If you’ve ever wanted to compost, but don’t think you have an adequate amount of space to start a compost heap, this article is for you. Living in a small apartment, RV, or tiny home doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of composting! You just need a great indoor compost bin. Here’s a roundup of my 7 favorite options, including features you should keep an eye out for, and the pros and cons to these indoor bins.
Pros and Cons to Composting Indoors
Composting, whether you choose to do so inside or out, comes with tons of benefits. It’s an affordable way to create your own plant food and you can reduce your family’s footprint on the local landfill. However, indoor composting does come with some additionally benefits.
Unlike outdoors composting, you don’t need to worry about the waste degrading slowly in the winter. You also won’t need to take as much effort to shelter the pile from direct sunlight, heavy rainfall, or temperatures under 40 degrees F.
You don’t need a large amount of space inside, either. No matter how small your space is, there are compost bins to suit it. An indoor compost bin is typically made for dark, dry, indoor locations, such as:
- Kitchen counters
- Under the kitchen sink
Issues and Considerations
In contrast, an outdoor compost pile requires a large amount of space. Indoor compost bins are tidy and compact. You may find some the size of a kitchen trash can as well, which are easy to hide in a storage closet if you prefer not to have a visible compost bin.
While there are many benefits to composting, doing so indoors can lead to a couple of issues. These mainly relate to potential leakage and the unpleasant smell. Many people compost outside, away from their home for these very reasons. However, you can avoid issues like this with the right indoor compost bin.
For the best results, make sure your indoor compost bin is kept in a location that’s out of the way and easy to access when you need. If leakage or sticky smells happen to waft from the bin, the bin’s placement should help conceal it.
If problems persist or become especially bothersome for you, you might also try using dry bedding along the bottom of your bin to soak up any liquid or scent before they can leak out. When setting up your bin, I recommend adding dry bedding into the bottom as soon as you install it the first time. Great options for this include shredded paper or dry leaves.
How to Find the Best Indoor Compost Bin
An indoor compost bin is an investment in your future. As a result, so you want to select one that will be useful in your home and perform well. Deciding on the indoor compost bin that’s right for you may depend on:
- Your budget
- How much space you can dedicate to the compost bin
- What type of indoor compost bin your prefer
- Which added features you adore in fancier bins
These bins range in price from around $40 to $300. Determine your budget before you begin shopping for your indoor compost bin. From there, you’ll be able to decide which added features you’re willing to pay for, and which materials you may prefer, since options range from stainless steel to plastic.
You may also want to consider how often your compost. If you use the compost bin frequently, a fancy system with top-notch features can help you become fully self-sustaining. But if composting is new for you, a simpler plastic compost bin is your best option.
Compost bins range in size from tiny 0.85-gallon countertop models to larger 18-gallon containers. Indoor compost bins of around 1.3 to 1.5-gallons are perfect for most families.
Think about this size and space of your home. Where would you be able to house yours? Whatever you choose, the bin you select must fit in the space you have to store it and ideally still be large enough for your family’s weekly food scraps.
If you have a family of two that produces minimal food waste, for example, a 5-gallon container is more than enough. Larger families may require an 18-gallon container, but 1.5-gallon bins are fine as long as you empty them every few days.
Compost Collector vs Composter
Before shopping for a compost bin, you should know what type of bin you need. The difference between compost collectors and composters is much bigger than the names suggest. A compost collector simply holds the food scraps until you can add them to an outdoor compost pile to break down.
Composters, on the other hand, complete the entire composting process. They may differ in how the bin works, from using fermentation to using worms to break down food scraps. Vermicomposting bins use worms to get the job done. Most bins rely on a natural fermentation process but using worms can break down food quickly without any added odor.
Indoor compost bins may offer the following extra features, which may determine the price you pay:
- Airtight lid: Controls odor and keep pests like fruit flies away. Some options still offer airflow holes in the lid or throughout the bin to keep your home clean and smelling great.
- Charcoal filter: These filters help keep nasty odors at a minimum, but require replacement every 3 to 6 months (depending on how much you use the bin). They’re placed in the lid of your bin to trap and absorb odors before they can spread to your home. Some are washable.
- Break down more foods: More expensive models may come with features to help you break down food scraps like meat, fish, or dairy. If you eat many of these, the added expense might make sense for you.
What Can Your Indoor Compost Bin Handle?
Although most of the food scraps you’d put into an outdoor compost bin can also go in an indoor bin, there are a few foods you should avoid keeping inside. It’s okay to compost the following things indoors:
- Eggshells (pulverized)
- Nut shells
- Tea bags
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Shredded paper
- Torn cardboard
- Dead leaves
- Houseplant trimmings
- Small twigs
However, not everything breaks down the same way it would in an outdoor compost bin and some things lure pests inside. Other food scraps can cause leakage, which is a terrible mess indoors. You’ll want to avoid placing the following things in your indoor compost bin:
- Fish bones
- Wet items, like melons or squash
- Extra smelly items, such as onion peelings
The 7 Best Indoor Compost Bins
The best indoor compost bins are created with a lid and other features to help contain unpleasant smells while allowing airflow through. The following is a roundup of my favorite 7 options for 2019.
1. All Seasons Indoor Bokashi Composter
The SCD Probiotics K100 is an all-season indoor composter kit that comes with an airtight lid, strainer for releasing moisture, and a spigot for removing liquids from the bin with ease. It also has a handle to easy carrying, and it’s perfect for an apartment dweller. At a great price, beginners can get started in no time with this bin.
2. Worm Factory 360
If you’re okay with a few worms inside your home, the Worm Factory 360 is a great option. This method of composting is called vermicomposting, which uses worms and soil microbes in order to convert the organic waste into what’s known as vermicompost. It’s rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, perfect for garden soil.
There are pros and cons to using this method, however. Composting indoors is much easier with worms, but not everyone is okay with the idea of keeping hundreds of worms inside their home. The vermicompost you create is also great for helping your soil retain water and protects from harmful pathogens better than traditional compost. You must really pay attention to what the worms won’t eat, however, or the food will simply decompose. They’ll also breed, so you may need to remove the extra worms over time.
3. Food Cycler Indoor Composter
The Food Cycler is a great indoor composter that’s easy to use and totally environmentally friendly. It’s much more expensive than the other bins on this list, however, it can reduce your kitchen waste by up to 90% and it’s much easier to use than most bins. You never need to vent or drain liquid from this bin, as it dries food rather than ferments the scraps, and you can put meat and dairy into the bin.
4. Chef’n EcoCrock Compost Bin
This ceramic option is cute and designed to be fuss and mess-proof. Liquids won’t pool at the bottom, odors won’t escape from the tightly fitting lid, and the 0.75-gallon size can store plenty of food scraps for a countertop model. With this option, you’ll never have to touch the scraps due to a removable plastic pail feature and cleaning is just as easy as well.
5. OXO Good Grips Easy Clean Compost Bin
Modern style meets convenience in this everyday polypropylene bin. Designed to keep food or liquid from building up, this bin even offers a smart lid that opens easily with one hand and still closes securely enough to keep the odor from your home. The handle also rotates to make emptying the bin easy, it’s entirely dishwasher safe, and the compact size is perfect for kitchen countertops.
6. YukChuk Indoor Comport Container/Bin
A 1.5-gallon indoor compost container, the YukChuck is perfect for a small kitchen, apartment, under-the-sink, or easily stored in a storage closet. It’s strong and can hold a large number of food scraps. Odor won’t leach out thanks to an airtight seal, and the handle is easy to work with just one hand. Plus, this option comes with a lifetime guarantee.
7. Alsaw Countertop Compost Bin
If space is a real issue for you, a tiny countertop model such as the Alsaw is the perfect solution. It’s made to look like an old-fashioned bread box, and the bin can hold around 6 quarts of food scraps. This model looks great on your counter, which is right where you need it while you’re prepping food.
A Final Thought
For the best results with your indoor compost bin, try cutting down the food scraps into tiny strips to help them break down more quickly. You’ll also want to make sure you move the contents of your bin regularly, which helps avoid soggy compost or dry pockets throughout the bin. Mix the bin using a hand shovel every few days.
Finally, if you don’t like any of the above indoor compost bins or don’t see one that is the right size or price for your needs, you can always try making your own.