If I’m being honest, I didn’t start to floss my teeth regularly until I was in my 30’s. Despite what my dental hygienist recommended growing up, I didn’t take the time nor did I care about spending an extra minute in the bathroom each morning.

Eventually I guess you just hit that age where you do proper adulting and flossing your teeth regularly is included in that.

Truth be told, I didn’t really think too much about throwing away used floss or the plastic disposable floss container until recently. 

It just dawned on me one day that there probably is a more environmentally friendly dental floss out there than the OralB product I was using.

And boy was I right, there are quite a few options available which I will discuss in a moment.

First, let’s review a few things about traditional dental floss.

What is dental floss made from?

Wasteland Rebel explains it best:

“Regular dental floss is just waxed nylon, rolled up in a small plastic box. Just like plastic, nylon is derived from crude oil. Unlike plastic, it does not take 500 to thousands of years to decompose, but “only” 50 – 80 years.”

How do you make dental floss?nylon floss

I’m just going to give you the Cliff Notes version of how dental floss is made. For a more in-depth article, click here. 

  1. Polymerized nylon salt is poured out into a ribbon.
  2. Ribbon pieces are cut and reblended and pumped through spinnerets to form filaments.
  3. The filaments are twisted to form one strong floss. 
  4. Various coatings are applied to the filaments through emulsion baths, these include waxes and flavors.

Is dental floss biodegradable?

If 50-80 years is an acceptable amount of time for an item to biodegrade, then yes, it is biodegradable. But for the majority of us humans out there, it is NOT an acceptable amount of time, so the answer is a resounding NO!

Can dental floss be recycled?

No, dental floss in not recyclable. Dental floss is made from mixed materials that is made into a product that is too small to go through normal recycling procedures.

Can you recycle floss picks?

For the same reason that dental floss in not recyclable, neither are floss picks. They are made from too many mixed materials and are too small for recycling facilities to process.

Now that we’ve covered traditional dental floss, what are some earth friendly alternatives?

Environmentally Friendly Alternatives To Dental Floss

Well, there are few types of ecofriendly dental floss that just might be able to replace your old traditional environmentally unsound dental floss. 

In no particular order…

Silk floss

Silk floss is a good alternative to the traditional dental floss as it is nylon and plastic free. Making it compostable, which is awesome.

The downside is it is made from silk worms, so it is not vegan, if that is a concern for you.

The most eco-friendly silk floss I found was Dental Lace. 

Dental lace floss dental lace refillable floss

Dental Lace has a pretty cool backstory, at least in my opinion. It was created by a normal person, a librarian no less, because she was tired of looking at her ugly, plastic, non-ecofriendly floss container every time she flossed her teeth.

Jodi Breau, the creator of Dental Lace, found a need and filled it. I greatly admire her entrepreneurial spirit! 

Every time someone buys a Dental Lace refillable glass container, it replaces 7 plastic containers. How cool is that?!

Now, here are some awesome environmentally friendly features of Dental Lace Refillable Floss:

  • It is the only fashionable refillable eco-friendly dental floss on the market
  • 99% zero waste
  • consists of a glass container with a stainless-steel cap holds floss that is 100% Mulberry silk
  • The refill bags are certified compostable
  • boxes are 100% post-consumer paperboard

The only waste is the waterproof label on the container, which stays on the reusable container. Not too shabby!

You can feel really good about putting your hard earned money towards a homegrown product like Dental Lace. You are supporting an actual person and their community.

Hemp dental floss 

This is a DIY option for sure. From what I have read, you just twist a few pieces of hemp thread together and use that as your floss. 

I have not personally tried any DIY floss, but it sounds intriguing. The best part is that hemp is biodegradable, so you can throw your hemp floss right in your compost bin when you are done getting the quinoa out of your teeth. Pretty cool.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried using hemp thread as dental floss. I’m very curious!

Tevra flosstevra floss

This dental floss is made from corn….yes, corn! I almost didn’t believe it when I was researching Tevra floss.

On top of the floss being made from corn, some other fantastic features of Tevra floss are:

  • It’s biodegradable
  • Silk free = vegan
  • Reusable bottle made from 100% recyclable glass
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Cruelty-free
  • Gluten-free

Plastic free floss picks

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but plastic free floss picks do not exist. 

I did find a floss pick made from cornstarch, but it is bound together using polypropylene, a plastic polymer.

This renders them unrecyclable and uncompostable, so basically they are still a single use item ending up in the trash. 

It’s a start in the plastic free floss pick world, but not really environmentally friendly in the grand scheme of things. You can find them here if you are looking for an improved eco-friendly floss pick, but my suggestion is to use environmentally friendly floss instead if you can.

I hope that at least one of these environmentally friendly dental flosses resonated with you. Any one of them would be better than using the traditional plastic container, non-compostable dental floss you might be using right now.

If an overall greener oral health routine is what you are after, feel free to check out my article on bamboo toothbrushes here.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of these environnentally friendly dental floss alternatives. What’s your favorite?

Cheers, and have an awesome day!


  1. Jim Lichti

    Thanks! Really grateful for this post.

    Anyone have a recommendation between Tevra floss and Dental Lace floss?

  2. Sheila

    Thank you so much for this great article. Just like you, I haven’t really care about flossing before so learning about my options.

    • Kathy

      I’m glad you find it useful! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Jason

    I recently purchased Picksters “Eco Floss Picks” which claim to be “98% biodegradable” and “will degrade if disposed of according to Australian Standard 4736-2006”. Sounds great but I can’t find any information online about how to dispose of such a product. Any ideas?

    • Kathy

      If you have a municipal composting program, I would start there. Generally they take quite a long time to degrade and your backyard compost might not cut it.

      • Ray

        I found a ‘compostable’ flosser that I’m planning on purchasing, but I don’t nor do I plan to do any composting. My primary concern is about the plastic waste/production in general, and the decomposition in a landfill or ocean is just as important a concern imo. I’d actually much rather the decomposition be slow, as not to contribute a large amount of methane or other products too quickly. The plastic floss bits would make a very miniscule eco impact in a landfill (relatively), and I have a decent amount of faith that the floss won’t end up in the ocean considering the way my local landfill operates. If flossers could include the silk threading, that would be ideal, but I haven’t seen one do that yet.

  4. Ted

    I am so conscious of avoiding single use plastics, yet I toss one those floss picks in the trash everyday! It,s quite embarrassing to admit, but now I will seek out these greener alternatives. Thanks for the info…

    • Kathy

      I know, plastic is everywhere, it’s so frustrating! Good luck on your search for a greener floss pick.


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