Tired of smell of a stinky diaper greeting you when you step inside your front door? Investing in a proper diaper pail can help keep your nursery from reeking during those first few years with your baby. Diaper pails are specially designed to seal in odors and help you dispose of diapers in a safe and sanitary fashion. Many pails also come with liners that help you maximize space within the bags to quickly dispose of diapers.

We’ve put together our top five best choices for sanitary diaper disposal – and talked about proprietary liners, how construction affects smell, and much more – in our Buyer’s Guide below.

  • Triple odor control
  • Closed-cell ABS Plastic
  • Includes full-sized refill
  • Converts into trash can
  • Ergonomic foot pedal

  • Double airtight clamps hold odors in
  • High capacity refill bags
  • Foot pedal included
  • Carbon filter included

  • Double sealed inner and outer lids
  • Includes 6 months supply of bags
  • Lid and child safety lock
  • Food pedal included
  • Easy access disposal door

  • Adaptable pail doesn’t use special bags
  • Steel pail locks in odor
  • Childproof lock
  • Sliding door design

  • Tight twisting sealing system
  • Baking soda cartridge
  • Step pedal
  • Childproof locking system


With a high overall capacity, great design, and unique construction, it’s no wonder the first diaper pail on our list leads the pack and is often the most recommended. The Dekor Plus 2-12026-1 uses a two-sealed system: one on the lid itself, which opens when the step pedal is used, and another in the spring-loaded trap door, which seals in odors immediately once a diaper has been placed inside the pail. With a little practice, disposing of diapers in the Dekor Plus can be incredibly fast. Just use a little force behind your throw, and the diaper will disappear under the trapdoor.

Likewise, we really appreciate the indoor liner cutting system, which can make disposing of portions of the proprietary liner quick and simple. The closed-cell plastic is also better at dealing with smells than many other plastic pails. While we still wish this product was easier to use with non-proprietary options, we still think Dekor Plus knocked it out of the park with this one.

Pros

  • Great design
  • High capacity liners
  • Built-in liner cutter
  • Childproof lock
  • Trap door design
  • Large size

Cons

  • Not standard bag friendly


If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Dekor Plus, the Playtex Diaper Genie offers similar features for a lower overall price. Instead of using a trapdoor to dispose of diapers, Playtex uses a system that holds the diaper at the top of the pail when opened but drops the diaper when the lid closes. This system also seals off the bottom of the pail when the lid is opened, so far fewer smells escape.

The Diaper Genie also comes with a carbon filter that’s designed to absorb smells and act as a failsafe for the two seals. While we did wish this pail came in a steel design, we liked the handy and simple bag cutter that tilts forward to cut the bags with little hassle to make this one of the easiest pails on our list to empty. There’s a lot to like for the price here.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Filter included
  • Efficient sealing system
  • Great emptying design
  • Full-sized refill included

Cons

  • Not standard bag friendly
  • Plastic can smell over time

If style is a concern for you or you’re interested in a pail for adult diapers, this unassuming and clean diaper pail is great for blending into the background. The Vliba Diaper Pail VLDU00002 can easily appear like a small air purifier or fan than a diaper pail. The lid seamlessly connects to the rest of the bin, and, when opened, a similar trap door to the Dekor Plus option can be seen.

The Vliba Diaper pail is also much smaller than some of the other options on our list and runs a bit more in cost. Many color options and a focus on design means, however, that Vliba is aimed more at a discreet pail than a large one. This Vliba model also relies only on proprietary liners, but the company does offer a six month supply free with purchase. The Vliba isn’t for everyone, but many appreciate this pail for a modern home and a need for discretion.

Pros

  • Discreet design
  • Great double seal
  • 6-month supply included
  • Lots of color options
  • Trap door design

Cons

  • Not standard bag friendly
  • Low capacity
  • Expensive

Coming in as the only bag on our list to offer standard liner compatibility, this Ubbi pail sets itself apart as the only option on our list that doesn’t feature a step pedal. Instead, the Ubbi relies on a simple door mechanism that can be easily opened and closed. While you’ll have to physically touch the pail each time you need to use it (which can pose a health hazard), the bin is one of the best to keep in smells on our list.

The Ubbi pail is also the only pail on our list to feature a steel design. This steel, alongside the sliding door, is highly effective for odors. The steel design means, though, that this pail costs more than the others on our list, and many parents won’t be happy about the health issues that could stem from the sliding door design. Regardless, if you want to keep on top of sanitation, want to avoid unique bags, and need something that’s going to trap odors no matter what, it is hard to go wrong with this model.  

Pros

  • Sliding door design
  • Steel body
  • Standard bag compatible
  • No recurring costs

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No foot pedal
  • No unique liner options

The final pail on our list has a unique system that twists the liner shut each time the lid is opened to create a fairly airtight seal. The Munchkin Step Diaper Pail 15901 uses an Arm & Hammer puck cartridge to aid in smell management and is compatible both with continuous liners as well as snap and seal liners that are both specially designed to work with the Munchkin pail.

While this pail may not offer the highest capacity, it does work to offset the plastic design with some of the best odor control out of the options on our list. Likewise, Munchkin has the benefit is being widely popular, so proprietary bags aren’t too hard to find. A handy child safety lock rounds out the features offered on this pail, which remains an effective choice for parents.

Pros

  • Twisting seal design
  • Dual-compatible
  • Included Arm & Hammer cartridge
  • Good child safety lock
  • Good foot pedal

Cons

  • Low capacity
  • Somewhat expensive

Comparison Chart

Dekor Plus 2-12026-1Playtex Diaper GenieVliba Diaper Pail VLDU00002Ubbi 10006Munchkin Step Diaper Pail 15901
ConstructionABS PlasticPlasticPlasticSteelPlastic
Liner ProprietaryProprietaryProprietaryStandardProprietary
# of Diapers per Liner58027045N/A272
Child Safety LockX
Foot PedalX
Capacity 60 diapers38 diapers45 diapers 55 diapers~ 20 diapers
Dimensions 24 X 15 X 119.4 X 12.1 X 2713.1 X 9.7 X 20.415 X 10.8 X 22.512.2 X 27.6 X 13

Buyer’s Guide:

Diaper Pails

Still not sold on one of our many options? We’ve got you covered. From construction to capacity and so much more, here’s what you need to know before you buy a diaper pail.

Perhaps the number one issue to consider when choosing between are five options is how each of the pails has been constructed, and this has to do in large part due to the natural difference between plastic and steel.

Plastic of any sort is often porous on a microscopic level, which means it can absorb many of the unpleasant odors from dirty diapers over time. Many pails try to counteract this with baking soda or activated carbon packs, but there will often still be a need to sanitize or clean the inside of the pail over time. This is why many prefer steel pails over plastic ones.

Steel pails are easier to clean and don’t retain nearly as much of the smell. There are also, though, often more expensive and harder to find. Some pails, like the Dekor Plus, utilize special plastics like ABS Plastic that can greatly reduce the amount of smell plastic holds. Likewise, the proprietary liners in most pails are designed to hold in smells much better than standard bags. The difference for some may be negligible, but it is worth noting that a difference between plastic and steel pails exists.

One of the most important advantages of a diaper pail is the sealing method it offers. Most diaper pails work with a two-seal system, the idea being that if the odor escapes the first compartment it will be trapped in the second. Other pails offer simple open-and-close doors which offer airtight seals when shut or twisting methods to cut off the liner from the rest of the room’s air supply.

These sealing methods are often designed with proprietary bags in mind, which is why many of our picks either work best or work only with their respective proprietary bag liners. These lengthy liners are designed to be used as needed: all you need to do is cut off enough to hold the diapers and re-tie the bottom for the next use.

However, propriety bags mean that there’s the issue of recurring costs when it comes to diaper pails. Some families prefer to use their own liners so they don’t have to worry about another purchase. For a more detailed comparison between the benefits and issues with proprietary bags versus standard offerings, we recommend you consider the following pros and cons table:

Proprietary Liners

Pros

  • More efficient
  • Easier to empty
  • Designed to seal odors in
  • Do not need constant replacement

Cons

  • Cause extra recurring costs
  • Can be hard to locate
  • Replacing liner packs may be difficult
Standard Liners

Pros

  • More options available to the consumer
  • Often easier to carry
  • Does not require cutting or extra tying

Cons

  • Less efficient
  • Harder to empty on some models
  • May leak odors
  • Replacements can be slow

The issue of capacity and safety is another important aspects of a diaper pail. Capacity can be a little difficult to find for some of our pails because some manufacturers often prefer to tout the number of diapers their liners can hold rather than the pails themselves. While some bins can only hold a few diapers at a time, their liners may offer much more for the money than you may have expected. Since most proprietary liners save on plastic, there’s no more or less waste created when emptying out a smaller bin versus a larger bin.

That’s precisely why we chose to list the capacity of the bin and the capacity of the proprietary liners as two separate listings in our overview. That being said, no parent wants to empty out bins every day, and a larger diaper pail does mean fewer trips to the garbage can. We recommend finding a solid balance between the two to ensure you get the best of both worlds.

On the issue of child safety, many of our options come with child safety locks. Most diaper pail manufacturers know that curious children can learn how to open pails, bins, and other containers but that they probably shouldn’t. A child-proof lock can help you ensure babies or toddlers don’t end up where they don’t belong.

  • Can I use cloth diapers/cloth bags with these diaper pails?
  • Many of these diaper pails are either cloth compatible or otherwise can be retrofitted to use cloth diaper bags. You may, for example, be able to either purchase a cloth bag specifically for your diaper pail, as offered by the Dekor Plus pail on our list, or pick a pail such as the Ubbi which can be fitted with non-proprietary liners and bags. Should your pail not be compatible, you can always remember to empty out the pail and place the diapers in the laundry room, not the trash can.
  • How do I clean my diaper pail?
  • Much like with your trash can, your diaper pail may need to be cleaned up due to unintentional messes or due to odors. For different diaper pails, you may want to try different methods of cleaning. First, disassemble your pail as best as you can and try to separate the bin itself from any sealing elements that are on the top of the pail. Next, rinse out the bin if necessary and use wet wipes to sanitize the inside of the bin. Finally, take wet wipes to the pail components and ensure that everything is clean and safe for use around infants. Make sure to use proper cleaning products so that younger noses and bodies aren’t affected. You may also want to consult your owner’s manual for more specific cleaning instructions concerning your diaper pail pick.
  • How often will I have to replace proprietary liners?
  • Most proprietary liners are designed with a continuous ring design, meaning that you’ll be pulling the bags down, cutting off however much you need for disposal, and tying off the bottom instead of replacing the liner entirely. How long it will be before you replace your proprietary liner depends on the type of liner as well as the size of the diapers that fill your pail. For example, it’s often stated that a newborn will go through about ten diapers a day, but newborn diapers will also be smaller than the bigger sizes as your baby grows. Most liners promise upwards of several hundred diapers tossed away with just one liner, but we recommend you check the table for specifics.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to diaper pails, we think that easy disposal and easy liner replacement is highly important alongside capacity and sanitary operation. The Dekor Plus offers the best overall operation, with a highly effective trap door design, sturdy build, and ABS Plastic construction. Should you be open to a pail that only works with proprietary liners, we strongly recommend this product.

For those who want a more affordable choice, the Playtex Diaper Genie is a fair comparison to the Dekor Plus for a great deal less money. This pail also offers a great method for liner disposal. Finally, if you want to avoid proprietary liners entirely, we recommend the Ubbi pail. While the sliding door design is somewhat controversial, the steel construction should more than makeup for it. Regardless of which you pick, we think there are many reasons any one of these five pails could work best in your home to make the nasty-smelling nursery a thing of the past.

Further Reading

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