator.

3. Cleaning

The fabric is excellent for cleaning due to its ability to leave no residue behind after cleaning. Muslin fabrics are lint-free and perfect for cleaning any surface in your home, including countertops and other items.

4. Backdrops

Muslins make excellent backdrops either for an amateur or professional photographer. It is an affordable option that you can use as a simple background in its unbleached state. Videographers also love this fabric because it can be a non-reflective material. Hence, they utilize the cloth frequently in making green screens.

5. Bandana

In need of a quick bandana, here is a great way to reuse your muslin fabric. Fold a muslin into two and tie it around your hairline to keep your hair in place. You could use it when jogging, doing facial routines, etc. It will protect your hair from becoming a mess. Just ensure that the tie is firm enough.

Aside from this, Muslin can suffice pretty well as a gift wrap; wrap it around a present and tie it off with a ribbon. You could also use it to cover a baby; with its soft and breathable material, it is no doubt that they are the perfect material for babies. Yet, it is vital to note that muslin clothes could also be donated for reuse by those who need them.

Is Muslin Compostable?

The textile industry is one of the most significant contributors to environmental pollution due to the inability to recycle or dispose of fabrics properly. Therefore, it is customary to be worried if Muslin is compostable or not before purchasing.

Most biodegradable materials are compostable. It is possible because both terms refer to materials breaking down organically by themselves. The only difference is that biodegradable material breaks down and release eco-friendly chemicals into the environment.

On the other hand, compostable means that you can use its organic result for several purposes, primarily fertilizers.

Thus, in this case, yes, Muslin is compostable. However, it is only compostable when in its natural cotton state.

Muslin can be in a natural or artificial state. Its natural state is when it exists, and we utilize it in its original form. The initial condition of these fabrics is usually beige. However, you could dye it into other colors. But, it is advisable not to stain or bleach this fabric because this makes it even harder to dispose of after use.

It would be best not to throw Muslin into a compost bin without a second thought in its artificial state because the breakdown of artificial Muslin lead to the release of toxic gases into the environment.

It can also affect your crops when you use the compost as a fertilizer. So ensure that if your Muslin is bleached, dyed, or altered from its original form in any way with chemicals, it is not added to a compost pile.

Is Muslin Cotton?

Muslin is a plant-based fabric made from cotton. However, some other muslin fabrics in the textile industry are not cotton. They are linen, polyester, and nylon made instead, even though they are not as common as those made from plain cotton. However, does this mean that Muslin is cotton?

No, it isn’t. It is a type of cotton fabric that’s lightweight, soft, and breathable. Compared to cotton, Muslin has a loose and more open weave. It is pretty easy to identify and differentiate them from cotton, not only due to their loose weave and lesser thread counts but their weight.

Weight is a primary difference between Muslin and cotton. Muslin is lightweight, while cotton is usually heavyweight compared to its counterpart, and cotton is relatively expensive to Muslin.

Still, these handwoven cotton come in several weights and quantities, which leads to varieties of muslin cotton from high-grade ones to lower grade ones.

Below are the four types of muslin materials.


Gauze is a super-soft, lightweight muslin form commonly used in the medical industry to dress wounds. It is also an excellent material for baby clothes and filters used in the kitchen, i.e., straining cheese.


This grade of muslin fabric is lightweight but generally made of cotton and silk, sometimes viscose. You can use this variation of Muslin to underline a dress to provide more weight to the outfit. It is also sometimes used to test patterns in garment making.

Swiss Muslin

Here’s another lightweight variation of Muslin, generally used to make warm-weather clothes. It’s usually dotting some elevated pattern of dots.


Sheeting is the thickest variation of muslin fabric. These types of Muslin are majorly used in clothing and homewares such as furniture and decorations to beautify a home.

Is Muslin Natural or Synthetic?

In recent times, some fabrics, referred to as Muslin, are woven with artificial fibers rather than cotton fiber. It is quite debatable whether this can be called Muslin in this situation. However, when it comes to Muslin, one can either come across the versatile fabric as a 100% soft cotton or synthetic fiber.

Muslin made from pure cotton is better for the environment, but it is also relatively sustainable than artificial fiber. An example of common synthetic muslin material is polyester.

These synthetic muslins are created with chemicals rather than organically, so they are not biodegradable or compostable. Trying to do such will only increase the rate of environmental pollution with the release of the chemicals during this mode of disposal.

Thus, it is safe to say that there is both natural and synthetic Muslin. Although the pure, unaltered one is natural and eco-friendly, its counterpart is the opposite.

Is Muslin Organic?

Muslin is plant material. It is produced from natural cotton fiber and can easily break down and disintegrate into the environment. Yet, it is essential to note that a material can be organic only if grown organically without chemicals, such as pesticides.

Growing cotton organically can be a pretty excruciating and expensive process for farmers; hence, not all farmers employ it even though it is highly encouraged. Thus, it is vital to note that not all Muslin is 100% organic.

Cotton grown organically is the best choice for the production of Muslin because the use of these pesticides is not eco-friendly. They pollute the groundwater and environment. In addition, bleaching or dyeing the fabric after production is discouraged because it’s toxic to the environment unless the manufacturer uses organic dyes.

If you own a muslin cloth, you must take good care of it to ensure its long-term use. You can gently handwash it with cold or warm water, so you don’t rip it. Note that Muslin is a shrinkable material, so keep it away from hot water. You can further proceed to hang the fabric or air dry it.


Muslin cloth is a biodegradable and compostable material that can break down into environmentally friendly chemicals. Still, organic farming should be highly encouraged to reduce the infection of crops and effect nontoxic degrading and compost. Also, the bleaching or adding of dye on Muslin should be discouraged to reduce environmental pollution.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.