Kitchen Compost Bucket – DIY, Easy, and Frugal

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Making Dirt – Part 1

Note: This is part one of a two part article on compost.

Read part two – DIY vermicomposting worm farm – here.

I knew I was getting old the day I started to think that making my own garden dirt was cool.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think I’m old, and I don’t dislike the fact that I am getting older, actually I think it’s pretty cool. I just find it amusing the way our thinking changes as we age. The one wish I do have is that I knew what I know now when I was 16!

Kitchen Compost Buckets

Today I want to follow up on a promise I gave to several FiveCentNickel.com readers in my “Breaking Free From a Culture of Temptation” article a while back. I promised I would write a post detailing how I constructed a kitchen compost bucket for very little money. In the original article I mentioned how I was tempted to purchase a kitchen compost bin rather than make my own. Here is the snippet from the original article:

A store-bought kitchen composting bucket ($20) Here again, I made my own… and only spent $1.50! This will likely be the subject of a forthcoming post.

Both of these compost-related purchases were very tempting, and I really had to fight the urge to buy and instead choose the frugal road. Beyond saving money, I have more pride in these possessions — partly because I made/improved them, and partly because I know that I sacrificed my short-term wants for my greater goal.

Making my own bin was easy, cheap, and satisfying. Much more satisfying than buying one for $20, or worse yet buying one for $50! If you are not into making your own, you can purchase one of the two I was debating between. They are both high quality options that I would have gone with if I weren’t über frugal!

Store bought kitchen compost bins

  • The $56 option – a stainless steel kitchen compost bucket that employs a charcoal filter to eliminate smells.
  • The $20 option – this bucket is constructed of plastic and also employs a charcoal filter.

As I mention above, each of these are a solid option if your are not trying to play the role of Fruggie McFrugalpants. Prices posted were taken at the time of writing.

So What Did I Do?

I made my own of course!

My homemade, DIY kitchen compost bucket

  • The $1.50 option – an empty plastic coffee can with its very own built-in charcoal filter.

Here’s how I did it:

  • An old empty coffee can or similar free container with a resealable lid (I got a few from the office that were being tossed)
  • A package of charcoal filters from your local pet supply store – they sell them for kitty litter boxes (this eliminates the odor)
  • A drill with a 1/4″ bit
  • A hot glue gun (super/crazy glues should work fine too)

1.  Start with your parts and tools

2.  Drill 10+ holes in the lid with a 1/4″ drill bit

3.  Hot glue the charcoal filter to the lid

4.  Voila – the finished product

We store our DIY Kitchen Compost Bucket under our kitchen sink so food scraps can easily be added to it during food preparation. My wife is very particular about smells and was happy to find that no odor came from our homemade bin, thanks to the charcoal filterJust like with any other bin equipped with a charcoal filter, you will have to replace the filters every few months if you want it to remain effective.

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About Matt Jabs

Matt loves to inspire others to save money and live more sustainably. He is passionate about eating local, living simply, and doing more things himself. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Marie says

    Thanks for the easy DIY project. This was just what I was looking for. I never would have known to check out the pet store for the carbon filters. I used a 5 quart ice cream container that has a handle. So far so good.

  2. Jennifer says

    Thanks Matt. Very helpful. DH has saved some cans for me for organization purposes (nothing like a ton of crayons in a coffee can to bring back memories of my childhood) and we actually have about 6 now which is a little much. This will be a good repurposing of one, especially with little ones around who don’t eat the skins of apples and eat a ton of other fruits with peels. Egg shells are ok too right?

    Sorry for all the questions and thanks for bearing with me. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says

    I stumbled upon your article here and am inspired. Can I use a metal coffee can or will the metal leach into the compost? Also, do I need to stir it up while it is in the can before I use it in the garden, or just dump and spread in the garden when it is full? Thanks. New to composting. 🙂

    • Matt Jabs says

      Hi Jennifer, metal cans will be fine, as long as they dont’ rust. No need to stir, just dump it in. Glad you found us, God bless.

  4. Maralyn Moran says

    Great idea for UNDER the sink, but for those who keep compost container beside sink, it possibly works. I used a child’s metal beach bucket (Goodwill) and found a coffee can lid that fit it. Also found a plastic jar lid to sit the bucket in so I didn’t have to worry about a ‘rust ring’ from cheap bucket. (BTW …it all is red and looks nice on the counter top.)

    Am thinking of looking for a new plastic beach bucket….

  5. Carla Poorman says

    My husband &I have been gardening for all of oue married life and love the goodies at picking time!!! We’ve just in the last few years been composting. This homemade kitchen composter is jsut what we need to make sause we just puut all table scraps into an old icecream container and “Boy!” does it smell after afew days. SUPER IDEA!! Now I’m saying to myself, “Why didn’t I tink of that?” GEEZE! So now, I’m gonna be makein us one of them there thingies!!!!!!lol
    Luv You Guys,
    Carla

  6. thomas says

    I just went to Goodwill and bought a really nice cookie jar, that matches my kitchen decor, for half a buck. It sits right on my countertop, not under the sink!

  7. Emily says

    Do I just empty the contents when the bucket is full? I don’t have a worm bed. I’m mostly just interested in not sending all of this food waste to the dump.

  8. Emily says

    Hey i have a similar bin, and I’ve gotten to the point where I need to replace my filter. Can I compost the first filter or does it need to be thrown out?

  9. cristian says

    hi matt, your avatar picture is like iguazú falls on argentine?, i love iguazú fall’s i grow up closer to them, i am happy to se people showing this amazing place. bye

  10. Nicolas Connault says

    Excellent article but step 4 talks about a “viola”, and I fail to see how a stringed instrument relates to composting.. Maybe you meant “voilà” 🙂

  11. Molly says

    I just finished this super-easy project. Stong onions and other veggie scraps are completely odor-free in this container on my kitchen counter. Thank you for posting such an economical alternative to the fancy kitchen compost pails available on the market.

  12. Torri says

    I love this! I have been trying to figure out a compost solution that was diy and I really wasn’t pleased with the thought of shaking and the messiness of a regular compost. this seems so great and my 3 and 4 yr old are obsessed with worms anyway. finding 2 worms in the ground can occupy them for an hour, although can sometimes be hazardous for the worms, haha! This kitchen bucket is just the icing on the cake!
    I was wondering, If I was willing to spend an extra few dollars on the vermi-bin and make the bottom a shallow container instead of a lid, would there be any harm in that? I am VERY accident prone and emptying the “tea” out of that lid seems precarious.
    Lastly, I wanted to say thanks to you and your wife. This site is one of the best I have found for me, because I have a family of four and just started gardening this year. All of my gardening research has sort of sent me on this quest of becoming more self sustainable. What’s funny is it’s made me the accidental environmentalist. I have gotten so many great ideas from your site! I can’t wait until Christmas, when I can give gift sets of the vanilla extract bottles and I am adding some of my homemade dried herbs in the victorian square bottles from that bottle website!

    • Matt Jabs says

      We really appreciate the kind words of encouragement Torri. Yeah, feel free to construct whatever you need for a lid… whatever makes it easiest for you and still works. God bless.

  13. John says

    We have the $20 bucket, and despite the comments, we noticed the smell, so I rigged a sponge holder to pt a charcoal filter in. But then mold attacked. IS that because I don’t have air vents? Should I drill holes in my lid (given that I’ve already got the thing) or should I just ignore the mold? You say you kept the same filter for months, but I’m only getting a week out of them…

    • Matt Jabs says

      I drilled holes in my top, but it was a free plastic coffee can lid. I am actually on only our 2nd filter in years. Sometimes it gets a little moldy but then I just empty the container, wash it, and dry it out… mold disappears.

  14. CLee says

    What a great idea! Currently, i just have a mixing bowl on the counter lined with a compostable liner, but fruit flies and stink are becoming issues with the weather warming up. Do you glue the filter onto the top of the lid or bottom? Is the filter safe for little kids’ hands? Would this work with an ice cream bucket as well? Thank you in advance!

  15. Loonette says

    Great idea! I’ve been wanting a kitchen compost pail but couldn’t part with the money. Usually I just collect the scraps in a bowl and toss in the outdoor compost. Hate going out there when it is so dark though. This is so quick and easy and beats paying $50 plus dollars!

  16. Jessica says

    This is awesome! Was just looking again online to purchase a compost bucket. Came across your directions. Have been using a pale w/ lid outside the kitchen door. Now I’ll have to improve the pail w/lid with your steps listed!

  17. Matt Jabs says

    That is what my grandma used to do. Using the setup in this article keeps the smells at bay and can be cleaned and reused for years and years.

    • Matt Jabs says

      This container isn’t for making compost, it’s for holding scraps temporarily in the kitchen until full, then moving to compost pile.