How long does it take for tampon to decompose?

August 18, 2023
min read

Short answer

The decomposition time of a tampon can vary depending on various factors. In general, the decomposition time for a tampon made of 100% cotton is approximately 6 months to 1 year. However, tampons made of synthetic materials may take longer to decompose, sometimes several years.


When it comes to the decomposition of tampons, it is important to understand the materials used in their production. Tampons are made from a combination of natural and synthetic materials, such as cotton, rayon, and polyester. These materials are designed to be absorbent and biodegradable, allowing the tampons to break down over time.

The decomposition process of tampons begins once they are disposed of in waste management systems or flushed down the toilet. If tampons end up in landfills, where oxygen is limited, decomposition is slower. In such cases, the cotton components of tampons can take several months to break down completely. However, the synthetic materials like rayon and polyester may take significantly longer, potentially several years.

When tampons are flushed down the toilet, they enter the wastewater stream and are carried to sewage treatment plants. Although tampons are not typically designed to be flushed, their presence in sewage systems is relatively common. In wastewater treatment plants, tampons can cause blockages and clog pumps and other equipment. Consequently, they need to be manually removed and disposed of separately, often ending up in landfills where the decomposition process continues.

Overall, while tampons are designed to be biodegradable, the decomposition process can be slow due to the combination of natural and synthetic materials used. Proper disposal practices are crucial to ensure that tampons do not end up in the sewage system, causing environmental issues and increasing the time it takes for them to decompose.

Is it possible to recycle tampon?

Intresting facts

  • Tampons are typically made from a blend of rayon, a synthetic fiber derived from wood pulp, and cotton, which are both biodegradable materials.
  • When a tampon is disposed of in a landfill, it can take several months or even years to decompose fully, depending on the environmental conditions and waste management practices.
  • The decomposition process of tampons in landfills is anaerobic, meaning it occurs in the absence of oxygen. In this environment, the decomposition is slower than in aerobic conditions.
  • Some tampons contain a plastic applicator, which is not biodegradable. These plastic components can take a significantly longer time to decompose compared to the tampon itself.
  • To help mitigate the environmental impact of tampons, there are now biodegradable and organic options available, made from materials like organic cotton or natural plant-based fibers.

Summary and final thoughts

The decomposition time of a tampon varies depending on various factors such as the brand, materials used, the environment it is disposed in, and whether it is biodegradable or not. Regular tampons made from a mix of synthetic and natural materials may take several months or even years to decompose completely, contributing to environmental pollution. However, some tampons are specifically designed to be biodegradable and can decompose more quickly, ranging from a few months to a year. It is important to note that proper disposal methods, such as disposing of tampons in appropriate bins and avoiding flushing them down toilets, can help limit the negative environmental impacts.

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