Father changing dirty stinky diaper

How to Clean Your Diaper Pail (Step by Step to Remove the Stink)

Do you have a diaper pail that works great at keeping the nasty smell contained, but once that door opens, the poop smell hits you right in the face?

Are you wondering how to clean your pail so that you don’t have to curb the nasty smell each time the pail is opened?

You paid good money for that diaper pail, so you don’t want to get rid of it. Plus, it’s not always ideal to run dirty diapers to the trash outside, especially if it’s in the middle of the night or if you have multiple little ones in the house that can’t be left unattended.

So how can you clean your diaper pail effectively to get rid of the bacteria and the stink?

In this guide, you will learn why it’s important to keep your diaper pail clean and the exact steps on how to clean and a standard pail (like the Diaper Genie or Ubbi) and a cloth diaper pail too.

That Dirty Diaper Pail Could Become a Health Hazard

Diaper pails, especially ones that have a closed system, have the potential to become a mold battle field.

The combination of moisture from all the wet diapers and lack of airflow can promote the growth of mold and other fungi, which could cause serious health problems for you and your precious infant.

Mold has been known to cause respiratory issues, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, allergic reactions, and even cancer (source). This is why it is so important to clean your diaper pail on a regular basis and store it in a well-ventilated area.

If you, unfortunately, are already dealing with mold, you will need to find cleaning products that will effectively kill and prevent it. I’ve already done the hard work for you and can tell you that a combination of water, borax, white vinegar, and tea tree oil works amazing! To make this cleaner, follow these steps:

  1. In a spray bottle, add 2 Tbsp. of borax
  2. Then add 2 cups of warm water
  3. Swish around for about 30-60 seconds or until the borax is fully dissolved
  4. Then add ¼ cup of white vinegar
  5. Add 20-40 drops tea tree essential oil
  6. Be sure to shake before spraying

How to Minimize Odors in Between Cleanings

Most people don’t do this, but you should be dumping the poop into the toilet regardless of whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers. It even states this on the packaging of most disposable diapers (source). Dumping feces into the toilet will help eliminate odors, reduce bacteria growth in your diaper pail, and is better for the environment.

Read: How To Properly Dispose of Dirty Diapers

Another way to help minimize odors is to use regular scented trash bags instead of the diaper genie refills. This will save you money as well, as those refills are quite expensive. It’s fairly simple to hack your diaper genie to use regular trash bags.

Another idea is to put the really ripe diapers in a dog poop bag first before tossing them in the diaper genie. You can get cheap ones at Dollar Tree that work great to help control the smell, but don't cost a ton. You could also keep a roll in your diaper bag for when you are out in public and restrooms don't have a dedicated diaper pail.

Doggie poop bags are also nice to have on hand for wet clothes, either from swimming or accidents. Just be sure not to leave them tied up in the diaper bag for a few days. I've done this before, and it was not easy to get my diaper bag clean again.

Life Saver

When it comes to diaper pails, the more open, the better, believe it or not. For cloth diaper pails, you can use a lidless trash can or a laundry basket with holes all the way around it with your diaper pail liners. You’ll be surprised how much the airflow will reduce the diaper stink. 

You will also want to store your diaper pail in a dry, open room as well. The more airflow, the less diaper stink (source).

They also make deodorizing discs that you can keep in your diaper pail. Some diapers pails have a special compartment for these discs, but for others, you’ll have to be kind of creative. We used ones that were super lightweight, and so taping one to the inside of the pail worked just fine for us.

Related Reading: What Are The Best Disposable Diapers?

You could even make your own deodorizing bars with water, baking soda, and essential oils or fragrance oils. Always be sure to use essential oils that are safe to use around children. Big ones to avoid with young children are peppermint, wintergreen, rosemary, and eucalyptus (source).

How to Clean a Diaper Pail

This can be a smelly job, but if you don’t take steps to deep clean your diaper pail thoroughly, you will be dealing with even worse smells and potentially mold and mildew.

I know you’re busy mama, so just try to clean it about every three months using the following method:

  1. Get rubber gloves ready, as this is going to get dirty.
  2. Open your diaper genie and remove and dispose of the dirty diapers outside.
  3. Remove the bag cartridge from the top of your diaper genie.
  4. Take your diaper genie either outside or to the bathtub for cleaning.
  5. Using either your garden hose or shower head, rinse off the exterior and interior of your diaper genie.
  6. Using any castile or dish soap you have on hand, go ahead and squirt some all over the interior and exterior of your diaper genie.
  7. Take some baking soda and sprinkle it all over the interior of your diaper genie. This will help neutralize all the bad odors.
  8. Let sit for about 5 minutes to let the soap and baking soda really penetrate and do it’s job.
  9. Using an old, clean rag or sponge, scrub the interior and exterior of the pail.
  10. Then go ahead and rinse out the interior and then the exterior of your diaper genie.
  11. To help prevent mold and mildew, spray the inside of the pail with the borax, vinegar, and tea tree oil concoction mentioned earlier in this article, and rub it in using circular motions with another cleaning rag.
  12. Spray the inside again with borax, vinegar, and tea tree oil combo.
  13. Let the inside of the pail air dry as long as you can. If it’s not dry by the time you need it, go ahead and dry it off with a towel. You can go ahead and dry the outside of the pail with a towel right after rinsing.

How to Clean a Cloth Diaper Pail

Cleaning your cloth diaper pail is actually pretty similar to the steps above for cleaning a diaper genie. There are just a few key differences:

  1. Wash the pail liner in the wash with your cloth diapers like you normally would.
  2. Using either your shower, diaper sprayer, or garden hose, spray down the inside and outside of your diaper pail.
  3. Be sure to leave a some water in the bottom of the pail.

From here, follow steps 6-13 listed above.

Your Diaper Pail Doesn’t Have to Be a Smelly Mess

If you put in some elbow grease about every three months, you can have a clean diaper pail that won’t be full of bad odors and bacteria.

You can prevent the nasty diaper smell in between cleanings by always disposing of feces in the toilet, using scented garbage bags instead of the expensive diaper genie refills, tieing up the ripe diapers in doggie poop bags, and using deodorizing discs.

When was the last time you cleaned your diaper pail? Do you have a cleaning secret that works wonders for keeping the dirty diaper smell at bay? Tell us in the comments and be sure to share this post with your mama friends that are also dealing with the stinky diaper funk.

Do you have a diaper pail that works great at keeping the nasty smell contained, but once that door opens, the poop smell hits you right in the face? Are you wondering how to clean your pail so that you don’t have to curb the nasty smell each time the pail is opened? learn why it’s important to keep your diaper pail clean and the exact steps on how to do so. #baby #motherhood #momlife #parentingtips #diapering

Jenny Silverstone

Jenny is just another Mom trying to do her Best. She loves organizing things into lists and helping others find what they are looking for. When she's not using her powers to find her kids missing socks, you can find her giving actionable parenting advice & buyers guides at MomLovesBest.com