Odor Free Composting in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you are composting inside or outdoors, you may have to contend with odors emanating from the compost bin. You may be able to find an odor-reducing compost bin at a local nursery or garden center. However, a more economical and engaging method is to combat the problem yourself by creating compost layers of green and brown waste.

Step 1 – Green Waste

At the bottom of your pile, start with a layer of kitchen or "green" waste. This can include:

  • Vegetable peelings
  • Fruit
  • Eggshells
  • Grass cuttings
  • Green leaves

Do not add meat, fatty foods or dairy products as these will rot, not only worsening the smell, but attracting vermin into your garden. 

Step 2 - Soil

Next, add a layer of soil to your pile. This will stop the odors from being emitted and will also add extra nutrients to compost. Soil will also act as an ‘activator’, which means that it will help to speed up the decomposition process. If your compost bin is indoors and starts to smell, adding a layer of soil will eliminate this problem immediately. 

Step 3 – Brown Waste

Add a layer of brown waste to your compost bin. This includes:

  • Cardboard
  • Newspaper
  • Dried brown leaves
  • Small twigs
  • Mulch

Brown waste decomposes slower than green waste, but it is essential to a compost pile and will help to eliminate odors. If you have large items, cut them or shred them into smaller pieces, as this will help to speed up their decomposition process. 

Step 4 - Air

Repeat the layers of green waste, soil and brown waste. Do not make any one layer too thick as this will prevent the compost pile from becoming anaerobic—i.e. air will not be able to circulate effectively. If air can not circulate, the microorganisms that are being produced during decomposition will not be able to break down the waste.

Also, if there is not enough air in the compost bin, this will cause bad odors. A good way to ensure that there is enough air in your compost bin is to turn it regularly. For optimum results, turn your compost once every 4 to 6 weeks. 

Step 5 - Moisture

Green waste naturally provides a lot of moisture for effective composting. It may be necessary to add extra moisture to prevent it drying out. However, this will cause the composting process to stop.

When you add water to your compost pile, do not add too much. A compost pile with the correct amount of moisture in it should have the texture of a wet sponge that has been wrung out. If there is too little or too much moisture in the composting pile, this will cause odor.

To prevent rain water getting into your compost pile and adding unnecessary moisture, put a cover over the bin.