At our apartment, we keep a small trash can devoted to organic waste. When it is full, which takes a week or so, we empty it in a compost container near our street.

My question is, how often should we clean that trash bin? Should we worry about cleaning it anyway? I'm only concerned about hygienic issues, because of course, it stinks. But with the cover on it, it's just fine.

Until now, I try to clean it every 2 weeks. But it's not a pleasant task (and last time, I did in the shower and it got plugged. After doing it, it took some extra time to clean the shower also). So, if we should have to clean it, is it ok (again, from an hygienic point of view) to do it in the sink?

2 Answers 2


Our system works differently (we're responsible for an outside container as well as the indoor one) but I clean it as little as possible.

The inside one can be lined (unusually, we can use plastic bags for this, they're skimmed off the top of the anaerobic digester). Check the rules in your area, but in many places you can use newspaper or compostable (paper or plastic) liners. The liner isn't perfect, so when it starts to smell I scrape the bits out with a trowel then wash it with a bleach based cleaner. This might be every couple of months at most. We have a sink which isn't used for food prep or washing up so I use that. But I clean the sink afterwards as if I was going to wash up in it (more bleach based spray cleaner).

The outside one essentially never gets cleaned, I just loosen stuck bits every now and then. Liners are again availble but tend to fall in and don't do much good. A tight-fitting lid contains smells and keeps flies out.

  • 1
    There are also degradable paper liners/bags that help reduce the problem.
    – user2451
    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:57
  • 1
    Note that an outside bin attracts flies that lay their eggs in your trash. I had to clean mine regularly when I had one (maggots appeared in as short a period as one week). So make sure the lid closes well.
    – user2451
    Apr 19, 2016 at 8:00
  • @JanDoggen, paper liners edited in (and fixed some daft typos while I was at it)
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2016 at 9:10
  • Nice hint, I've never heard about those paper bags, they seem to be the solution. The problem when living in an small apartment is that you usually don't have an extra sink, so I think I'll keep using the shower occasionally.
    – vaz
    Apr 19, 2016 at 19:28
  • @vaz I'd use the kitchen sink myself. But you could fill it with water, then a few minutes later tip down the toilet to save the shower drain.
    – Chris H
    Apr 19, 2016 at 19:46

I accumulate compost in a small stainless steel bucket with a lid and a handle originally sold as an icebucket, though they gave up and now label it a compost bucket. I have had it for decades. We do not line it with paper, plastic, or anything else. I take it out and empty it as often as it gets full - sometimes more than once in a day, sometimes days between emptyings. It rarely needs more than a quick rinse to get any slime out of the bottom, and often doesn't even need that if it was emptied quickly enough. Slime and smell come from anaerobic decomposition, and anaerobic decomposition doesn't make compost, so you want to minimize it. The best way to do that is not by changing your container, but by emptying it more often. To that end, you prefer a smaller container to a large one.

  • I understand that is better to emptying it more frequently, but since the compost container is some blocks from our building, I would prefer not going there more than once a week... just one question, probably a bit silly: if I keep the recipient uncovered, could that slow down anaerobic decomposition?
    – vaz
    Apr 22, 2016 at 19:04

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