mom placing plastic bag in diaper pail
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Kathleen Harris

Diaper Pails: Pros, Cons and Our Favorite Options

Not everyone considers it an essential item. But the right pail can make the job less stinky.

Babies go through anywhere from eight to ten diapers a day (some days more!). If you’re using disposable diapers, each change ends with you dumping the dirty one in a garbage can. A special, sealed diaper trash can is called a diaper pail; it’s made to trap odors. You might wonder why you couldn’t just wrap each diaper in a plastic bag and toss it in the regular garbage. Well, you could. But you’d need a lot of individual bags and you’d have to move quickly during diaper changes to make that all happen. Think about it: You need to keep one hand on your wiggly baby at all times (unless you do your diaper changes on the floor—and some parents do). You’d need an extra arm in order to hold your baby and tie her dirty diaper up in a bag! Or you’d have to let go of your baby, which isn’t safe. Diaper pails are engineered to open with a foot pedal or just a flip of the lid, so you can dump the diaper in one-handed while the other stays on your baby.

The older your baby gets, and the more serious the diaper situations, the more you’re going to appreciate your diaper pail. A baby drinking only breast milk or formula may not even have stinky diapers, but a baby eating solids sure does. So if you’ve been making it through the newborn months without a diaper pail, consider getting one as the start of solids approaches. Here are seven of our favorites.

Photo: Playtex

Diaper Genie

This iconic pail is so popular that parents sometimes use the term “diaper genie” interchangeably with “diaper pail.” Playtex’s Diaper Genie is very much a brand with its own special features, most notably a seven-layer bag that traps odors and a mechanism that wraps up each diaper individually.

The different versions of the Diaper Genie might leave you a little confused, especially as some older ones are still on the market. Currently Playtex is manufacturing three models: Diaper Genie Essentials is the basic version with a flip-top you can open with one hand; Diaper Genie Expressions has the same technology and can be decorated with a fabric sleeve to match your nursery; and Diaper Genie Complete is a little taller than the others, comes fully assembled, opens with a foot pedal, has an additional carbon filter to fight odors, and comes in several color options.


  • Each Diaper Genie is $40 or less.
  • The sealing system really works! Users report that the pail stays odor-free.


  • The pail’s sealing technology only works with Diaper Genie bags, and you’ll be buying those refills a lot. That’s partly why the pail is initially inexpensive; they get you later with the refills.
  • Eventually you have to cut the interior bag loose and toss it, full of dirty diapers, into your outside garbage can, and that’s seldom a stink-free experience. But that’s the case with every diaper pail on the market.

What moms say:
“Used it until she quit wearing diapers and never had an odor problem!”—Snooks

Buy it: Playtex Diaper Genie Complete, $40,

Photo: Munchkin


A decorator’s dream, the steel Ubbi comes in deep, glorious colors that pop in your nursery. Picking one out feels as fun as choosing the crib bedding! To insert a diaper into this pail you open a sliding door at the top; it can be done one-handed and has a child lock so your toddler can’t get in there.


  • Those colors! There are even metallics, like rose gold.
  • No special bags needed; you can use any plastic bag you want, though Ubbi does sell right-size bags if you prefer.
  • Because it’s made of metal, the pail can be put in rthe ecycling when your baby graduates from diapers.


  • The sturdy steel design makes it an expensive pail, starting at $70 for white and $80 and up for a color.
  • Reviews are mixed on the smell factor. Metal doesn’t hold odors like plastic does, so the pail itself stays clean-smelling. But some users complain that the sealing mechanism isn’t as tight as some of its competitors. One hack: Some parents use scented kitchen garbage bags with their Ubbi.

What moms say:
“I like that you can use regular bags. It’s also a bit narrower than others, which was an important consideration for our small space."—Shawlls

Buy it: $80,

Photo: Ubbi

Munchkin STEP, Powered By Arm & Hammer

The magic odor-absorbing power of baking soda helps keep this Munchkin diaper pail smelling fresh. The baking powder is stored in a puck that hangs inside the lid, leading some parents to just call it the Arm & Hammer diaper pail. You open the lid with a foot pedal. When you step off, the diaper drops and gets sealed off automatically as the lid closes. Couldn’t be easier!


  • Total smell protection. Parents rave that this pail does its number-one job—keeping odors away—to perfection.
  • For every diaper pail sold, Munchkin promises to plant a tree.


  • You need to buy the special Munchkin refill bags for the sealing mechanism to work.

What moms say:
“The baking soda seems to last a long time. And I love the refill bags—one box probably lasts three weeks for us.—AimeeL85

Buy it: $65,

Photo: Dekor

Diaper Dekor Classic

This pail’s wide design allows for a large foot pedal that’s easy to operate, so you can get it open fast. Users are smart to buy the brand’s scented liners; they’re one long, continuous garbage bag that you cut and tie off the minute you’re ready to dump the pail’s contents—up to 45 newborn diapers. (The cutting mechanism is built right into the door.) You can’t do that with regular 13-gallon bags.


  • Many parents like the look of this can, which doesn’t scream “diaper pail.” It makes a nice bathroom garbage can when your diaper days are done.
  • The lid opens and closes quietly, which is great during nighttime changes.
  • Some parents say this is the best diaper pail for cloth diapers. Put a reusable wet bag in to hold them until it’s time to do laundry.


  • If you don’t use the brand’s refill bags you might have frustrations. You’ll miss the scent protection and the ease of dumping out the dirty diapers that comes with the brand’s unique bags.

What moms say:
“Definitely like the foot pedal—that’s helpful for hands-free disposal.”—Pocky873

Buy it: $30,

Photo: Baby Trend

Baby Trend Diaper Champ

Among the first diaper pails to accommodate any bag you want to use, Baby Trend’s Diaper Champ is a fan favorite among parents. Dropping a diaper in is easy because you don’t have to shove it; you set the dirty diaper in the hole, then swing the handle and the diaper falls into the pail with minimal fuss.


  • The pail is inexpensive, and you’ll save money by using whatever 13-gallon bags you find on sale.
  • Do a minimum amount of “handling” a dirty diaper with the easy drop-in mechanism.


  • Some parents say that when you flip the handle to drop a diaper in, you might unleash a whiff of diaper smell into the room. An easy solution: Parents place a dryer sheet in the bottom of the bag to absorb odors.

What moms say:
“My Diaper Champ is 21 months old and I still love it. I do wash it out every now and then; I also use Lysol at every bag change. I like that iit uses regular bags.”—Warcbride

Buy it: $35,

Photo: Bubula


Dumping out any diaper pail is not fun. If you get a large one, though, like this Bubula diaper pail, you can keep your clean-outs to a minimum because it holds plenty of diapers. Plus, because of its size, this is a diaper pail that can transition to being a regular garbage can once your baby is potty trained.


  • Tall, so you don’t have to stoop to open the lid.
  • Comes in eight color choices and works with any 13-gallon bag.


  • The large,steel construction makes this the priciest diaper pail. - There are complaints that, though the body is steel, parts of the lid and hinge are plastic that can wear down and break over time. The pail does come with a one-year warranty, however, and parents say that customer service is nicely responsive.

What moms say:
“I like the Bubula. It contains the stink and uses regular trash bags. Also, it looks nicer than the plastic pails.”—CharminglySouthern

Buy it: $112,

Tommee Tippee Simplee

Tommee Tippee’s Simplee is a germaphobe’s best diaper pail, sold with antibacterial liners that kill 99 percent of germs and trap smell, too. The design is simple. Just lift the lid and put the diaper in.


  • Price matters, and this is the least-expensive diaper pail.
  • Fans say it does an excellent job of hiding smells.


  • You’ll need to buy the Tommee Tippee refill liners for this pail to work best.
  • It’s small in size, so it doesn’t hold as much as some competitors—only about 18 size 1 diapers. The advantage is it can tuck in tight spaces, like under a bathroom sink.

What moms say:
“Seals each diaper for scent control.”—xtina1224

Buy it: $20,

Plus, more from The Bump:

Published February 2018

Photo: iStock