Apartment Composting 101: No Smell, No Fuss

apartment composting
Composting in an apartment is possible, and it can be a pretty easy process. All you need is some basic material supplies (for example, a plastic or worm bin, worms, and a drill) and a bit of patience. 

With proper apartment composting, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant smells, invasion of unwanted guests (insects), or sacrificing your space because you can control what goes into your compost pile.

And more rewarding, you’ll make your living space more eco-friendly by reducing the amount of food waste that goes to landfills.

Can You Compost in an Apartment?

Yes, you can compost in your apartment. And the good news is that you can make your compost pile with or without worms (red wigglers).

All you’ll need is to ensure your compost has a balance of green(vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and garden trimmings) and brown(eggshells, paper towels, sawdust, and woodchips) organic matter.

Extra tip: if you want your compost pile to be odor-free, avoid adding food scraps such as meat and dairy products, baked foods, or non-biodegradable materials like plastic bags.

How to Compost in an Apartment

Before creating your  DIY indoor compost bin, it’s essential to plan how you’ll approach the composting.

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself include:

  • How much space do I have? Is there space for a compost pile or outdoor bin?
  • How often will I need to compost?
  • Do I have the necessary tools and supplies?

Once you’ve answered these questions, follow these simple beginners steps to make your compost:

Step 1

First, you’ll need a countertop bin (preferably made of plastic, ceramic or stainless steel). Drill holes in the bin to allow airflow and ensure it has a lid, and charcoal filters help prevent odor.

Then place the bin in a dark, cool, dry place, such as in your utility closet or kitchen sink.

Step 2

Gather all your compostable materials. This includes shredded papers, nail clippings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, human hair, egg shells, tea bags, potted plants,  fruits, and vegetable peels. 

Step 3

Add all the materials to your compost bin, ensuring they’re fully covered. Always chop large pieces of food waste into smaller pieces before adding them to the bin to hasten decomposition.

Step 4

Once your organic matter is fully composted, you’ll need to turn it at least once weekly.

Note: If you can’t compost in your apartment due to limited space, you can opt for a compost pickup service or join a composting community(a farmer’s market or community garden).

Both options will help you easily collect and process your organic waste.

Methods to Compost in an Apartment 

There are several methods for composting in an apartment—depending on the space and materials available.

Besides space and available material, the method you choose will be influenced by the climate you live in and your compost skills and experiences.

Some common methods for composting in apartments are as follows:

1. Vermicomposter

A vermicomposter is a simple and effective way to compost in an apartment. All you need is a bin, worms, and organic waste.

The worms will eat the organic waste and turn it into compost, which you can use to fertilize your plants.

This form of worm composting is a great way to reduce your waste output and help your plants grow.

2. Bokashi Composting

Bokashi composting is a method for composting in a small airtight container. It’s a faster way to compost because of the availability of effective microbes. 

The Bokashi mixture is made of bran, rice husks, sawdust, molasses, and water. Add the mixture to your compost pile or container and let it sit for several weeks.

3. Countertop Composting

Countertop composting is a method for composting in an apartment using a small, enclosed container to compost food scraps. This method is convenient for people who live in small spaces and do not have access to a backyard or garden.

This composting reduces waste and creates nutrient-rich compost for your plants. You can also use countertop composting to recycle kitchen scraps into useful compost ingredients.

4. Freezer Composting

Freezer composting involves putting food scraps in a freezer instead of a compost bin. The food scraps will eventually decompose and can be used as compost.

Usually, it takes less time to compost food or vegetable scraps in a freezer than compost them in a compost bin because freezing slows down the decomposition process.

5. Blender Composting

Blender composting is a method that uses a blender to break down organic matter. This method is ideal for small households or gardens with limited indoor or outdoor space.

With your blender, composting can be done quickly and easily in your kitchen before being poured directly into the soil around plants. 

What Type of Bin to Use for Apartment Composting? 

You can use any type of bin for apartment composting, as long as it is big enough to hold your compostable materials.

A good option for an apartment compost bin is a small plastic bin with a lid. This will keep your compostable materials contained and prevent bad smells from escaping.

You can also use a compostable trash can if you have one available. Just make sure that the bin is large enough to hold all of your compostable materials and that it has a lid so flies and other pests don’t get into the compost.

Here are some of the best apartment composting bins on Amazon:

Where to place your compost bin in an apartment?

Your apartment composting should take place in a dry and reasonably dark area. This can be on the counter, in your basement, closet, or in a cabinet.

How do you compost in an apartment without it smelling?

There are a few ways to compost without it smelling. One way is to use an airtight container. This will keep the smell from getting out.

Another way is to add a charcoal layer to the container’s bottom, which keeps it odor-free.

You can also add a layer of newspaper to the top of the container to help absorb smells or take the compost bin out regularly. 

Can you vermicompost in an apartment?

Yes, you can vermicompost in an apartment. It’s probably the best method to use if you have limited space.

Any materials to avoid?

Some apartment composting materials to avoid include:

  • Fish and meat scraps 
  • Dairy products, fat, and oils
  • Insect-infested or diseased plants 
  • Charcoal ash
  • Cat or dog waste
  • Black walnut tree debris


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

Recent Posts