The Best Diaper Pails (Ultimate Guide & Reviews)

Jennifer Schlette, RN, MSNED
Reviewed by Jennifer Schlette, RN, MSNEDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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Let’s not beat around the bush: poop stinks!

Thankfully, we flush ours far away, where it can no longer disturb our delicate nostrils. Babies, unfortunately, do their business into diapers which are then stored, up to 50 at a time, somewhere in your home.

Now, newborn poop doesn’t smell that bad, but once they start eating solid food – pooey – things take a turn for the smellier.

Do I really need a diaper pail?

The simple answer is no. But then ask yourself this question: Do you want to put up with the lingering, musty, “is that or isn’t that” smell of poop invading parts of your home? No? Then it’s time for a diaper pail.

How do they work?

Diaper pails are essentially trash cans that have been specifically designed to store dirty diapers. The main difference is that they are sealed to prevent unpleasant odors from escaping into your home. This is true for both disposable and cloth diaper pails.

Choosing the best diaper pail for your needs

Choosing the right diaper pail should be easy. The most popular all-rounders on the market are Diaper GenieUbbi, and Dekor Plus. It’s likely that one of these three will work for you.

We’ve reviewed them all below. The only exception to this is if you are on a limited budget, in which case a different diaper pail could be better. We’ll also take a look at those.

Ubbi steel diaper pail

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Metal vs plastic: If you have a bigger budget, then stainless steel diaper pails look far nicer and don’t get as smelly over time, though generally cost more.
  • Volume (ie, how many diapers does it hold?): The only time this becomes critical is if you have twins. If you do, then go for a larger diaper pail. Otherwise, the slight variation in volume between the standard-sized pails is unlikely to affect you.
  • Ease of use: This is important, and all of our top picks are easy to use. Foot pedals make life easier, but it’s no big deal if your diaper pail doesn’t have one. More important is that they can be operated one-handed and are easy when it comes to dumping diapers and changing the full bag.
  • Budget: There’s a big difference in the price of pails. The more expensive ones offer more functions and better build quality. Metal ones can be a bit more pricey. Don’t worry if your budget is small. People have long survived without diaper pails. You’ll be just fine with a cheap one. It’ll still make your life easier and less smelly.
  • Odor control: It’s true that diaper pails vary in their ability to contain odors. This is down to several factors, including their overall seal and the mechanism by which they open and close. The better ones contain the smell even as you open and close the lid. All our top picks score well in this department, so you don’t need to worry. One thing we’ll mention is that, over time, plastic pails can begin to absorb bad odors. This isn’t so with stainless steel pails.
  • Cloth diapers: Without the chemicals, cloth diapers are actually less smelly. It’s still a great idea to use a diaper pail, though. The good news is that you don’t need a special cloth diaper one. Most good quality regular diaper pails will work perfectly well.

Related: Pampers Swaddlers vs Baby Dry (And the Winning Diaper is…)

Our picks of the best diaper pails

So now that you’re clued up on what to look for in a diaper pail, let’s jump straight ahead. We’ve rounded up the most popular diaper pails on the market and summarized what’s best about each. Choosing the right one for your needs should be easy.

Best odor-free: The Diaper Genie

Capacity: 34 (newborn diapers)
Odor control: 9/10
Cost: Mid-range
Material: Plastic
Foot pedal: Yes
Liners: Own brand
Dimensions: 10 x 11 x 21 inches

The Diaper Genie (check price on Amazonis a long-time best seller on Amazon, and for good reason. It is the best odor-containing diaper pail on the market.

Its patented AIR-TITE® system acts as a double airlock. This means that, as you pop your soiled diaper into the pail, you don’t get a waft of stinky diapers.

The Diaper Genie uses its own special diaper bags, which have five microlayers (yes, five). This adds another significant odor barrier.

Finally, there’s an inbuilt carbon filter on the roof of the pail. Combined, all these odor-controlling features come together to stop the stink in its tracks.

For many parents, reducing odors is the number one priority, especially if the pail lives in the nursery. If this is important to you, then the Diaper Genie is the pail to go for.

In terms of ease-of-use, the Diaper Genie scores highly. It has a foot pedal and a one-hand operating system. The special diaper refill bags also work in a smart, fuss-free way.

One of the main complaints parents have with the Diaper Genie is the cost of bag refills. While they are expensive, resourceful parents have found a neat hack that allows you to use regular trash bags instead. Though be warned, it can be a bit fiddly.

What we love:

  • Super-high level of odor control
  • One-handed easy operation

Watch for:

  • Expensive own brand refill cartridges (bags)
  • Not the prettiest model
  • Double-lock mechanism uses up some diaper storage capacity
Check Price on Amazon

Best stainless steel: Ubbi Diaper Pail 

Best Stainless Steel Diaper Pail (Ubbi)

Capacity: 58 (newborn diapers)
Odor control: 7/10
Cost: Upper-end (but you save big by using trash bags)
Material: Stainless steel
Foot pedal: No
Liners: Regular trash bags
Dimensions: 10.75 x 15 x 23 inches

Spoiler alert: The Ubbi is our favorite diaper pail!

The Ubbi (check price on Amazon) is a beautifully designed diaper pail. Its stainless steel body and tasteful aesthetic mean that it’s durable, looks beautiful in any room, and, over time, doesn’t pick up nasty odors (like plastic pails inevitably do).

Although the initial outlay is more with the Ubbi you can use regular trash bags, instead of own-brand ones, which means you’ll easily make your money back over the lifetime of the pail.

You’ll also notice a difference in quality as it feels rugged and sturdy and will stand the test of time.

The Ubbi Diaper Pail has an inner ring that fixes trash bags securely in place. The lid mechanism is effective at keeping smells contained and, while not as good as the Diaper Genie in this department, it nevertheless does a perfectly acceptable job.

Additionally, if this is your first child, then you may well be using this diaper pail for years to come. The stainless steel Ubbi will likely outlast its plastic counterparts, which tend to get smelly over time.

What we love:

  • Beautiful design
  • Sturdy, quality stainless-steel build
  • One-handed, easy operation
  • Can be used with regular trash bags
  • Childproof lock

Watch for:

  • Costlier upfront
  • Has no foot pedal
Check Price on Amazon

Best for budget: Safety 1st Easy Saver

Capacity: 50 (newborn diapers)
Odor control: 6/10
Cost: Budget
Material: Plastic
Foot pedal: No
Liners: Regular trash bags
Dimensions: 15 x 10.9 x 18.4 inches

The Safety 1st Easy Saver (check price on Amazon) isn’t the best at anything. However, it is darn good at everything a diaper pail should do, plus, it’s very affordable!

If you’re on a budget (and who isn’t?) or are buying it as a second diaper pail, then this is a great buy.

It has an easy-to-use, one-handed mechanism and a neat deodorizer holder within the lid.

You can use its propriety odor absorbers or any others that will fit. The Safety 1st works with regular trash bags which can be an extra money saver.

If your child’s nursery is anything like my son’s, then space is at a premium. This pail has a small footprint and tucks away easily.

What we love:

  • Cheap
  • Good all-rounder
  • Deodorizing disc in lid

Watch for:

  • Not a thing of beauty
  • Plastic design picks up odor over time
Check Price on Amazon

Best for twins: Dekor Plus

Best (Large) Diaper Pail for Twins (Dekor Plus)

Capacity: 60 (newborn diapers)
Odor control: 6/10
Cost: Upper-end
Material: Plastic (odor resistant)
Foot pedal: Yes
Liners: Own brand
Dimensions: 15 x 10.9 x 18.4 inches

If you are a parent of ‘multiples’, then you’ll be disposing of an enormous amount of diapers. So you’ll need a big diaper pail, otherwise, you’ll be changing it once or even several times a day. Not fun! The Dekor Plus (check the price on Amazon) has, by far, the biggest capacity of our top picks. This is the one for you if volume is your top priority.

The Dekor Plus is a great diaper pail. It looks good and has a robust build quality. Made from ABS plastic, it is both scratch and odor resistant (meaning that it doesn’t absorb smells like some other plastics).

The Dekor Plus features a neat trapdoor in the lid, is easy to use, while the foot pedal boasts a decent quality mechanism.

Some parents tell us that Dekor Plus’s odor control is not as great as other models. If this is your top priority, then the Diaper Genie may be for you.

What we love:

  • Large capacity
  • Lovely design (especially in mint)
  • Good build quality
  • 20% recycled materials

Watch for:

  • Could do better with odor control
  • Requires own-brand bags. These are a bit tricky to change
Check Price on Amazon

Best cloth diaper pail: The Ubbi Liner

Our top pick diaper pail for cloth diapers is the Ubbi (see above). This top-quality, versatile, and stainless still pail does a great job with cloth diapers. When using it for cloth diapers, we recommend using Ubbi Cloth Liners (check price on Amazon).

They come in a twin pack which is perfect, as you can use the first whilst the second is being washed (alongside your cloth diapers).

Check Price on Amazon

A note about diaper pail liners

Different pails use different approaches to liners. It’s important to be aware of this before you buy.

  • Regular trash bags: Some diaper pails will work with regular trash bags or, indeed, with other-brand pail liners. This can be a handy money saver.
  • Brand-specific pail liners (bags): Some diaper pails will only accept propriety pail liners. These are made to fit and can be fragranced. Whilst they are cleverly designed to work beautifully with their diaper pail, they’re usually more expensive. If on a budget, then this could be an important consideration.
  • Cloth diaper liners: If using cloth diapers you’ll want to purchase special washable liners. You can buy nylon bags (which are very durable), but we don’t recommend them as they can’t be machine dried. Instead, go for PUL or TPU fabric pail liners. They are polyester based and also waterproof, which means they can be washed and dried alongside your cloth diapers. Our top pick liners are the Planet Wise Reusable Liner (check price on Amazon) and the Ubbi Twin Pack Cloth Liners (check price on Amazon).

Related: Best Baby Wipes Of 2021

Editor’s note: It is possible to find diaper bags that are generic and will fit your diaper pail. This can be a huge money saver.

How to prevent your diaper pail from becoming smelly

Stainless steel pails are less prone to absorbing poopy odors, but, over time, most diaper pails will start to smell. Here are some tips to keep the odors at bay (source).

  1. Scoop poop into the toilet: First on the list as it’s the most effective (yet least used) technique for avoiding a stink. It’s obvious, really – the less poop in your home, the less smell. For big poops, tip them into the toilet before throwing the diaper in the pail. It’s 30-seconds more work, but think, you won’t have 30 poops sitting in your home for days!
  2. Empty regularly: Another effective, common sense tip but, yes, it does require more work (and money on liners). If the smell is becoming a bother, then change the diaper liner more frequently, eg, once a day.
  3. Baking soda: This is a neat little hack! Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and will absorb some of the molecules causing the bad smell. Just sprinkle a spoonful or two in the bottom of the pail. Refresh when you wash the whole thing (or sooner if you’re getting nasty aromas before the next pail wash.)
  4. Clean regularly: Just like a regular trash can, you’ll need to wash your diaper pail at least semi-regularly. Don’t leave it too long. Hot soapy water is fine, but it’s recommended that you also go over it with anti-bacterial cleaning wipes.
  5. Anti-bac spray: It is bacteria that causes the yucky smells. A quick mist with an antibacterial spray when you change the pail will help prevent the proliferation of these bacteria, keeping your pail whiff-free. A popular choice is good old Lysol spray (check price on Amazon).
  6. Essential oils: Pure organic Tea Tree essential oil has powerful anti-bacterial qualities. Put a few drops in some water and wipe down the inside of the pail. Lavender oil has a wonderful fragrance and will help your pail smell lovely.

Great tip for a nice smelling, homemade odorizer.

Related: Pampers Swaddlers vs. Cruisers (5-mins. Decision Made.)

How to fix a stinky diaper pail

Yes, diaper pails are there to stop bad smells, but over time they themselves can get smelly. Luckily, you have a couple of options for tackling this problem.

The natural way (baking soda method)

This first method is definitely more eco-friendly. First, grab a bowl and create a baking soda paste. This is done by adding a spoonful of baking soda with a few drops of vinegar.

Keep stirring while adding more vinegar until you have a paste. Now apply the paste to a cloth and rub it all over the pail (inside and out). Once covered, leave it overnight, then wash off with soapy water. That should eliminate (or at least dramatically reduce) your pail’s whiffiness.

The chemical way (chlorine bleach method)

This is a drastic chemical solution that can be used as a last resort. Empty the diaper pail and give it a quick wash-down with soapy water. Once dry, take it outside with a trash bag.

Liberally pour chlorine bleach into the diaper pail, then put the whole thing into the trash bag. Seal it up and leave for two or three days. Be sure to keep this away from children and from the trash man!

Next, open the bag up. Remain outside as this will release lots of potentially hazardous chlorine fumes into the air. Now, give the diaper pail a thorough wash with soapy water before bringing it back into the house.

Job done, at last!

Our favorite diaper pail is…

The Ubbi Stainless Steel Diaper Pail is our favorite. It looks great and the stainless steel build quality is lovely. It’s more eco-friendly and less smelly (in the long run) than its plastic counterparts. The Ubbi is nice and big, yet its elegant design means you can proudly have it on show.

Note: If odor elimination is your absolute number one priority, then we’d recommend the Diaper Genie instead.

Jennifer Schlette, RN, MSNED
Reviewed by Jennifer Schlette, RN, MSNEDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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