In-Apartment Composting Techniques

Composting can be a practical way to get rid of trash, lessen your influence on the environment, and generate beneficial nutrients for your houseplants. Composting, though, can seem difficult in an apartment.

Due to worries about the effects of storing food scraps in a container and allowing them to degrade for several months, many apartment dwellers are reluctant to start composting. In an apartment, will composting attract pests? Will composting’s odor overcome a tiny space?

It is perfectly possible to compost in an apartment when set up properly—without giving up too much room, encouraging an insect invasion, or exposing yourself (and any visitors) to unpleasant smells. Understanding compost, what you can and cannot compost in an apartment, and how to construct your own compost bin that is suitable for an apartment are all necessary for success. 

What is compost?

A natural, earthy substance called compost is produced when organic matter breaks down. To keep the proper balance of bacteria, which turns the waste into compost, it is required to combine “green” and “brown” items (that are not necessarily green or brown in color). Depending on the size of the composter, the interior temperature, and the sorts of materials being broken down, this aerobic process can take a few months or longer. When there are few (if any) scraps visible in the compost mixture and it emits a faintly fragrant, earthy aroma, the compost is finished. Compost that has been finished has a dark color and a fine texture similar to dirt.

How Can I Compost?

Food scraps and other home garbage can be turned into “black gold,” a healthy fertilizer for your outdoor garden or indoor houseplants, by composting. To prevent odors, mold, and a failure of the trash to decompose, it is crucial that you are aware of what can and cannot be composted.

Some of the most typical products that can be composted are listed below: Vegetable scraps, nail clippings, stale bread, cooked, plain pasta or rice, human hair, eggshells (no white or yolk), cardboard boxes, torn up, non-glossy paper, shredded, coffee grounds and paper coffee filters, newspaper, shredded, grass clippings, peels from fruit and vegetables, fresh or dried leaves, corn husks or cobs, and bread are examples of acceptable food items.

You’ll notice that the list of foods that can be composted does not include meats, bones, dairy products, or fats. In general, it is not advised to add these materials to a composter. The EPA claims that adding animal products to a composter can produce aromas and draw pests like mice and insects. 

Selecting a Bin

Composting in an apartment can be done in a number of ways, such as with a worm bin, Bokashi bucket, or electric composter. The simplest method to get started, according to many, is with a straightforward compost bin fashioned out of plastic storage containers.

There is no specific kind of plastic container needed for composting, although it should have a cover, and the process described in this page requires two containers of the same size. Given your available space, decide on the size of the bins while keeping in mind that your apartment or condo’s compost system needs to be kept in a dark, comfortable area. Under the sink is a common place for an apartment composter, although a utility or laundry closet could also be used.

What you’ll require 

Resources / Tools 

Materials for a drill 

Two containers made of plastic with secure closures 

Newspaper or sawdust in fragments 


  • Create Holes at the Top 

Drill a row of holes on each side of the top of one of the plastic containers. It’s not crucial how big the holes are, but for this apartment-sized bin, they should be spaced roughly 1 to 3 inches apart. The airflow required for decomposition will be made possible by these apertures.

  • Create Holes at the Base 

Drill holes into the bottom of the plastic container you just drilled ventilation holes into. Depending on the size of the bin, different numbers of holes should be punched, but try to distribute them evenly throughout the entire bin. Liquid will be able to drain through these openings and into the second plastic bin. You can either discard the liquid, which is often referred to as compost tea, or utilize it to nourish plants. 

  • Incorporate soil 

Place the plastic container with holes inside the first container. A few inches of soil should be placed in the top bin before adding a layer of dry, absorbent material, such as sawdust or shredded newspaper.

  • Using An Absorbent Finish 

You can use your composter now! Put organic trash in your composter’s top bin. You remove extra moisture and stop mold and odors, be sure to cover it with newspaper or sawdust. After adding material, close the cover on your composter. 

  • Periodically clean 

The second liquid bin should be periodically emptied and cleaned to help avoid mold growth and odors.

It will take the composter at least a few months (if not longer) to completely decompose the trash. You might need to have a second set of bins available to take compostable trash while the garbage in the first set of bins is still processing, depending on the volume of scraps you add to the composter. 

Uses for Compost 

As a soil improvement for your garden or for potted plants, compost is highly helpful. According to studies, it can improve drainage, increase good bacteria, and draw earthworms. 2 When your compost is ready, you can either use it immediately in your garden or keep it in a container and use it as needed for your plants.

Additionally, the composting process produces a lot of nutrient-rich liquid. This “compost tea” is frequently used to fertilize gardens and indoor plants.