Best Diaper Pail Overall: Diaper Dekor
We put 11 of the top diaper pails through our Stink Torture Test and crowned the Diaper Dekor as the champ. It contained the stink inside the pail the best.
Diaper pails fall into two categories: those that use regular trash bags and those that use proprietary refills. As a matter of cost, the trash bag route is the cheapest . . . until your baby starts solid foods. That’s when you need to up your Stink Control Game. And diaper bags that use specialized refill bags that are designed to contain stink are the best option.
Our top pick for best diaper pail is the Diaper Dekor. It’s mojo: hands-free operation and great odor control. Hit the foot pedal, the lid opens and you toss the diaper through a trap door. No bending over, no need to twist dials, etc. Here’s more on the Diaper Dekor:
What We Liked
• Three sizes for different uses: the Mini (holds 25 diapers), the Classic (40 newborn diapers) and the Plus (60 newborn diapers). This article links to the Classic, FYI. Why three sizes? Well, you could use the larger one for a room that is farther from the trash, requiring less emptying. Smaller sizes might be better for grandma’s house or other occasional diaper change areas.
• Unlike other diaper pails that have proprietary refills, the Diaper Dekor doesn’t individually wrap each diaper. This means you will use less refills than other competing pails, based on our testing.
• Biodegradable refills also available.
What Needs Work
• When opening the Diaper Dekor trap door to deposit a dirty diaper, you will get hit with a Mass Stink Bomb. If you have a low tolerance for odor, you may want to look at the Munchkin pail reviewed below.
• Be careful which size refills you buy: the Classic size won’t fit in a Plus can and so on.
• Regular refills work better at holding back the stink than the biodegradable versions. Since odor control is the main reason you buy this type of diaper pail, we recommend sticking with the regular refills.
Best No-Refill Diaper Pail: Ubbi Steel
The Ubbi Diaper Pail is the solution for those who object to buying those expensive refill cartridges. And we can certainly understand why.
Let’s look at the math: you will most likely be changing diapers for three years (most kiddos potty train around three years of age). When you add the price of that refillable plastic diaper pail to all the refills, you get a lifetime cost of close to $300. Yes, $300!
The Ubbi is a good alternative. This pail is basically a steel trash can with a sliding lid on top with a rubber seal to keep odors in. Why is steel a good idea? It doesn’t absorb the odors plastic pails can. And best of all it uses regular trash bags. Here’s more on the Ubbi:
What We Liked
• Sliding lid does pretty good job of containing the smell.
• Less expensive overall. You just use regular trash can bags.
• Doesn’t look ugly. Lots of colors. This sleek steel comes in a large variety of colors to match just about any decor.
What Needs Work
• Doesn’t have a foot pedal, so you have to use two hands to open the pail. That’s a pain if you have a baby in your arms.
• The lid sometimes sticks.
• Can rust if you don’t dry it after washing.
Best Stink Control: Munchkin Step
The Munchkin Step has a unique method of keeping the smell of diapers down in your nursery: a “self-sealing system.” This twists the bag shut after you insert the diaper into the pail. It actually works pretty well–you don’t get nearly as nasty a wave of of odor from the pail when you open it as you do from other pails. Here’s more on we recommend this pail:
What We Liked
• Easy to use. Step on foot pedal opens the lid, then you push in the diaper and it twists the liner bag itself.
• Childproof lock. This great if you have curious toddlers around the house.
• Includes an Arm & Hammer baking soda cartridge for stink control. And it worked in our testing,
• Nice design.
What Needs Work
• Yuck factor. This diaper pail isn’t hands free—you have to push the squishy dirty diaper down into the pail to get it to work.
• Long term durability issues. Some of our readers who used this pail report the twisting mechanism can stop working in as little as six months after purchase.
• Refills add to expense.
Best Tried and True Pail: Diaper Genie
Launched in 1990, the Diaper Genie was the first diaper pail with its own cartridges of plastic wrap to contain baby’s diapers. This helped contain the stink. Before the Diaper Genie, in the Dark Ages, parents just put dirty diapers in a trash can . . . and ran that outside to the garage frequently.
The secret sauce for the Diaper Genie was the innovative proprietary plastic liner cartridge. Once you inserted the cartridge and tied off the end, all you had to do was insert the diaper in the top, twist and close the lid. Twisting sealed off the dirty diaper and the odor. When the pail got full, you used a special included cutter, clipped the plastic and tied off the end. Then you took your chain of dirty diapers off to the garbage—this looked like a change of sausages.
Bottom line: Diaper Genie worked at trapping odors and transformed the diaper pail market, spawning a raft of competitors. The Diaper Genie itself was sold to baby gear giant Playtex in 1999.
Not long ago, the Diaper Genie was redesigned. And this new version has its fans and detractors. The big change: the Genie now sports a foot peel. And it’s smaller than past versions. That means it needs to be emptied more frequently.
That is both a plus and minus—a plus since fewer diapers = less stink, a minus since you have empty it more frequently! That isn’t fun if you outdoor trash is a long way from the nursery.
Here’s what we liked and didn’t about the Diaper Genie:
What We Like
• Tall can = less leaning over. The redesigned Genie sits higher off the floor, requiring less stooping over to put a diaper in.
• Foot pedal. The original version did not have a foot pedal; you had to lean over and open the lid. Now it’s a bit easier when you have your hands full.
• Carbon filter for extra odor protection.
• Tried and true brand.
What Needs Work
• Need to push the dirty diaper deep into the top. Parents thought this was frustratingly yucky. So while we like the new foot petal, the fact you still have to push the diaper in is not pleasant. (Yes, we know that the maker of the Diaper Genie claims you just have to toss the diaper in—but the reality is you still need to push it down).
• Long term durability could be better. Although we didn’t have any issues in our testers, some of our readers have complain that the plastic components (like the trap door to remove diapers) break.
• Doesn’t hold as many diapers as other cans. That means you have to empty it every two to three days.
• Doesn’t wrap each diaper like old version. We though the old system did a better job at controlling stink.
• Refills get expensive.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing diaper pails for 25+ years. In addition to hands on testing (yep, our noses were put to the test smelling things one normally avoids—you’re welcome), we evaluated consumer reviews posted online, as well as our own message boards and reader feedback.
Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We are 100% reader-supported.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Diaper Pail!
1. The average baby requires 2300 diaper changes in his or her first year.
That’s right, 2300 diaper changes. A staggering figure . . . only made more staggering by figuring out what do with the dirty ones once you’ve changed baby. Yes, we can hear first-time parents raising their hands right now and saying “Duh! They go in the trash!” We’ll get to that later.
Why so many? First time parents are inexperienced when it comes to knowing the signs baby needs a change, so they check baby more frequently. Breastfed babies also poop more often than formula fed babies. But you don’t get off easy by using formula: formula -fed babies are more “odiferous” than breastfed babies.
2. Diaper pails vs. regular trashcans: it’s a stinky battle.
We’ve heard from a pretty sizable share of parents who claim they don’t need a special diaper pail. A trash can works just fine for them. Maybe they don’t have babies eating solids yet, but eventually they’ll realize a specialized diaper pail isn’t such a bad idea.
Diaper pails often use either deodorizers like baking soda or deodorized plastic liners to keep the stink under control. The effectiveness of such odor control varies widely—we recommend the best ones in this article.
3. Diaper bags that use refill cartridges of deodorized plastic can get expensive.
These refill cartridges can really add up. The lifetime cost for most pails that use special refills can top $300. And remember to get the right refill for your pail. Some older versions are still for sale. Other brands may have different sizes requiring different cartridges.
4. Yes, diaper pails that use regular trash bags are cheaper, but the trade off is the stink.
If you choose to go with trash bag liners for your diaper pail, get ready for the smell. They will need to be replaced more frequently. And even if you get odor control kitchen trash bags like Glad OdorShield, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to stand the smell after baby starts solid foods. So be aware of the trade off.
5. Eco-friendly versions of refill cartridges are an option.
Great news for our eco-conscious readers: many diaper pails offer biodegradable refills. Bad news: they may not combating stink as well as the regular kind. We suggest you test out one pack of biodegradable refills rather than invest in several. Biodegradable are slightly more expensive than regular, by the way.
6. If you’re worried your cloth diapers will stink up the nursery, rest easy with these tips
Follow these tips to keep your nursery from stinking with cloth diapers. Scrape baby’s poop from the diaper into the toilet using a flushable wipe. Throw the dirty diaper into a diaper pail. Some parents like to soak cloth diapers in a bleach solution or use a pre-soak product with enzymes (like Shout) that “predigest” the poop. Presoaking will help keep down the odor. Every few days, wash as you would your regular clothes. If you have an older washer, you may need to add bleach during the cleaning process.
7. Avoid deodorant disks in your diaper pail or kitchen trash.
Older babies and toddlers are attracted to the oddest things. We recommend you avoid toxic deodorant disks that are stuck onto the lid of the diaper pail or kitchen trash can. You don’t want to find your toddler sucking on one!