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Many people wonder about the best way to store dirty cloth diapers between washings. The biggest worry people have relates to odors–won’t dirty diapers stink up your whole room? Do we need to find the best diaper pail for cloth diapers?
A diaper pail is simply a pail used to collect dirty diapers. I have used both cloth and disposable diapers in the past for various reasons. I will say that an open garbage pail of disposable diapers smells worse than a pail of cloth. I can walk in my son’s room and the small wastebasket we have to collect disposables (we use them occasionally at night when we haven’t washed our Grovia ONEs or when I want to use a certain diaper cream that isn’t cloth-safe) will stink up the room within a day.
We keep our cloth diaper pail in our bedroom because it’s closer to the bathroom where I clean off the diapers. There is no diaper smell in my bedroom at all, and no, I don’t have an odor-locking pail! I wash diapers every 3-4 days.
I’m not entirely sure why that is but suffice it all to say that it’s fine to want an odor-locking pail, but it’s not really a true need. You probably won’t have issues with odors, anyway, unless you directly stick your head in the pail or something! 😉
Diaper Pail vs. Wet Bag
Diaper pails are not very complicated. They are pretty common in nurseries considering how many diapers babies go through. Some diaper pails are used in a way to seal odors so that diapers don’t stink up the room before they are disposed of. They can be for cloth or disposable diapers.
Others take the opposite stance and use open containers for storing dirty diapers. Many people believe the diapers actually smell worse when in a closed container because they don’t get enough air.
In my experience, it doesn’t matter if you want an open or closed container. Assuming your wash routine is good, your diapers will not usually stink up the whole room when dirty. I cannot smell my dirty diapers in the room that houses the diaper pail, and I have a pretty sensitive nose.
It is possible that if your diapers have some ammonia build up from not getting totally clean that their smell may be stronger when dirty, but that is another issue that needs to be tackled outside of picking a diaper pail.
What to Avoid
It used to be common to soak dirty cloth diapers in a bucket full of a sanitizing solution in between washings. That is no longer recommended for several reasons:
1) A bucket of standing water is a hazard for a small child. All it takes is you not having your eye on them for one second for something horrendous to happen.
2) Even if you create a sanitizing solution, these buckets are filled with dirty, disgusting water that just sits around your house for days until you dispose of it.
3) Creating and dealing with the dirty sanitizing solution is an extra chore you just don’t need.
4) It can be hard on your diaper’s elastics to be constantly soaking, especially in a bleach solution.
5) Just imagine a curious toddler splashing around in your bleachy poop water when your back is turned. Ugh!
Instead, go with one of the diaper pail recommendations listed below (or a wet bag). It will be much less hassle!
What To Use Instead: Diaper Pails!
Diaper Pail Options
Closed Pail Options
I love the Dekor diaper pail because it is hands-free. That is important to me when my hands are a bit dirty from rinsing a poopy diaper. This is not a feature to take for granted!
This pail also allows you to use your own bag, meaning using a pail liner won’t be an issue.
The Dekor Classic is made from an ABS closed-cell plastic that retains odors better than other plastics. It also has rubber seals to keep odors from leaking. There is a soft close top lid, but a trap door lid underneath. The trap door lid closes immediately after the diaper passes through.
Grovia recently released an innovative diaper pail design that is somewhat of a hybrid between a wet bag and a diaper pail. It combines the best of both worlds by allowing it to be thrown in the washing machine with the diapers to get easily clean it while still allowing for hands-free disposal of the diapers.
The top of this diaper pail has an opening that you can slide the diaper right into. You don’t need to unzip anything with your hands. Its smart design reseals after you remove your hand from the bag.
The bottom of this diaper pail can be unzipped for easy removal of dirty diapers.
A perk of this diaper pail is that it also eliminates the need for a pail liner. All you need is a clothes’ hanger and you can keep this anywhere.
This Ubbi odor-locking diaper pail is made of steel, meaning it won’t absorb and release bad odors the way plastic containers do. This diaper pail does not require special bags, so you can use a pail liner in this container.
This pail has rubber seals to keep odors at bay. It also has a child safety lock on the opening to help keep kids from messing with it.
This diaper pail is compact and fits easily in any room. The only two downsides are if you like to go longer than a day or two between loads of laundry, you might wish for a bigger pail, and that the opening on top could stand to be bigger, especially when you are dealing with poopy diapers.
I would recommend this pail if you have two areas you tend to change diapers and don’t need a large pail in both. On its own, I think it’s too small.
Diaper Pail Alternatives
While getting an official diaper pail is nice, it’s certainly not essential. It’s totally up to you what diaper pail will be best for your family. Some people love the peace of mind odor-locking technology gives, and for those people, a diaper pail is worth the splurge.
Many of us use low-key or multi-functional items for our diaper pails. Like I mentioned earlier, if you have a good wash routine, an odor-locking pail is not necessary. That is more of a necessity for those that use disposable diapers.
A stainless steel garbage can is a great option for a diaper pail. Not only is it attractive, but it is available for use around the house once you are out of the diaper stage. Another perk of stainless steel is that it doesn’t absorb odors like plastic can. If you want a stainless steel trash can to use for diaper pail, the iTouchless 8 Gallon trash can is a perfect choice.
I love that you don’t have to use your hands to open it. There is an inner plastic bucket that is removable. That makes transporting dirty diapers easier if you don’t wish to carry the whole can somewhere and don’t want to carry the liner by itself.
This is a great option for those wanting to avoid plastic. It’s a decent size for every other day washing, but I like to go a little longer between loads and prefer something a tad bigger.
This Sterilite garbage can is a great budget option for dirty diaper storage. It has a foot pedal to open the can to once again allow for hands-free use.
I personally use something just like this myself. I do not deal with any odors in the room, and it’s easy enough to clean and disinfect when needed. The plastic does absorb a bit of odor on the inside, but it does not seep out.
I liked using a regular garbage can enough that when I had two in diapers and needed a second diaper pail (I did their diaper laundry separate since they were using diapers set at different rise settings–it was just easier for me to do that), I went out and bought the exact same one.
Open Pail Options- Laundry Baskets
Some people prefer an open pail system believing that the air circulation is better for decreasing odors. An open system should not stink up your whole room provided you are getting your diapers adequately clean each time you wash them and don’t have built up ammonia.
Laundry baskets are a great, cheap way to create an open system. You will probably want a taller, narrower basket as opposed to a short & wide one. This will make lining the basket with a pail liner much easier. Lidless laundry baskets also always allow for hands-free diaper disposal, so that’s a big perk. Here are some great laundry basket options:
This Sterilite weave hamper has a nice, tall, narrow design to make lining it with a diaper pail liner easy. It would be a great choice for an open system for dirty diapers!
I absolutely love that this laundry hamper rolls. LOVE it. It is so convenient to bring the diaper pail wherever you need it–the bathroom, the nursery, or the laundry room. This would be an awesome choice for open dirty diaper storage.
As you consider different diaper pail options, know that along with a diaper pail you will need a pail liner. A pail liner helps out by making laundry much easier. You can pull the liner out of the pail when it is time to do a load of wash and throw the liner right in the wash with your diapers. Pail liners also help keep your pail clean.
I highly recommend Planet Wise Pail Liners. I have had mine for several years now and am still using them.
I also have a Wegreeco Pail Liner and while it gets the job done, I like the elastic on the Planet Wise better. It’s very tight on the Wegreeco, and while that seems like it would be a good thing, it makes it hard to empty the dirty diapers into the washer. I find myself shaking it over and over and having to use my hands to pull them out. I like that I can dump them in easily with the Planet Wise pail liners!
Another idea for a pail liner is a mesh laundry bag. The mesh holes allow airflow to the diapers, which can reduce smells. The drawstring openings also allow for easy removal of diapers into the washer. They’re also cheap! Here is a great option if you want a mesh bag.
You don’t NEED to have a diaper pail–you can just use wet bags if you wish. I personally believe a diaper pail is more convenient at home (it stores more and wet bags can start to feel damp after a while). Check out this post to see my favorite wet bags options.
What Do You Use?
What are you using for dirty diaper storage? Let me know in the comments!