How To Recycle Denim Insulation

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If you're looking to replace old denim insulation, you may be wondering what to do with it next. Should you toss it in the dumpster? Or perhaps try to salvage and donate it? Yes, you can recycle denim insulation, and we have researched the best ways to do it. In this post, we will go over it with you.

Here are three ways for you to recycle your old denim insulation:

  • Contact A Fabric Recycling Center
  • Compost The Insulation
  • Donate The Fabric
  • Take It Outside

One of the best things about denim insulation is that it's typically biodegradable and is made from everyday cotton fabric. The uses for cotton fabric are endless, and it's one of the easiest materials to recycle. Continue reading to learn more about how you can always put denim insulation to good use.

Installing a recycled blue jean denim insulation in wall frame, How To Recycle Denim Insulation

Methods to Recycle Denim Insulation

In most areas, you won't be able to leave your old denim insulation on the side of the road. If it's biodegradable [sometimes you'll need to verify this first], you have a few choices.

You can either find uses for it at home, or you can work with professionals who can take the insulation and repurpose it.

Recycled blue jean denim insulation separated by a wall stud

Contact A Fabric Recycling Center

One of the most common ways to recycle this type of insulation is to take it to your local recycling center. You can find the nearest center by going to the Waste Management website. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency website to find centers near your home.

You will need to physically drop off the insulation yourself for many facilities. However, some offer curbside collection on certain days of the week.

Recycling is free, of course, but the pickup from a local center or a Waste Management office may include a fee. And note that if the insulation is severely damaged, burned, molded, or otherwise unusable, they may not accept it.

Compost The Insulation

Another option to consider is composting the old insulation. Since this insulation is made from 100% cotton, a plant-based fiber, it can be used for several applications. For example, you can use the compost for the plants or trees in your yard.

Or you can give the old insulation to a local plant nursery for them to utilize. The great thing about composting cotton is that it acts as an absorbent and carbon-rich material to help balance other biodegradable and protein-based compost types, such as food scraps, manure, and fertilized grass clippings.

Donate The Fabric

You can always donate the insulation to craft and sewing organizations as well. Also, check online for local non-profits, thrift stores, and charitable organizations to see if they accept the old denim insulation.

And the great thing about this method of disposal is that you'll be able to write off the donation on your tax return at the end of the year. Just as a note, many of these organizations offer pickup services free of charge. So you'll need to ensure that the insulation is well-packed and ready to go when they arrive.

Take It Outside

Probably the quickest way to get rid of your denim insulation is to take it out to your recycle bin. Remember that this insulation is dense, thick, and relatively heavy. It's best to have large trash bags [also known as "contractor bags"] ready to dispose of them safely and correctly.

It's also helpful if you double bag each load. Be sure to wear a protective dust mask and gloves when handling the insulation. Also, after tossing the bags into the recycling bin, don't forget to contact your local waste authority to let them know that you have a sizeable load outside.

Note that if you try to dispose of the insulation in your regular trash bins or the nearest dumpster, you can be fined if you're caught.

What is denim insulation made of?

Recycled blue jean denim insulation near wall frame

Denim insulation is made of recycled content and cotton. About 85% to 90% of it is made from other recycled fabrics.

Here's a quick overview of its manufacturing process:

  1. After old cotton and denim fabric are discarded, they're sent to a nearby recycling facility.
  2. Upon arrival, workers remove any materials that are not biodegradable such as buttons, zippers, and other items.
  3. The fabric machines shred the cotton and grind it into small pieces of fabric; then, they are thrown into large bins.
  4. The bales of fabric are then sent to another area where they are processed once more, which turns the shreds into a fibrous material.
  5. These fibers are then treated with a borate-based solution so that they're fire and mold-resistant.
  6. Next, the fibers are placed on another machine that presses them into flattened rolls or batts.
  7. These batts or rolls are then cut, packaged, and prepared for shipping.

Is denim insulation compostable?

For the most part, yes, denim insulation is compostable. Being that it's made from natural recycled fibers, it can be used for various compost products and other applications. However, you'll want to carefully inspect the package's label to ensure this.

The reason is that some denim insulation can contain dyes [some of which may be toxic] and other chemicals in ingredients that can contaminate the compost or soil during biodegradation.

Does denim insulation mold?

Denim insulation is an absorbent material, which means it can develop mold. It's treated with a mold-blocking solution to prevent this. However, if the insulation is exposed to excessive humidity or moisture, it can grow mold if it isn't dried out.

But if moisture exposure is minimal, it's likely that the insulation won't grow mold. If you recently had a huge water leak or pipe burst in your home and are worried about your denim insulation becoming molded, air out the space thoroughly.

Also, remove any rolls or batts soaked with water; these typically won't be salvageable. Any insulation that is only slightly wet may be salvageable, but it's best to monitor it for the next few days or weeks to ensure that it doesn't grow mold.

Is denim insulation fire resistant?

Installing recycled blue jean denim insulation in wall frame

Denim insulation is sprayed with a chemical solution to make it fire-resistant. This means that if the area where the insulation is installed catches fire, the insulation will not help spread the flame but will instead slow the spread. As a result, it's likely the installation will only become singed.

What is the most eco-friendly insulation?

If you're looking for eco-friendly insulation, you have a few choices to choose from. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Cotton

Cotton will always hover near the top of the list regarding biodegradable materials. In many ways, this insulation material is very similar to fiberglass, as it is commonly available in either batts or rolls. It has nearly the same R-value, and it can be used in a variety of biodegradable applications once it's broken down.

Rigid Foam Panels

Also known as polystyrene, rigid board panels are commonly used in wall, attic, and basement insulation. These foam boards are easy to dispose of and can usually be recycled.

They are also great for composting or repurposing for other home applications. The great thing about these boards is that they are pretty light and can easily be broken down into smaller pieces.

Sheep Wool

Though sheep wool insulation is not the cheapest insulation material on the market, it's the most eco-friendly option to choose from. It has an impressive R-value, and it will last a long time after it's been installed.

If you live in an area with harsh winters or heavy winds, sheep wool insulation may be worth looking at. This insulation is dense, highly resistant to water and moisture, and sprayed with fire-resistant chemicals. It is also biodegradable and easy to compost.

Wrapping Things Up

As you can see, there are quite a few ways to recycle your old denim insulation. It's best to set aside a day or two to remove the insulation if you don't plan on hiring a contractor--it's a pretty laborious task to complete.

And if you plan to take or ship it to a recycling center, always call beforehand to confirm any necessary details before dropping the insulation off.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Can You Compress Mineral Wool Insulation?

How Long Does Insulation Last And When To Replace It

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