I have a two-sided rotating compost tumbler into which I typically throw kitchen scraps and lawn waste. Due to us shifting to a lawn service (my wife and I had a shift in jobs such that it became hard to be home during daylight hours to mow), I stopped throwing as much lawn waste in (the guy doing the mowing now has a mulching mower that deposits it on the grass), we had an uptick in spoiled produce being added, and I got into a bit of a funk where I kept forgetting to rotate/empty the tumbler.

Well, the time came to pay the piper, and the interior of the tumbler is full of smelly sludge, about the consistency of clay mud. I've managing to dig some of it out with a trowel and a garden hose, but the rest is being difficult. I don't particularly want to have to disassemble the tumbler to get at the contents, but the sludge is basically stuck there, and my attempts to wash it out just result in the water flowing back out.

What's the best way to clean the insides?

  • If it is damp add sand and very dry dirt to try to mix up. Then dig it out.
    – LazyReader
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 6:33

1 Answer 1


I've seen a few types of compost tumble. One has holes in the end that you open and the smaller stuff falls out as the drum rotates. Another has a hatch in the side that you open to add stuff.


  • Attack with a crowbar or demolition bar. (flatter with a wider end than a crowbar) Loosen chunks and rotate.
  • Put a few broken concrete blocks in and rotate. These will chew the compacated stuff out.
  • Put the whole unit on end for a week.
  • Rotate it so the load is on top, and wedge in that position.
  • Hit it with a baseball bat.
  • Drill 1/8" holes in the drum, and put an air nozzle to it, and blast with compressed air. If the sludge is making a tight seal,this may free up a nice block of it.

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