What To Do About Stinky Compost? These 8 Tips Prevent Compost Stink!

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:59 pm

Are you looking for a really helpful tip that will remove mosquito larvae from your rain barrel once and for all?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

What To Do About Stinky Compost? These 8 Tips Prevent Compost Stink!

Because here you will learn the best 8 tips on how to prevent mosquito larvae in your rain barrel on the one hand and how to fight them best, with immediate effect.

Against stinking compost it helps to reduce rotting caused by too much moisture and wetness in the compost. To do this, you should protect the compost from rain, reduce the addition of wet waste, mix in dry structural materials, ensure good aeration and oxygenation, add some lime or primary rock flour to the compost, or finally turn a very smelly compost.

Was hilft gegen stinkenden Kompost

What to do when the compost stinks
A stinky compost is quite unpleasant, because in most cases it means that your compost is rotting.

More specifically, rot occurs in compost when it is too wet and lacks oxygen. Then a rotting process takes place, with bad odors that often smell foul or sour, like vomit or sweat.

If you want to know more about what might be causing your compost to stink, it’s best to check out this article next, where I outline all the possible causes of stinky compost.

But don’t worry, even if your compost currently stinks, you can straighten it out with some simple tricks and remedies.

Below, I’ll explain what’s behind the 8 tips to combat a stinky compost:

  • Protect compost from rain
  • Compost dry waste
  • Mix compost well
  • Add lime to the compost
  • Optimize air and oxygen supply
  • Reduce wet waste
  • Turn compost
  • Choose a better location

1 Protect compost from rain to avoid rot and stench

Is the wetness rotting your compost perhaps from too much rain and moisture from above?

Then the first and quick thing you can do is to cover your compost to protect it from rain.

There are many different ways to do this, from old boards, to a tarp, to a thatch mat (like this one), willow mat (like this one), or reed mat (like this one*).

Protecting compost from rain is especially a quick and easy solution that can help with light rot.

2 Put dry waste on the compost to prevent odors.

Furthermore, it helps to add dry waste under the wet compost to counteract a rotten and smelly odor.

See also  Spreading Compost: When And How Much?

Dry structural materials help soak up the excess moisture and wetness that cause decay, restoring balance.

This is because dry and moist, as well as fine and coarse materials, should balance each other out in a healthy, odor-free compost.

Good structural materials, absorb moisture and wetness are for example brushwood, sawdust, dry leaves but also small cut cardboard or corrugated cardboard.

3 Mix your compost vigorously to get rid of stench

Of course, you should not just throw dry structural materials in large quantities on top of the compost in the hope that the stench will go away.

On the contrary, first you should spread a fair amount on top of the compost, but you should also work it in properly, which works very well with a pitchfork.

Adding and mixing in dry materials actually has several benefits, all of which work together to help fight odors:

First, you loosen up the compacted overall mass and break apart the stuck-together, wet, and foul-smelling layers in the compost.

In addition, you thus also mix the dry materials under the existing compost mass.

This helps to create a balance between wet and dry materials, in which worms and microorganisms feel comfortable.

All in all, you ensure that enough oxygen gets into all layers of the compost and that it starts to live and work again and stops rotting and stinking.

Compost stinks mainly because it is too wet and moist, which causes rot to form.

But beyond that, there are other causes and reasons for what can trigger stench in compost.

If you want to learn more about why compost can smell sour or like vomit, check out this article I’ve linked to the right here.

4 Lime on the compost against odors

If your compost is just a little moist and putrid and therefore stinky, then often even a small amount of lime helps against the rot and the smell.

Due to the porous and loose structure of the lime, it can absorb moisture very well and bind the lime. Classic algal lime (such as this one) or lawn lime (such as this one) are very suitable.

This means that excess moisture is reduced by the lime, the compost is better aerated again, rotting is reduced and the compost also no longer stinks.

However, you should not use too much lime and only if your compost is a bit moist and slightly smelly but not completely soaked.

When you should lime your compost in general you can read here.

As an alternative to lime, you can also sprinkle your compost with primary rock flour or betonite to bind bad odors.

Rock flour is nothing more than ground stone, which can be slightly acidic or alkaline depending on the source material. Betonite is also a type of stone composed of various clay minerals.

See also  Can You Compost Cat Food?

Prehistoric rock flour and betonite can be used in the same way as lime, and because of their fine, ground structure, they absorb moisture and neutralize bad odors in the compost.

5 Optimize aeration to reduce rot and bad odors.

Overall, you should always make sure that your compost is properly aerated, thus preventing and counteracting rot and stench.

Sufficient openings on the sides allow condensation to escape and fresh air to enter the compost. So if you have a classic grid composter or plug-in composter made of wood or aluminum, the oxygen supply should not be a problem (since a thermal composter works differently, it also does not need large openings).

However, you should also make sure that your compost is as free-standing as possible and that the ventilation openings are freely accessible and not obstructed by a wall or other obstacles.

6 Reduce wet waste to avoid stench in compost

As you may already know, compost that is too wet is one of the main reasons that it starts to rot and smell.

Most of the time, compost gets too wet because waste that is too moist is disposed of in the compost, which then begins to rot and smell sour like sweat, vinegar or vomit.

If you want to know more specifically what might be causing your compost to stink, check it out here.

So in the future, to avoid a wet and smelly compost, you should make sure that you don’t throw any more waste that is too wet on the compost.

This is especially true for lawn clippings that are often damp and contain a lot of moisture. From now on, let the grass cuttings dry after mowing and only then spread them on the compost.

In addition, you should avoid large amounts of moist or wet waste, such as rotten fruit or fruit and vegetable peelings.

If you do have a lot of wet waste, it is best to let it dry out, pour away excess water, and then add it to the compost mixed with other dry materials.

7 Turn compost against stench

If your compost is already very soggy and badly rotten, it may be that the tips mentioned so far probably won’t help.

Whether this point is already reached, you will notice that the compost has a lot of waterlogging and even despite the compliance of the tips mentioned so far does not rot less or smell better over time.

If your compost is unsalvageable in its current location, then it is time to move the compost to get rid of the excess moisture, to remix the compost, to rebalance it, to get the rotting going again and finally to get rid of the smell.

See also  When And How To Apply Compost?

Turning the compost simply means moving the existing compost into an empty compost bin. That means the materials that are on top of the current compost end up at the bottom of the new bin.

As before, however, you should make sure that you loosen up the moist layers on the one hand and add dry structural materials such as chopped branches, dry leaves or sawdust underneath.

8 Choose a better location

Last but not least, you can find a better location for your compost to counteract stench and rot.

A wrong location can also lead to the compost being exposed to wind and weather, and thus to a lot of rain or snow. This causes a lot of moisture to get into the compost, which may start to rot and stink.

In general, you should look for a place in partial shade, where the compost is protected from too much rain and sun.

Also, do not place the compost in a depression where water can accumulate. If you place the compost on loose, sandy soil, so that the rainwater can drain off well and no waterlogging can form, you have created a good basis in the choice of location to avoid rotting and a smelly compost in the long term as well.

Check here if you want to know more about the factors you should consider when choosing a compost site.

Do you know of any other tips that help prevent stinky compost? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Otherwise, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that your compost dries out soon, the rotting gets into full swing, and you’re rid of the stinky compost!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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