How to compost indoors?

Contents

All You Need to Know About Indoor Composting

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Composting is an affordable way to nab food for your plants while reducing waste in your home or apartment and in local landfills. But did you know that you can get the same benefits of an outdoor compost pile or bin—without sacrificing precious lawn or patio space—through indoor composting? Find out why indoor composting is such a desirable option for homeowners and renters, then continue reading to learn how to build and maintain a healthy indoor compost bin of your own.

Benefits of Indoor Composting

The biggest advantage of an indoor compost bin is that it thrives year-round at a temperature between 40 to 80 degrees, whereas outdoor compost bins and piles need to be shielded from direct sunlight or heavy rainfall and insulated when the temperature falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when insulated, your outdoor compost output is hampered in winter since waste degrades more slowly in cold weather.

Indoor composting is also advantageous for small-space dwellers since you can store a compost bin in any dark and dry space indoors, such as the basement, a closet, an under-the-sink kitchen cabinet, or even out on a counter. Meanwhile, outdoor compost piles require three-by-three-by-three feet at a minimum—lawn space that an apartment renter may not have.

Indoor Composting Methods

The two main methods for composting indoors are aerobic composting and vermicomposting. Aerobic composting uses microbes from garden soil to convert kitchen waste and other organic material into compost, the decayed organic matter that can be used as homemade plant fertilizer. Vermicomposting uses worms and soil microbes to convert organic waste into vermicompost consisting of worm castings (manure) and decayed organic matter. Both compost and vermicompost are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and both can be used to fortify garden soil. Of the two, vermicompost holds slight advantage, as it tends to help soil retain water and guard against soil pathogens more effectively than regular compost.

Recommended Bins for Indoor Composting

Your best bets for compost bins are lidded plastic storage containers, garbage cans (plastic or metal), or wooden crates (topped with a wooden board cut to fit the opening). Whichever style you choose, consider size carefully: The bin should comfortably fit inside the space where you intend to store it and yet be large enough to house more than the weekly volume of food scraps you plan to compost. Generally, 18-gallon containers are a good size for households with two to four members, while smaller households with minimal food waste can get by with 5- to 10-gallon containers.

Keep in mind that both aerobic composting and vermicomposting need oxygen for decomposition to occur and for soil microbes and worms to thrive. To enable adequate airflow in the compost bin, power-drill a grid of 25 to 36 quarter-inch air holes (evenly spaced apart) into the bottom and lid of your compost bin, then drill two horizontal rows of holes spaced one-and-a-half inches apart into each side of the bin. Place the bin upright on a plastic or rubber tray that is wider than your bin and has at least two-inch walls so that any liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the bin will drain out into the tray. Check back regularly so you can dump out the excess water that collects throughout the week.

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What to Put in a Compost Bin—and When

Altogether, your compost bin will contain a combination of three parts brown matter (carbon-based materials such as shredded newspaper, torn cardboard, and dead leaves) and one part green matter (the nitrogen-based materials you toss out, such as food waste and plant clippings). So, to start preparing your indoor composting collection, fill the empty bin of choice nearly three-quarters of the way with dampened brown matter. Gently hand-toss the damp bedding in the bin, then evenly sprinkle a cup of garden soil over it.

If you’re aerobic composting, use a trowel to bury the day’s compost-safe food scraps and other organic waste in the soil layer, and then replace the bin lid to let composting begin. Compost-safe materials include green matter such as raw fruits and vegetables (flesh and peels), houseplants, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and tea leaves, along with brown matter such as nut shells, pulverized egg shells, coffee filters, tea bags, dead leaves, small twigs, hay, straw, wood chips, cardboard, newspaper, and cotton rags. Never place cooked food, dairy products, meat, fish bones, or fat in your compost bin, as these substances produce odors that can lure pests.

If you’re vermicomposting, top the soil layer with one pound of red worms (Eisenia foetida or Lumbricus rubellus) for every 3.5 pounds of organic waste your household generates each week (worms can eat half their weight in waste each day). You can purchase red worms for around $30 to $40 per pound at garden centers. Steer clear of dew worms (which die off quickly) and invasive worm species such as the Alabama Jumper. Replace the lid of the compost bin until you’re ready to compost to prevent worms from escaping. Gather your scraps in a separate plastic container over the course of the week. Once a week, use a trowel to bury the scraps in the worm layer, then replace the bin lid to let composting begin. Scraps that are safe for aerobic composting are also safe for vermicomposting.

How Waste is Converted into Compost

During traditional aerobic composting, microorganisms in the soil layer use the available supply of nitrogen, carbon, and water in the compost bin to break down the kitchen waste and bedding and release nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, leaving behind a nutrient-rich compost. This process also requires a steady supply oxygen, which is why you’ll have to turn the contents of your bin with a compost fork once a week to aerate it. It can take two to four months or longer for the full contents of the bin to turn into a soil-like compost. At this point, you can remove and use the finished compost, then add new bedding, soil, and food scraps to the empty compost bin to resume composting.

During vermicomposting, worms swallow the waste and bedding in the compost bin, absorb the nutrients, then excrete the worm castings and partially decomposed material that make up vermicompost. You never have to manually turn the compost since the worms naturally aerate the compost as they tunnel through it. In roughly three to four months, vermicompost should replace all the original bedding and waste in your compost bin. You can push this compost to one side of the bin with a shovel and then add new bedding and soil to the empty side. As you bury fresh kitchen waste into the new soil, the worms will move over to the side of the bin that needs to be composted.

The conversion of waste into compost through either aerobic composting or vermicomposting doesn’t produce odors other than a mild earthy scent. If you notice foul odors, check and remedy any of the following conditions:

• The moisture level in the bin could be too high. Resolve by adding more brown matter to increase dryness.

• There could be too much food in the bin. Don’t add any more waste until what is present is decomposed, then feed the bin less often),

• There could be a lack of oxygen. Add more holes to the bin, aerate the compost more frequently with a compost fork, or place a brick between the compost bin and tray to elevate the bin and improve airflow.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tips for Successful Indoor Composting

Take these steps to maintain a healthy indoor compost bin.

• Don’t leave waste exposed to air in the compost bin—this will attract fruit flies. If you can’t bury the waste completely in soil or worm layer, cover the exposed scraps with additional soil or brown matter.

• Chop or tear all kitchen scraps prior to composting. Soil microbes and/or worms can break down smaller scraps more quickly, thus speeding up the decomposition process.

• Your compost bin should be roughly as moist as a wrung-out sponge at all times, so water the compost with a watering can as needed if the compost looks visibly dried out or the decomposition process appears to have stalled.

• Keep a watering can and a bag full of shredded newspaper or dead leaves in close proximity to the compost bin for quick refills of water or brown matter when the compost becomes too dry or too moist.

• If vermicomposting, pay attention to what your worms are not eating—this food will rot rather than decompose, so you’ll want to avoid composting it in the future.

• If you maintain a healthy vermicompost bin, you can expect worms to breed. If you’re left with more worms than you can feed, remove and share the extra worms with your friends and neighbors to use in their compost bins.

How to Use Your Indoor Composting

The compost or vermicompost derived from aerobic composting or vermicomposting can be used for a variety of indoor and outdoor applications.

• Sprinkle the compost directly over grass as a lawn conditioner.

• Combine one potting soil with two parts compost to create nutrient-rich soil for a raised garden bed.

• Spread the compost over potting soil as mulch for indoor or outdoor planters.

• Collect any liquid that has drained into the tray below the compost bin and dilute it (ten parts water to one part compost liquid) to create a nourishing compost tea you can spray over plant leaves.

• When you begin a new composting cycle, throw a handful of finished compost from the previous batch over the soil layer in the bin for a boost of soil microbial action.

How to Make Your Own Indoor Composting Bin

Composting kitchen scraps is a simple way to help the environment without doing much work. Store your compost bin under the sink or on the counter for easy access in the kitchen and indoor composting will quickly become part of your daily routine. We used a basic plastic container to make our indoor compost bin, but you can find ones in materials like stainless steel or bamboo if you want the bin to fit in with your decor. Make sure the container you choose has a tight lid and air holes for ventilation. Follow the steps to create your own indoor compost bin and start composting. You’ll rethink the way you toss your kitchen scraps!

Related: How to Make Compost

What You Need

  • Container with lid
  • Drill
  • Nylon mesh screen
  • Hot glue gun
  • Dirt
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Shredded newspapers

Related: 6 Compost Bins that Aren’t Eyesores

Step 1: Drill Holes in Container Lid

Drill five evenly spaced holes in the lid of the container for ventilation. Air is a necessary component to help the materials in your bin breakdown, and these holes will help regulate airflow.

Step 2: Add Screen

Cut a piece of nylon screen big enough to cover all of the air holes. Hot glue the screen to the underside of the container lid. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs from getting in or out of the compost bin.

Step 3: Fill with Scraps

Knowing what to put in a compost bin, and what to avoid putting in will make your composting experience far more successful. Start with dirt on the bottom and some shredded newspaper on top. Then add kitchen scraps like banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells everyday as you cook or clean out your fridge. It’s best to break or cut up these scraps into small pieces to help them decompose faster.

Editor’s tip: Avoid adding fats, meats, and dairy products to your compost pile as these can produce a bad odor and attract unwanted pests or rodents.

Step 4: Stir

Stir the compost about once a week to aerate the mixture. Be sure to put the lid back on tightly to avoid attracting unwanted pests. When the compost is ready to use, you can add it to your outdoor compost pile or search for compost drop off locations near you.

Related: Adding Compost to an Established Garden

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Compost Solutions

Smell: If smell is holding you back from having an indoor compost bin, don’t fret—smell can be controlled easier than you think. If your bin is starting to stink, add dry leaves or newspaper to your pile. This will balance the wet-dry content ratio, controlling any acidic odors.

Rodents and Pests: The first step to keeping away rodents and pests is your choice of compost container. Sticking to a solid-side bin with a lid will keep unwanted critters out. Also, avoid meats, dairy, and fats in your compost bin.

Slow Decomposition: Make sure you stir your pile with a hand trowel or shovel at least once a week to aerate oxygen into the mixture. Keeping small contents (such as cut-up banana peels) in the pile will also speed up the breaking-down process.

How To Start Composting In A Small Apartment Without Stinking Up The Place

If you’re at all eco-conscious, it’s always time to take a cold, hard look into the garbage can. Of course you’re recycling already, but a part of you knows that every banana peel you toss in with your paper towels, your meat trimmings, your old food packages, is a piece of food that could similarly be recycled by composting. You may have heard that composting in a small apartment may not smell ~great~, but it’s totally possible to do it without stinking up the place. You don’t need an expansive backyard to turn your old apple cores into soil gold.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead.” That’s a lot of egg shells! It doesn’t have to be like this. If you compost instead, you could be churning up organic material that assists plants in their growing process. Which is very nice. Think of composting as environmental karma.

To start composting, you need to know a few basic things. First off, what you can compost. It’s not like you can throw your potato chip bag in there, and the soil doesn’t take kindly to animal products. Small Footprint Family has a considerable list of things you can compost. Now that you’re acquainted with compost friendly materials, you can get your lil apartment set up with a not-very-space-consuming composting system. This will work great for either your own garden or to bring to your local composting program. One thing is for sure: getting your small apartment indoor compost set up is way easier than getting your couch through the front door.

1. Keep Your Compost On Your Counter

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Just like a counter top kitchen appliance — like, a microwave or toaster — you can fit your compost pail in with the crowd. A stainless steel pail like this one from Gardener’s Supply Company won’t stink up your kitchen (and is p. chic to boot). All you have to do is put your food scraps into the compost, shut the lid to avoid uninvited pests, and collect until it’s drop off day at your compost spot. Don’t know where to do that? Thankfully Literless, a zero waste website, has compiled a list of places that accept your scraps. This is so simple, you can be saving the world in no time.

2. Keep Your Compost In Your Freezer

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If you don’t have the counter space to spare and don’t want to feature your compost as the centerpiece of your coffee table, you can keep your spare odds and ends in your freezer, where they have the added benefit of not breaking down (and therefore, not stinking up the joint). Simply place everything that can be composted into a bag and place it in your freezer until it’s time to drop them off. You’re basically Captain Planet at this point.

3. Bring Worms Into It

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If you’re looking for roommates, worms might not be able to pay rent but they will take care of your compost. Worms are like little magical compost machines, eating up your food waste and churning out organic matter that help us humans grow food more sustainably. The next time you see a worm, don’t scream. Say thank you instead. You can introduce your guests to your worms, if you want to. But if you’d rather your roommates go unnoticed, you can keep your worm bin out of sight. You can find a great set up system on EcoWatch to get started! Just a heads up: Cornell’s composting website advises only using “raw fruit and vegetable scraps” with a worm bin.

4. Try Bokashi

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Quickly gaining traction amongst the composting community is the Bokashi. It’s essentially a very hands off approach to composting, and you can toss just about every kind of food scrap in there — even dairy and meat. Through a fermentation process, over the course of a few weeks your full bin of scraps will break down into beneficial microbes that you can bury in your garden or potting containers. Once the microbes snap into action, the roots of your plants will thank you with consistent, beautiful blooms.

For the majority of my adult life, I have lived in dorm rooms, apartments, or small houses. While this is incredibly normal and something that I personally have enjoyed, it makes certain tasks, such as composting, quite difficult.

I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat, so I’ve decided to compile a list to help you decide what type of indoor compost bin is best for your lifestyle. Living in a small space doesn’t mean that you can’t be eco-friendly or compost your used food items and materials, and I plan on proving just that to you.

But, before I give you some specific examples of products you could purchase for composting in an apartment, I’m going to talk about how to pick the best indoor compost bin and some important tips to keep in mind.

If you just want my quick picks, here they are…

If You’re OK With WormsQuickly Break Down Food ScrapsWorm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi… If You’re OK With WormsWorm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black Quickly Break Down Food ScrapsSCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi…

The 4 Best Indoor Composters

1. All Seasons Indoor Bokashi Composter

SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi…

The SCD Probiotics K100 is a bokashi composter that is perfect for the average apartment. It functions much like a standard indoor compost bin but uses inoculated bokashi bran to “pre-ferment” your food scraps, so you can toss them right into the garden and they’ll break down quickly.

The Good

  • Very affordable for beginner composters
  • Does not smell at all
  • Uses the bokashi method to break down materials quickly

The Bad

  • Sludge can accumulate in the bottom, so it needs to be drained frequently

Check Current Price

2. Worm Factory 360

Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black

  • The Worm Factory 360 has a standard 4-Tray size…
  • The redesigned lid converts to a handy stand for…
  • Includes Manual and a Warranty included after…

Don’t let its name scare you away- the Worm Factory 360 is one of the best composters currently available for purchase. Here are some important things I noticed about it when I tested it out:

The Good

  • It’s easy to set up and the kit comes with all required materials.
  • It has a higher capacity than other indoor composters.

The Bad

  • I don’t mind worms being in my home, but some of you may not be as fond of the idea.
  • Sometimes it can be difficult for the worms to “climb through” the trays.

Check Current Price

3. Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin

SaleUtopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop – 1.3 Gallon Compost Bucket…

  • This compost bin having capacity of 1.3 gallon is…
  • You can let the scraps build up during the week…
  • The charcoal filters trap and control odors…

If you want a no-frills indoor compost storage bin, then this is the one for you. It’s cheap and gets the job done, but that’s about it. It doesn’t break down food scraps like the indoor worm bin or bokashi systems.

The Good

  • Stainless steel with a charcoal filter to help mitigate nasty odors
  • 1.3-gallon capacity allows for decent storage before moving to outdoor composter

The Bad

  • Doesn’t break down food scraps
  • Can fill up quickly when cooking large meals

Check Current Price

4. Food Cycler Indoor Composter

Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler and Kitchen Compost Container

  • NEW AND IMPROVED – Now with Filter Monitoring…
  • All in one food composter makes composting kitchen…
  • Kitchen Compost Shredder Composts to a viable soil…

Now, I know what you’re thinking- that price tag is TERRIFYING. But, if you end up sticking with composting and become very serious about it, it’s worth it. This is an electric food composter, which is an exciting new category that will make your life so much easier, and it will last you for forever, too. Here are the pros and cons I found about it:

The Good

  • Takes up very little counter space
  • Dries food out instead of the traditional fermentation process
  • Can compost meat and dairy products as well

The Bad

  • Takes approximately 4 hours per load
  • Pretty expensive

Check Current Price

Final Take

And there you have it- the four best indoor composters for apartments and small homes! Out of the many options that are currently on the market, I personally believe that the bokashi and worm composters are the best choices all around.

If You’re OK With Worms Quickly Break Down Food Scraps Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi… If You’re OK With Worms Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black Quickly Break Down Food Scraps SCD Probiotics All Seasons Indoor Composter, Easy Start Countertop Kitchen Compost Bin with Bokashi…

Picking the Perfect Indoor Compost Bin

When deciding which indoor compost bin you would like to purchase, there are several things that you should consider.

  • How much room would you like to dedicate to it?
  • What is your budget?
  • How fancy would you like your indoor compost bin to be?

A compost bin is an investment, and you want to make sure that you are picking one that will work in your home and be useful for you. Let’s start this selection process by going more in-depth into the different things you should be considering.

What Size Compost Bin Do You Need?

The first thing that you should make sure to carefully think about is how large you would like your compost bin to be. While some compost bins are compact enough that they can fit underneath kitchen sinks, others require larger amounts of space, and should instead be placed in pantries or closets.

Additionally, do you plan on being able to pick up and carry your compost bin to a larger composting area, or would you like it to be completely self-sustaining and semi-permanent?

Many of these questions will be answered by your living constraints, but it is important that you have these answers before you start officially looking for one to purchase.

How Much to Spend on an Indoor Composter?

Most indoor compost bins cost anywhere from $40 to $300. Before you begin shopping for one, you should make a point of deciding how much you would like to spend, and what features you are willing to pay extra for.

If you know you will be composting a lot, splurging on a fancier system that is self-sustaining may be worth the investment.

However, if you are new to composting, and you are not sure if you will be able to stick with it, purchasing a basic plastic composting bin may be your best bet. It’s all about knowing yourself and your lifestyle.

Extra Features to Look For

Finally, when picking your ideal indoor compost bin, it’s essential that you decide what features you would like it to have. Some compost bins rely on worms to break down the food, while others rely on the process of fermentation. Worms have been heralded as one of the best ways to quickly break down food without it smelling, but some people do not like the idea of having these critters in their homes.

On the flip side, many gardeners do not like the process of fermentation, as they believe it takes too long and runs the possibility of being smelly.

Other compost bins have the ability to break down meat, fish, and dairy. The ones that are able to do this are generally much more expensive than others, so you will have to decide whether or not this extra expense is worth it for you. I personally tend to have a lot of meats and dairy in my diet, so I don’t mind spending a bit more for this feature. I have friends that are vegetarians or vegans, though, so this option would be rather pointless for them.

Some bins even have multiple drawers and layers, while a majority of them consist of one large bin. Depending on how you would like to go about composting your food and if you would like to separate it or not, it is worth considering purchasing the tray option.

Buyer Beware: Compost Collector vs. Composters

Another major thing that you must keep in mind while shopping for composters is that there is a difference between a compost collector and a composter.

A compost collector is simply a bin that individuals place food scraps in, and then empty into an outdoor composter where the food is broken down.

A composting bin, however, does the entire process, either through fermentation or the use of worms.

Pay careful attention to which one you are buying, because you don’t want to be disappointed or caught off guard!

Also, compost toilets are different than compost bins – don’t confuse them!

Potential Downsides to Composting Indoors

The two main issues that can occur when composting inside are potential leakage and an unpleasant smell.

I can’t say enough amazing things about indoor composting, but I’d be lying if I said these weren’t drawbacks. Fortunately, they’re both pretty simple to fix.

I recommend making sure that you have your indoor composting bin in an area that is out of the way, just in case leakages or unpleasant scents do wind up occurring. Additionally, if you are faced with these problems, try adding dry bedding to the bottom of your bin, as this will help to soak up any liquids or scents, and prevent them from seeping outside of the bin.

Plus, to prevent these issues from occurring in the first place, you can always add the dry bedding to the bottom of the bin when you install it/set it up in your apartment.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Kevin Espiritu
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If you love the idea of creating your own nutritious compost with little to no effort, these six best indoor composting units can help. These fantastic little units eliminate the need for a giant, stinking pile of waste. Their convenient size will make them great eco-friendly additions to any home.

Around 24% of the total waste an average American produces is made of compostable materials. Indoor composting is a great way to dramatically reduce this carbon footprint.

It comes with the added benefit of free “black gold” for your garden. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can still compost your waste easily and efficiently.

6 Best Indoor Composting Units

  • Best Overall: ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector
  • Runner-Up: Worm Factory 360 Composting Bin
  • Best Electric Composter: Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler
  • Best Bokashi Composter: SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit
  • Best for Those Who Produce Little Waste: Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin
  • For Those on a Budget: YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter

Best Overall: ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector

  • Capacity: 2.4 gallons
  • Type: Indoor composter
  • The High Points: Large and durable enough to use effectively as a full indoor compost bin for low to medium waste producing families.
  • The Not-So: It isn’t the prettiest composting unit we’ve laid eyes on.

Sometimes simpler is better. A great example is the ECO-2000 Plus Composter. This composter is the largest of the small-sized composters.

It can handle quite a bit more than the average countertop unit. The simple but efficient design of this composter has earned it the top place on our list.

This composter comes with carbon filters that reduce any foul odors the decomposing waste may produce. The lid offers a tight seal.

Its carbon filters are replaceable. That makes it a long-lasting and high-performing option.

The compact size of this unit allows it to fit in most kitchen cupboards comfortably. It still has enough volume to be effective.

What Do Reviewers Say?

Reviewers liked the fact that the bin has a latch and handle. That makes sealing the lid securely and transporting it an easy task.

The overall design quality is excellent. The bins’ filters have been found to work very well at eliminating foul smells.

Some complaints include the ECO-2000 Composter’s attraction of fruit flies, which may be a deterrent for some homeowners who live in areas where these are prevalent.

Some reviewers disliked the fact that they could not open the bin with one hand because of the latch mechanism, which made dumping waste into a larger bin more difficult and messier. However, the reviews for this product are overwhelmingly positive.

Features & Considerations

This nifty little bin is by far the best of the small range units which makes it a great option for those living in cramped apartments. However, the amount of waste some households produce may exceed a single bin’s capacity.

Purchasing multiple bins and using them in a composting sequence system is an easy fix. A composting sequence system has a design such that each bin is used for a separate stage of the composting process.

This composter is perfect for those who live in areas that have city-wide compost collection as it can function as a temporary receptacle until it’s time for the compost to be collected.

The same can be said for those that have access to a large outdoor composter where the compost can be finished off. Alternatively, it serves excellently as a fully indoor composter.

The ECO-2000 has a long lifespan as you can easily clean and replace its parts. You should replace the carbon filters regularly.

Pros recommend that homeowners buy a few at a time to prevent hassles down the line. The bin is also small enough to fit into most dishwashers when cleaning time comes.

Runner-Up: Worm Factory 360 Composting Bin

  • Capacity: 4 gallons
  • Type: Worm composter
  • The High Points: This unit can handle a large load of organic matter and the compost produced from it is arguably the most nutritious.
  • The Not-So: It isn’t suitable for homeowners who don’t have time to nurture and care for the wriggly babies this system depends on.

I bet you never thought you’d willingly be inviting worms into your kitchen, did you? With this fantastic indoor composting unit you can safely bring these helpful creatures in to eat your waste. The worms will pay you back with super rich compost and “worm tea” that will help your plants to thrive.

This system is based on the fact that worms are some of the most efficient composters available to us. This method of composting is called vermiposting and it has recently seen a huge increase in popularity as people seek better ways of composting their organic waste.

The final product of vermiposting is called vermicast. This smelly material beats compost in many ways, but its main highlights include a higher concentration of nutrients and far better microbial activity than traditional compost. Now, with the Worm Factory 360 you can produce this eco-friendly wonder without even venturing outside.

Overall, reviewers adore the Worm Factory 360’s innovative design, such as the inclusion of a “worm ladder”. The unit comes with a handy DVD and guidebook which explains in detail how to care for your worms. This is a great addition as the average homeowner isn’t fully versed on taking care of a worm-based compost system.

Some reviewers have mentioned that if you cook a lot, the unit might not be able to keep up with the waste you produce. However, the system can be extended to eight trays and some reviewers report success with using up to ten trays.

The Worm Factory 360 comes in a 4-tray size with the option of extending the unit to 8 trays. When upgraded, the system can handle a large volume of waste. For families who produce a lot of waste or have kids who would enjoy watching the little worms in action, this system is perfect.

The method this unit uses is not always the easiest to execute, and not everyone has the time or patience to wait for their worm colony to become established. In fact, some may find the idea of having wriggling worms anywhere near their home to be ludicrous. But for those who don’t have the time and interest, this system is an absolute winner.

The system comes in a variety of colors, but none of the options are terribly attractive. The fact that the worms need food regularly may also rule out those who travel often and aren’t home to nurture them.

It’s also important to note that the worms can process vegetable scraps, paper, cardboard and almost any plant matter, but can’t process meats, bones and dairy like most other compost systems.

Best Electric Composter: Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler

  • Capacity: 0.5 gallons
  • Type: Electric composter
  • The High Points: Quick, no-nonsense conversion of waste into a pseudo-compost material that can be added straight into soil.
  • The Not-So: The unit is quite pricey, and purists may argue that the end result is not real compost.

This high-tech unit has the incredible power of being able to turn organic waste into a compost-like substance in as little as three hours.

The system also has the added advantage of requiring little to no management or composting knowledge, making it perfect for those who don’t want to be bothered with the nitty gritty details.

The system uses agitators and heaters to break down food scraps into a matter that can be added directly to garden soil for extra nutrition. The Food Cycler boasts the ability to reduce organic waste down by as much as 90% of its original size, which is quite impressive.

The system essentially dehydrates and breaks down waste into a lightweight, odorless matter that is sterile and doesn’t attract unwanted bugs.

Most reviewers were impressed by the Food Cycler’s ability to handle materials that traditional composters can’t, such as meat, dairy and eggshells. The unit is efficient and quiet and can process waste overnight. Reviewers also loved the fact that there’s no smell, which keeps their kitchens nice and clean.

Some reviewers were disappointed with faulty mechanisms that caused the system to stop working after a few months. This is not unexpected in a high-tech recycling machine with several different components, but is an inconvenience nonetheless.

Complaints were also made about the final product not breaking down as efficiently as compost when used in the soil, with some reporting their gardens being covered in mold instead.

This system’s sleek and stylish design is sure to fit into kitchens with ease and will be far more pleasant on the eyes than most other composters. The convenient size of the unit allows it to sit on your countertop, perhaps next to the toaster or microwave, which makes it an obvious winner for neat freaks.

The high price of this unit might be a deal-breaker for some potential composters who don’t want to shell out a comparatively large sum for something that could be achieved for free.

That being said, the extra benefits of odorless, super-fast composting that can handle meat and other usually uncompostable materials is something that this unit holds over almost every other system on our list.

One handy feature of the final product produced by this system is that it can be added straight to garden soil to give your plants a nice boost of nutrients. This material will then break down naturally. If you’re looking to kick-start your garden, this unit is a great help.

Best Bokashi Composter: SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Type: Bokashi composter
  • The High Points: The unit doesn’t produce foul smells and compost can essentially be used twice.
  • The Not-So: Doesn’t fully get rid of organic material and the remnants still need to be dealt with.

This unit works uses a very interesting process called bokashi composting. Bokashi is a Japanese method of composting that creates a nutritious “tea”, which can then be used to boost soil fertility for plants. However, the organic matter in the composter won’t fully decompose, leaving remnants that must be dealt with.

The bokashi method utilizes anaerobic composting: waste is fermented instead of being broken down. This type of composting produces a slightly sweet and sour odor that isn’t unpleasant and smells similar to beer or cider when done correctly.

The unit is quite large but easy to use. The amount of waste that can be processed is more than most composters, and the “tea” that the unit produces can be added to any house plant.

As this composter uses the bokashi method, it can deal with waste that other traditional composters may not be able to, such as dairy products, meat and bones.

Reviewers spoke at length about the unit’s ability to keep the undesirable fermenting smells contained. The low maintenance of the unit and bokashi method was also revered by reviewers.

Reviewers liked the large capacity of the unit and its ability to handle waste like citrus, meat, and bones that would ordinarily find their way into the trash.

Some reviewers have reported issues with the nut that seals the spigot, which has resulted in leaks for some. Others complained that the spigot didn’t work at all. Reports have been made that the lid can be warped which results in gross odors escaping.

The unit’s spigot makes for convenient drainage of the nutritious tea that the unit produces. Without a tap, getting the tea out of the container would be difficult and messy. The overall design is efficient and not entirely unattractive.

It’s important to note that if you don’t have a garden or another composter then this might not be the best unit for you. This method doesn’t fully break down the organic matter. It leaves you with waste that is slightly shriveled and looks as if it has been pickled.

The process of bokashi fermentation is low-maintenance. It is sure to score points with those with a limited amount of time on their hands.

To create the bokashi “tea”, you simply layer food waste in a bucket. Then you add some starter ingredient (active cultures). Then, you seal it with something that will prevent air from reaching the waste.

The fermented waste that comes out of the unit can be buried in the garden or added to a traditional composter to “finish” it off. The byproduct is quite acidic. It should take about two weeks before it is ready to be used on plants.

Overall, the unit works excellently in combination with another composter. It will increase the amount of waste that can be composted in a small kitchen.

Best for Those Who Produce Little Waste: Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin

  • Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Type: Small compost receptacle
  • The High Points: The unit has a stylish, modern look and is small enough to fit in any apartment.
  • The Not-So: It is very small and not suitable for those who cook often.

This sleek little bin is the perfect addition to any modern kitchen. It is made from stainless steel that is rust-resistant and is molded in one single piece with no welds or joints. Overall, the Epical Stainless Steel Compost bin is built to last a lifetime.

Even though the company has marketed this bin as a composter, it is too small for most households and will serve better as a compost receptacle. You can empty the organic waste into an outside/larger indoor compost bin or put it in compostable bags for collection if your city offers this service.

That being said, you can successfully use the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin to fully compost indoors if you only produce small amounts of organic waste.

The bin can is not airtight and can breathe, unlike normal bins. This means that the helpful bacteria that we rely on to break down our waste can flourish, using as much oxygen as they need.

This compost bin is the highest rated on our list. Reviewers love the quality of design and easy cleaning.

The sturdy build and well-fit lid prevent odors from escaping into the kitchen, which was a high point for most buyers. The fact that the bin can sit on kitchen countertops makes it more convenient for those who don’t enjoy stooping down to throw away waste while cooking.

Some reviewers found that removing the carbon filter from the lid to be a bit difficult. Others also complained about some construction defects. Overall, however, buyers were resoundingly positive when reviewing the product.

The bin’s lid has carbon filters that stop any odors from escaping while the organic matter breaks down. These carbon filters need to be replaced so it’s recommended that buyers get a few replacement filters with their initial purchase, but this is an extra expense to be considered.

Its small size works both for and against this bin. The small capacity of the bin is of huge benefit in small kitchens and its countertop application is convenient. However, this is countered by the fact that composting in such a small vessel is quite difficult if you produce normal amounts of organic waste.

The bin is far better suited as a “receptacle” which stores organic waste temporarily, which can later be placed into a larger compost bin. But, like any other bin, the Epica will still work as a mini-composter and can produce compost as needed.

For Those on a Budget: YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter

  • Capacity: 1.5 gallons
  • Type: Traditional composter
  • The High Points: Easy to install and relatively cheap.
  • The Not-So: The air flow isn’t very good which may slow down composting process.

The YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter is a simple and convenient unit that can fit inside cupboard doors to save space.

The bin comes with a tightly sealed lid that prevents any odors from escaping into the kitchen, helping to control fruit flies. This bin is one of the few that comes with the ability to mount it on a cupboard.

The bin is slightly larger than other small bins, and this makes it a more practical choice for those who produce higher amounts of waste. In many cases, it would be a good idea to purchase more than one bin.

This mid-range compost bin is fairly average in all respects. It’s a mid-sized bin, comes with a mid-range price tag and can handle a mid to low amount of waste when compared with other bins. The YukChuk has utility on its side, however, and its slim design allows it to fit into tight areas.

One aspect reviewers constantly praised the YukChuk for was its ability to keep odors locked away with its tight lid. This is an important factor for small apartments as no one wants a smelly enclosed space.

The bin’s slim design also found favor with many reviewers as it was able to squeeze into even the smallest of kitchen cupboards.

Some reviewers didn’t like how small the bin was and found that it wasn’t big enough to suit their waste needs. This could be a problem for those who haven’t adequately measured the amount of waste they produce.

As a simple bin with no real air flow, the most practical application for the bin would be to use it as an initial receptacle for compost that you can transfer to a larger composter or worm bin. However, for people who produce small amounts of waste, the bin may be all you need, and you could complete the entire composting process in the bin.

Without the airflow, the bin requires no filters, making it cheaper and lower maintenance. The bin is a far simpler version of others that we have mentioned on this list. The tight seal of the lid is great for those who don’t want any unsavory smells finding their way into the kitchen.

The cheaper price of the Yuck Chuck makes it a viable choice for those that want to do their part for the planet but don’t want to break the bank. The tight seal on the bin means you can also use it as a DIY bokashi composter that’s far cheaper than a ready-made bokashi composter. Overall, this is a basic, but solid, little indoor unit.

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The Complete Indoor Composting Units Buyer’s Guide

  • What to Look for in an Indoor Composting Unit
  • Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Indoor Composters
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to Look for in an Indoor Composting Unit

  • How much space do I have for a composter?
  • How much organic waste do you produce?
  • How much time and effort are you willing to spend on composting?
  • Do you have a garden where you can “finish” the compost?

The perfect composter for your household will largely depend on the kind and volume of waste you produce and how much time and space you have available to dedicate to the process. The compost bin that’s right for you may not be the same as your neighbor’s.

Some qualities to look out for are breathability (good oxygen flow), larger sizes, odor containment and ease of access. You should also consider the speed at which the composter will be able to process your waste. Overall, it’s important to ask yourself these questions before investing in an indoor composting unit:

How much space do I have for a composter?

Space is often in short supply in modern apartments or homes. However, when it comes to indoor composters, bigger really does mean better.

In most cases, a bigger bin will have a quicker composting process. Luckily for us, there are many different options that suit both micro apartments and giant sprawling kitchens.

Often the best place for a composter is in a pantry or a cupboard under the kitchen sink, but there are some attractive designs that work well on a countertop. A large garage offers even more opportunities as it will allow you to choose from a wider range of units.

When the options are there, a large compost bin or a system of several individual bins is recommended to ensure all your organic waste is captured and processed fully.

How much organic waste do you produce?

People produce different amounts of waste based on their lifestyle and the size of their family. One person may fill a 5-gallon container in a week, and another may take two months to do so, so it really does depend on the household.

Those who cook regularly and peel and prepare their vegetables at home will produce far more than a person who eats out most nights. The best way to determine how much organic waste you produce is to separate your waste (organic verus non-organic) and measure how long it takes you to fill a gallon container.

Once you’ve determined how much organic waste you produce, you can select a composter that will be able to handle this amount.

Indoor Composting Unit Capacity (gallons)
ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector 2.4
Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin 4-8
Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler 0.5
SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit 5
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin 1.3
YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter 1.5

How much time and effort are you willing to spend on composting?

Some composting units take very little time and effort, while others require some attention to detail and nurturing. An electronic composter requires almost no effort, while a worm farm will require some time and dedication to get it right.

Traditional composting falls somewhere in the middle and ultimately one should decide how much time they are willing to spend on the endeavor before buying a unit.

Indoor Compositing Unit Ease of Use
ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector Easy
Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin Difficult
Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler Very easy
SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit Medium
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin Easy
YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter Easy

Do You Have a Garden Where You Can “Finish” the Compost?

As you may know by now, indoor composting is often much slower than composting on a larger scale. This is due to several factors, but one of the main ones is that larger compost heaps can sustain more microbial life and decompose waste faster.

Due to this, it may be a good idea to finish your composting in a larger heap outside if you have a garden.

Some methods, such as bokashi, actually leave you with some of the semi-decomposed waste which you will then need to further process. With the bokashi method, you can simply bury the semi-decomposed waste that it produces for two weeks or added to a compost heap in order to turn it into decent compost.

For small bins that use traditional composting, they work best when you empty them directly into a bigger, outdoor compost bin where the process can finish at a faster rate and you can temporarily store more waste.

This is not an essential requirement but will result in a far easier composting experience. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of a garden and these processes can take place fully indoors if no other options exist.

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Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Indoor Composters

  • Capacity
  • Type

Based on our specified criteria, we’ve narrowed down a competitive list of options to feature the 6 best indoor composting units.

Our rankings specifically focus on the capacity of the composting units (in gallons) and the type of composter based on how it processes organic waste. It also takes into consideration the quality and extra features of the overall system.

Capacity

The capacity of each indoor composter is probably the most important factor. This is because most indoor composters (or bins that companies market as such) are quite small and may not be able to handle the waste output of an average household. Units that can handle larger amounts of waste are a better option than smaller ones.

One should think carefully about the amount of organic waste you produce weekly. If you find that on average you would fill a 2-gallon bin with organic waste within two weeks, then a compost bin smaller than this may not be enough. At the same time, you can use more than one compost bin at the same time, and in many cases, pros recommend that.

Type

The type of system these compost bins use is another important factor. There are a myriad of different systems and composting methods available out there that will suit your composting needs.

Here are the main types of compositing units we’ve chosen for the average user:

  • Traditional: Best for those who produce little waste.
  • Worm: Best for those who are looking for super nutritious compost and have the time to take care of the system.
  • Bokashi: Best for those who have large gardens.
  • Electric: Best for those with little time to spend composting.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How does composting work?
  • Why should I compost my organic waste?
  • What can I compost?
  • How quickly can I turn my waste into compost?

How does composting work?

Traditional composting uses bacteria as its main decomposer to break down waste into something useful. These little guys require oxygen and that is why you’ll see farmers and keen gardeners alike turning their compost regularly to ensure the whole pile gets enough oxygen.

This process is sometimes slow when used on a small scale, but in large compost heaps it can be quite quick. In optimum conditions, the temperature inside the center of the pile can reach as high as 170 degrees due to bacterial activity.

Non-beneficial pathogens are killed off, as well as weed seeds and any undesirable critters along with it. When compost is produced this way, it is safe and quite quick to make.

Why should I compost my organic waste?

Composting reduces your carbon footprint significantly. While organic waste in a landfill produces methane gas, compost doesn’t.

Methane is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and estimates put it at around 16% of the total greenhouse gases emitted. In 2010, an estimated shocking 800 million metric tons of methane were released into our atmosphere from landfills alone, and now people have the opportunity to do something about it.

What can I compost?

In a traditional compost bin or heap, you an add almost any vegetative waste. Exceptions include:

  • Oily Vegetable Scraps
  • Seeds of Nuisance Plants
  • Citrus Peels
  • Diseased Plants

You should generally exclude meats, bones, and dairy from the traditional composting process as these materials decay anaerobically and will also attract unwanted pests at a higher degree than other decomposing materials.

However, if you’re working with a bokashi system, you can actually use them as the bokashi system is wholly anaerobic.

Cardboard and paper are great in the indoor composter and will balance well with wet, sloppy vegetable waste. However, it’s important to note that anything you add to your compost heap should be shredded or at least cut up into smaller pieces so that it can compost quicker. The less surface area the decomposing matter has, the faster it can mix and break down.

Indoor Composting Unit Composts Veg & Paper Composts Meat & Bones Composts Dairy & Fat
ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector x
Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin x
Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler x x x
SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit x x x
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin x
YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter x

How quickly can I turn my waste into compost?

The short answer to this question is anywhere between two to four weeks. However, and this is a big however, the speed at which your organic waste becomes compost is dependent on many variable factors.

The type of system you’re using, the temperature of the composter, the size of the composter, and the material you’re decomposing all have an enormous effect on the speed of compost production.

Creating compost quickly sometimes takes skill and knowledge. The process for various systems is different and it’s always a good idea to do your homework on how to optimize the set up you have.

Once you have mastered your own system, you’ll be rewarded with endless amounts of free nutrients for your plants.

Indoor Composting Unit Average Time to Convert Waste
ECO-2000 Plus Kitchen Compost Waste Collector 2-4 weeks
Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin 6-weeks
Food Cycler Platinum Indoor Food Recycler 3 hours
SCD Probiotics K100 All Seasons Indoor Composter Kit 4 weeks
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin 2-4 weeks
YukChuk Under-Counter Indoor Kitchen Composter 2-4 weeks

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