Composting refers to the act of recycling organic matter, from food scraps to the hair from your brush. This keeps compostable materials out of the landfill, and can be used to help your plants grow and increases your soil's ability to retain moisture. It is a simple way to reduce your food waste at home and work towards a zero-waste household.
In recent years, at-home composting has become more popular and easier than ever before. Gone are the days when you would need a big open space or even a backyard. Now you can compost indoors with a little help.
Wondering how this is possible without a big mess and stink? All of your questions will be addressed within the following topics:
- Can you compost indoors?
- How to compost indoors?
- Top 8 indoor composting tips for beginners
- 4 easy indoor composting methods to try today
- Top 7 FAQs about composting indoors
- The bottom line: what is the best way to compost indoors?
Before we dive into the available products and methods to try, we are going to go over the basics of indoor composting.
Can you compost indoors?
Yes! While composting used to be exclusively done outdoors in big open spaces such as backyards or farms, innovations have helped make composting in your home simple, straightforward, and stink-free. Composting indoors can also help you avoid the challenges associated with outdoor changes, such as weather conditions.
How to compost indoors?
There are four main options for those interested in composting indoors, with a number of companies offering different designs for each. Depending on your situation - or level of comfort with having worms in your home - one form of indoor composting may be more suitable for your household than another:
- Electric composters
- Worm composting
- Aerobic composting
- Bokashi composting
We're going to show you how to accomplish each of these methods. But first, we'll give you the best tips for good results when you start composting.
Top 8 indoor composting tips for beginners
For those just beginning their journey with indoor composting, there are a few things to remember:
- Learn what NOT to compost - Not all kitchen scraps and food waste can be composted. Some waste can actually attract unwanted pests or slow down the composting process.
- If it smells bad, something's gone wrong: No matter how you're composting your organic material, it shouldn't smell bad. If there are unpleasant smells, that means something needs to change. With vermicomposting, you could be overfeeding the worms. Otherwise, it could be anything from being too moist to not having enough oxygen.
- Keep your compost moist: Vermicomposting and aerobic composting both need oxygen to work properly, and moisture in the dirt transports that oxygen. If your compost pile is looking dry, water it a bit.
- Chop or tear your food waste before composting: Bigger kitchen scraps take longer to decompose than smaller ones. Tearing your waste before composting will speed up the decomposition process.
- Avoid fruit flies and pests: In the summers, you can get rid of fruit flies by keeping your bin in the freezer. With vermicomposting and aerobic composting, bury your food waste under a layer of dirt so it doesn't attract pests.
- Add the right amount of brown and green matter: Aerobic composting and worm compost bins both require about 3 parts carbon-rich (brown) material to 1 part nitrogen-rich (green) material. For indoor compost bins, a good source of brown matter is shredded paper, and a good source of green matter is your regular food scraps.
- Get the right worm to food waste ratio: If you are using vermicomposting, a pound of red worms can go through 3.5 pounds of waste every week. Check how much kitchen waste your family produces every week and get the right amount of worms for you.
- Watch for breeding worms: A healthy worm compost bin is a ripe breeding ground for your worms. If you end up with more worms than you can feed, share some with your friends!
4 easy indoor composting methods you should try today
There are four easy indoor composting methods that you can try today, whether you’re a beginner or a long-time composter. Each method has its benefits and its drawbacks, such as the speed of the process, the quality of the compost, and the level of intervention required. Let’s explore each option:
1. Use an indoor composting machine
Indoor composting machines - or electric composters generally have two primary functions: dehydrate and compact. At the end of this two-step process, you are left with a chunk of dehydrated organic waste that can be used as boosters or starters for compost piles, or can be tossed into the green bin.
Meanwhile, other electric composters such as Lomi, use a multi-step process that filters your waste in addition to heating and pulverizing it. Processors like these come with beneficial filters that help jump-start the composting process, and result in high-quality nutritional dirt that you can use for your plants.
Electric composters take all the work out of the composting process. You just throw in your fruit and veggie scraps, push a button, and that's it. You also won't be waiting for long. With Lomi, the most you'll ever need to wait for nutrient-rich dirt is 20 hours!
Why use this method: These machines are generally built to be small enough to leave on your kitchen counter, and with the push of a button can turn your scraps into soil!
Try this product: Lomi
Pro tip: Lomi speeds up the breakdown of organic waste into smaller fragments, which provides more surface area for the microbes to accelerate the decomposition process.
2. Vermicomposting with a worm composter
Indoor worm composting - or vermicomposting - refers to the method of using worms to transform your organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer. This is a healthy and clean way to reduce the waste sent to the landfill. Vermicomposting is inexpensive and takes about two or three months to start producing results.
All you need to start vermicomposting is a compost bin, some dirt, and some worms. We would suggest red worms for composting, which you should be able to buy at any garden store, but you can also find them online. Add your soil and worms to your compost bin and start feeding them your kitchen waste.
As you're not going to be feeding your worms every time you create food scraps, it's also helpful to have a second bin for collecting the scraps until you're ready to feed the worms.
Why use this method: This tried and true method for indoor composting is a familiar favorite for a reason. It is fast, results in less odor than regular composting, and a high-quality finished product.
Try this product: Wormbox
Pro tip: Interested in trying your hand at vermicomposting? Try the Wormbox! It is the perfect product for a beginner.
3. Aerobic composting with a compost bin or compost tumbler
Traditional aerobic composting is the most common forms of indoor composting, with exceptionally little interference or effort needing to be put in by its users. These indoor composting bins are easy to set up and maintain, and are effective producers of nutrient-rich compost.
The term aerobic composting simply means that it needs oxygen to work - this is because it relies on microorganisms to break down the food scraps into compost, and those microorganisms need oxygen to survive. Having proper airflow in your compost bin, keeping the pre-compost moist, and turning the compost once per week will all work together to ensure it's properly aerated.
For this method, you can have a simple indoor compost bin that you keep in a closet or under your sink (assuming there's enough space). However, you can also purchase a compost tumbler to make it even easier. A compost tumbler is essentially a compost bin with a handle that will rotate the compost bin and turn the compost without you needing to put in any effort.
Why use this method: Indoor compost bins are incredibly simple, and are one of the most common forms of composting for households.
Try this product: Bamboozle
Pro tip: While options such as the Bamboozle composter don’t do any work for you, they are useful for storing scraps before transferring them to your green bin or adding them to your garden soil.
4. Try the Bokashi method
Another great indoor compost bin is the Bokashi bin, which utilizes anaerobic composting - meaning it composts without oxygen. All you need to get started with this method is to buy a Bokashi compost bin.
Essentially, you just mix all your food waste with the Bokashi bran they provide, and put all that in the bin. As you're filling it up, press down on the waste to try and remove any air pockets inside. Once filled, you'll have a finished compost pile after about two weeks. However, it's important to note that you won't be able to use this compost for your houseplants, as this method produces highly acidic pre-compost.
Why use this method: The Bokashi compost bin is simple and relatively quick compared to vermicomposting and aerobic compost bins.
Try this product: 5-gallon Bokashi Bin
Pro tip: If you want to try this method and still have useable compost in the end, bury the resulting compost under some dirt (either outside or in a second compost bin) for a few weeks.
Top 7 FAQs about composting indoors
Not sure if indoor composting is right for you? Read through the top 7 FAQs people have regarding composting indoors:
1. What can you compost indoors?
Compost-safe materials include green matter (e.g., vegetable waste, plants, and coffee grounds), along with brown matter (e.g., dead leaves, wood chips, and coffee filters). While items such as cooked food, dairy products, or meat can be composted, you may want to avoid placing them in your indoor composter as they can produce odors or lure pets.
2. Can I use compost for indoor plants?
Yes! You most definitely can use compost for your indoor plants. When it comes to compost, the benefits are universal whether your plants are indoors or outdoors. High-quality pre-compost is always a great choice for helping your plants thrive, as the additional nutrients provide them with the energy they need.
3. How to keep fruit flies away from indoor compost?
If using a worm composter, the best way to keep fruit flies away is to ensure your waste isn’t left exposed. Fruit flies can be easily attracted and are frustrating to get rid of. If you cannot bury the waste completely in soil or a worm layer, cover the exposed scraps with additional soil or brown matter.
4. How to keep indoor compost from smelling?
If you have an indoor compost bin, make sure to use the right ratio of green to brown waste, keep the compost moist, and don't overfeed your worms. If using a composting machine, make sure to run a cycle and not leave unprocessed waste sitting inside for more than a couple of days.
5. How long does it take to compost indoors?
This depends on the form of indoor composting you choose to utilize. If you are using a composting machine, such as Lomi, your food waste will turn into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Alternatively, if you are using a worm composter, this process can take anywhere from three to six months.
6. What is the difference between indoor and outdoor compost?
The main difference between indoor and outdoor compost relates to the size and overall design of the container used to house the pre-compost. Outdoor compost bins are specifically made to be placed outside or in a space where odors aren’t a concern, whereas indoor composters are designed with odor controls in place.
7. Can you do indoor composting in the winter?
Yes! Indoor composting is simple in the winter because it is kept in a climate-controlled environment, and doesn’t interact with the cold outdoor temperatures or weather conditions. Electric composters are an excellent choice as their conditions remain the same regardless of whether it is summer or winter.
The bottom line: what is the best way to compost indoors?
Of the three basic indoor composting options, an electric composter is the most efficient and effective of them all. Why wait three to six months to get your pre-compost from a vermicomposter? Within 24 hours you can have your own nutrient-rich soil to help your indoor or outdoor plant babies flourish.
Lomi is an excellent option for an indoor composting machine, having been designed to put food and organic matter back into the earth. This innovative device breaks down your waste into nutrient-rich dirt, rather than compost, which you can then use in your garden, indoor plants, or throw it into your outdoor bin.
While the overall process of composting can be messy, and long, composting is a rewarding and environmentally-friendly approach to waste management at home. No matter which method you choose, you really can’t go wrong!
Order your Lomi today and start composting your food waste! You can also learn more about composting or about other ways to reduce waste on our blog. Every person's actions matter, and your decision to start composting will only positively affect your environment.
Written by: Saige Friedman