The adsorption of compost leachate DOC on alumina is used as a model for elucidation of the mechanism of formation of natural organic coatings on hydrous metal oxide surfaces in soils and sediments. Compost leachate DOC is composed mainly of organic acid molecules. The solid-state 13C NMR spectra of these organic acids indicate that they are very similar in composition to aquatic humic substances. Changes in the solid-state 13C NMR spectra of compost leachate DOC fractions adsorbed on alumina indicate that the DOC molecules are most likely adsorbed on metal oxide surfaces through a combination of polar and hydrophobic interaction mechanisms. This combination of polar and hydrophobic mechanism leads to the formation of bilayer coatings of the leachate molecules on the oxide surfaces.