Diaper pails are so important to have in your nursery if you don’t want your baby’s dirty diapers stinking out the house.

When it comes to choosing the best diaper pail, you do have to put in some time finding one which is right for you. It needs to provide you with enough room to store a fair amount of dirty diapers, it should keep any odors contained, and it should also look decent in the room it is kept in too!

For everything you need to know about diaper pails, and which would be the best for you, keep reading. We have covered all the questions you might have, and then some, to help you choose the best diaper pail to make life that much simpler.

If you are a completely new parent and all this diaper stuff is super confusing, please check out our Ultimate Diaper Guide for New Parents.

What Is A Diaper Pail?

A diaper pail is a place to store dirty diapers until you can throw them out with the rest of the rubbish on garbage day. These disposal devices offer a solution to keeping your home or your baby’s room clean and free from odors until you take the trash out.

For any room where you change your baby in your home, you need a diaper pail. They offer a convenient space to throw away your dirty diapers, without having to do so in the family bin and have the whole house smell like dirty diapers until garbage day.

Wondering how many diapers you’ll need to stockpile for that new baby on the way? Check out our diaper calculator to figure that out.

How Do Diaper Pails Work?

Diaper pails all pretty much work the same. They are a form of a garbage can that has been created to specifically hold dirty diapers, whether they are disposable or cloth. They are a must-have for new parents.

What makes diaper pails different from normal garbage cans is that they are sealed, to help prevent odors from escaping and making your home smell horrid.

A diaper pail should be able to block unpleasant odors for a few days. By doing this, you can throw away a few days’ worth of diapers (depending on the size of the diaper pail) before having to take all of the trash out.

Most diaper pails also come with inserted liners. When you throw a diaper away, it is pushed into a scented plastic bag, which is cut off by the lid of the pail. These plastic bags reduce the mess in the diaper pail and help to prevent odors even further.

Do You Really Need A Diaper Pail?

A diaper pail is not absolutely necessary, but it will really help you deal with dirty diapers. While it might be considered a luxury for some, it really does go a long way to help prevent excessive stink in your house from dirty diapers stored in your kitchen bin.

To prevent the dirty diaper smell in your house, you could either walk outside to throw away each dirty diaper in the outside trash, or you could store a few days’ worth in a diaper pail.

Diaper pails can be used from the day your baby is born, straight through to when they are fully potty trained, so you will get a few years of use out of them.

If you are looking to purchase one extra item for your baby that isn’t considered an essential, a diaper pail is definitely a good choice.

Hungry? Check out our article on diaper cakes. (You don’t actually eat them.)

What Is The Best Diaper Pail?

When spending money on a diaper pail, you want to make sure it is going to be one of the best, and worth your money.

Below are 3 of the best diaper pails on the market that work effectively to contain odors and smells, and give you a convenient place to store dirty diapers!

Playtex Diaper Genie Complete

The Playtex Diaper Genie Complete is the best overall diaper pail available. This diaper pail is delivered already assembled with a 7-layer bag in the pail already.

Even though it is compact, the Playtex Diaper Genie can hold up to 270 diapers at a time, so it is even perfect to use for parents with twins!

There is no need to use your hands, which are often busy with your baby, simply push down the foot pedal and throw the diaper away. The lid of the pail is lined with a carbon filter to further prevent bad odors!

You do need to use Diaper Genie branded bags to refill the diaper pail, but they are so effective that you wouldn’t want to use any others.

Check out this product here.

White diaper genie

Dekor Classic Diaper Pail

The Dekor Classic Diaper Pail is the best budget-friendly option.

It is hands-free, with a foot-pedal that opens the lid easily. Featuring a spring-loaded OdorKeeper trap door, the odor of the diapers is kept sealed in tight, and perfumed slightly with the powder-scented refill bags.

Each Dekor Classic Diaper Refill Bag lasts through multiple loads of diaper changes, so you won’t have to change it too often.

Once your little one is out of diapers, you can use the bin for garbage or garden waste!

For a closer look on this product, click here.

white and gray Dekor diaper pail

Ubbi Diaper Pail

The Ubbi Diaper Pail is a little more expensive than its competitors, but the plus side is that you can use it with cloth diaper bags or regular diaper bags, so you land up saving money in the long run.

The Ubbi Diaper Pail has steel body trap doors that hold in odors much more effectively than plastic, and the rubber seals around the rim help to hold off odors even better. The lid of the pail slides open, so it does not disrupt air too much, which means you notice less odor when opening and closing the diaper pail.

With an oval shape, this diaper pail fits into smaller spaces, but it does also only hold 50 diapers, which is less than some competitors.

However, the compact design, the odor sealing, and the fact that you can use a regular garbage bag makes it a great purchase for many families.

For the latest prices on this product, click here.

Gray Ubbi diaper pail

How Do I Choose A Diaper Pail?

You need to know what to look for when choosing the best diaper pail. Here is what to consider when purchasing a diaper pail:

Ease Of Use – A diaper pail needs to be easy to use, otherwise there is no point, and you might not actually end up using it. The best diaper pail would be a hands-free one, with a foot pedal that opens the lid. You will be using the diaper pail when changing your baby – you will need both hands free!

Odor-Blocking – Make sure that the diaper pail has a good odor-control system. These can be special seals or scented bags that help to mask the smell of dirty diapers. Steel pails work better at keeping odors in.

Special Diaper Bags – Some diaper pails only take specific diaper bags. This is okay if the bags are particularly good at preventing smells and odors. However, make sure to take note of the cost of the diaper bags to see if they will end up costing too much in the long run.

Size – It is important to take note of the size of the diaper pail, especially if you are tight on space in the nursery. Check to see how many diapers the pail can hold, so that you can work out how often it will need to be emptied.

Looking for diaper bags instead? Please read our Best Diaper Bags article.

Which Is Better, Diaper Genie Or Ubbi?

Both the Diaper Genie and the Ubbi pails come highly recommended, but you only need one. Which is better between the two? Here are the main differences between the two, to help you decide which would be best for you.

  • The Diaper Genie has a foot pedal, which makes it easy to use. The Ubbi has a close door function, which can be a little tricky to use when changing a diaper.
  • The Diaper Genie is made from plastic, whereas the Ubbi is made from steel. Steel is known to contain odors better than plastic pails, which are more porous and let more odors through.
  • The Ubbi is compatible with standard garbage bags, so you aren’t restricted to one type of bag. The Diaper Genie can only be used with Diaper Genie bin liners, but they do work well so it isn’t too much of a downside.

Both are sturdy diaper pails, and both look great. The Ubbi is more expensive, but it does work out cheaper over time as you can use regular garbage liners. However, the Diaper Genie has a better design overall, with an easy-to-use foot pedal.

The Diaper Genie and the Ubbi would both be great options for your nursery.

How Do You Keep A Diaper Pail From Smelling?

Diaper pails are quite good at keeping odors at bay, but there are a few extra things you can do to further prevent any bad odors from seeping out of the bin.

  1. Store the diaper pail away in a cool and dry place. Laundry rooms and bathrooms tend to be high in heat and humidity, and that could cause the stink to be worse. Keep the pail in an area that is free from humidity and direct sunlight.
  2. It is a good idea to let your diaper pail have some airflow now and then. Some ventilation goes a long way to prevent further stink.
  3. Use scented liners to help further mask the bad odors from the diapers. These scented bags are fairly inexpensive and make a huge difference.
  4. Wash the diaper pail every few weeks. Use a strong detergent to scrub the inside of the diaper pail to remove bacteria and odors.

Everyone knows when you change a diaper, you’re going to need baby wipes. If you want to keep things natural, check out our Best Natural Baby Wipes article.

Man holding nose silhouette

How Often Should You Empty A Diaper Pail?

How often you need to empty your diaper pail will depend on how many diapers it holds and how many diaper changes your baby has. You will also have to empty a diaper pail sooner if you have twins or two children in diapers.

For just one baby, and a standard size diaper pail, you would probably need to empty the diaper pail every 3 to 4 days.

Does your baby like water? Have a look at our Best Swim Diapers article.

How Do I Dispose Of Diapers Without A Diaper Pail?

If you are not set on using a diaper pail, you would be looking for some other ways to dispose of diapers. Here is how to dispose of diapers without using a diaper pail:

Have a dedicated diaper bin – There is no way you could get away with throwing dirty diapers into your kitchen bin, it would stink up the whole house. You need to have a dedicated diaper bin. This doesn’t have to be a diaper pail, but can be a garbage bin that is small to medium in size that secures well.

Use plastic bags – Save all the plastic bags you bring home from the store to throw away diapers in. Toss the diapers into these plastic bags and tie them up. This traps the odor of the dirty diaper when it is thrown into the bin.

Use scented bags – Scented bags don’t only have to be used with diaper pails. You can buy a roll of scented diapers to throw diapers away in. Not only does this provide an extra layer of odor control, but the scented aroma masks the smell further.

Are Diapers Considered Hazardous Waste?

While we don’t spend much time thinking about it, diapers contain human waste, and surely this would be considered hazardous waste?

In most states, dirty diapers are actually not considered hazardous waste. While you should try to empty the contents of a dirty diaper into the toilet before throwing the diaper away, there is no harm in wrapping the diaper up tight and throwing it away with the rest of your regular trash.

Also, as the diapers are mixed in with all different waste products when thrown away, there is a small concentration of human waste found, so it is not too big of a deal.

Bulldozer at a landfill

Do Diapers Go In The Garbage?

Diapers should be thrown away in the garbage. There is no way to recycle disposable diapers, as they contain various materials, some of which are recyclable and others that are not. Even worse is that the diapers contain human waste, and this definitely is not recyclable.

To throw the diapers away, it is better to wrap them in bin liners or diaper bags, to stop them contaminating other items around them. A single diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose fully in a landfill site, which is why so many families are moving to cloth diapers.

With the number of diapers your baby will go through, along with the cost and the fact that you cannot recycle these diapers, it is best to look into using cloth diapers.

If you want to stick to disposables, you may consider using organic diapers

But, if those are out of your price range, then you may just want to go with a top diaper brand, which means you’ll need to compare Huggies vs Pampers to see which ones are right for you. Or, you can also check out our Honest Review of Honest Diapers to see if those may be more to your liking. 

Do You Need A Diaper Pail With Cloth Diapers?

You will need a diaper pail or diaper bin to keep cloth diapers in before washing them together, however diaper pails are not always accommodating to cloth diapers, and often don’t have enough space in the lids to fit cloth diapers.

There are some diaper pails that can be modified to suit cloth diapers, but you will have to check this first. Instead of a diaper pail, many parents choose to use wet bags.

Wet bags are hanging bags that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These are usually hooked around a doorknob or a hook, and the dirty cloth diapers are placed into the bag until you are ready to wash them all.

These are designed well to keep odors at bay and are fairly easy to wash.

How Do You Clean A Diaper Pail?

How you clean a diaper pail will depend on the type that you have. Some diaper pails can only be cleaned using a dry cloth, whereas others can be cleaned with a non-abrasive liquid household cleaner.

You can use bleach to clean some diaper pails, which helps to kill bacteria and germs and keep odors away.

Read the user manual of the diaper pail you are interested in to see how to clean it best.

Babies sleeping through the night is downright magical. Check out our article on the Best Overnight Diapers.

Are Diaper Pail Refills Universal?

Many diaper pails can only be used with certain diaper pail liners, while some can be used with normal garbage liners or standard pail bags.

Some universal diaper pail refills can be used for many different brands, but you will have to do some research to see if a universal diaper refill can be used on your specific diaper pail.

The Odor Grabber Universal Diaper Pail Refill is a popular choice, and is suited to be used on the following pails:

Diaper Genie II, Diaper Genie II Elite, Diaper Champ Deluxe, Diaper Champ, Safety 1st Easy Saver, Safety 1st Simple Step, Safety 1st Neat, The First Years Clean Air, Arm & Hammer.

Check out this similar product here.

diaper pail refill

Diaper Pails – Are They Worth It?

Diaper pails are definitely worth a purchase if you can afford one. They give you a simple storage solution for dirty diapers and help to keep bad odors at bay. Many diaper pails are also incredibly simple to use, so you don’t have to fuss when changing your baby’s diaper.

You should be able to find a diaper pail in your price range, and it will give you many years of stink-free diaper disposal!

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Rebecca Brown_One of the stuff4tots authors
Rebecca Brown

Rebecca Brown is a mom to two and writer on all things parenting. She has been focussed on content creation and article writing for the last four years, drawing on the inspiration she gets from her own experience as a mother, and the expansive research the job requires.

When not writing, you can find Rebecca outside with the kids, or hidden away enjoying a good cup of coffee!