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Compost is an immensely beneficial soil additive for gardens. When it decomposes, the organic matter becomes a nutrient-rich concoction chock full of earth-friendly components that fertilize the soil and help plants flourish while keeping weeds at bay.
But composting goes beyond supporting garden beds and greenhouses. It also reduces the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills, offering a sustainable solution for tossing out some of the things that can't be recycled. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), 30 percent of what we throw away (including food scraps and yard waste) could be composted.
If you're feeling inspired to take up composting, you'll need to get a proper container. Composters come in a variety of sizes and materials, often with multiple chambers (compartments). There are stationary options, tumblers, buckets, and vermicomposters that call on worms to do the dirty work. Some are designed for outdoor use, which is where most of the decomposing happens, while others act as an odor-controlled container to toss food scraps in your kitchen. Lots of households opt for both.
With all this in mind, here are the best composters for every home and every budget.
Best Overall: Miracle-Gro Single Chamber Tumbling Composter 27.7 Gal
This compact canister is made of durable alloy steel and has a removable inner plastic basket. While it has a smaller to medium capacity, it makes an excellent indoor companion to a larger composter.
The Miracle-Gro Single Chamber Tumbler is an all-around excellent option. With a 27.7-gallon capacity, it's not too big but also not too small—a perfect choice for households interested in starting a composting routine and anyone with a modest-sized garden or lawn. (Miracle-Gro also has an 18.5-gallon option and a larger dual-chamber model for those who need a different size).
This single-chamber composter cures food scraps and yard waste in as little as four weeks, transforming your throwaways into that coveted "black gold." Plus, it only needs to be turned (or "tumbled") every day or two. (Just bear in mind that a little bit of debris might fall through the air holes when you turn it.) We also like that it comes with a hand trowel, a cultivator, and a garden fork for transferring the nutrient-rich matter when it's ready.
Debris sometimes falls through vents
Dimensions: 29.1 x 23.6 x 19.2 inches | Capacity: 27.7 gallons | Material: Plastic/steel | Chambers: 1
Best Budget: Bamboozle 1.2-Gallon Stationary Composter
This budget-friendly bucket is ideal for those just starting their composting journey, as well as anyone who needs a countertop option for indoor disposal. And, what it lacks in capacity, it makes up for in the design.
Made of wood and bamboo fibers, the Bamboozle Stationary Composter is durable, dishwasher-safe, and even biodegradable. We also like that it has a handle for easy carrying and air holes on top for odor control.
Dimensions: 8 x 6.25 x 9 inches | Capacity: 1.2 gallons | Material: Bamboo/wood | Chambers: 1
Best for Kitchen: SimpleHuman 4-Liter Compost Caddy
If you're looking for something to keep in your kitchen, we highly recommend the SimpleHuman Compost Caddy. It's designed to attach to your trashcan, but you can also place it on your counter.
This compact canister is made of durable stainless steel and has a removable inner plastic basket. While it has a notably small capacity, it makes an excellent indoor companion to a larger composter.
Stainless steel construction
Attaches to trashcan
Removable inner basket
Custom-fit liners sold separately
Dimensions: 5.7 x 9.6 x 8.5 inches | Capacity: 1 gallon | Material: Stainless steel/plastic | Chambers: 1
Best Countertop: Oxo Good Grips Easy-Clean Compost Bin, 1.75 Gallons
Taking up less than 0.6 square feet of space, OXO's Easy-Clean Compost Bin is the perfect size for your kitchen counter. It has a durable plastic exterior, a removable inner bucket, and an odor-control lid. You can use composting bags with it, but even if you choose not to, cleaning is a breeze with this dishwasher-safe container.
Designed for countertops
Multiple color options
No air vents
Dimensions: 8.3 x 10.1 x 12 inches | Capacity: 1.75 gallons | Material: Plastic | Chambers: 1
Best Backyard: FCMP Outdoor Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter
When it comes to backyard bins, FCMP's Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter is tough to beat. Since it has two chambers, you can add fresh food scraps and clippings to one while the other continues decomposing.
With sizable openings and a removable door, it's easy to add and remove organic matter. Also, the octagonal design and ergonomic handles make it easy to rotate the bin. And in the right conditions, you'll have your "black gold" in as little as two weeks.
Dimensions: 28 x 36 x 30 inches | Capacity: 37 gallons | Material: Plastic/galvanized steel | Chambers: 2
Best for Gardeners: The Squirm Firm Worm Factory 360 Worm Composting Bin
Gardeners love the Worm Factory, a vermicomposting system that calls on live worms to help process food waste. It comes with four trays, but you can buy more and expand it up to eight trays high.
You'll also get a refrigerator magnet with an infographic outlining what worms can and can't eat, so you know what to toss in. Additionally, there's a collector tray on the bottom with a spigot for draining out the "worm tea," which you can use as liquid fertilizer.
"Worm tea" collector
Somewhat small capacity
Dimensions: 18.1 x 17.7 x 15.4 inches | Capacity: 2 gallons | Material: Recycled plastic | Chambers: 4
Best with Crank Handle: RSI 65 Gal. 2-Stage Composter Tumbler
Composters typically need to be turned every day or so to mix the material and help it decompose. With this in mind, the RSI 2-Stage Tumbler has a geared rotating handle that makes the process a whole lot easier.
Boasting a 65-gallon capacity and a large clearing area, this two-chamber contraption was designed for high-volume composting. The barrel is made of high-impact, all-weather plastic, and the zinc-coated metal frame will resist rust for years to come.
Dimensions: 41.3 x 30 x 44.5 inches | Capacity: 65 gallons | Material: High-impact plastic/zinc-coated metal | Chambers: 2
Best Large-Capacity: Exaco Aerobin 113 gal. Composter
Need something even bigger? Check out the Exaco Aerobin. This heavy-duty outdoor composter holds up to 113 gallons of waste, and thanks to its insulated walls and lid, it can get the job done year-round.
Made of weatherproof thermoplastic, it's built to withstand heavy rain, snow, and hot sunlight. We also like that it has a self-draining floor with a removable tray so you can easily access the liquid fertilizer. While this composter only has one chamber, its design allows you to add scraps to the top and then access the decomposed matter from the lower side door.
Removable drain tray
Dimensions: 47 x 29 x 29 inches | Capacity: 113 gallons | Material: Thermoplastic | Chambers: 1
The best option overall is the Miracle-Gro Single Chamber Tumbling Composter 27.7 Gal, a mid-sized, single-chamber tumbler that turns food waste and yard debris into fertilizer in four to six weeks (view at Amazon). However, if you're looking for something you can keep indoors, we recommend the Bamboozle 1.2 Gal. Stationary Composter (view at Wayfair). And if you need a larger container, go with the Exaco Aerobin 113 gal. Composter (view at The Home Depot).
What to Look for When Buying a Composter
Type of Container
Are you looking to make your own compost from food scraps, or do you need a container to temporarily store food waste? The two products are completely different, so think about your needs.
The size of your composter affects the amount of material you can store. If you have a small yard and a mulching lawnmower, you might not need a large composter. Another thing to consider is the size of your yard since you’ll need dedicated space to keep the composter.
Plastic composters are affordable and tend to be weather resistant, but, over time, the material can become brittle from sun damage and could eventually crack. Metal composters are heavier but will last longer. For in-home, short-term storage of compostable materials, it’s more about aesthetics—though be aware that plastics can retain odors.
When buying a composter, the main thing to consider is the method of composting. There are stationary options, which essentially sit still while the organic matter decomposes. These come in the form of small kitchen-sized containers, which you transfer to a bigger compost bin, as well as large outdoor options.
Tumblers are meant to be rotated regularly to mix up the materials, allowing them to decompose faster. Then there are vermicomposters, which rely partially on live worms to process scraps (whereas conventional composters just wait for the matter to decompose on its own).
Another thing to think about is odor control. Indoor composters usually feature either air holes to allow for ventilation or air-tight lids to keep smells inside. With outdoor models, odors aren't as much of an issue, as the fresh air keeps smells at a minimum. However, they often still have vents to keep odors at a minimum.
With both indoor and outdoor models, you'll want to consider the construction. Look for durable designs that are either dishwasher-safe (indoor) or weather-resistant (outdoor). Most composters are made of heavy-duty plastic and/or stainless steel, both of which are notably resilient and long-lasting.
How do you use a composter?
Thanks to Mother Nature, there's really not a whole lot to composting. Whether you intervene or not, organic matter will decompose and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Having said that, you can speed up the process by getting a tumbler (rotating composter), which mixes up the material, adds oxygen, and helps it all break down faster.
What can (and can't) you put in a composter?
You can put all kinds of food scraps in a composter, such as apple cores, banana peels, vegetable skins, coffee grounds, eggshells, and bread. However, animal products like meat, dairy, and bones are generally not recommended for composting because they can harbor pathogens and attract pests.
You can also add grass clippings, leaves, wood shavings, hay, animal manure, and other yard waste, as well as paper towels, cardboard, and shredded newspaper. Things you generally shouldn't put in a composter include oils, pet waste, diseased plants, charcoal, and ash.
How can you reduce the smell of your compost?
The best way to reduce the smell of your compost is to use a bin that has adequate ventilation or a drip tray on the bottom, as too much moisture can be a culprit. Fluffing up the bin with lighter, dryer materials like leaves can also help keep odors under control. Additionally, avoid putting meat, dairy, and eggs in your composter.
How often should you clean your composter?
Outdoor composters don't have to be cleaned very often—once or twice a year is plenty. More importantly, you need to regularly remove the decomposed matter. With an indoor compost bin, you'll want to wash it out regularly to keep odors under control and prevent bacteria growth. That said, you can get compostable liners, which are just like garbage bags, except they decompose with the rest of your scraps.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019, where she covers gardening, outdoor living, home improvement, and commerce deals. As the daughter of an avid gardener who was way ahead of her time, she was introduced to the concept of composting at a young age. You can check out more stories by Theresa on Verywell Family, MyDomaine, and Byrdie.