Best Diaper Pail: An Expert Buyers Guide

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 4, 2023
Diaper Pail

Nothing smells worse than a stinky diaper. In fact, your regular trash can will smell like roses compared to the horror that your baby can unleash into a diaper. A diaper pail is just the thing you need to prevent the smell of dirty diapers from wafting through your home. Choosing the perfect diaper pail can be a downright chore. What works for other parents may not be suitable for you. If you are new to the world of diaper pails then there are many questions that you will need answered such as:

Contents show
  • What on earth is a diaper pail?
  • What are the different types of diaper pails?
  • How do I compare one diaper pail to another?

This diaper pail guide will answer all these questions and more. By the time you have finished reading this guide, you will be able to call yourself a diaper pail expert. Pretty cool, huh? Use the links below to jump to your preferred section or keep reading through this guide from top to bottom. It’s all great information.

With the introduction, our of the way lets jump right into the juicy stuff. Your trip into the world of diaper pails begins here.

The Best Diaper Pails Available

Okay, so now that you know what to look for when choosing a diaper pail its time to look at some of the best and most popular diaper pails available. These diaper pails are the best in the class and recommended by parents the world over.

Most Popular Diaper Pail

Styles: As pictured
Brand: Munchkin

  • Baking soda filler
  • Self sealing
  • Can be opened with one hand
  • Snap shut bags

There is a reason that this is one of the most popular diaper pails on the market. Not only does the pail effectively suppress the odor coming from smelly diapers but also packs some awesome features that are not found in other diaper pails. Munchkin have really pulled out all the stops into making this one of the most effective diaper pails on the market. This is currently the diaper pail I use and could not be happier with it. Check out how easy it is to dispose of diapers using this pail:

white saver diaper pail
Image Source: Flickr
  1. A self-sealing system twists and seals the liner each time the lid is opened. This traps any odors inside the bag, preventing them from escaping when the lid is opened.
  2. When you need to dispose of a dirty diaper, simply push the diaper through the seal.
  3. When it is time to remove the liner simply snap the ring in half. This seals the full liner without the need to tie a knot.

See the Munchkin STEP™ Diaper Pail, Powered by Arm & Hammer™ in action:

Tucked away underneath the lid is a small dome shaped container. While it may look unusual, the container serves a very handy purpose; it holds baking soda to assist with odor control.

Each and every time the lid is closed the dispenser sprinkles baking soda onto the smelly diapers below. Baking soda is amazing at eliminating odors and I applaud munchkin for coming up with a way do so without the mess of spooning it into the diaper pail yourself. The self-sealing system combined with the baking soda dispenser makes this diaper pail one of the best for odor control on the market.

The liners are no slouch either, each disposable bag will hold up to 25 bags. While you will have to buy specific liners for this bag, if you run out you can cut the plastic ring off the liners and loop a regular 13-gallon trash bag through it. This is only a temporary solution though as it does not offer the same level of odor protection as using Munchkins purpose made refills.

The white plastic exterior is not going to win any design awards but being neutral will not clash with the color scheme of your home. If you are new to the world of diaper pails and want to see what all the fuss is about, I would be hard pressed to recommend any other diaper pail unless your needs are more specific. Buy the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail here.

Best Metal Diaper Pail

Styles: 15 Different color and style options
Brand: Ubbi

  • Gorgeous design
  • No special bag required
  • Childproof lock
  • Sliding lid

Easily the best looking diaper pail you will come across. Don’t worry, it doesn’t just come in White! Available in 15 different powder-coated steel finishes, this diaper pail will easily match your nursery’s theme (or wherever you change your baby’s diaper). A childproof lock helps prevent curious hands from opening the lid.

Being made of metal, this diaper pail does not absorb odors; making cleaning a breeze. No special liners are required, you can easily use your own rubbish bags or cloth diaper bags inside. When the lid closes on whatever liners you decided to use the stinky diaper smell is trapped inside.

See Ubbi Metal Diaper Pail in action:

While the diaper pail may be on the expensive side, there is no doubt that you are getting your money’s worth. While all the other diaper pails feel cheap and plastic, the smooth metal surface gives this diaper pail a premium feel. If you want an effective diaper pail that looks great then this is for you!

Best Diaper Pail for Smell

Styles: Has 5 colors to choose from
Brand: Playtex

  • Has a simple design
  • Easy to use
  • Superb odor control
  • “Push N Lock” clamp feature

Considering the main purpose diaper pails which is to contain stinky diapers, the initial expectation is that there shouldn’t be any traces of bad smell coming from the pail itself ones the diapers are in. Unfortunately, not every diaper pail in the market can efficiently do this. The good news is < a href="">Diaper Genie can make it happen.

Amazingly, the Diaper Genie Essentials is able to efficiently trap diaper stink with its “Push N Lock” clamp feature. With this feature, you literally push the diaper through the insertion flap--which is pretty tight, if you ask me. The Diaper Genie refills can also be tied and cut off which further prevents the odor from escaping from the bag.

So, what’s the catch? The overall disposing process of Diaper Genie Essentials is a little more complex than a regular diaper pail with no insertion flap. Plus, the tightness of the flap is not the most convenient feature when you’re dealing with a leaking diaper. Also, if you prefer a diaper pail with a foot pedal, this one is not for you.

With regard to cost, Diaper Genie Essentials is relatively cheaper than the Diaper Genie Elite. However, you should expect to spend a little more on the refill cartridges which ultimately affects the total cost of owning this particular Diaper Genie model.

Best Baby Diaper Pail for Ease of Use

Styles: 3 different sizes in 5 different colors
Brand: Dekor

  • Hands-free operation
  • Features a trap door system
  • Includes child-lock button and knob
  • Has ABS scented refills

When it comes to ease of use, nothing beats a hands-free operation and that is something that Dekor has successfully achieved with their Dekor Diaper Pail. Their pails come in three sizes: Classic, Plus, and mini. Although, the Plus size is more cost-efficient in terms of capacity and number of refills required.

During the actual disposal of dirty diapers, Dekor claims to offer a hands-free solution that is made possible with their trap door system and foot pedal. This means that you can keep a hand on your baby while they're still on the changing table. Also, these features are child-proof--turning the knob will lock the trap door and pressing a button will keep the lid closed.

The trap door is accessible once the flap is opened. However, one valid observation is that the trap door only works if the diaper is full and heavy. If the diaper is not heavy enough, then you will have to deal with pushing the diaper through the door to open it. Again, it’s something you don’t want to do with a leaking diaper--much like in the case of Diaper Genie.

As you probably can tell, Diaper Dekor has several layers of odor control system: the lid, the trap door, and finally, the scented bags. Surprisingly, the whole system doesn’t go all too well. First, as the trap door opens, the odor easily escapes from the bag. Second, the lid that’s supposed to “seal-in” the odor fans it off into the air instead as it closes. Lastly, not everyone likes the combination of powder-scented bags and poop.

Best Diaper Pail for Single Disposable Diapers

Styles: 13 different design options
Brand: Diaper One N Done

  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Seals individual diapers
  • Can hang or stand
  • Made in the USA

This diaper pale only holds a single diaper. Yep. You read that correctly. This feature is exactly what makes this diaper pail so great. Designed solely for discount disposable diapers, each soiled diaper is sealed in its own individual bag; locking in the smell. This allows you to throw the diaper in the regular trash because the smell is completely sealed in.

The Diaper One N Done can either stand upright or hang off the back of a chair these options make the diaper pail incredibly easy to keep close at hand during changing time. I am proud to announce that this diaper pail is made in the USA.

I am a sucker for American made products, not only because they are generally of a higher quality than their imported counterparts but because their customer service is local as well. The Diaper One comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Don’t like it? Get your money back. Not a bad deal.

Best Large Wet Diaper Pail

Styles: As pictured
Brand: Busch

  • Made from recycled plastic
  • Carbon filter
  • Strong clamp closure
  • Specifically for cloth diapers

If you are looking for a heavy-duty wet diaper pail then look no further, this diaper pail can hold a lot of cloth diapers and keep a room odorless while doing so. The environmentally conscious among you will love that the diaper pail is made from recycled plastic. Despite being recycled, the plastic is very heavy duty making this one of the more durable diaper pails available.

A carbon filter lets air in and prevents odors from escaping. The carbon filter will require changing once every three months. While I dislike products that require the ongoing purchase of replacement parts once bought; the carbon filter is so effective at keeping smells in that I can't help but put my dislikes aside.

Replacement filters are not too expensive anyway. Be mindful that there are two sizing options for this wet diaper pail. A smaller 7-gallon size that will see you out up to two days before needing to be emptied and a 14-gallon size that will last up to 4 days depending on how many diapers your baby soils a day. If you have two little ones in cloth diapers then you should definitely go for the larger option.

The different types of diaper pails

There are two common diaper pails available:

Dry diaper pail

A dry diaper pail is similar to a trash can. Dry diaper pails are generally used with a liner and contain no standing water. A dry diaper pail can be used for either cloth or disposable diapers. Cloth diapers are simply shaken or scraped out over a toilet to get rid of loose waste before being thrown into the diaper pail.


  • Suitable for both cloth and disposable diapers
  • The lightest kind of diaper pail, easy to lift and move
  • A safer storage option than wet diaper pails


  • Cloth diapers may stain
  • Requires a liner to be used
  • Diaper pail will need deodorizing from time to time

Wet diaper pail

A wet diaper pail is used exclusively for cloth diapers (there is no need to wash disposables after all). A wet diaper pail if filled with water and cloth diapers are soaked inside it until they are finally thrown through a wash cycle.
Parents often add natural products such as baking soda or white vinegar to the water to help prevent odors from lingering and to prevent staining. Bleach should never be added to a wet diaper pail as it can break down and destroy your cloth diapers.


  • A better option for cloth diapers
  • Easy stain removal since water acts as a pre-wash soak
  • Less odor if water is correctly treated


  • Heavy to lift and transport due to water weight
  • Water will require treating
  • Messier (water can spill)

The Wet/Dry Diaper Pail

Wait, didn’t I just tell you that there were two diaper pails commonly available? Then why am I listing a third right here? Technically a wet/dry diaper pail is not a baby product you will find sitting on a store shelf. The wet/dry diaper pail is a method rather than an actual diaper pail itself.

It’s a super simple technique that helps reduce the odors released from cloth diapers when they are placed in a dry diaper pail. All you need to do is rinse your cloth diapers in the toilet or sink prior to placing them in a dry diaper pail. The diapers will sit wet in the pail but there is no standing water.

The wet cloth diapers combined with the dry diaper pail is what gives the method its name. Baking soda and white vinegar can also be added to a wet/dry diaper pail for added odor control.

What to Look for When Choosing a Diaper Pail

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the features you will need to be mindful of when comparing one diaper pail to another.

Does the Diaper Pail Contain Odors?

topless baby lying on bed

Let's be honest here, the main appeal of a diaper pail is that it prevents the foul stench of poopy diapers from flowing through your house. A diaper pail that does not contain bad smells is simply useless. Different diaper pails use different systems to contain odors.

  • Scented diaper pail liners
  • Air filters (usually made from charcoal)
  • Manual addition of fragrance or deodorizing powder is required

Whatever system your diaper pail uses to prevent diaper smells from escaping, ensure that you find it easy to use. Be mindful that diaper pails can still give off a nasty blast of smell when you insert a diaper into the pail. This smell will vary from “mild” to “Ahhhh… What have I just unleashed upon this world?” depending on how effectively the diaper pail combats odors.

Brand Specific Liners

If you are looking for a diaper pail that uses liners then be mindful that not all pails are equal. Some diaper pails will only use one of the following liner systems:

Wash Regularly

Diaper pails that require brand-specific liners will not work with any other liner from a different brand. Brand-specific liners often have odor or bacteria-fighting properties but are generally more expensive than regular liners.

Any Liner

Diaper pails that use any liner can be filled with standard plastic or household rubbish bags.

Cloth liner

Diaper pails that are used for cloth diapers will come with a cloth bag that can be thrown through a washing cycle with the cloth diapers themselves. Cloth liners will need to be dried prior to returning to the diaper pail.

mother and baby
Image Source: Flickr

So as you can see, the diaper liner can actually add to the cost of diapering and may be something you need to take into consideration if you are on a budget.

Is the Lid Childproof?

Now I don’t mean to make out like diaper pails are death traps, because they simply aren’t when used correctly. That said, it is still important that you consider the following advice.

If you are going with a dry diaper pail system then you will have to be prepared to use plastic liners. Now I don’t have to tell you that plastic bags pose a suffocation risk to babies and small children. You simply do not want your little one near them. Even wet diaper pails contain liquid that poses a drowning risk.

Remember; children can drown in less than an inch of water! In order to help keep your little one safe you should look for a diaper pail with a childproof lid. This way you will be able to rest easy knowing your curious little one will be unable to make his way into the diaper pail. A step pedal will also make it difficult for your child to access the diaper pail. Speaking of which…

Does the Pail Have a Foot Pedal?

cloth diaper pail
Image Source: Flickr

Trust me on this one, a foot pedal is an absolutely life (and carpet) saver. You will look like a poorly rehearsed circus act trying to balance a diaper loaded with poop in one hand while you try to open a diaper pail in with the other. The performance is worse again at 3 AM in the morning after a sleep-deprived after an early morning diaper change (hint: swap over to overnight diapers).

A foot pedal will allow you to easily open the diaper pail using your feet while your hands carefully place he overflowing diaper inside. Simple! While some diaper pails may not have a foot pedal they can still be easily opened with one hand. These diaper pails are just as good at preventing the need to juggle a dirty diaper.

How Many Diapers Can the Pail Hold?

The capacity of a diaper pail is important. Too small and you will find yourself emptying it every day. Larger pails allow you to go days without changing. A larger diaper pail may seem like the way to go but it is worth remembering; the longer diapers sit in the pail, the smellier they become.

You will have to trade off between an increased emptying cycle or deal with an ever-increasing smell that comes from changing the diaper pail a few days later. If you have twins or more than one child in diapers then you are better off going with a larger sized diaper pail.

Keep in mind that as your baby gets bigger, the diapers he wears get bigger too. This means that your diaper pale will hold less diapers as your child grows, so choose a slightly larger diaper pail than needed to accommodate this.

Does the Diaper Pail Fall Within Your Budget?

Generally speaking, the more features a diaper pail has, the more expensive it is. If you are looking for a cheap diaper pail then you may have to choose a model without the high-end features.

What Material Is the Diaper Pail Made From?

Diaper pails are generally made from one of two materials; plastic or metal. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic diaper pails


  • Commonly available
  • More features than metal
  • Cheaper


  • Plastic absorbs odor easier
  • Less durable than metal

Metal diaper pails


  • Does not absorb odors
  • Very durable and long lasting
  • Premium look


  • More expensive
  • Not suitable for wet diaper pails

As you can see there is no clear winner between metal and plastic diaper pails. You will have to choose the material that is most appropriate for you.

How Easy Is the Diaper Pail for You to Use?

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if your neighbors like it, it doesn’t matter if your friends like it, it doesn’t even matter if the President of the United States like it. It only matters that YOU like the diaper pail. If, despite negative reviews, you find a diaper pail easy to use and an effective solution then go with your instincts. Everyone is different!

How to Prevent Your Diaper Pail Trapping Smells

Are you noticing a lingering smell in your diaper pail even though no dirty diapers are inside? Unfortunately the longer you have you have a diaper pail for, the more likely the smell will remain, even when empty. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to prevent smells from taking a hold inside your diaper pails. Let's take a look at them!

Liners are awesome

Plastic liners prevent your diapers from coming into contact with the diaper pail itself. This greatly reduces the smell that lingers even when the diaper pail is emptied.

Wrap the diaper

baby in blue bottoms lying on white surface

When placing disposables in the diaper pail, wrap each diaper up tightly (use the adhesive strips to help keep it closed) this helps seal the smell inside the diaper rather than the diaper pail itself.

Evacuate the diaper pail

If your baby has done a poop in his diaper that is so bad it burns the nostrils and clears a room then place it in the diaper pail with the other diapers and change the bag immediately. That diaper is not like wine. It will not get better with age and will be waiting for you the next time you open the diaper pail lid. If you are using a linerless diaper pail then the following techniques will help you to keep the pail smelling as pleasant as possible.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, it is awesome at absorbing smells that linger in the air. Simply sprinkle a tablespoon or two at the bottom of the diaper pail. Baking soda can only absorb so many odors and will need replacing every two to three weeks. Simply dump it in the trash and replace it. You can even sprinkle baking soda inside liners for extra odor-fighting defense.

Car sanitizer

You know the pine-scented air fresheners shaped like a pine tree? Those work great for helping to mask the odor of poopy diapers. Tape one to the underside of the diaper pail lid and change it every so often.

Antibacterial Spray

After removing the diapers or the liner from the pail spray the inside down with your favorite antibacterial spray to prevent odors from taking hold. Lysol is a common favorite among parents.

Empty Regularly

The longer diapers sit in a pail, the smellier it gets. The smellier the diapers get the smellier the pail gets. Get yourself in a routine of emptying the diaper pail regularly.

Scrape the Poop

Dekor cloth diaper liner
Image Source: Flickr

This is particularly true for cloth diapers, less poop in the diaper pail means less smell. Either scrape or rinse the cloth diapers before adding them to a diaper pail.

Wash Regularly

Just like with your trash can a diaper pail will require washing every now and then. Hot soapy water will do the trick.

Oh no! I didn’t take preventative measures and now it’s too late, a foul odor is trapped in my diaper pail! Fear not. You can still save your smell diaper pail using one of the two methods below.

1. The Baking Soda Scrub

The first method you can use to remove bad smells from your diaper pail is the more natural way. Place a tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl and lightly spray with vinegar. The baking soda will start to fizz, you want to add just enough vinegar to turn the baking soda into a paste. Scoop up some of the paste into a cloth and start scrubbing into the diaper pail.

Work your way from top to bottom, inside and out. Make more baking soda paste if needed. Once the diaper pail is generously coated, leave overnight before rinsing with hot soapy water in the morning. If the smell still remains then it is time to pull out the big guns… Chlorine bleach!

2. The Chlorine Bleach Bomb

Test chlorine on a small section of the diaper pail first to ensure no negative reaction occurs The last resort in odor-fighting, is harsh but effective. All you need is a large plastic bag and a bottle of bleach. Place your diaper pail in the plastic bag and douse generously with bleach.

Seal the bag up and leave it to sit outside for a couple of days. Open the bag up and hose down your diaper pail with cold water. Hooray, the poop smell has been wiped from the face of the earth! Bleach is pretty harsh stuff. Be careful not to spill it on any grass or plants during these processes as it is a surefire way to kill them.

Diaper Pail FAQ

Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions regarding diaper pails. If you have any further questions after reading the guide please leave a question in the comments below. I may even add your question to this section to help others!

What is a diaper pail?

A diaper pail is essentially a sealed trash can that stores soiled diapers. Whether you are using cloth diapers or disposables, a diaper pail will help to reduce the unpleasant odor that would flow through your home that would occur with a regular trash can.

baby in diaper lying on bed

Where do you store a diaper pail?

A diaper pail is essentially a sealed trash can that stores soiled diapers. Whether you are using cloth diapers or disposables, a diaper pail will help to reduce the unpleasant odor that would flow through your home that would occur with a regular trash can.

Will a diaper pail really keep your home odor-free?

Some diaper pails really do an amazing job of preventing the smell of a loaded diaper from escaping through the house. Of course, a diaper pail is going to smell when you open it briefly to insert the next loaded diaper, but with the lid closed bad smells are trapped inside. A diaper pail can successfully prevent diapers from stinking until you have accumulated enough to either throw in the trash or throw through the wash.

Can I throw other objects in the diaper pail?

If you are using the diaper pail to store disposables then you can also throw in any other items that may start to smell such as Q-tips and used baby wipes. If you are using the diaper pails for cloth diapers then you shouldn’t throw any disposable items in with them as these would have to be separated before throwing the cloth diapers through a washing cycle.

Diapers Pails for Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

It doesn’t matter which type of diapering system you use, a diaper pails role remains the same; to accumulate soiled diapers while minimizing the smell. When the diaper pail is full you either throw the diapers in the trash (disposables) or through a wash cycle (cloth diapers).

Featured Image Source: Flickr


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