Eliminating Odors: A Complete Guide on How to Fix Smelly Compost

How to Fix Smelly Compost: Get Rid of That Unpleasant Odor!


Composting is a fantastic way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. However, if you’ve noticed an unpleasant odor coming from your compost bin or pile, it’s time to take action. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of fixing smelly compost so that you can continue enjoying the benefits without any foul smells.

Understanding the Cause of Smelly Compost

Before diving into solutions, let’s discuss why your compost may be emitting an offensive odor. Several factors contribute to smelly compost, including:

1. Poor Aeration:
Lack of oxygen in your compost can lead to anaerobic conditions where certain bacteria thrive and produce foul-smelling compounds.

2. Moisture Imbalance:
Excessive moisture in the pile inhibits airflow and creates anaerobic pockets conducive to odor-causing bacteria growth.

3. Improper Ingredients:
Certain materials, like meat scraps or dairy products, are difficult for microbes to break down efficiently and can result in odorous compost.

4. Incorrect Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratio (C:N):
An imbalanced C:N ratio can slow down decomposition and cause odors; an ideal ratio is around 30 parts carbon (browns) to 1 part nitrogen (greens).

5. Lack of Turning:
Neglecting regular turning or mixing allows pockets of decomposition-resistant material to accumulate and emit bad smells.

Now that we understand what causes smelly compost let’s move on to practical solutions!

Solution 1: Improve Aeration

Enhancing airflow within your compost is crucial for eliminating unwanted odors. Here are some effective methods:

1. Turn Your Pile Regularly:
Use a pitchfork or shovel to aerate the compost, ensuring that oxygen reaches all parts of the pile. Aim for turning it at least once a week.

2. Add Bulky Materials:
Incorporating coarse materials like twigs or straw creates air channels within the compost, promoting a healthier environment for beneficial organisms.

3. Use Compost Aerators:
Consider using specialized tools such as compost aerator rods that penetrate deep into the pile and improve airflow by creating holes.

Solution 2: Achieve Moisture Balance

Regulating moisture levels is vital in preventing smelly compost. Follow these steps to achieve an optimal moisture balance:

1. Monitor Moisture Content:
Regularly check your compost’s moisture level; it should resemble a damp sponge, neither too dry nor waterlogged.

2. Adjust with Dry or Wet Ingredients:
If your compost is too wet, add dry materials like shredded newspaper or sawdust to absorb excess moisture. Conversely, if it’s too dry, sprinkle some water during turning.

Solution 3: Optimize Ingredient Choices

The types of materials you add to your composter play a significant role in odor prevention:

1. Avoid Meat and Dairy Products:
While many organic items are great for composting, meat scraps and dairy products often cause unpleasant smells and attract pests – best left out of your bin/pile.

2. Balance Carbon (Browns) and Nitrogen (Greens):
Maintain an appropriate C:N ratio by adding equal parts carbon-rich “browns” (leaves, cardboard) and nitrogen-rich “greens” (grass clippings, vegetable waste).

Solution 4: Proper Maintenance Habits

Implementing good practices ensures ongoing success in combating smelly compost:

1. Layer Your Materials:
Alternate layers of browns and greens when adding new material to maintain a balanced compost pile. This promotes proper decomposition and reduces odor.

2. Shred Large Items:
Break down larger items into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition, preventing them from getting trapped in the pile and causing unpleasant smells.

3. Use a Compost Bin with Proper Ventilation:
If you’re using an enclosed compost bin, choose one with adequate ventilation holes or slots to facilitate airflow and prevent excessive moisture buildup.


Nobody wants their compost to emit foul odors that can be offensive to both themselves and their neighbors. By addressing poor aeration, achieving moisture balance, optimizing ingredient choices, and maintaining good habits, you can easily fix smelly compost issues. Don’t let unpleasant smells deter you from enjoying the many benefits of composting – get back on track towards creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden today!