What to Never Feed Your Worms: A list of Everything They Can’t Eat

Last Updated on April 24, 2021 by Jeffery Jago

Worms are a great addition to any compost bin, as they help break down organic matter and produce valuable worm castings in the process. Worms need certain things to survive and grow healthy, though. There are some things that you should never feed your worms because of how dangerous they can be for these tiny creatures! In this listicle, we will give you an itemized list of everything not to feed your worms.

Here is a list what NOT to feed worms:

-citrus peelings, grapefruit peels, orange peels and citrus fruits in general. Citrus is too acidic for the worms to digest properly; it will cause them to die or become ill. Worms prefer more alkaline foods like banana skins!

-coffee grounds: coffee contains caffeine which can be toxic to earthworms over time because of direct digestion and skin absorption. It can also increase the pH level of your soil very rapidly. This isn’t to say you should never use coffee ground in your vermicomposting bin, however, as coffee grounds can also very extremely good for the bin and the worms. It’s quite the contradiction I know, But keep both of these facts in mind when deciding how much coffee ground to add or not to add to your bin.

-soap: don’t feed your worms soap! It can cause a reaction with the enzymes they produce which will result in damage to their cell walls and digestive tracts, eventually killing them.

-detergents: detergent is not for eating or drinking, it’s for washing clothes. Worms find this substance toxic when ingested and should be avoided at all costs. The same goes even if you use “green” products like essential oils that have been diluted in water as these are still detergents in spirit. laundry detergents contain enzymes that will kill worms. The same goes for dishwashing soap as well as all other cleaners/detergents. Basically, you wouldn’t eat it, right? Nor should they!

-cat litter: cat litter contains ammonia (ammonium hydroxide), which is harmful to earthworms because it can affect how well they absorb oxygen from the air around them – so NO CAT LITTER FOR YOUR WORMS.

-Spicey foods: worm systems are sensitive and can’t handle spicy foods, so stay away from anything with a lot of spice – including cinnamon!

-Onions and garlic: worms can’t handle these because they have a compound called allyl in them that is poisonous to earthworms.

-Sharp objects: sharp and pointed objects, like rocks or sticks should not be given to your worm system as it could damage their skin or gut linings.

-Paint thinner: this also has ammonia (ammonium hydroxide), which will kill your worms! (Duh?)

-Glossy finished paper: worms can’t digest glossy finishes because of the tannins in them, so this is a no-go.

-Vinegar or alcohol: vinegar and alcohol will starve your worm system because they have too many sugars that won’t be digested by these animals – it’ll just rot!

-Poison ivy, Sumac, or other poisonous plants: these plants have toxins that could kill your worms. (Also duh!)

-Breath fresheners, toilet cleaners, and other household chemicals: contain hazardous materials like formaldehyde (formalin), so it’s best to just steer clear of them altogether.

-Plastic: worms can’t digest plastic and will instead ingest it, which causes the worm to die.

-Lawn fertilizer: lawn fertilizers often contain pesticides like diazinon and chlopyrifos – we don’t want those on our food! So steer clear.

-Metals: Worms can’t digest

metals which will just end up killing them.

-Fireplace ashes: Ashes are very alkaline and can be harmful to the worm’s environment.

-Glass: This one is also obvious.

–Eggshells: Worms have a hard time breaking down eggshells into calcium carbonate – it just sits there in their stomach. This leads to too much acidity and death of your worm friends. If you wish to give your worms eggshells, you should grind them down into a powder first. That way it goes from being bad to being excellent for your worms.

In conclusion, Worms are sensitive creatures and should be given the best of everything. Not things that will kill them! Respect your worms and their dietary needs and they will pay you back 8 fold!