The Best Compost Bins, According to Wirecutter Staff (2023)

Scrap storage between trips to the compost bin

A metal bin with a charcoal filter

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Oggi Countertop Compost Pail (about $30 at the time of publication)

I have municipal composting in San Francisco, and I get a green bin for our yard and food waste (including meat). The compost gets picked up weekly, along with our garbage and recycling, and is trucked to a composting facility near wine country. Eventually, it ends up fertilizing vineyards and vegetable farms. All I have to do is store my scraps between trips down to the garage, where the bins live. For that, I bought an Oggi Countertop Compost Pail, which sits between my sink and fridge. The pail part takes 3-gallon compost bags (which San Francisco accepts, but check with your city before using compostable bags). And the vented lid has spaces for two charcoal filters, which Oggi recommends replacing every two to three months. (I spent an embarrassingly long time trying and failing to disassemble the lid to replace the filters. It turns out you pinch the old ones to pull them out and then half-fold, half-wedge the fresh ones into place.) I do put the bin in the dishwasher occasionally to give it a real cleaning. What I like the most about the Oggi is that I never see fruit flies around it or smell its contents—unless I lift the lid to add more scraps.

—Christine Ryan, senior editor

An affordable, minimalist plastic bin

The Best Compost Bins, According to Wirecutter Staff (2)

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OXO Easy-Clean Compost Bin ($20 at the time of publication)

I live in Portland, Oregon, which has a citywide composting program. Prior to buying the OXO Easy-Clean Compost Bin, I’d used a variety of options that I hadn’t put much thought into. Consequently, I wasn’t particularly happy with any of them. When I sat down to look for a bin this time, I knew my criteria. I wanted a bin that would fit a 3-gallon bag and that I could easily remove and take out to the city-issued compost bin (which stays at the side of my house). I wanted a bin that looked decent, since I tend to keep my personal bin on the counter, close to where I do my food prep. I wanted to be able to clean the bin easily. And perhaps most important, I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t leak; I try to avoid putting anything too wet in the bin, but I’ve still dealt with unpleasant spills over the years. The OXO bin checked all of those boxes for me. It holds a 3-gallon bag, which I probably take out and replace every other day, and it’s unobtrusive-looking. Also, the lid pops off, so it’s super easy to clean, and it doesn’t have any slits or joins that can leak liquids.

—Erin Price, audience development manager for reader relationships

The freezer

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There’s no getting around it: Compost can be smelly and attract fruit flies, especially in a small, hot apartment. When I lived in New York City, I stored my organic trash in paper bags in the freezer to cut down on the unpleasantness until I could drop it off at the Union Square compost bin. In April 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that curbside composting was returning to the city. But if you have room in your freezer, you still might want to chill your banana peels and lettuce ends to make your garbage less stinky. New York paused compost pickup because of the pandemic, but it’s coming back on a voluntary basis this fall; if you’re in New York, and your building doesn’t sign up, you can look up your closest drop-off program. These days, I live in San Francisco, where we have municipal composting, and I run food scraps down to our building’s bin after every meal. The city picks it up at the end of the week, and I have a little more freezer space.

—Ellen Airhart, fact checker

A 5-gallon bucket

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My husband and I maintain two systems for dealing with our produce scraps. One is a worm bin, which involves some maintenance and, of course, handling worms. The simpler one is a large plastic bucket with a tight-sealing lid (any 5-gallon bucket works), which we use to collect scraps throughout the week before dropping them off at a community garden on Sundays. Cooking as much as we do, we just couldn’t fit all the scraps we generated into our packed freezer, so we settled on the bucket. We keep it in an out-of-the-way spot in our entryway, and we have found an easy method to keep it from smelling or attracting pests: Every time we dump in a batch of scraps, we cover them with shredded, unbleached paper (from items like brown paper bags or cardboard egg cartons). This seems to neutralize everything successfully.

—Marguerite Preston, senior editor

Outdoor composters

A huge stationary bin

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Algreen SoilSaver Composter ($120 at the time of publication)

Despite being DINKs (double income, no kids), my partner and I produce a ton of food waste because we cook almost all of our meals. We also love to garden. So when we bought our first home last spring, a compost bin was an inevitability. We knew we needed a lot of room, and that ruled out most reasonably priced tumbling composters. After some extensive research, we settled on the Algreen SoilSaver Composter, which we stationed adjacent to our raised garden beds. This composter is huge, simple to assemble, and foolproof to use: You just unlock the two twist locks on the top and remove it to add your scraps. After time and microbes have done their thing, a small door at the base lets you access the fully composted soil on the bottom. Ours is almost always full, despite the generous amount of space and the fact that we regularly use the compost in the garden.

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—Ben Keough, editor

A state-of-the-art tumbler

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Mantis Compact ComposTumbler ($300 at the time of publication)

I began composting about a decade ago to reduce my carbon footprint and give sustainable gardening a try. Since then, I’ve used stacks, bags, tubs, and worms. Each system yielded rich compost, but it also required sweat, patience, know-how, and storage space. So when I was finally ready to level up to a quality tumbler, a trusted friend whose garden was the envy of the neighborhood convinced me to go with the Mantis Compact ComposTumbler. Three years later, the Mantis has not disappointed. Every design detail has ease of use in mind. Rotating the barrel with the gear-driven crank is a breeze, even when the Mantis is completely full. Its steel barrel is just as sturdy as it was the day I bought it, which is impressive in Nevada, where plastic turns brittle after a few months of sun exposure. Plus, the Mantis contains odors, so you can count yourself as a considerate neighbor. You do have to assemble the tumbler, but if you follow the directions down to tightening every screw, you end up with a solid, sturdy tumbler.

At the end of 14 to 21 days, I just open the hatch, park a wagon under the barrel, and turn the crank to harvest rich compost with minimal effort. (If I were shopping for a tumbler now, I’d go with the Mantis ComposT-Twin, which would give me the option of harvesting compost weekly.) Best of all, the Mantis website has answered every question I’ve ever had about using the tumbler, and it provides great general composting tips. (At this writing, the ComposTumbler is sold out. Mantis says it is working on restocking this composter for late summer.)

A basic worm tower that yields rich castings

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Worm Factory 360 ($130 at the time of publication)

My husband and I got a worm bin early in the pandemic, when New York City’s composting programs shut down, and he lovingly maintains it. We use the unattractive but very effective Worm Factory 360, which we populated with several hundred red composting worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Those worms churn through a good amount of scraps and, in a matter of months, turn them into a rich, ready-to-use compost with the texture of chocolate cake—we’ve already generated enough to re-pot all of our houseplants and give bags away to a few friends. The compost is easy to collect because the tiered system allows you to lure the worms out of your finished compost by adding scraps to the tray above. The setup doesn’t smell, it doesn’t attract fruit flies, and overall it just isn’t as messy as it sounds (no, the worms won’t escape). But even my husband, who delights in checking on his worms every day, cautions that it’s really more of a hobby than an easy method of scrap disposal. Although it’s not hard (our Worm Factory has instructions and tips printed on the lid), you do have to pay attention to what and how much you’re feeding your worms. It helps to chop up or even blend the scraps you put in, and it’s important to balance “green” matter (fresh produce) with “brown” matter (paper scraps, dried leaves, and so forth). Worms are also very temperature-sensitive, as we learned during a heat wave last summer. We had to move the bin into our air-conditioned bedroom, but the ideal would be to keep your bin in a cool basement.

—Marguerite Preston, senior editor

A dehydrator that shrinks your food waste (even if it doesn’t really make compost)

The Best Compost Bins, According to Wirecutter Staff (8)

Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 ($400 at the time of publication)

Last summer I was gifted a Vitamix FoodCycler FC-30 electric composter (predecessor to the current Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50), which turns my family’s food scraps into ready-to-use fertilizer for our garden. We live in Portland, Oregon, and we had already been composting for a while, thanks to the city’s curbside-pickup program. At first I thought the dedicated appliance was a bit unnecessary, but it’s so efficient that we’ve been using it nearly nonstop ever since. The FoodCycler is about as big as an 18-pack of toilet paper rolls, so it can fit into a closet or cupboard, and it’s quiet enough to run regularly. It can break down fruit cores, vegetable peels, dairy, and even some meat scraps into a dry, organic matter that we use to fertilize our garden beds. (Technically it doesn’t make compost, which takes longer to break down, but we still use the by-product of dried and ground food waste as a fertilizer—if you get a dehydrator, check the manufacturer’s recommendations.) First the machine dries scraps, and then it grinds them, and the volume reduction it achieves in a few hours is pretty amazing (the timing depends on how wet or thick the contents of the bucket are). We wash the bucket between loads, and it can sometimes take a little extra elbow grease to get out any food that hardens onto the bucket. This machine requires regular filter changes about every three to four months, too. But for us, it’s worth the effort. Even if gardening isn’t your main priority, this machine is still a great option for reducing your daily food waste.


What kind of compost bin is best? ›

Wooden compost bins can process the most waste, but if you don't want to wait half a year for your first batch, insulated compost bins speed up the process, but offer less compost. Garden design is a crucial consideration, too.

What is the best composter for beginners? ›

Best Compost Bin for Beginners: FCMP Outdoor Rolling Composter. Best Countertop Compost Bin: Utopia Kitchen Countertop Compost Bin. Best for Garden Waste: Miracle-Gro 28-Gallon Tumbling Garden Waste Composter. Best Stationary Bin: Algreen 28-lb.

What 4 things that should not be used in the compost bin? ›

DON'T add meat scraps, bones, grease, whole eggs, or dairy products to the compost pile because they decompose slowly, cause odors, and can attract rodents. DON'T add pet feces or spent cat liter to the compost pile. DON'T add diseased plant material or weeds that have gone to seed.

What should I look for when buying a compost bin? ›

For a family of 1-4 people, we recommend a composter that will process at least 4.5 cubic feet. If you plan to add garden waste or yard trimmings, a capacity of 15 to 20 cubic feet would offer ample space.

Is metal or plastic better for compost bin? ›

Compost pails are usually made from ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel. Some have washable plastic liners. Stainless steel is ideal because it cannot absorb bad odors. Metal is easy to wash between compost dumps.

What breaks down compost the fastest? ›

You can add several things to compost to speed up the process, including worms, manure, grass clippings, and coffee grounds. You can also mix in a compost accelerator to speed up the process even further. Compost accelerators usually contain bacteria or enzymes that help speed up decomposition.

Are eggshells good for compost? ›

Let's just start out by saying: putting egg shells in your compost is okay; they are a rich source of calcium and other essential nutrients that plants need.

How long does it take for food to break down in a composter? ›

Decomposition will be complete anywhere from two weeks to two years depending on the materials used, the size of the pile, and how often it is turned. Compost is ready when it has cooled, turned a rich brown color, and has decomposed into small soil-like particles.

Can banana peels be composted? ›

Banana peels are a suitable compost material and provide nutrient-rich additives such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium to your garden soil. These, in turn, help to achieve the healthy growth of fruiting plants. They also decompose more quickly than other compost materials.

Can paper towels be composted? ›

If you're using paper towels to wipe your mouth or clean up dollops of sauce, you can toss this into your green bin. Basically, if the paper towel is used to clean up food or drink messes, it can be composted.

Can cooked pasta be composted? ›

Both cooked and uncooked pasta is perfectly fine to be composted.

Are potato skins good for compost? ›

Potato peelings can provide this when the buds in the eyes of potato skins grow into potato plants. To ensure that the peelings don't sprout, bury them well down in the compost and ensure that you turn the heap regularly. If you do this, it is fine to compost the peelings.

Can raw onions be composted? ›

Can you compost onions? The answer is a resounding, “yes.” Composted onion waste is just as valuable an organic ingredient as most any with a few caveats.

What vegetables should not go into compost? ›

Citrus fruit, tomato products and pickled food products can do harm to your compost. High acidity can actually kill the good bacteria that helps break down the material in your compost pile.

Is a wooden compost bin better than plastic? ›

Although they don't build up heat as effectively as plastic bins, the main advantage of wooden compost bins are that you can make them as big as you like, which is ideal for those with a lot of garden waste to get through.

Do all compost bins have worms? ›

You do not need to add worms to your compost pile. Outside, composting happens with and without the help of earthworms. Worms will usually find their own way to a compost pile.

Is it worth buying a compost bin? ›

A compost bin is a must-have for any home gardener with the outdoor space to accommodate one. Not only does compost help your pots and borders thrive, but composting is also a green way to get rid of food and garden waste.

Should your compost bin be in the sun or shade? ›

Should my compost pile be in the sun or in the shade? You can put your compost pile in the sun or in the shade, but putting it in the sun will hasten the composting process. Sun helps increase the temperature, so the bacteria and fungi work faster.

Should I put holes in the lid of my compost bin? ›

Yes! Good airflow is one of the secrets to successful composting. Without it, your compost pile could turn into a stinky mess (literally).

Are rotating compost bins better? ›

Compost matures faster if it is turned regularly and compost tumblers are designed to make the turning process easy; you only need to turn the barrel.

How often should I pee on compost? ›

For garden plants in need of a genuine nitrogen boost, once or twice a month is generally fine, though some people will add highly diluted pee a couple of times a week. If you have more pee to give, try your lawn, trees and bushes.

Does covering compost speed up composting? ›

Need compost fast.

A covering holds heat in the pile, which helps the good bacteria to work more efficiently. The cover effectively speeds up the process, shaving weeks (and even months) off the time required to produce finished compost.

Should coffee grounds be composted? ›

Coffee grounds are a great addition to the garden and compost pile. Help to recycle this great organic resource and reduce the amount of organics going to the landfill!

Are orange peels good compost? ›

Yes indeed! You can put orange peels into your compost mix. Citrus peels, which are high in nitrogen, can be used to increase the activity of microorganisms by being added to your compost. You can add lemon peels, grapes, lime peels, and other citrus peels to your compost pile as a nutrient.

Can bread be composted? ›

To conclude, yes, you can compost bread! After all, bread is organic matter. If you have any bread lying around that may otherwise go to waste, go ahead and compost it. Best of all, bread scraps break down just as rapidly as other food scraps in your Lomi bin.

Can I put left over food in a compost? ›

1. Compost. Composting is a great way to put your food scraps to good use! The process utilizes these scraps and other organic materials to form a natural fertilizer that is then used to enrich soil.

How long does it take grass clippings to turn into compost? ›

A well-managed compost pile with shredded materials under warm conditions usually will be ready in one to four months. But if a pile or bin is left unattended and material is not shredded, the pile may take a year or longer to decompose.

Are grass clippings good for compost? ›

Grass clippings are excellent additions to a compost pile because of their high nitrogen content. Grass clippings should not be the only compost material. As with mulches, a thick layer of grass clippings in a compost pile will lead to bad odors from anaerobic decomposition.

Can you compost tea bags? ›

Yes, you can add tea bags to your compost bin or garden — with an important caveat. Before composting your tea bags, it is important to ensure that they are made from biodegradable materials. An estimated 20-30% of tea bags on the market are composed of polypropylene, which is not compostable.

Can avocado skins be composted? ›

Yes! You can compost avocado pits, avocado skins, and even unusable or brown avocado meat. However, avocado skins tend to be slow to decompose. To speed up the process, cut the peels into small squares with kitchen scissors before adding them to your composter.

Can you put cooked veggies in compost? ›

You can compost cooked vegetables. They rot quickly and are nitrogen-rich, which is good news for your compost pile. However, veggies that are cooked with other ingredients like large amounts of oils, sugars, sauces, lots of salt, and animal products should not be composted.

Can coffee filters be composted? ›

There is no bleach in the coffee filter, so it can be tossed right in with the grounds when you go to compost your coffee.

Can you compost egg cartons? ›

You can also put cardboard egg cartons in a compost pile. They break down quickly and will help create rich fertilizer for your garden. You can also compost the egg shells!

Can toilet paper rolls be composted? ›

Papter towel and toilet paper rolls can be recycled or composted! If you have a compost pail in the bathroom (which we recommend due to being able to compost tissues and cotton swaps with paper sticks), toilet paper rolls can go into the compost as well!

Can pizza be composted? ›

Leftover Pizza or Crumbs

Compost it. All food scraps go in your compost cart. Food — even at the crumb level — can ruin batches of paper recycling.

Can I put moldy vegetables in the compost? ›

Answer: You can add moldy food (vegetables and fruits only) to a backyard composting bin anytime. Mold cells are just one of the many different types of microorganisms that take care of decomposition and are fine in a backyard bin.

Is cooked meat good for compost? ›

If you're composting through a municipal program, you typically can compost cooked meats, including picked-over carcasses and bones. However, home composters may want to avoid composting meat and bones, as they can draw unwanted pests to the compost pile.

Which item should you not put in your compost file? ›

Dairy products like milk, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, and butter should not be composted because they also attract pests. The same goes for oils and fats. Processed foods that contain a lot of dairy or fat should also be left out.

Can you put tomatoes in a compost pile? ›

Just like other plants, tomatoes can certainly be broken down into nutrient-rich compost. It just takes a little extra thought and care to do it right.

Can you put onion peels in compost? ›

Onion skins and peelings are a normal part of general household kitchen waste when you cook. You can compost these without any kind of pre-treatment.

Can cooked rice be composted? ›

Yes. Rice is compostable but only under certain conditions. Both cooked and uncooked rice will break down if they are added to compost piles in small increments, over time. If too much rice is added to an entire pile at once, it will attract rodents, pests, and harmful bacteria.

Can lemons go in compost? ›

By incorporating a balanced mix of compost ingredients, you can safely compost lemons and other citrus scraps without concern. Past concerns about potential dangers of d-limonene content, slow decomposition rates, and toxic acidity range from non-factors to completely manageable.

Why cooked food Cannot be composted? ›

However, most home composting systems have a limitation: you can't put cooked food waste, dairy products, meat and fish into them as they will putrify, producing bad odors and attracting rats and flies.

What happens if you put meat in compost? ›

The EPA recommends against composting meat, whether in a pile or bin, because it can create rodent infestations and attract pests (and cause a very unpleasant smell). Raw meat can also be particularly harmful, as it could be infected with E. coli or salmonella.

Can you compost hard boiled eggs? ›

Can You Compost Hard Boiled Eggs? Yes, you can add hard-boiled eggs to your compost. Most of those who argue against this cite the fact that the hard-boiled eggs, like other meats, dairy products and whole eggs, will attract rodents and cause odors as they decompose. Although they are right, this can be mitigated.

Is it better to have an open or closed compost bin? ›

Bins retain some warmth and moisture and make better compost more quickly, but even an open heap (not enclosed in a bin) will compost eventually. Any of the compost bins on the market should produce compost as long as they exclude rain, retain some warmth, allow drainage and let in air.

Should a compost bin be on soil or concrete? ›

Myth 1: Compost bins must sit on soil

Worms will successfully make their way into a compost bin sitting on a hard surface. A thick layer of cardboard or newspaper at the base of the bin will help to attract them.

Should my compost bin be in sun or shade? ›

Should my compost pile be in the sun or in the shade? You can put your compost pile in the sun or in the shade, but putting it in the sun will hasten the composting process. Sun helps increase the temperature, so the bacteria and fungi work faster.

Is hot or cold compost better? ›

Hot composting produces greater volume than cold composting, hot compost contains far fewer weed seeds, and it is much richer in substances that promote plant growth. Besides being good for your garden, hot composting is good for you, too.

Should I drill holes in the bottom of my compost bin? ›

Yes! Good airflow is one of the secrets to successful composting. Without it, your compost pile could turn into a stinky mess (literally).

Can you put food straight into compost bin? ›

Leftover fruit and vegetables, whether raw or cooked, can always be used in compost. You can compost fruits and vegetables even when they've spoiled and gotten moldy. (Consider it a head start on the decomposition of the compost heap.)

What do you put in the bottom of a compost bin? ›

Almost everyone advises putting down a layer of coarse material — corn cobs and husks, sticks, thick fibrous stalks from vegetables or tall flowers. This layer improves aeration at the bottom of the compost pile.

How long does a compost bin last? ›

Compost doesn't go bad. Compost begins losing nutrients after four months of storage, but it doesn't lose enough to majorly impact your plants until a year after completion. After a year or two of storage, you may notice that your compost is shrinking ever so slightly as it breaks down further.

Should I have 3 compost bins? ›

The 3-bin system is useful primarily because it offers space to have compost at 3 different stages of decomposition. For example, you could put all your compost in one bin for a period of time — then stop adding to it, and start adding to a second bin while the first one finishes decomposing.

How often do you empty a compost bin? ›

Remember - your compost bin is only a receptacle. Empty out your scraps every few days or every week in your outdoor compost pile OR your green waste bin to be collected on garbage day!

What will make compost break down faster? ›

Adding nitrogen rich materials

The microorganisms in compost need both nitrogen and carbon to work. If there is too much carbon, the process will slow down. To speed up the process try adding 'greens' – items which are high in nitrogen, such as grass clippings or manure.

Should I use bags in my compost bin? ›

No, plastics are never appropriate for the green compost cart. You can use a paper bag, or a bag labeled “compostable” which is made from plants to line your compost pail. Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified bags available to line your composting cart or kitchen pail.


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