top of page
  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

A Beginner's Guide to Using a Kitchen Compost Bin

cutting scraps into kitchen compost

Are you interested in reducing your carbon footprint and producing nutrient-rich soil for your plants? One way to do this is through the use of a kitchen compost bin! Composting food scraps can seem daunting, but it's actually quite simple. In this blog, i'll explore the basics of using a kitchen compost bin so that you can turn your kitchen waste into rich soil.

The first thing you'll need to know is that while these are commonly called kitchen compost bins. The name is actually really misleading and I don't know who's idea that was.

These bins don't make actual compost. They help to decompose matter which can then be put into an actual outdoor compost bin, pile, or dug in your garden soil. After that, it will turn into nutrient-rich compost over time.

So remember this is a valuable tool to help support the composting process!

Choosing a Compost Bin

The first step in using a kitchen compost bin is choosing the right one. There are many options available, from plastic to ceramic to stainless steel. Consider the size of your kitchen and how much waste you produce.

For apartments, smaller options work well, while for larger households, a larger bin might be more suitable. Make sure your bin has a tight-fitting lid to control odor and keep pests out.

Also, look for a bin with a handle or easy-to-lift lid for easy access.

What to Compost

When composting, it's important to know what can and cannot be composted.

Compostable items include fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and yard waste. Avoid composting meat or dairy products, as they can attract pests and cause unpleasant odors.

Also, be aware that some items such as citrus peels and onions take longer to decompose and may make the compost bin smell unpleasant.

If you want to be able to compost anything like meat, dairy or citrus citrus then look into my videos or posts on bokashi composting as I have been able to do all that plus get nutrient-rich fertilizer right there and then in my kitchen that can be diluted and used on plants

Maintaining Your Compost Bin

To keep your compost bin functioning properly, it's important to keep the balance of "greens" and "browns." Greens include food scraps and grass clippings, while browns include dried leaves, cardboard and straw.

Aim for a 50/50 balance of greens and browns to keep your compost bin from smelling and to create a healthy environment for the microorganisms that break down the waste.

Harvesting Compost

When your kitchen bin is full, add it to your outdoor compost pile, bin or dig it in your trench. Depending on your climate and method it will take some time turn into compost.

Use the compost in your garden or for houseplants to add nutrients and improve soil health. Be sure to screen the compost beforehand to remove any large chunks or uncomposted materials.


If your compost bin is not working properly, don't give up just yet. Composting can be a trial and error process. Some common problems include odors, pest problems, or a lack of decomposition.

If you encounter any of these problems try adjusting the ratio of green to brown materials, so if your bin is smelly or slimy try adding more cardboard or other brown material.

If there are pests then make sure the lid is closed properly and add more brown material to prevent it from smelling and absorb excess moisture.

Remember kitchen compost bins shouldn't have a strong pungent smelly odor.


Composting in your kitchen may seem intimidating, but it's actually a simple and rewarding step in the process to reduce your waste and improve your soil health.

By choosing the right compost bin, knowing what to compost, maintaining a proper balance of materials, and troubleshooting any issues, you'll soon be producing your own rich compost.

So get started on your composting journey today and reap the benefits of a more sustainable and regenerative lifestyle!

Get free resources, useful, well researched new ideas. Subscribe.

Subscribe for free Permaculture resources periodically. 

Subscribe for more relevant information on small space gardening and Urban permaculture. Be the first to see exclusive and new content. Be updated on the latest on what's going on in the urban gardening world.

See More

bottom of page