The Best Diaper Pails of 2017 (Ultimate Guide & Reviews)

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 – poooey – 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 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 be a great choice 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 these scenarios.

Ubbi steel diaper pail

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Metal vs Plastic: If you’ve got a bigger budget, then stainless steel diaper pails tend to look much nicer and don’t get as smelly over time, but they typically cost more.
  • Volume (ie, how many diapers it holds): The only time this becomes critical is when 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, but all of our top picks are easy to use. Foot pedals make life even easier but it’s no big deal if your diaper pail doesn’t have one. The main thing is that they can be operated one-handed and are easy when it comes to dumping diapers and changing the full bag.
  • Budget: There is a big difference between the price of pails. More money tends to get you more functions and better build quality. Metal ones tend to be a bit pricier. 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 going to make your life easier and less smelly.
  • Odor control: It’s true that diaper pails do 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. Clever ones contain the smell even as you open and close the lid. All of our top picks score well in this department, so you don’t really need to worry. One thing to mention is that over time, plastic pails can begin to absorb bad odors. This isn’t an issue 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. You will, however, need to purchase special waterproof bags or liners which are typically made from nylon or laminated polyester. (Here is a great guide on storing cloth diapers.)

Our Top Picks

Right then, now you are clued up on what to look for in a diaper pail, let’s jump straight in. We’ve rounded up the most popular diaper pails on the market and summerized what’s best about each. Choosing the right one for your needs will be easy.

Best Odor-Free Diaper Pail (Diaper Genie)

Best Odor-Free Diaper Pail (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. It’s patented AIR-TITE® system acts like 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 it’s own special diaper bags which have five microlayers (yes, five). This adds another significant odor barrier. Finally, there is an inbuilt carbon filter in 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 is going to live 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 the bag refills. They are expensive, however, resourceful parents have found a neat hack that allows you to use regular trash bags instead. Be warned, it is 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
  • Double lock mechanism takes up  some diaper storage capacity
View on Amazon

Best Stainless Steel Diaper Pail (Ubbi)

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. It’s stainless steel body and tasteful aesthetic mean that it is durable, looks beautiful in any room, and over time, it 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. What’s more, you’ll notice the difference in quality. It feels rugged and sturdy and should stand the test of time.

The Ubbie diaper pail has an inner ring that fixes trash bags securely in place. The lid mechanism is effective at keeping the smells contained and, whilst it’s not quite as good as the Diaper Genie in this department, nevertheless, it does a perfectly acceptable job. Additionally, if you are having your first child, then you may well use your diaper pail for years to come. The stainless steel Ubbi will likely outlast it’s 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
  • Doesn’t have a foot pedal
View on Amazon

Best Budget Diaper Pail (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 pretty darn good at everything you need a diaper pail to do. Plus, it is very affordable. If you are on a budget (and who isn’t?) or you are getting it as a second diaper pail, then this pail is a great buy.

It has an easy-to-use one-handed mechanism and a neat deodorizer holder within the lid. You can use it’s propriety odor absorbers or any others that will fit. The Safety 1st works with regular trash bags which is another 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 so will tuck away fairly 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
View on Amazon

Best Diaper Pail for Twins, ie, LARGE (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 are going to be disposing of an enormous amount of diapers. It’s essential that you have a big diaper pail otherwise you’ll be changing it once a day, or worse, several times each day. Not fun! The Dekor Plus (check the price on Amazon) easily has 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 resistant and odor resistant (meaning that it doesn’t absorb smells like some other plastics). The Dekor Plus features a neat trap door in the lid, it’s easy to use, and the foot pedal uses a decent quality mechanism.

Parents have fed back that the Dekor Plus’ 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
View on Amazon

Best Cloth Diaper Pail (Ubbi)

Our top pick diaper pail for cloth diapers is the Ubbi (see above). This great quality, versatile and stainless still pail does a great job with cloth diapers. When using it for cloth diapers, we recommend using the Ubbi’s cloth liners (check price on Amazon). They come in a twin pack which is perfect because you can use the first whilst the second is being washed (alongside your cloth diapers).

View on Amazon

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 is both more eco-friendly and less smelly (in the long run) than it’s plastic counterparts. The Ubbi is nice and big, yet it’s 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.

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 other brand pail liners too. This can be a handy money saver over time.
  • 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 are usually more expensive. If you are on a budget, then this is an important consideration.
  • Cloth diaper liners: If you use cloth diapers, then you’ll want to purchase special washable liners. You can get 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 waterproof which means that 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).

Read more: ‘Diaper bags: functional and good looking’ »

How to prevent your diaper pail from getting 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: This comes first as it is 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 just 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 per 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 are 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 go over it with anti-bacterial cleaning wipes, too.
  5. Anti-bac spray: It is bacteria that causes the yucky smells. A quick mist with an antibacterial spray, each time you change the pail, will help to prevent the proliferation of these bacteria and thus keep 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 to smell lovely.

Great tip for a nice smelling, homemade odorizer.

How to fix a stinky diaper pail

Yes, diaper pails are there to stop the bad smells but over time they themselves can get smelly. Luckily, you do 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, then a few drops of vinegar. Keep stirring and adding 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 have eliminated (or at least dramatically reduced) your pail’s whiffiness.

The chemical way (chlorine bleach method)

This is a drastic chemical solution which can be used as a last resort. Empty your diaper pail, then give it a quick wash-down with soapy water. Once dry, take it outside along 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 it there for two or three days. (Be sure to keep this away from children and from the trash man!). Next, open the bag up. Do this outside as it will release lots of potentially hazardous chlorine fumes into the air. Now, give the diaper pail a thorough wash with soapy water before bringing back into your home.

This will have the job done, at last!

Don’t miss the rest of our Diapering series

Okay, so things are going to get messy! But it doesn’t have to be that bad. Our guides and reviews will help you to keep the poop under control whilst remaining cool and calm.

The other articles in our Diapering series:

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