Composting In An Apartment Without Worms

Living in an apartment should not deter you from composting your kitchen waste. Understandably, not all of us like the idea of thousands of tiny worms living inside our homes. Worms are not necessary for composting. If you do it properly, you can achieve excellent results in your apartment without any worms, lousy odour and undesired mess. 

How do you compost in an apartment without worms? To compost in an apartment without worms, you have to choose the suitable material for the bin (wood or plastic); Know what to add (vegetables, fruits etc.), and what not add (Meat, dairy etc.). You should also maintain the correct ratio of carbon and nitrogen.

If you are new to composting, you must have so many more questions like what is the carbon and nitrogen ratio? How do I maintain it? Can I add this or that to the bin? How long will it take? Will it smell bad? Etc. Don’t worry; we will go into detail so you can know everything about composting indoors


Let’s go through the proper steps that you need to follow to compost successfully.

  • Place the bin somewhere that doesn’t get direct sunlight(It should be pretty easy indoors). You can also place it out of sight if you don’t want to spoil your decor.
  • Add some greens into the bin. Greens are your kitchen scraps which include vegetables, fruits, grass, tea leaves etc. Greens provide nitrogen which helps in the reproduction of microbes working in the compost.
  • Then add the browns. Browns comprise dried stuff like wood dust, hay, straw, paperboard, cardboard, paper etc. The browns provide carbon which provides energy to the microbes.
  • Make sure the ratio is around three parts, brown and one part green. The imbalance in this ration can slow down the decomposition or make it smell bad.
  • Turn the compost regularly with a shovel or any other tool that serves the same purpose. Ideally, it would be best to do it twice a week, but a minimum of once a week is necessary.
  • Regularly watch out for moisture content in the compost. If it has a consistency of a wet sponge, you are headed in the right direction. If it feels too dry, you need to add more water.
  • Please wait for a few weeks or months for microbes to finish their job. The time taken by the process depends on several factors like materials, particle size, temperature etc. You can easily tell if it’s done by observing a few things. We will discuss them in the next section.


The best composting bins are plastic. You can also use metal and wood bins. There are several good options available out there if you need a readymade solution. It’s pretty easy to do it yourself as well.

Pick a plastic bin with a lid. If that is not available, you can opt for wooden crates, a 5-gallon bucket or a metal compartment with adequate space. Whatever you choose, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • A lid to cover the bin is essential. You don’t want your compost uncovered, trust me!
  • Composting is an aerobic process, so it requires an adequate supply of air. You have to drill several holes in your bucket, can or crate. A reasonable estimate is 25-35 quarter inch evenly spaced holes. 
  • The bin should fit in the space you intended to use. But it should also be large enough to handle a week’s worth of scraps.
  • It would be best if you placed the bin on a plastic tray. It helps in keeping the apartment clean in case of a spill or a leak. It also helps if you want to drain out excess water by drilling a hole near the bottom.

What can you compost 

Earlier we talked about a few things that you can compost and other things which you cannot compost. Lets expand that a little more so you can have better understanding

Things you can compost
  • Cardboard
  • Paper towels
  • Eggshells (No Eggs)
  • Untreated Wood Ashes
  • Yard trimmings
  • Hay
  • Straw
  • Houseplants
  • Nut Shells
  • Tea leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Toothpick
  • Herbivore animal waste (No Cat and Dog waste)
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Vegetables and Peals 
  • Fruits and fruit peals
  • Brown paper bags
Things you can’t compost
  • Meat
  • Poultry 
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy products 
  • Pet waste (Dogs and cats)
  • Diseased plants
  • Plants treated with pesticides
  • Coal, charcoal and barbecue ash
  • Grease and oils

How do you know if it’s done?

There are a few things that will help you identify if the compost is finished

  • The raw materials that you added to the mixture should not be distinguishable
  • It should smell like soil on a rainy day
  • The colour of the finished compost is fairly dark
  • It should be close to room temperature
  • The size of the compost should have reduced to half

It is good to let compost sit or mature for a few more days before using it. This ensures that everything has decomposed completely.

What if it Smells?

A well-maintained compost bin should not smell bad. The aerobic process going on inside the bin should produce a mild earthy scent. Still, if you are experiencing a bad odour, here are a few things to check

  • Is it properly aerated? In the absence of fresh air, compost can get aerobic, which produces ammonia like smell. To aerate the mixture check the holes and turn the pile on regular intervals (once in 2-3 days)
  • Is the moisture content too high? If the mixture feels too watery, add some brown material to the mixture.
  • Are you adding too much too fast? If you are constantly overloading the bucket, it can smell bad. Just wait for some time until the older scraps decompose before adding new ones.


  Several benefits of composting indoors make it as good as outdoor composting

  • Compost thrive at an indoor temperature of 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While outdoors, you have to protect it from direct sun, rainfall and cold temperatures
  • You can place it virtually anywhere; a dark corner, under the sink or even a balcony (Best of both worlds
  • Indoor composting is a great way to get rid of your kitchen waste and get high-quality free manure for your potted plants
  • Less garbage to throw means lesser garbage bills. You are not only saving on bills, but you are also saving on the cost of plant additives
  • You are doing something good for the environment. Composting at home reduces the immense burden on landfills

Tips for success

Composting can be fairly fun and rewarding. You can increase your chances of getting a higher quality product by following a few simple tips.

  • Always cover the compost properly, or it will attract bugs and flies.
  • The items you are adding to the compost should be properly shredded. Bigger scraps are much harder for the microbes to digest
  • Keep the stack of paper and a watering jar near the composting bin. This helps in quickly balancing the moisture levels in the bin. It also prevents you from procrastinating and potentially ruining the process.
  • Never forget to turn! This solves so many problems associated with composting.
  • Don’t forget about the green to brown ratio. It is crucial for good microbial activity.
  • Be careful about plastic entering the bin. It can easily sneak to produce stickers and glossy paper coverings.

Final Thoughts

Composting in an apartment can be just as worthwhile as composting in a garden or backyard. Even without worms, you can produce high-quality manure. If you do it properly, you can avoid bad smell and mess.

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