Are Condoms Biodegradable?

Both the married and the unmarried find condoms useful. When used correctly, they provide an effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs. After a single-use, condoms must be disposed of appropriately.

However, the challenge comes in disposing of used condoms. Some people flush them in the toilet or throw them in the trashcan. But do they decompose? And how does it affect the environment?

So, Are Condoms Biodegradable?

Before answering whether condoms are biodegradable or not, it’s wise to point out that there are two categories of condoms. That includes latex and non-latex condoms.

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The straight answer is: Latex condom is biodegradable. However, it requires the right conditions and takes a considerable amount of years to decompose.

On the other hand, most non-latex condoms aren’t biodegradable. Read on to find out what makes the difference and how to dispose of used condoms correctly.

Latex Condoms

A large percentage of condoms are of latex material. And since latex comes from the rubber tree, pure latex material decomposes and it’s biodegradable.

But latex condoms aren’t natural and pure. For them to be thin, strong, and efficient, other substances must be added to them.

For example, the additives may include synthetic latex, lubricants and after the sexual act, it also contains semen. The addition of foreign substances complicates the biodegradation of latex condoms. Hence that makes latex condoms take a long time to decompose.

Besides decomposition of matter, requires specific condition. For instance, Latex condoms cannot decompose when thrown in water. So, you must not discard them in water bodies or flush them down the drain pipes.

And because it doesn’t break down in the water, it will most likely clog the pipes. And how will you feel when your plumber comes across several used condoms in the clogged pipes?

Besides, if it finds its way to the river, lakes, and oceans, it’s likely to be ingested by the aquatic animals, thus endangering lives.

Non-Latex Condoms

These are condoms that aren’t made of natural rubber latex. They include the following;

Lambskin Condoms

Lambskins (natural membrane condoms) are non-latex condoms since they are animal-derived. However, unlike pure latex condoms that are vegan, the lambskin isn’t vegan.

Instead, they are made from the intestine of sheep. That’s why they are called natural membrane condoms. For that reason, they are biodegradable. Their major drawback is that they are only effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies but not STIs.

Polyurethane Condoms

Polyurethane condoms boast a thin and transparent plastic material. Although it registers good heat transfer and thinner than latex types, it’s non-bio-degradable since it’s plastic.

So when discarded poorly to the environment, it becomes a real threat. But if you are allergic to latex, then polyurethane is the next best alternative.

Polyisoprene Condoms

They are made of synthetic latex. For that reason, they don’t have the protein component that causes allergy in the natural rubber latex.

However, polyisoprene condoms are non-biodegradable. But when compared to polyurethane, they are less costly and fit more snugly.

Nitrile (Female Condom)

The female condom is also known as nitrile or internal condom. Nitrile condoms are of synthetic rubber types. Accordingly, it also falls under non-biodegradable condoms.

Best Ways to Discard Condoms

Whether latex or non-latex type, strive to dispose of used condom and package properly. Poor disposal of used condoms endangers the environment even more. On the same note, here are a few tips to put into place;

Wrap it Carefully in a Tissue Paper 

All male condoms are used only once and then thrown away. Nevertheless, an exposed, torn, and a used condom in a trash can present an unsightly picture. Therefore wrapping it first in a soft tissue then throwing it in the trash can is a wise option.

Seal Off the Odor 

A used condom contains lubricants mixed with semen. With time, it will start producing a foul odor. So before disposing of it, seal the opening. Follow the same old pattern of tying a knot on an inflated balloon. The knot on the opening keeps the content and smells intact.

Make use of a Diaper Genie 

Diaper Genie Complete Diaper Pail (White) with Antimicrobial Odor Control | Includes 1 Diaper Trash Can, 1 Refill Bags, 1 Carbon Filter, Packaging may vary
If you are a parent or a nanny, then most likely you have heard of or used Diaper Genie. Just the way you exercise caution when doing away with used and old baby diapers, do so with used condoms. It’s not only safe but seals the smell too. Tucking it in a corner is a sure recipe for shame and embarrassment.

When in a Car, an Ashtray Will Do

Sometimes you can get stranded on where to throw away a used condom while in a car. Hurling it out through the window to the streets is wrong and indecent. Instead, you can keep it in the ashtray till you find a trashcan nearby or at home.

When Out in a Boat or Swimming, Use a Can

After enjoying a passionate moment as a couple in a boat, discarding the used condom to the water is the worst act you should ever do. As a gentleman, make use of that beer, beverage can, or paper bag you have within your reach. Let it be your temporary storage place till you are safe home.

Don’t Flush it Down the Drainpipe

Though to most people it seems harmless, flushing used condoms and packets down the drain is wrong. To begin with, it may clog your plumbing lines, only to be unearthed by the plumber. That’s embarrassing and the repair can be costly.

Moreover, by doing so, the discarded condoms may end up in lakes and rivers. And because most don’t decompose more so in the water, it’ll float, pollute and endanger aquatic lives.


The answer to the question, are condoms biodegradable, is no and yes. Some decompose while others do not; it depends on the type of material it’s made of and the prevailing conditions.

Lambskin condoms are highly biodegradable. Latex condoms, on the other hand, under the right conditions may decompose though require a longer period as explained in the post.

Taking time to engage in safe sex is a wise decision. Likewise, be responsible by disposing of used condoms wisely.

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