Indoor Composting: Tips for Making Indoor Compost Avoiding Smell & Pests

indoor composting
For indoor composting, there are several options available to you. You can collect scraps in a special compost bin that will break down waste and turn it into compost, or you can use a worm composter (also known as vermicomposting).

While composting at home has many benefits, it can also be a messy process. Therefore, if you are wondering “Why does compost smell” Or, more importantly, “How can compost smell less?”, I have the answers for you.

Can you compost indoors?

Yes, you can.

In terms of indoor composting, there are a few options—you can collect scraps in a special compost bin that breaks down waste and turns it into compost, or you can use a worm composter (AKA vermicomposting).

In any case, with proper compost bins and care, you shouldn’t have any issues with funky smells or bugs.

In general, you need three things to compost:

  • browns
  • greens
  • water

Browns are things like twigs, dead leaves, and branches, which provide carbon; greens are food scraps and other compostable items that provide nitrogen.

To break down all of that into compost, you need moisture.

Can you compost indoors with worms?

Yes, you can.

A vermicomposting process (from the Latin word vermis, meaning worm) is an effective and enjoyable method of recycling kitchen waste into rich compost.

It has become increasingly popular to compost with redworms since it is easy to start, inexpensive, and can be carried out indoors in a small space.

Easy indoor composting methods

Composting indoors is a great way to feed your plants while also benefiting the environment if you are already container gardening in the comfort of your own home.

There are several ways to compost indoors, including:

  • worm composting (vermicomposting)
  • indoor bins
  • anaerobic bags
  • Bokashi method

1. Vermicomposting

Also known as worm composting, this aerobic method makes compost in a ventilated bin using red wiggler worms to digest the organic matter efficiently.

You can make or buy a worm-powered bin, both of which take up very little space.

2. Indoor Bins

In aerobic bins with ventilation holes on the lids, organic matter is heated to speed up decomposition. You can make one from a plastic bin, garbage can, bucket, or buy one.

Use a bin under 5 gallons (19 liters) to minimize odors.

3. Anaerobic Bag

Indoor composting using a plastic garbage bag to make anaerobic (without oxygen) microbes.

It’s cheap, easy to set up, but it may not smell so good.

4. Bokashi Method

Bokashi is a Japanese method of fermenting or pickling odorless food waste. It lets you add meat and dairy, too, unlike aerobic methods.

Using wheat bran, molasses, and effective microbes (or EM), you cover food scraps with this mixture of microorganisms to ferment it.

The Bokashi method requires some advanced prep, but it makes compost twice as fast as other anaerobic methods.

How to choose the right indoor bin?

In creating compost, it is important to choose the right method, as choosing an indoor composting bin is not the same as having a compost pile in the backyard. 

There are several things to consider when choosing an indoor compost bin, including:

  • Price
  • Size
  • Smell
  • Method
  • Location
  • Ease of use
  • Output
  • What can it compost (meat, dairy, paper products)
  • Transportability

Generally, you will want your indoor kitchen compost to be able to process compostable materials such as peels, kitchen waste, organic waste, kitchen scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, veggies, etc.

Listed below are options varying in size and cost, so choose according to whether you have a small space or a countertop.

You can purchase a stainless steel bin from Amazon or another retailer rather than making one yourself if you want one that looks good on your kitchen counter.

Here are some options of indoor compost bins you can buy:

  1. A bokashi composter like the SCD Probiotics K100 is perfect for an apartment or house. It works just like a compost bin but uses bokashi bran to “pre-ferment” your food scraps. You can bury the bokashi compost directly in your garden or raised bed after they ferment and age.
  2. One of the best worm composters on the market right now is the Worm Factory 360. Unlike the Urban Worm Bag, it’s made up of multiple trays that the worms move between.
  3. The Urban Worm Bags are also popular indoor worm composters.
  4. A good option is the Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin. Food scraps don’t break down like worm bins or bokashi systems or get dried out like the Food Cycler, so it’s not ideal for indoor composting. You’ll still need another way to compost outside, like an outdoor compost bin. 
  5. The Food Cycler sterilizes fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee or tea leaves, meat and dairy products. Once they’re sterile, the heat continues until they’re completely dehydrated. The machine grinds them up into small bits you can bury in your soil as fertilizer.

DIY indoor composting: Cheap alternative to a compost bin

  1. Compost needs a container. You don’t need anything fancy for an indoor compost bin–any sturdy, closeable container will do. No matter what material it’s made of, it has to be non-porous. Plastic bins, garbage cans, buckets, and even special composting boxes work. If you’re composting indoors, keep your bin under 5 gallons to avoid bad smells.
  2. Make holes in the bottom of your container. Depending on the size of your composter, you should have enough holes for the compost to drain evenly – about one hole every 2.5 inches.
  3. Place the container on a tray. It will help catch any liquid draining from it–you don’t want that on the floor! Make sure tray is watertight and big enough to hold around 1 cup (240 ml) of liquid.
  4. Store composter. It’s best to keep your composter somewhere out of the way to prevent accidental turnovers. It’s especially important if you’ve got kids or pets! Putting it in a cabinet or closet is a good idea.
  5. Your composter needs soil. Your composter’s size determines how thick the layer of soil should be. A good rule of thumb is to use a layer about one-quarter as thick as the container’s depth.
  6. Cover the soil with shredded newspaper. Composting is faster when you use shredded paper to absorb excess liquids. Cover your composter with enough newspaper to cover the soil.
  7. Keep your food scraps. Store your food scraps in a sealable container like a coffee can. Coffee filters, coffee grounds, tea bags, and napkins can also be composted.
  8. Shred the newspaper and mix it with the scraps. Mix in some shredded newspaper to absorb extra liquid whenever your scrap container is nearly full.
  9. Put the mixture in the composter. Mix the food and paper evenly and spread it out on top. Add a thin layer of soil to the top to keep fruit flies away.
  10. Every week, mix the compost and add new soil. Use a scoop or trowel to mix the compost every week. Once you’re done mixing, add a new layer of 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick soil.
  11. After your composter is full, wait a week. Let your composter sit sealed up for at least a week to ensure all the food has been composted. Mix it one more time with trowel before using the compost.
  12. You can add compost to your garden or houseplants. Apply compost to your garden or houseplants/indoor plants. A layer of soil can be added to the top if you’re worried about animals or kids disturbing the compost. Make sure your seeds are in the garden soil, not the compost if you’re starting new seeds.

Indoor composting: Tips for success

  • Don’t compost meat, fish, or dairy scraps! They’ll rot if you leave them indoors, causing an unpleasant odor and ruining your compost.
  • Make the process faster by cutting the food up. They shouldn’t be bigger than 2 inches.
  • When you need to mix your compost, keep a small hand trowel or hard garden rake nearby.


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.

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