How To Make Your Own Indoor Compost Bin

updated May 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Sarah Starkey)

There are a lot of options out there for apartment dwellers who want to compost, and like most things it’s not as simple as one style fits all. It’s about finding what works best for you. Try something! And if it doesn’t work for you… try something else! This is an easy indoor compost option for people who need something cheap, customizable and space friendly.

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When you’re done your indoor compost bin should be tidy, active and odor free! Mix it and add a scoop of new soil once a week. (Image credit: Sarah Starkey)

What You Need

A container to house your compost. It can be as big or small as you like.
A tray that fits under your container and allows room for spills… hopefully just dirt.
A small bag of soil.
Some old newspaper for shredding.

Depending on what container you use you will need a drill or hammer and nail or scissors.


1. Choose a location for your indoor compost bin. We used the space under the sink because it was in the kitchen, locked to protect tiny hands and large enough to keep a decent family sized compost.

2. Think about what you’d like to keep your compost in. You can use plastic boxes, metal containers, garbage bins or buckets… get creative and customize it to your use taste and your space, but consider: it will need to be covered. You might need to swap it out for a new one while it composts and you’ll need to store it somewhere!

3. Once you have your container you’ll need to punch holes in it. What your using will determine what tools you need. We chose a metal garbage bin so we used a drill. Note: when we took the photos we only put holes in the bottom but later found that we needed a few holes around the rim as well.

4. Cover your tray with newspaper and put the compost bin onto the tray.

5. Now add dirt! Again it’s about the size of the container and how much use it’s going to get. We added a layer of soil about four inches deep.

6. Next step. Add a layer of dry stuff, in this case newspaper, and you’re ready to go!

How To Use Your Compost Bin

1. Add your food scraps as you get them. It’s an indoor bin so making them as small as possible will benefit you in the long run.

2. You want to keep the wet/dry balance so add a small handful of shredded newspaper when you add scraps.

3. Once a week you’ll need to mix the compost and add a half scoop of new soil.

1. We found that having a small scoop next to the bin makes mixing and adding a lot easier.
2. If you have the space it would be handy to have a box of shredded paper and a small container of soil beside the bin.
3. Investigate what foods can and can’t be composted indoors. It saves a lot of stress.
4. If the bin starts to smell it means the balance is off you may need to add more newspaper or add extra holes.
5. You might want to have an extra bin on stand by for when your old one gets full and hasn’t completely broken down.
6. Give some thought to what you’re going to do with your compost when it’s done.

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(Images: Sarah Starkey)