Many people assume composting requires a lot of space and commitment, but this isn’t true. Just about anyone, anywhere can compost by using efficient compost tumblers.
In this guide, we review the top five best compost tumblers. Learn important details about each model, the features we like and dislike, and why you need one.
We also cover things to watch out for and answer frequently asked questions, so let’s see how these composter tumblers stack up!
Best Compost Tumblers
Envirocycle Mini Composting Tumbler Bin And Compost Tea Maker
The Envirocycle Mini Compost Tumbler may cost more, but the size, shape, and style of this little made-in-the-USA cutie is only outdone by its functionality.
Not only does it hold a respectable amount of material for composting, but it’s also fully assembled right out of the box. Envirocycle molds the super solid barrel and base from BPA plastic that is food safe, UV-protected, and won’t leach out harmful chemicals.
I give the Envirocycle Mini Compost Tumbler the top spot for stylish design, ease-of-use, quality of materials, and the ability to collect the liquid automatically.
- You can use the base to collect drainage liquid so you can feed your plants with the “compost tea”
- The drum is smaller and rotates smoothly, so you don’t have to strain
- It comes in two colors: black and pink, which makes it more fun to perk up your garden with some color if you want
- Small enough to fit on an apartment balcony or close to your home for easy access
- No need to assemble the unit, so you can start composting immediately
- For a single-chamber compost tumbler, the price is higher than many dual-chamber models
- The tumbler sits low to the ground which means you need to bend over if you want to use your hands to spin the barrel
- Must remove the barrel from base to empty the liquid which can be difficult if the barrel is full
The Envirocycle Mini Compost Tumbler is our top pick for stylish design, ease-of-use, quality of materials, and the ability to collect the liquid automatically.
Miracle-Gro Large Dual Chamber Compost Tumbler
The Miracle-Gro Dual-chamber Compost Tumbler allows you to keep composting successfully every season of the year. The dual chambers spin independently so you can load one and spin the other.
Both chambers hold sufficient material to handle both low and high-volumes. With this tumbler, your garden has all the compost it needs in just four to six weeks. Locks on the legs keep the barrel stationary when you need to load the composter.
- The galvanized steel legs are strong, and the tight construction eliminates gaps where pests can enter
- UV-protected, BPA-free plastic ensures long life without fear of harmful chemicals leaching into your compost
- Clear instructions to take the guesswork out of set up
- Bins turn easy no matter how full they get, which makes it less stressful to manage
- Must take time during assembly to ensure all pieces are snapped together right
- No automatic collection of the “compost tea”
- Plastic seems a bit thin to withstand constant use and the elements without cracking
Our runner-up pick is the Miracle-Gro compost tumbler as it offers so many great features at a very affordable price.
Spin Bin Composter Barrel Style Tumbler
The Spin Bin Composter makes adding and removing material a snap with lids on both ends of the barrel. The sturdy construction and simple design make this composter a joy to use.
The large capacity composts quickly due to an abundance of well-placed ventilation and drainage holes to keep the material moist and aerated. The internal paddle separates the content as the barrel spins, which aids in moisture distribution and to break up clumps.
- Just load the side that is up, the height of the opening reduces back strain
- Made from recycled plastic which is environmentally-friendly
- Composting instruction basics are embossed into each lid for quick reference
- Affordable and simple to assemble
- Leg supports are too thin, and the weight of a full, moisture-laden barrel could cause them to bend or break
- The vertical design makes it harder to turn as more material fills the barrel
- Doesn’t automatically contain drainage liquid, so you need to set a tray under the barrel if you want to collect it.
This Spin Bin composter came in at number three because you will need to reinforce the legs. However, the barrel is large, easy to fill, and well-made for the price.
Good Ideas CW-2X Compost Wizard Dueling Tumbler
The Good Ideas CW-2X Compost Tumbler has a smaller capacity but packs a big punch. The composter sits low to the ground, which makes it easy to spin the barrel with your foot or hands.
The twist on lids stay secure, and the tumbler is BPA-free plastic, so the unit is safe for pets and kids to be near. Two chambers allow you to start a new batch of compost before the other one is complete, which keeps up a productive cycle of compost.
- Compact design is perfect for a small balcony or patio area
- Comes fully assembled, so you don’t have to take time to set it up
- Tight seals and good ventilation hole locations keep rainwater penetration to a minimum
- The base collects drainage from the barrel, so you always have a quantity of “compost tea” for fertilizer until your compost is complete
- The size of the lid opening makes it difficult to load and unload material
- The opening between the two chambers can allow material from one side to cross into the other
- Becomes a bit hard to turn once its about half-full
This Good Ideas compost tumbler came in number four on my list because it looks neat and has a compact design. The size is ideal for small households or apartment dwellers.
Lifetime Compost Tumbler
The Lifetime Compost Tumbler is a single-barrel tumbler with a center axis rotation that makes it one of the easiest composters to turn.
The stand is a nice height to keep the composter out of reach of pests, but comfortable to load and turn.
The walls have a double panel to retain heat and is made of High-density Polyethylene that will stand up to years of use.
This compost tumbler features an internal bar that aids in mixing and aerating the material for faster decomposition.
- The large capacity means you can make fewer batches
- The removable door makes it easier to add and remove material
- UV protection keeps the plastic from drying out and cracking
- Pin to lock the barrel so it won’t spin while trying to fill it
- Assembly requires some drilling and help of another person
- Hinges may not align and latch correctly, making the lid fall open
- Internal bar to mix the material could fall out, requiring disassembly to reinstall
I have to give the Lifetime model the final spot for its overall ease-of-use, durability, and size. While it may be too large to fit in smaller spaces, turning the barrel, even when full, is a breeze.
Do You Really Need A Compost Tumbler?
Most people don’t need a compost tumbler. For those that have space in the yard for a traditional compost pile and have time to wait months for the compost to finish, then a compost tumbler is not for you.
But, for people who want to compost in a limited space like apartment and condo dwellers or someone like me who likes to keep a tidy yard, a compost tumbler makes the job feasible. You can find tumblers in sizes to fit any space.
Many tumblers are quite attractive, and people may not even know its a composter. Cranks or rollers turn the tumbler with ease, so it requires little effort to tend to your compost.
I have an abundance of plants I use compost on, so the faster I can complete a batch the better. I find the tumbler works so much faster than my traditional pile. What took six months, now only takes five to eight weeks.
The facts are that more people are seeing the benefits composting has on our environment and in daily life with media attention bringing more awareness each day.
Things To Watch Out For
In this section, I talk about the things you need to keep on top of when you use a compost tumbler, so you don’t ruin your batch.
Too much moisture and your compost tumbler will reek in no time! Add in dry leaves, cardboard, or dried grass to rebalance the batch. Your tumbler should smell earthy, not putrid!
Related | Does Compost Smell?
Another sign of too much moisture is mold growth. Don’t let mold upset you, it’s not going to hurt the compost, but do add in some dry brown ingredients to balance it out.
Lack of moisture is also problematic as the microbes need moisture to thrive.
If the tumbler contents seem too dry, add food scraps with high moisture.
You could also pour in a few cups of water and turn the unit four or five times so the dry material can soak up some moisture.
Balancing your mix of green to brown
To compost efficiently, you need the right balance of nitrogen-rich “green” material and carbon-rich “brown” material.
Typically you use one part green to three parts brown.
This mix provides the right food for microbes and chemicals reaction to break down the material into beautiful compost.
With time you’ll get a feel for the right amount of green and brown to add to your size compost tumbler for best results.
It never hurts to check online for compost ingredients tips to keep your tumbler working properly.
Adding more and more
When you see the material inside your tumbler decreasing in volume, it’s easy to continue tossing in kitchen scraps and leaves. While it’s okay to add in more material for the first week or so, it’s better to load it fully one time and let it do its thing.
Keep in mind that when you add fresh material, the processing clock resets to zero.
So, if you have no plans to use your compost for many months, go ahead and keep adding to the tumbler. Just allow room for the contents to move when you turn the unit.
If you think you’ll have enough material to compost more than one batch at a time, then purchase a dual compost tumbler.
My first purchase was a dual model, and I love it, but I find during fall that I have a lot of material to compost. I’m going to buy a second dual composter with larger barrels to handle it all.
Compost Tumbler FAQs
Below, I answer some common questions about using a compost tumbler and if they are worth buying.
Can You Put Worms In A Compost Tumbler?
You can put worms in a compost tumbler, but you shouldn’t. Why? First, the composter is sealed, which can get very hot inside and kill the worms.
Composting releases ammonia gas which also can kill the worms, so the expert consensus is never to add worms to a compost tumbler.
How Long Does It Take To Compost In A Tumbler?
When conditions are ideal, you can produce finished compost in three to four weeks. The environment inside a sealed tumbler speeds up the decomposition process over a pile left outside.
Temperature, season, and the ratio of materials you add to the composter will alter the time it takes to finish off a load. In general, expect most batches to be complete in under two months.
How Do You Speed Up Compost In A Tumbler?
You can give your compost tumbler a boost by adding in microbes to your starter mix. You can scoop in some soil from your garden, or a bag of organic compost you purchase (sounds silly, I know!).
You can also purchase compost activator or horse manure if you can get your hands on some. The microbes will jump-start the decomposition process.
What Should You Not Put In A Compost Tumbler?
Aside from worms, you should also avoid adding the following to your compost tumbler:
- Pet waste
- Meat, fish, dairy, or bones
- Paper or cardboard with ink/printing
- Charcoal or wood ashes
- Weeds or plants that have seeds or fungus/disease
Related | How To Compost Weeds
How Often Should I Turn My Compost Tumbler?
You should turn your tumbler every two or three days for best results. This schedule allows ample time for the bottom materials to decompose without letting them get overly moist.
Are Compost Tumblers Worth The Cost?
If you are committing to composting, then the investment in a tumbler saves space and time over a standard outdoor compost pile. So the answer is yes, I believe they are worth the cost.
You can produce compost batches faster in a tumbler, and it just takes a moment to turn the tumbler every couple of days, which is very convenient.
They also are cleaner and take up little space. I think my compost tumbler is cute and isn’t a messy eyesore in my garden.
Composting does take time to master, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. When you take advantage of the design of compost tumblers, you can eliminate the time and strain it takes to manage a compost pile manually.
No matter your lifestyle or budget, there is a compost tumbler out there waiting to help you to reduce your household waste.
Once you master using your compost tumbler, you will find it invaluable for improving your home and garden!