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When you’re creating your baby registry or revamping your nursery, diaper pails aren’t likely to be high on the list of items you can’t wait to unbox. But as your little one grows and the diapers pile up, you’ll quickly realize that this may be one of your most used — and most appreciated — nursery items.

While perhaps not the cutest of nursery accessories, having the right diaper pail can make a big difference in your quality of life — and the air quality of your house! It’s important to invest in the right one, which is why we’re here to help you compare the best diaper pails on the market in 2020.

While a diaper pail may not be necessary by technical definitions, your gorgeous new nursery will certainly start to smell less inviting without one.

Because the stench from dirty diapers can spread through a space if not contained, most people want something specifically designed to trap it.

Plus, a diaper pail can also mean that you’re not constantly having to take stinky diapers outside to a larger trash can — an important time and energy saver for any parent!

When hunting for the diaper pail of your dreams (bet you never thought you’d dream of a diaper pail, huh?), there are several things you’ll want to think through:

Size

With some smaller pails, you’ll need to clear the dirty diapers out every day or two before they begin to overflow. Alternatively, very large pails might hold a week or more of diapers, but develop a stench as the diapers are collected.

The amount of space you have for a diaper pail will also likely impact your decision, so it’s important to consider where you’ll keep it.

Pail liners

Some diaper pails can use regular trash bags or washable cloth bag liners, while others require special liners or carbon filters bought from the diaper pail manufacturer. Over time, the cost of special liners can add up, so you’ll want to think about the types of bags required and their costs.

Accessibility

Diaper pails can open in a variety of different ways — a handle, flip lids, or a foot pedal to name a few. You’ll want a diaper pail that you can easily open without releasing odors, and has a big enough opening to easily plop diapers inside (because nobody wants to wipe poop off their hand from finagling a dirty diaper into the pail).

Changing ease

Getting a bag full of dirty diapers out of the container is never going to be your favorite chore, so the easier the task (not to mention the less stinky!) the more bonus points it will earn.

While there aren’t a ton of safety risks associated with diaper pails, you’ll want to make sure that if you keep yours on an elevated surface it can’t fall on your baby.

You’ll also want to make sure that little hands don’t get trapped in it as it opens and closes and watch out for suffocation risks with any trash bags used in your nursery.

While we don’t have any suggested in this list, if you choose a wet diaper pail for cloth diapers, it’s very important to make sure that it’s locked when not in use so little ones don’t have access, since it’s possible to drown in as little of an inch of water.

With all of the specs mentioned above taken into consideration, we picked this list based on parent recommendations, best-seller lists, and rave reviews.

Price guide

  • $ = $20–$40
  • $$ = $41–$60
  • $$$ = over $60

Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail

Price: $$$

If there’s such a thing as an attractive diaper pail, the Ubbi definitely qualifies. (You can even get it in a marble print!) Additionally, because it’s made from steel, you don’t have to worry about odors absorbing into the material like with plastic pails. The Ubbi also has a child lock on the lid to prevent your little one from opening it up while your back is turned.

The manufacturer does sell diaper bags for the pail, but they are not required — kitchen trash bags and cloth liners will both work just fine. The only downside to this pail is that it doesn’t have a foot pedal, so it requires a free hand to open the sliding lid.

Busch Systems Odorless Cloth Diaper Pail

Price: $$

Made specifically for cloth diapers, this pail has a strong double handle clamp lid perfect for the extra width of dirty cloth diapers. Reviewers say it holds up to two days’ worth of diapers without the smell to show for it thanks to a carbon filter in the lid.

Understanding the environmental consciousness that drives many to consider using cloth diapers, this diaper pail is made from recycled plastic and is recyclable. Although it’s worth noting that while the carbon filter reportedly works wonderfully, reviewers say the materials themselves may retain the poop smell after being used for a while.

Another consideration: If you’re using cloth diapers and cloth liners, you might need to wash the inside of your pail more often as cloth liners are more prone to leakage.

Playtex Diaper Genie Complete Diaper Pail

Price: $

The Playtex Diaper Genie means business when it comes to containing odors. It makes use of a clamping system when diapers are inserted, so while it does require you to squeeze the diapers through a tight opening, you won’t have to deal with a strong waft of poop every time you open it.

For double doody (see what we did there?), the walls of the Genie are antimicrobial to prevent bacteria from nesting in the pail. It also uses a foot pedal for hands-free opening.

On the negative side, this pail makes use of a carbon filter and requires its own specific bags, which can both definitely add up cost-wise over time. But for the faint of nose, this may be the answer you’ve been seeking!

KaryHome Small Trash Can

Price: $

If you’re limited on space, this nontraditional diaper pail will hang off your baby’s changing table or on a nearby cabinet. (Welcome back precious floor space!) Its retractable lid makes it easy to plop a stinky diaper into the bin with one hand.

In addition to saving room, you’ll save money with this pail because you can use a variety of different bags in it. Reviewers love it for kitchen scraps/trash, so it’s easily repurposed after your child is potty trained.

Now, if you’re looking for a diaper pail to hold a significant amount of dirty diapers or include special odor trapping bells and whistles, this small can probably isn’t for you. But for a cheap, space-saving place to hold stinky diapers it gets two thumbs up.

Dekor Plus Hands-Free Diaper Pail

Price: $

If you’re looking for maximum features at a manageable price, the Dekor Plus is a great option. It has a larger entrance that can easily fit diapers (both cloth and disposable) inside, and a foot pedal for easy one handed dumping.

Additional features include a child lock, odor blocking trap door, and a quiet lid closure. It also easily converts to a trash can when your little one is done with diapers.

One thing to consider: While this pail is a great price for the quality, it does require you to purchase Dekor brand bags. One refill box claims to hold 2,320 diapers, though, so you shouldn’t have to purchase them very often.

Munchkin Step Diaper Pail

Price: $$$

On top of a sleek, design-friendly look, this diaper pail comes with a foot pedal to make diaper disposal hands free and an award-winning odor lock system. It also includes a childproofing button to keep little hands away from dirty diapers and a lavender scented baking soda puck.

On top of its higher price point, the need to use the manufacturer’s specific diaper bags and the baking soda pucks earn this pail the ranking of “best splurge.” But if you’re looking to make a purchase you can feel good about, Munchkin will plant a tree for every one sold, so your money is going toward more than just a diaper pail.

While a lot of the items on your baby registry may have you swooning with baby related excitement, the words “diaper pail” probably leave you far from giddy. But whether you’re committed to cloth or are a Pampers pro, you’ll be going through a ton of diapers with your new little one.

We understand it may not be the flashiest item in your baby’s nursery, but the diaper pail you pick can play a major role in keeping your home poop-smell free. And that — any experienced parent will tell you — is an underrated gift.