Summer Compost Tips

Composting is a great way to divert waste from the landfill, fertilize local gardens and agriculture, and increase awareness of food waste. However, during the hot and humid summer months, unpleasant smells and pesky bugs can discourage even the most committed composters. The following tips help address common summer composting problems.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

1. Store food scraps in the fridge or freezer

Does your compost pile up faster than you can take it out? Try keeping it in the fridge or freezer between collection days, if you are on a curbside pick up program, or until you can take it to your regular drop-off site. The cooler temperatures slow decomposition, reducing odors. Designate a food storage container or a reusable, sealable plastic bag for compost. Just don’t forget about your compost in the fridge or freezer!

2. No fridge space? Use a smaller compost bin and empty it daily

Our office compost is temporarily being collected in a sugar dish!

In our office, we switched from collecting compost in a 2 gallon bucket to a re-purposed sugar dish. It fills up fast so we take it out daily, instead of once a week. Taking turns makes this sound much less daunting! Plus, our food scraps don’t have time to get smelly, and the ants and fruit flies stay away. We will switch back to the larger bin when temperatures cool. Almost anything can be used as a compost bin, just make sure it has a lid and doesn’t leak.

3. Set a trap for fruit flies and gnats

Photo from

Pesky fruit flies and gnats invading your kitchen space? Try trapping them in a jar or glass with a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and water. You can make a funnel out of paper and tape it to the container so it points down, but does not get wet. Fruit flies will be attracted to the sweet smells and fly down into the jar, but they won’t be able to get back out!  Read the full instructions here.

4. Change out the compost bag or liner more often

Programs Intern Jennifer Frye setting a recurring reminder on her phone

Every three to four days, or when your compost starts to get smelly, replace the bag or liner in your compost container. You can put the old food scraps in a new bag, transfer them to the fridge or freezer, or keep them outside in a cool, dry place until collection day or until you can bring the scraps offsite. Try setting a recurring reminder on your phone to change the compost liner. 

5. Clean out the bin after emptying it

It only takes a few minutes to wash out your compost bin with soap and water. You can even wipe it out with spray cleaner and a rag. Cleaning your bin gets rid of any spills or leaks that might build up and cause odors. Make sure to let the bin dry before putting a new bag or liner in!

6. Add paper towels, napkins, and coffee grounds

Remember that compost is more than just food scraps! Adding paper towels and napkins to your compost absorbs liquids, and adding coffee grounds decreases unpleasant odors. Tea bags will also work if you’re not a coffee drinker. All paper towels and napkins can be composted, even bleached paper.

7. Bring the entire bin outside

If you use a compostable bag as a bin liner and it leaks, bring your kitchen bin outside and transfer the contents of the bag there. This way you avoid dripping smelly liquid everywhere. To avoid leaks, try double bagging, or line your compost bin with a BioBag and paper towels. While the bin is outside, you can even take the opportunity hose it out and let it dry in the sun.

1 Comment

  1. While the bin is outside, you can even take the opportunity hose it out and let it dry in the sun

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