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8 Best Diaper Pails for a Stink-Free Room

These pails will keep those less-than-pleasant diaper odors on lockdown.
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Updated February 21, 2023
ubbi steel diaper pail; best diaper pails 2023
Image: Ubbi world
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It’s true that a diaper pail is one of the “optional” line items on your checklist of baby essentials, but it becomes increasingly more tempting once you start gagging at the pungent aroma of old food and soiled diapers commingling in the kitchen trash can. You might rethink your decision to go sans diaper pail when your little one has a diaper blowout at 4:38 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, it’s 7 degrees outside and the sound of the wind is sending actual chills down your spine. A cleverly designed diaper trash can can work wonders at keeping the stench of baby messes at bay. Keep reading for more guidance on how to shop for the best diaper pails, and then browse our top picks.

Do You Need a Diaper Pail?

Parents are split on whether a diaper pail is considered a must-have. Can you simply toss baby’s dirty diaper in the normal household trash? Sure you can. It means you don’t have to invest in a diaper trash can or special diaper pail bags, and that will save you some money. But here’s the thing: Unless you take out the garbage super frequently, it won’t save you from the less-than-ideal smell that slowly starts to overtake your home.

That new baby smell is truly magical—intoxicating, really—but the essence of what they produce in those sweet little diapers of theirs? Not so much. The best diaper pails are specifically designed to seal in nasty odors and engineered to open with a foot pedal or flip of the lid, so you can dump the diaper with one hand while the other wraps around your wriggly baby. Plus, the older baby gets, the smellier the diaper situations become. A baby drinking only breast milk or formula may not have the stinkiest diapers, but a baby eating solids definitely does. So even if you’ve been making it through the newborn months without a diaper pail, consider getting one as the start of solids approaches. You’ll appreciate it, we promise.

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What to Look for in a Diaper Pail

There are a few criteria you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping for the right diaper pail:

Decent capacity

This is important to help determine how often the pail needs to be emptied. For the most part, larger pails will have larger capacities, but a mid-size or even a small diaper pail can still hold a decent amount of diapers. Just keep in mind that when brands say their pails “can hold up to X” diapers, they’re talking about newborn-sized diapers. As baby grows and transitions into larger diaper sizes, the bags will hold fewer total diapers. But as a baseline, a good diaper pail should hold about 50 newborn diapers.

Drop-and-go disposal

Since you’ll be changing a wet or dirty diaper multiple times a day, you’ll want an easy and uncomplicated exit plan. Pails with foot pedals let you drop the diaper in one-handed, so you can keep baby close at the hip and not have to touch any of the unclean pail parts. Other pails have lids that pop open with the push of a button or slide back to make diaper insertion as effortless as possible. Bonus points if you can avoid instances of squishing a full diaper through a tight hole and/or overstuffed bag.

Ease to empty and reset the pail

Some parents like the simplicity of a diaper pail without too many bells and whistles—ones where you simply stretch a garbage bag over the basin and let it accumulate, and once it’s at capacity, remove the bag, tie it up and toss it. Other parents don’t mind the routine of cutting the internal bag from the top (using the built-in blade), tying it off, tossing it out and then loading up another refill bag from the top, knotting it at the bottom and letting it fill up again. Either way, it should be as simple and straightforward as possible.

Odor elimination

This is probably the most important attribute of a modern diaper pail, because nothing can mess with the serenity of baby’s nursery like the lingering stench of a porta potty. You’ll want your diaper pail firing on all cylinders when it comes to trapping odors after each diaper deposit and not letting much waft out when you’re emptying it. Look for pails that use multi-layered bags (seven layers are ideal!); they can be scented too. You can also find options that accommodate freshening plug-ins, scented baking soda cartridges or deodorizing activated charcoal filters.

Convenience and minimal ongoing costs

The most low-maintenance diaper pails are the ones compatible with any liner. You won’t need to worry about purchasing special trash bags; instead, you can use whatever you have available—a standard garbage bag or a plastic shopping bag. This comes with significant savings, especially when you consider how many diapers you’ll use from baby’s birth until they’re potty trained.

Best Diaper Pails to Shop

Ready to start shopping? We’ve rounded up eight of the best diaper pails around, complete with a breakdown of each one’s pros and cons—no dirty little secrets here.

Overall Best Diaper Pail

What We Love
  • It’s fairly narrow with a small footprint, making it a great choice for small spaces
  • You can use standard trash bags with this pail (although Ubbi sells compatible bags if you’d like to purchase them)
  • Steel pail can be put in the recycling once baby is potty trained
Things To Consider
  • Metal build doesn’t hold odors like plastic, but some parents say the airlock still isn’t as sealing as the brand says

A decorator’s dream, the powder-coated steel Ubbi comes in an array of trendy colors to match any modern nursery. Picking one out feels as fun as choosing the crib bedding! To insert a diaper into this pail, simply open the sliding door at the top; it can be done with one hand and has a child lock so your toddler can’t get in there. The magic of this beautiful bin includes the airtight seal that locks in odors and that sliding lid that minimizes air disruption, so you won’t be blown away every time you get a whiff of the diapers inside. Better yet, it’s compatible with regular trash bags, so you can use what you have instead of springing for special accessories. It's been a Best of Baby winner for five years running—just saying!
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 12.5 x 8.75 x 21.5 inches
  • Holds 55 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 7 pounds
  • Made of carbon steel with powder coating, ABS white plastic and a silicone seal ring
  • Uses standard kitchen trash bag
Buy Now

Best Diaper Pail for Odor

Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail, Powered by Arm & Hammer
Image: Munchkin
What We Love
  • Patented self-sealing technology
  • Comes with a starter refill ring and one Snap, Seal & Toss bag
  • Order from Munchkin itself and you’ll get a free disposable diaper pail
Things To Consider
  • Doesn’t work with regular trash bags
  • Will need to purchase refill rings from time to time
  • Pricey

The magic odor-absorbing power of baking soda helps keep this Munchkin diaper pail smelling fresh. The lavender-scented baking powder is stored in a convenient puck made by Arm & Hammer that hangs inside the lid. You open the lid with a foot pedal, and when you step off, the diaper drops and is automatically sealed off as the lid closes—so simple! Bonus: For every pail purchased, Munchkin will plant a tree.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 14 x 12 x 24 inches
  • Holds 30 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 12 pounds
  • Made of plastic
  • Uses special Snap, Seal & Toss bags
Buy Now

Best Diaper Pail That Uses Regular Trash Bags

Bubula Steel Diaper Pail
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Tall size means you don’t have to bend down to open the lid
  • One year warranty
  • Child lock ensures container is guarded from toddler hands and spills
Things To Consider
  • Though the body is steel-made, some parts of the lid and hinges are plastic, which can wear over time
  • Expensive

Emptying out a diaper pail isn’t much fun. But if you get a large one, like this Bubula steel diaper pail, you can keep your clean-outs to a minimum, since it holds plenty of diapers. Because of its non-porous steel construction, it doesn’t attract or hold in odors; its strong and flexible rubber seals prevent leaks too. And because of its size and the fact that it uses regular trash bags, this is one of the best diaper pails to convert into a regular bedroom or bathroom garbage can once baby is potty trained.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 13.5 x 13.5 x 25 inches
  • Weighs 7.5 pounds
  • Made of steel
  • Uses standard, 13-gallon trash bags
Buy Now

Best Cloth Diaper Pail

What We Love
  • Offered in soft, nursery-worthy pastel colors
  • Lid opens and closes quietly (great for nighttime changes)
  • Comes completely assembled with a full-sized refill pre-installed
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say they need to clean it often to stave off smells

Our pick for the best cloth diaper pail has a wide design with a large foot pedal that’s easy to operate. If you happen to be using it for standard disposable diapers, it boasts an impressive capacity. Users are smart to buy the brand’s baby powder-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 (the cutting mechanism is even built right into the door!). But what really won us over was its cloth diaper-friendliness. You can put a reusable wet bag in to hold the diapers until it’s time to do laundry or purchase Dekor’s optional cloth diaper liner. Pus, since the pail is made of plastic, it can be sanitized with your favorite household cleaner without the threat of rust.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 9.63 x 14 x 21.5 inches
  • Holds up to 60 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 5.72 pounds
  • Made of ABS closed-cell plastic
  • Uses standard trash bags, wet bags or the brand’s own liners
Buy Now

Best Diaper Pail for Small Spaces

Prince Lionheart MY TWIST’R Diaper Disposal System
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Odor control from the Twist Technology gets high marks
  • Customizable with your favorite wallpaper or fabric
Things To Consider
  • Capacity is on the low side
  • Pretty pricey
  • Requires special bags

As far as diaper pails go, this one is pretty darn adorable, but we’re even more impressed with its small footprint. It’s one of the shortest and lightest designs on our list, which is especially important if you’re living in a smaller place. Prince Lionheart’s patented Twist Technology works by placing the diaper in the top push-through chamber and then stepping on the foot pedal to prompt the diaper drop—meaning you don’t have to breathe in any of the ickiness every time you make a deposit. What’s more, there’s no need to cut or tie any of the bags—just unscrew the top portion of the pail and pop out the bag. It even has a special self-sealing method of closure that lets you dispose of the diapers without ever having to release any of the smelly surprises inside.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 15 x 11.75 x 11.75 inches
  • Holds 35 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 4 pounds
  • Made of plastic
  • Uses Twist'R Refill Bags
Buy Now

Best Large-Capacity Diaper Pail

Diaper Genie Complete Pail
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Foot pedal-activated lid makes diaper drops hygienic and easy (no bending over!)
  • Available in white, gray, blue and pink colorways
  • With front-tilt open, you don’t even need to pull the pail away from the wall
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say that the built-in cutter can get dull (necessitating a different method to release the bag, like a pocket knife)
  • Requires special bag refills

This iconic pail is so popular and ubiquitous that parents sometimes use the term “diaper genie” to describe any diaper pail—brand-specific or not. That said, Diaper Genie is a true revelation with its own special features, most notably bags with a built-in antimicrobial layer to lock in dirty diaper odors, prevent germ transmission and hamper bacteria growth. An included deodorizing carbon filter that slides in underneath the lid adds an extra measure of odor protection too. The pail’s refill bags hold up to a whopping 270 newborn diapers. Emptying the disposal system and replenishing it with another is painless thanks to the front-tilt bin and built-in cutter that make it a breeze to access and cut the bag free.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 12 x 9.4 x 27 inches
  • Holds 270 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 8.36 pounds
  • Made of plastic
  • Uses Diaper Genie refill rounds
Buy Now

Best UV Diaper Pail

What We Love
  • Sterilizes with power of UV light instead of chemicals
  • Comes fully assembled—just plug in and start using
  • Child-safe lid automatically shuts off when the lid or door is opened
Things To Consider
  • Offered only in white
  • Pricey

For those who are highly germ-averse, this smart diaper pail is the pick for you. Not only does it boast a patented self-sealing system to keep the disposal bag shut and free of smell, but it uses hospital-grade UV light to kill odor-causing bacteria and germs. This UV pail by Munchkin is the only one of its kind on the market. Four gold LED lights automatically go to work to disinfect internal surfaces, killing up to 99 percent of bacteria and viruses including Staph, Klebsiella and E. Coli. You can see the magic at work too: The heart logo on the lid glows to indicate sterilization in progress.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 12.8 x 12.8 x 27.3 inches
  • Holds 272 newborn diapers
  • Weighs 13.9 pounds
  • Made of plastic
  • Uses a universal refill system: compatible with all Munchkin branded refill rings; Snap, Seal & Toss bags; up & up and Nursery Fresh refill bags
Buy Now

Best Budget-Friendly Diaper Pail

Diaper Genie Expressions Diaper Pail
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Cute, compact design
  • Inexpensive, at less than $30
Things To Consider
  • White design is basic (but it can also be a great canvas for decals or a personalized paint job)
  • Uses special bags, so it’s not a one-and-done expense

The Expressions model, the smallest of the three Diaper Genie products on the market, actually holds a surprising number of diapers—50 total. You can credit its epic odor maintenance to a 7-layer bag and unique push-and-lock clamp that prevents odors from escaping both when you open the lid and when the pail is just resting in the nursery (no ever-present smells). The easy push-button lid lets you throw out baby’s diaper with one hand while you clutch your little mover and shaker in the other. The emptying process is a piece of cake too: just lift the lid, cut the bag (internal cutter included), tie it up and throw it out.
Specs at a glance:

  • Pail dimensions: 11’’ W x 11’’ D x 21’’ H
  • Weight: 4.9 lbs.
  • Material: Plastic
  • Bags: Diaper Genie refill rounds
Buy Now
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