Each year I get excited for spring: the warm weather, the opportunity to start planting seeds, and the beginning of compost season. Composting was a natural next step after I simplified my buying-and-recycling routine. Saving items from takeout orders to throw into my compost pile cut my trash in half. I’ve grown to love the process, including finding a balance of materials, watching the pile break down, and the resulting fresh soil with the cleanest, earthiest smell.
There are a lot of composters on the market, and the process can be scary for people who haven’t done it before. That’s why we tested nine compost bins to see which one was best. The traditional outdoor Redmon Compost Bin(available at Amazon) is our choice for Best Overall thanks to its large capacity and ease of emptying. If you're looking for a smaller option for countertop use, the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin (available at Amazon) is the Best Indoor Bin to keep your kitchen neat and odor-free.
We tested all kinds of composting systems for beginner and expert composters alike. Whether you want an indoor or outdoor composter, or want features like handles, tumblers, secure closures and more, you’ll find the right one for your yard here.
Here are the best compost bins we tested, ranked in order:
Redmon Compost Bin, 65 Gallon
Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin, 1.3 Gallon
Chef'n EcoCrock Compost Bin
Simplehuman Compost Caddy
Miracle-Gro Single Chamber Outdoor Garden Tumbling Compost Bin, 27.7 Gallon
Squeeze Master Large Compost Tumbler Bin
SCD Probiotics Easy-Start Kitchen Compost Kit
Redmon Compost Bin, 65 Gallon
Material: Recycled plastic Capacity: 65 Gallons
This trapezoid-shaped outdoor bin with sliding doors is a great option for anyone looking to compost outdoors.
The bin had a wide enough opening that I could easily shovel in leaves and leftover garden plants. The sides have plenty of holes for ventilation, and they provide enough air to let in moisture, cut down on the smell, and keep bugs and animals out.
I did run into an issue with mice digging under the side of the bin for food scraps, but I pushed the “teeth” of the bin into the ground more and placed large rocks around the edge to keep them out. A few pieces of wood as a frame would secure the bottom from the start. Flat ground works best, but you could probably get away with a bit of a slant.
The capacity of this bin is almost double most bins. I added to this compost bucket every few days, and even then only filled it about halfway. With so much empty space, I was able to use a thin shovel or tool to stir the pile, which is necessary because this composter doesn’t spin.
The sliding doors at the base of each side were my favorite feature. They made it easy to check on the bottom of the pile and measure temperature and moisture levels. They should make emptying the soil at the end of the process easy as well. The bin is easy to hose off and dry fully as needed.
This bin’s roomy interior, multiple openings, and secure closures make it well worth the price for people who want to compost as much as they can, especially those with plants or gardens.
This durable, high-capacity bin is a great option for your kitchen. When adding to it, the stainless steel was a bit loud, especially when it’s placed on the floor. However, the clinking sound was a small trade-off for the durability. If you have an outdoor bin, having an indoor bin as well can cus down on your trips outside while only taking up a small amount of space inside your home.
The top of this bin has a replaceable charcoal filter so no smells leaked out, and the handle made the container easy to carry outside and dump. Stainless steel is easy to clean, and there were no stains or smells once I rinsed the bin out.
If you need an indoor bin—or you want to try composting out before investing too much money—this is the best option.
I really liked this indoor bin. It’s light, has a handle, and my roommate and I loved how cute it looked in our kitchen. Plus, it was packaged in recyclable materials and no plastic.
Even with some stinky leftover food scraps, we couldn’t smell anything. The filter worked really well, and the bin came with a replacement filter.
Though we liked the cream color (Neutral), I would suggest buying the Graphite shade instead. I noticed the inside of the bin stained easily. I rinsed the bin (inside and out) after emptying it, so if you want to prevent staining I recommend not letting food sit for too long, or using a compostable “filter” made of paper towels or newspaper.
This ceramic bin was cute and easy to clean, and the inner bin could be removed to dump organic material outside into a larger compost bin. It went well with the decor of my home, but it was also more fragile than other bins. I worried about knocking the bin off the counter and shattering it.
I was also slightly bothered by the lid of the bin. The cute plastic leaf on top got in the way of my kitchen cabinet closing, and the lid itself didn’t fit over the ceramic lip evenly, so I could smell whatever scraps were in the bin. The filter also had some odd discoloration after a few weeks of use, but the bin came with a replacement filter, so I was able to swap them out.
It was convenient to have the caddy right next to the trash; I could open both lids and sort the mail or food scraps into the proper receptacle. It also serves as a reminder to compost if you’re still getting into the habit. However, you can just use this compost caddy on your counter if you don’t have a Simplehuman trash can.
The bin works similarly to other indoor bins: It has a removable plastic bin that you line with an eco-friendly compostable bag. I don’t think the bag is 100% necessary, but it did keep the bin cleaner and made emptying it simple.
The only problem I had with the compost caddy was that the shape is a bit narrow. The bin seemed to fill up quickly after cooking a meal or two, and I could barely fit paper or a crushed egg carton in. Since the bin filled often that meant more trips outside to empty it, which wasn’t a huge deal but is something to consider.
Before testing, this mid-size bin was the first compost bin I ever used. There was a learning curve to figure out the ideal ratio of materials and how often to spin the bin to help things break down, but I’ve enjoyed using it.
The sliding door makes it easy to add scraps of food or yard waste, and the raised bin prevents animals from getting in. The interior is warmer than the weather outside, which is great for compost since heat helps materials break down.
The only downside to this bin is that it can be a bit difficult to empty. In the past, I’ve put a small bucket under the bin to catch soil as I hand-shovel the finished compost into a large pail, which has worked well.
Putting this bin together took over an hour and a lot of frustration. But once I put it to use, I really liked it.
The bin has two chambers, which can be a huge advantage, because you often reach a point where adding more scraps slows down the composting process. Having two chambers means you can have two sets of compost in different stages of breakdown, so you can always add more and also harvest more often.
The bin spins super smoothly. It also sits up off the ground, making it easier to access without bending down, and keeping scraps away from animals.
The doors are pretty small, so adding to the bin was a bit difficult, even with small hands. Like the other spinning bin we tested, the inside of the composting tumbler was warmer than outdoors, which is a plus.
You’ll need flat-ish ground to make sure it’s stable, and you should spin it weekly or after rainfall to make sure the materials inside aren’t unevenly soaked.
Material: Plastic Capacity: 5 gallons This bin uses a starter material (Bokashi, which is fermented organic matter) to complete the compost process indoors. It’s similar to a worm composter, but with a probiotic instead of worms. It includes a drainage port for “compost tea,” and it’s a compact size. The idea of truly composting indoors was intriguing, but this bin came up short.
The lid was a pain to open and close, and everything inside smelled awful. I aimed to keep the same ratio green to brown material as other bins, but I think the lack of fresh air in the bin caused additional mold.
Though I put leftover coffee, beer, and juice in the bin, the materials soaked the liquids up so the drainage port went unused. For the most part, everything in the bin ended up mushy and moldy—far from what I expected.
The bin did come with a lot of information on composting in general, but unless indoor composting is your only option, I wouldn’t recommend this bin. And even then, I’d look into other options like worm bins.
This bin had a lot of cool features that I liked, but actually using the bin turned out to be a hassle. Even though it’s only two steps, it was difficult to put the bin together.
This is essentially a large cylinder that is open at the top and bottom with holes for aeration. Since it just sits on the ground, it was hard to keep in place until there were a few pounds of compost materials inside.
The bin moved around during testing because my ground isn’t perfectly flat, and several animals dug under the edge to eat food scraps. I eventually put rocks around the base to secure it and keep mice away.
Once the bin was over half full, I couldn’t see if things were breaking down toward the bottom of the pile. The bin is open to the elements, so rain and snow over-saturated the materials constantly. And, since the bin is a cylinder, I don’t know how you would empty it other than lifting the bin up and having a pile of compost on the ground.
My neighbors have two of these bins and love them, especially for garden scraps throughout the summer. Another friend who uses this bin as a three-sided enclosure for compost, which makes it easier to aerate the materials and empty it. It eventually comes down to what you’re composting. If you’re adding a lot of food scraps, it’s best to purchase something else.
I’m Liv Birdsall, a plant mom and gardener living in Columbus, Ohio. I love sustainability and finding ways to reuse, recycle, and repurpose as much as possible. I began composting a few years ago when I wanted to expand my efforts to live a more sustainable and Earth-friendly lifestyle.
What was once a single-container system has grown into a multi-bin compost process that gives my kitchen scraps a second (or third!) life and provides me with nutrient-rich soil for indoor and outdoor use.
We tested all nine bins over a period of two months. We set up the outdoor bins where they would get similar amounts of direct sunlight and equal exposure to the elements. The indoor bins were placed on the countertop and on the floor beside the garbage bin. Each week, we rotated the indoor bin locations to equalize any effect location may have had on daily readings.
Scraps added to the bins varied, including: vegetable skins, fruit from kombucha flavoring, junk mail, banana peels, coffee grounds, dead leaves from our lawn and garden, pulp egg cartons, loose leaf tea, dryer lint, paper napkins, expired veggie broth, moldy bread, and more.
I used a thermometer to record the bin’s interior temperature daily. The indoor bins were often warmer than the outdoor bins. Since heat helps break down compost, the indoor bins scored well in our rankings, but your results may vary by climate.
What You Should Know About Buying Compost Bins
How to Start a Compost Bin
Composting is affordable and approachable, especially if you have outdoor space. Indoor composting is possible too, but takes a few more steps and a closer eye. To begin composting you only need a few things:
*green materials (recently-dead plant life with some color and nutrients remaining, food waste, flowers, manure)
*brown materials (old, dead plant matter like dried leaves and sticks, cardboard, newspaper, etc.)
A compost bin is pretty easy to use. First, decide the type of composter you need. An indoor bin will be more convenient, but will likely be smaller and slightly smelly.
An outdoor bin is open to fresh air and ventilation, but will take up space. If you have a few square feet of flat ground in sunlight, even if indirect, you’re all set.
To get started, you’ll add green and brown materials to your bin, aiming for a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. So for all the kitchen scraps you add, you’ll want to add double or triple the amount of yard waste, cardboard, newspaper, and other brown materials.
I prefer outdoor compost bins because heat is a large factor in compost breakdown. Placing a bin in direct sunlight will help speed up the breakdown process, and fresh air helps the materials aerate and disperses odors.
Turn your compost bin every couple of weeks. It is possible to turn it too often, so be mindful. When the compost is a uniform brown with no visible bits of scraps, it’s ready to use.
The best months for compost align with the gardening season: late March to early October, depending on where you live. The warmer weather and sunlight will speed up the composting process and result in nutritious soil you can use in your garden or even indoor plants.
What to Put in a Compost Bin
Before you actually put anything in your compost bin, do some research. We have a great, in-depth guide to start composting, but you can also check with your local composting programs.
Generally, the following are acceptable green materials: fruits and vegetables (including skin/stalks/seeds), garden scraps, nutshells, flowers, stale bread, and wine or beer.
And these are acceptable brown materials: grass, leaves, cardboard tubes, newspaper, hair, sawdust, coffee grounds, tea bags, pulp egg cartons, coffee filters, cooked pasta, paper napkins, dryer lint, and tissues.
However, if you are composting at home, some “acceptable” items won’t break down for you.
Steer clear of fish and meat because the smells will attract wildlife, and you typically need a more controlled compost pile, like a municipal composting location, to decompose properly. Also, eggshells and avocado pits don’t break down for me. I don’t know if it’s a matter of heat or tumbling, but I no longer include them to avoid having to pick them out of the soil down the line.
Avoid adding weeds, grease, cleaning products, stickers (including produce stickers), plastic tea bags, plastic-lined cartons or cups, and oils to your compost bin. These products will slow the composting process, and plastics will never break down. If you leave a banana peel in the bin for months, the produce sticker attached to it will be there long after the peel is gone.
As companies convert to more sustainable packaging and materials, you’ll likely encounter more items that are compostable. While many of these things will break down, they may not do so in backyard bins. Heavier-duty compostables like mailers or bin liners need high heat and larger machines to break down. Check into local compost programs or municipal recommendations for options near you.
What is a Kitchen Compost Bin—and Do You Need One?
A kitchen compost bin typically holds compost before it goes outside. It usually has a filter to contain smells. I keep my indoor bin on my counter near my cutting board to easily transfer scraps.
Once the bin is full, I empty it in my main bin outside. During warmer months, I spray it out with the hose and let it dry in the sun, otherwise I let it soak in the sink with some dish soap and give it a thorough rinse and dry.
Liv Birdsall is a Freelance Contributor at Reviewed. She is most passionate about eco-friendly initiatives and alternatives and writes about sustainability across subject areas, including beauty, style, home and garden, and lifestyle. Her writing can be found on USA Today, Reviewed.com, Yoga Journal, and her blog muchmess.com. She works as a yoga teacher, QA Analyst, Copyeditor, and Blog Coordinator, all from her plant-filled home in Columbus, Ohio.
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