Best Diaper Pails of 2020

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Your best friend for helping to contain that outrageous stink.

Your baby is super adorable, but you could definitely live without the dirty diapers they produce all day, every day. What are you supposed to do with them anyway?

Should you throw them in your regular trash can?

Not unless you want to end up with a smell that never goes away.

If you’ve found your baby’s changing table, crib and bottles, now you need to find that holy grail item that will be just as important — the best diaper pail to contain that outrageous stink!

Our Top Picks

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Are Diaper Pails Necessary?

If you aren’t a mom yet, you’ll be amazed at how many diaper changes you’ll be burning through per day. A good rule of thumb is that your baby will have to be changed every 2 to 3 hours for a total of approximately 10 times a day (1).

Fun Fact

At 10 times a day, you’ll be changing about 3,650 diapers during the course of the year. That’s a lot of diapers. You won’t want to carry those outside every time your baby has a diaper change.

But you also won’t want them in the kitchen garbage can, unless you’re using it as a diet aid — you’ll feel so sick every time you walk by those dirty diapers, you’ll permanently lose your appetite!

I thought diaper pails were an unnecessary purchase when I was pregnant with my baby so I just put a small, ordinary garbage pail in my baby’s room. But once I had my baby, my tune changed pretty quickly. Within two months, I was searching for one online, and I couldn’t wait to get it into the nursery.

I learned quickly that even dumping those newborn diapers once a day out of a regular garbage can wasn’t enough. They still stunk up my baby’s nursery and I couldn’t catch a whiff of that sweet newborn smell over the stench.

Although I loved her nursery, I wanted to spend as little time as possible in there because of the smell. But once my diaper pail arrived in the mail, that stench was a thing of the past. Somehow that single item really managed to contain all those evil odors.

How Do They Work?

Diaper pails have one primary way of stopping that odor from exiting the pail and entering your nostrils — they make a super tight seal.

A regular garbage can might be completely open. Other garbage cans have loose-fitting lids that do little to contain the odor. But disposal units designed for babies have tight seals meant to keep the nasty air in.

When Should I Start Using One?

You can start using a diaper pail as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital, but your baby’s first diapers won’t be as foul-smelling as the ones they’ll make after starting with formula or solids. Formula-fed babies tend to have stinkier diapers than breastfed babies (2).

If your baby is breastfeeding, you can try to hold off on a new purchase if you want to, but I preferred to keep my baby’s nursery as fresh-smelling as possible, right from the start. It was where I rocked her to sleep at night so I didn’t want anything distracting me from those precious moments.

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Choosing the Best Diaper Pail

There are a lot of factors you should look at when selecting a diaper pail. As a new mom, some of these items are things you would never even think about until you’ve survived your first few weeks of diaper changes.

You might want to consider these factors when trying to find the best diaper pail:

  • How difficult the bag change is: One of the models I was considering looked pretty sweet. But a friend of mine told me had returned hers because the bag change was too complicated to figure out. My friend is a smart woman, and I soon learned that she wasn’t alone — some models can be incredibly complicated!
  • Bag cost: You might not think the brand you’re looking at costs that much, but you need to look at the total cost. The refill bags might bleed you dry, especially if you’re making frequent changes. If money is a top priority, look for a brand that can use regular trash bags.
  • Ease of use: Ideally, you’ll have a hands-free pail, which allows you to dump diapers one-handed, while you have your baby in your other.
  • Odor prevention: This is one of the main reasons for buying a diaper pail in the first place, so you want to make sure it actually contains the stench. A good one won’t eliminate the odor, but it will trap it.

Don’t Forget a Child-Proof Lock

Before you make the final decision about which model you’ll buy, learn from my unfortunate experience and seriously consider getting one with a child-proof lock.

Take Note

A child-proof lock can give you immense peace of mind. And it will stop your baby from being too curious for their own good.

Once babies can walk they’ll start getting into everything. If you take your eyes off them for just one minute, they might get an arm stuck in the diaper pail, or worse, think it’s the perfect place to stash a favorite stuffed animal or pacifier.

Trust me: once something goes into those diaper-y depths, you won’t ever want your baby to use it again. No pacifier is worth that retrieval effort!


The Best Diaper Pail Reviews of 2020

With practice, you’re going to become a diaper-changing pro. In the meantime, you’ll need all the help you can get when it comes to cleaning up the diaper crime scene as quickly as possible, and stashing the stinky evidence. To get the job done, here are our top 7 picks in 2020.

1. Ubbi Diaper Pail

Best Steel Diaper Pail

Ubbi Steel Odor Locking, No Special Bag Required Money Saving, Awards-Winning,...
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Because you’ll keep several days worth of disposable diapers in your diaper pail, it needs to have excellent odor control so you aren’t tempted to run out to your outside garbage every time you change your child’s diaper. Your best bet for odor control might be a metal pail.

The powder-coated steel used by the Ubbi Diaper Pail won’t absorb any odors, which means when you throw the diapers out, you’ll also be tossing out the smell. It also has rubber seals to make sure the smell stays in the pail.

The nice thing about this pail is that it doesn’t require any special bags, which will save you money because you can just use any inexpensive trash bag you have on hand.

To make sure your baby can’t start using the pail as an impromptu toy box, it has a childproof safety lock, which will save you a lot of aggravation. The slow-closing lid is a nice touch, too, so if your baby gets the pail open, they’ll be able to move their arm out of the way before the lid lands on it.

PROS:
  • There are 17 lovely colors to choose from.
  • You won’t spend much money on refill bags.
  • It has a slow-close lid for added safety.
  • Impressive capacity. It can hold 50 diapers.
  • Made from steel which is the most recycled metal (environmentally friendly).
CONS:
  • If you rinse this pail, you’ll need to dry it completely otherwise the screws will rust.
  • The opening where you put diapers in is small.

2. Dekor Classic Diaper Pail

Best for Odor Control

Dekor Classic Hands-Free Diaper Pail | White | Easiest to Use | Just Step –...
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Let's cut to the chase: if you're an experienced parent, you may already know there's just one main feature you're after here: something to keep those foul fumes as contained as possible. Luckily, manufacturers these days have figured out clever ways to trap offensive odors, whether that's with smart plastics, cartridges that contain deodorizers or special sealing systems. Be on the lookout for these if breathable air is the highest priority for you

This pail gives you the choice of three different colors, but more importantly, it has triple odor control, which keeps the smell in the pail and out of the air.

Moms who plan to use cloth diapers are usually more environmentally friendly, so they should love that the Dekor Classic can serve another purpose long after your baby is out of diapers: it can be converted from a diaper pail into a regular trash can.

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The hard plastic doesn’t absorb odors the way softer plastics on other models can. Remember when I said I initially used a trash can for my baby’s diapers? It was a softer plastic, and that nasty smell never dissipated — even long after I dumped all the diapers and rinsed the can.

That won’t happen with metal pails or harder plastics cans like the Dekor Classic.

Finally, moms might also love that this can is hands-free.

PROS:
  • Simple to open.
  • It’s a pretty affordable pail.
  • While this is roomy enough for cloth diapers, it still fits well in a small nursery.
CONS:
  • When you open the can, you can catch a whiff of bad-smelling air because the bag doesn’t twist to close off the smell entirely.
  • It might get expensive in the long-term since you’ll use a lot of trash bags.

3. Munchkin Step Diaper Pail

Best Hands-Free Diaper Pail

Munchkin Step Diaper Pail Powered by Arm & Hammer, Includes (1) Bonus Toss...
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Using your hands to pry open the lid of a trash can is a pain in the butt. Plus it gets you even closer to the odor you’re trying to dodge. When you use a hands-free model, you can hold your baby while stepping on a pedal to open the lid. It’s nice to spend less time touching it and more time touching your baby.

Environmentally conscious parents will feel good about this purchase. For every one that’s bought, Munchkin plants a tree.

This uses a self-sealing system so the bag closes when the lid does. That means that your refill bag will be twisted tightly whenever you close the lid, which keeps odors out of your nursery. Even when you open the lid to put the next dirty diaper in you won’t be hit by a puff of diaper smell.

To help fight stench even more, it comes with a lavender-scented baking soda freshener. When you go to refill the liners, you can choose which method works best for you: rings or seal and toss bags.

A big plus is you won’t have to put your baby down to use this — you can just use the step pedal to open the lid.

PROS:
  • The foot pedal makes it hands-free.
  • The front swings open when you need to remove the bag.
  • It has a sleek-looking design.
CONS:
  • The opening is small so you have to squash diapers through.
  • Some moms say they have to really push the lid closed to seal it fully.

4. Playtex Diaper Genie Complete

Best for Twins

Playtex Diaper Genie Complete Diaper Pail with Odor Lock Technology, White
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Twins are a blessing in almost every way — except when it comes to diaper changes. You’ll need a big diaper pail if you don’t want to be emptying it daily. With two babies to change, you’re going to have about 20 dirty newborn diapers... every day.

Diaper Genies are popular with new moms because they really are champions when it comes to controlling odor. This unit has a built-in carbon filter which helps immensely with the smell, and it also has an airtight clamp to keep the odors safely inside.

For twins, this pail will hold about two days worth of diapers. And you won’t have to use your hands to open this pail, since it has a foot pedal.

Unlike some other foot pedal diaper pails, this one has a fairly large opening at the top, which means you won’t have to squish the diaper to get it to go inside. That’s a big relief when you’re holding a baby or you’re in a hurry to warm up a bottle.

When it comes time to change this bag, you tilt the bin forward, use the built-in cutter to cut the bag and then you tie a knot.

PROS:
  • There is more than one color to choose from.
  • The front tilt emptying system makes it easy to take the dirties away.
  • The height of this pail is nice — you won’t have to bend and stoop.
CONS:
  • Some moms have trouble with the diapers not fully dropping past the second trapdoor, so they have to reach inside and push them through.
  • Some moms have had problems with the lid popping off.

5. Busch Systems Odorless Cloth Diaper Pail

Most Stylish Diaper Pail

Odorless Cloth Diaper Pail (7 gallon: 1-2 days) by Busch Systems
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The Busch Systems odorless cloth diaper pail is the best option for any style of nursery. It comes in a soft white color with gray handles. The little bear shape on the top of the lid is a cute accessory that your kids will love!

When you put the diapers in here — they’re out of sight, mind and… smell? Well, this pail has a carbon filter that lets air in but keeps odors out. The plastic handles keep the lid on tight so that no sneaky stenches can get out.

The handles lock into place so your little ones can’t undo them and make a mess in your nursery.

We love this pail for its small size, too. It’s 17.4 x 13.3 x 13.3 inches so it can fit in small nurseries. Tuck it away in a corner to be more discreet.

Whether you use disposable or cloth diapers, this is an awesome solution. It holds about two days worth of cloth diapers, depending on your baby. Just be sure to clean the pail out once a week or so, to keep it super fresh and clean.

PROS:
  • Stylish and cute, fits most interior styles.
  • Carbon filter to keep odors out.
  • Locked handles so no spills.
  • Holds two days worth of diapers.
CONS:
  • Lid is hard to open, especially one-handed.
  • A bit too small for some families.

6. Safety 1st Easy Saver Diaper Pail

Best Budget Pick

Safety 1st Easy Saver Diaper Pail
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New parents-to-be are often surprised at how quickly their purchases can drain their savings. Babies need so much gear that you end up cutting corners wherever you can. Fortunately, there are options out there that won’t break your budget while protecting your nose.

This inexpensive pail won’t put much of a dent in your budget. And when it comes time to put liners in, you won’t feel like you’re lining it with dollar bills, since you can use regular garbage bags in it.

To help combat odors, this comes with a deodorizer disc. When that outlives its usefulness, you can start using baking soda to control the odor instead, which is also effective.

If you’re rolling up your baby’s diapers tightly, this unit can fit up to 50 smaller diapers.

But given how many newborn diapers it can hold, this pail doesn’t take up a ton of space. My daughter’s nursery was small, and some of the larger diaper pails would have hogged way too much room. You won’t have that problem with this — it fits in even tiny spaces.

PROS:
  • As simple as it is, it does a decent job of fighting odor.
  • It’s affordable.
  • There is a spot in the lid for an air freshener.
CONS:
  • Some moms have had problems with the springs from the lid breaking off.
  • The hole where you put the diapers in is pretty small.

7. Charlie Banana Hanging Diaper Pail

Best Hanging Diaper Pail

Charlie Banana Hanging Diaper Pail, White
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When your living quarters are really tight, and there’s no way you can shoehorn in anything more, you have a great alternative to fall back on — hanging pails. You can put these on a doorknob or a hook you install on your baby’s changing table.

Parents who don’t like the idea of a traditional diaper pail may like this washable one. You’ll never have to worry about having a container that absorbs the odor of the diapers permanently because when this one becomes funky, you can just toss it in the wash after you empty it.

It’ll fit on any doorknob or hook, leaving your valuable floor space free.

This can be used for disposable diapers, but it’s also a great choice for cloth diapers. If you’re using cloth diapers, which tend to be bigger and bulkier, it can hold about 25. When you’re ready to wash your cloth diapers, there is a big zipper on the side of the bag that gives you more room to dump them out.

After your baby grows out of diapers, you can use it as an ordinary laundry bag for anyone in your household.

PROS:
  • More affordable than traditional options.
  • It comes in three different colors.
  • It’s waterproof to avoid leaks.
CONS:
  • You might get more odor with this bag since it doesn’t seal as completely as a traditional pail.
  • Some moms have had problems with the fabric melting in the dryer.

The Bottom Line

Our top pick is the Ubbi Diaper Pail. In our experience, metal seems to absorb less of the odors you’re trying to avoid. Plus, the rubber seals really seem to work with this pail.

The fact that this pail doesn’t require special, expensive refill bags is another reason we love it. Plus, the childproof lock will keep your baby from sticking an arm or a favorite toy down the hole amongst all those gross-smelling diapers.

It has the capacity to hold a lot of diapers, too, and while appearance isn’t the most important thing when buying a diaper pail, we have to admit we love the sleek design and variety of colors.

Over to the moms out there: What do you think is the best diaper pail? Which is saving you from your baby’s stinky diapers? Share or comment below!

Headshot of Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Reviewed by

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC is a cardiology nurse and freelance medical writer. Katelyn has 8 years of nursing experience inpatient and outpatient, primarily medical-surgical and cardiac. After having two children she has a passion for Women’s Health and Lactation teaching and support.
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