Composting is a great way to use up kitchen leftovers to benefit your garden. Anything from eggshells to potato peelings to coffee grounds can be turned into a delicious meal for your plants. If you fancy giving it a try, check out our list to find the best indoor compost bin for kitchens.
We all know that reducing our waste is one of the best ways of protecting the planet. And could there be any more satisfying way of doing that than composting?
I get a real kick out of seeing leftover kitchen scraps put to good use feeding my garden plants. Everything from coffee grounds to corks from wine bottles goes straight into my composter.
The results are healthy, strong plants without having to spend a penny on chemical fertilizers. And, unlike shop-bought products, I can be confident I know exactly what’s gone into my compost.
I’ve been composting now for many years. And as I’ve learned more, I’ve adapted the way I go about things.
Once upon a time, I’d take my potato peelings and suchlike straight into the composter in the garden. That was fine when the weather was good. But it did mean I didn’t compost as much as I could have done. I certainly didn’t want to carry plates into the garden to scrape off scraps of food.
For me, getting hold of a small compost pail I could keep in the kitchen was the obvious next step. Mine usually gets full over the course of about a week. Then I just take it into the garden and tip it into my outdoor compost bin. Hey presto, no more kitchen waste!
But when I first came to choose a kitchen composter, it was more complicated than I’d expected. I’d thought that all indoor compost bins for kitchens would be pretty much the same. When I started to look, however, I found the sheer amount of choice on offer bewildering.
If you’ve found your way here, you may have experienced the same thing. But don’t despair! I’m going to take you through the features of the best indoor compost bins for kitchens out there today.
Best Indoor Compost Bin for Kitchen 2019
1. Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin, 1.3 Gallon (My Top Recommended)
Its brushed stainless steel finish is stylish enough to fit well with any kitchen décor. The design is cylindrical, with a slender stainless steel handle and dome-shaped lid. It looks more like a smart coffee canister than a compost bin.
The only clues to its function are the neat circular holes that form a ring on the lid. These allow air to circulate, helping prevent odors from building up.
And even more importantly, the lid houses a charcoal filter. That acts as a barrier between food scraps and the air. It’s extremely effective at dealing with unpleasant smells. And that also means it won’t attract fruit flies and other pests.
The body and lid of the bin are each made from a single sheet of stainless steel. That means there aren’t any joins where food particles can collect and breed germs. It also means it’s very easy to clean, and resists both leaks and rust. That’s a major advantage over welded metal bins.
And unlike plastic bins, you won’t have to worry about any chemicals leaching into your compost mixture. That will be particularly reassuring if you’re planning to use your compost on fruit or vegetable plants.
The Epica’s compact footprint makes it a good choice if you’re pushed for space. It has a diameter of just over 7 inches, and stands 11 inches high. If you do want it to sit on your kitchen counter, it should fit comfortably underneath any wall cupboards.
Despite its modest size, the 1.3-gallon capacity makes this one of the more generous compost bins on our list. There’s enough space here to hold the kitchen scraps or even a large household over several days.
2. OXO Good Grips Easy Clean Compost Bin
For a contemporary kitchen, Oxo’s Good Grips compost bin is an excellent choice. It’s got something of a futuristic look, and it’s available in either grey or white. Both options have a green trim where the lid meets the body, matching the green interior.
I love the mirror finish of the white version. If you’ve got high-gloss cupboards in your kitchen, it will fit right in.
The capacity here is a fair bit smaller than the Epica, at three-quarters of a gallon. At 7 inches square, the footprint is roughly the same size, but it’s 4 inches shorter. If you have limited clearance height under your sink or kitchen cupboards, it could be a better fit.
Both the grey and white colorways have a green lining in high gloss plastic. The smooth surface is designed to help food waste slide out easily when it’s time to empty the bin. And like the Epica, there are no joins where stains or bacteria could collect.
The bin is covered with a hinged lid. There’s no fastening, so it’s a simple matter to flip it open and closed with just one hand. That’s particularly useful when your other hand is full of eggshells or vegetable peelings!
When closed, the shape of the lid leaves a small aperture to allow air to circulate. That stops nasty smells from building up and slows down the growth of mold. There’s no filter here, though, so some odors are likely to be unavoidable when you raise the lid.
Other clever design features aim to make emptying the composter as easy as pie. As well as the smooth interior walls, the bottom of the bin is curved, avoiding food getting stuck in corners. And you can remove the lid entirely if you want to.
Last but not least, there’s a handle to make it easy to carry out to your garden composter. The handle rotates too, so you can fold it down for easy storage.
3. Spigo Indoor Kitchen Compost Bin, 1 Gallon
Owners of farmhouse kitchens will love the traditional look of this attractive composter from Spigo. It’s styled as a metal pail with retro print across the front so there’s no mistaking what it’s there for.
It comes in a choice of colors, from fire engine red to shiny satin silver. Our favorite is the clean white finish, with contrasting black typeface.
There’s a shiny stainless steel handle on either side, and one on the lid for easy maneuvering. Those lids are fixed though, so they do add to the overall dimensions of the bin. As a result, you’ll need a little more width to house this one – 7.8 inches for its 1-gallon capacity. It stands a little over 8 inches tall.
The colored versions are designed to look like enamel, but whatever color you pick the exterior is made of stainless steel. It won’t rust and, unlike enamel, it won’t chip either.
A separate plastic bucket sits inside the composter. The idea here is that it prevents liquid leaching from your compostable waste and degrading the metal. The bucket is a little smaller, meaning that you get an effective capacity of 0.93 gallons.
The design does also mean you’ll need to be careful not to add compostable material above the bucket rim. If you do, you’ll end up making a mess when you take it out to empty it.
Smells are dealt with by a carbon filter inside the lid. That’s held in place by two stainless steel strips at right angles to each other. The design makes it very easy to remove and change the filter when needed. And you can also clean the filter with soap and water to prolong its life.
This isn’t the largest kitchen compost bin out there. It’s still big enough, though, to collect leftovers from most households for two to three days. And if you’ve got a country-style kitchen, it’s attractive enough to be left on display on your worktop.
4. Zero Waste Together Mountable Kitchen Compost Bin, 2 Gallon
There’s very little here to get excited about in terms of aesthetics. It’s a simple plastic carton that looks like what it is: a kitchen compost bin. Delve beneath its modest surface, however, and there are lots of features here that make it worth considering.
First of all, there’s its capacity. This is a bin that will hold a full two gallons of compostable waste. That’s more than twice as big as some other bins on our list. And it’s more than half as big again as the next largest option, the 1.3-gallon EcoWise bin.
But there’s more to this than size. It’s also the only composter on our list that’s capable of being mounted on a wall or cupboard door. If you’re short of countertop space or want your composter to hand when opening a cupboard, it’s a great choice.
And don’t worry that mounting it will mean you can’t then move it. It’s easy to lift it from its mounts when it’s time to empty it out.
There’s no filter with this one, but there is a micro-perforated lid to keep the air flowing. That lid will also keep out fruit flies and other insects attracted to decaying matter. And if you want to hold it open, just push the lid up to 90 degrees. Molded stop points will keep it firmly in place.
An innovative touch is the patented airflow channels. These are designed to help air get right to the bottom of the bin, speeding up the composting process.
It’s made entirely of plastic, so it’s hard-wearing and you won’t have to worry about rust. That plastic comes partly from recycled sources, so its manufacture reduces the amount of waste going to landfill.
There’s no need to worry about chemical nasties getting into the compost from the plastic either. The plastic here is HDPE, and it’s free of BPA. So if you’re planning to use your compost on fruit and veg, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
5. iTouchless EcoWise Compost Bin Container Dual Deodorizer Activated Carbon Filters, 1.32 Gallon
This attractive stainless steel compost bin comes in a cream finish that would suit most kitchen décor. The lid is brushed stainless steel. I really like the fingerprint-resistant finish that keeps it looking smart without needing to be wiped over every five minutes.
If you’re concerned about flies and odors, this is definitely a compost bin to look at.
It has not one but two replaceable carbon filters in the lid. And there are a series of air holes to keep oxygen moving through the filters. The combination of activated carbon and good air flow will keep unpleasant whiffs at bay.
The first two filters are included with the bin, so you can use them straight away. And regular washing in warm, soapy water will help them last longer before needing to be replaced.
This is the third biggest bin on our list, and it will hold a generous 1.3 gallons of kitchen leftovers. Most households will find that’s plenty big enough to go for several days without emptying it. And the lid lifts straight off, so there’s nothing to get in the way when it’s time to do that.
The stainless steel body is coated to be rust-proof, and it won’t leak. Best of all, it can be put in the dishwasher when it needs a clean. (Just remember to take out the filters before you do that.) That’s a big advantage over plastic bins that won’t stand up to hot water without losing their shape.
There’s a stainless steel handle so it’s nice and portable. You won’t need huge amounts of space to store it either. The bin is 7 inches in diameter and 11.25 inches tall.
For those with an eye on durability, the warranty that comes with this bin will be reassuring. iTouchless offer a complete guarantee of satisfaction covering all parts and servicing.
6. Gardenatomy countertop kitchen compost pail with copper plating, 1 Gallon
This isn’t just pretty enough to sit on your countertop, it’s a centerpiece in its own right. We’ve even seen people using one without a lid as a container for kitchen utensils.
There are plenty of features to go along with its good looks too.
The lid has circular aeration holes to inhibit odors. And there’s space for two charcoal filters to provide a second line of defense. Two sets of filters are included as standard. There’s also the option to buy a bundle with six filter sets and compostable bags too.
The filters are easy to replace. There’s a simple rim on the bottom of the lid which holds them in place. Taking them out and putting in new versions is the work of seconds.
This is another compost pail where the lid lifts straight off. That means there’s nothing to get in the way when you’re emptying it. And there’s no risk of bits of potato peel getting caught around the lid hinge.
The lid and body of the pail are each made out of single sheets of stainless steel. That smooth finish means they’re easy to keep clean, with no place for stains or bacteria to hide.
And for anyone concerned about copper coming into contact with their future compost – don’t be. That beautiful copper plating is only on the outside of the pail. The inside is stainless steel, so there are no chemical reactions to worry about.
This is a well-made compost pail that’s great at keeping out odors. It’s not the biggest on our list. But if your priority is something that will look good on your countertop, you won’t find much better.
7. Chef'n 401-420-120 EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin, 0.75 Gallon
The smallest compost bin to make our list, this offering from Chef’n is also the most distinctive. If the Zero Waste Together bin looks like what it is, the Chef’n takes the opposite approach. It’s styled as a plant pot with green leaves sprouting from the top to form the handle.
It will hold just three-quarters of a gallon of kitchen scraps. So unless you rarely cook, or don’t mind emptying it out every day, it won’t be the best choice. But for small households looking for a composter that’s a real talking point, it’s well worth a look.
The materials here are unique too. Rather than plastic or stainless steel, Chef’n has used ceramic. It won’t cope with being dropped – but it’s easy to clean, won’t rust and will resist mold and staining. A quick rinse with warm, soapy water is all it takes to get it sparkling again.
The lid is vented (a series of small holes ringing the green shoot handle) and there’s a charcoal filter inside. All that means that you won’t have to worry about strong odors when you lift the lid.
That lid comes off completely, with the sloping sides designed for easy emptying of the contents when the time comes. Inside the outer shell is a removable bucket for maximum portability between the kitchen and outdoor composter.
You’ll remember that there’s another bin that uses this design, the Spigo. But unlike the Spigo, the rim of the interior bucket here is higher than the outer shell. That means it isn’t possible to over-fill the bucket. And that, in turn, means you won’t have to worry about spillages when you remove it.
And if you prefer to use compostable bags inside your bin, you can do it without compromising on looks. You can hook the edge of the bag over the rim of the internal bucket. And that means there’ll be no sign of the bag once the lid is in place.
By now, you might be feeling confused about just what all these features mean for your own indoor compost bin. Should you be looking for stainless steel or plastic, or even ceramic? Do you need a filter? And how big does your bin need to be?
Don’t worry! We’re going to take you through the questions to ask yourself when choosing a bin that meets your needs. And we’ll tell you what your answers mean for the design elements you should look out for.
All set then? Let’s get started.
What’s the right size indoor compost bin?
As we’ve seen, there’s a lot of variation in the capacity of indoor compost bins. The smallest one on our list will hold three-quarters of a gallon of kitchen scraps. The largest will hold a full two gallons.
What does that mean for how often you’ll need to empty it?
The truth is there’s no hard and fast rule. It will depend on how often you cook, and what kind of food you cook. And of course, how many people you’re cooking for.
Remember that meat and fish can’t readily be composted. They’re not impossible, but you’ll need to be prepared to take a long time for them to break down. Some people prefer not to compost them at all.
If you cook a lot of peeled vegetables, you’ll find you fill your bin more quickly. Enjoy an omelet? Eggshells take up a fair bit of space. (You can break them up before placing them inside if you want to).
And if you regularly find yourself throwing away half a loaf of moldy bread, that composter will fill up quickly. (I’d suggest buying yourself a bread bin, or freezing what you know you won’t use straight away.)
As a reasonable rule of thumb, a 1-gallon bin will last an average household two to three days. But test that out to get a better idea of how your household measures up.
Remember: coffee grounds, tea leaves or bags, even wine corks can all be composted. Try bagging up your compostable waste for a few days to see how much you generate.
Of course, emptying out an indoor composter isn’t a big deal for everybody. If your garden compost bin sits just outside your kitchen door, a daily trip won’t be a problem. And a small bin might be a sensible compromise if there’s not a lot of room on your kitchen counter.
But if it’s your outdoor composter sits at the bottom of a garden, think again. On a rainy day, you’re unlikely to want to go traipsing out there just to empty your kitchen bin.
What will you be composting?
This might sound like a strange question – but what you compost can make a big difference to odor levels.
Composting is, by its nature, a fairly smelly process. After all, you’re breaking down organic matter. But quite how smelly it is will be determined by your raw ingredients.
If you’re largely composting raw vegetable matter, odors will be minimal. But if you want to scrape food covered in spicy sauce from your plate, expect it to be more pungent.
What does that mean for your composter?
The smellier your kitchen leftovers, the more you’ll need something that’s going to resist odors. Look for models that incorporate activated carbon or charcoal filters. Even better, choose one which uses a dual filter layer.
Secondly, check for a combination of a tight-fitting lid and air holes. Those will keep the air circulating and allow odors to dissipate.
And you can use natural deodorizers too. If you drink coffee, add the grounds to your compost bin. They’ll absorb nasty smells, as well as being a great source of nitrogen – excellent for plant growth. And to keep away pesky fruit flies, try adding a couple of drops of lavender essence to the carbon filter.
What materials should your compost bin be made from?
There are no right and wrong answers here, but there are some factors to keep in mind.
Plastic has its advantages. It’s lightweight and cheap. And a shiny finish will make it easy for food waste to slide out when the bin is emptied.
If you’re looking to use your compost on food crops, though, check whether the plastic is BPA-free. Bisphenol-A has been found by some studies to leach into food and drink and has been linked to health problems. The science isn’t conclusive, but better safe than sorry.
It’s also worth being aware that being BPA-free doesn’t necessarily mean other chemicals won’t be transferred from the plastic. If this is something that concerns you, choose a stainless steel or ceramic composter instead.
Some stainless steel containers use a plastic bucket inside – so the same issues apply. But for the others, check whether they’re made from a single sheet of metal. That will avoid food particles and bacteria collecting in the joins. It will also make them easier to clean.
On the subject of cleaning: if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, plain stainless steel bins will be dishwasher-safe. Watch out for powder coatings, though: they can degrade over time. And anything made of base metal should be washed by hand to avoid rust.
Never put a plastic composter into the dishwasher. The hot water risks softening the plastic and pulling it out of shape. And you may find the lid doesn’t sit neatly on top when it comes out.
Finally, there are ceramic composters. These are rarer, but there are some on the market. They’re easy to keep clean and look smart. But you’ll need to be careful with them, as they won’t survive being dropped on a hard floor.
Where will you store your indoor compost bin?
If you’ve got the cupboard space, you can hide away your compost bin. A good spot for it is under the sink, where any odors won’t find their way onto foodstuffs or crockery.
Check the dimensions of the bin to make sure there’s room. And remember to take into account domed lids or fixed handles that will add to the height and width.
If you’ve got the space to hide your bin, its appearance is obviously less important. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll need to fish it out whenever you have kitchen scraps to clear away.
If you’re going to be putting your bin on a countertop, however, the design will be a factor. A plastic bin may look out of place in a farmhouse-style kitchen. And no matter how good it looks in the shop, a traditional copper finish won’t work with sleek, contemporary units.
If space is a challenge, a good solution is a bin that can be mounted on the wall. The version by Zero Waste Together can be lifted down easily when you need to empty it.
Ready to start composting?
That brings us to the end of my round-up of the best indoor compost bins for kitchens. I hope you’ve enjoyed it – and more importantly, that you’re ready to choose the right bin for you.
My top pick is the Epica indoor compost bin. Its clean stainless steel lines and generous 1.3-gallon capacity offer a great combination of good looks and practicality. And the charcoal filter is a major bonus when it comes to tackling unpleasant smells.
Whichever indoor bin you choose, you’ll soon be converting unwanted kitchen scraps into food for your plants and flowers. Congratulations on cutting waste and giving your garden a boost at the same time!