The best diaper pail

Erica van Blommestein

To keep your diaper pail from absorbing odors, empty soiled diapers at least twice a week and wash plastic pails with warm, soapy water once every week.

Diapering is a messy and unpredictable business. There's no telling when you'll be faced with another blowout, rash, or surprise shower, but one thing's for certain: the odors are there to stay. A diaper pail can help you keep a lid on the funk while simultaneously providing an easily accessible disposal system -- something any parent juggling a wriggling baby and a pungent package can appreciate. 

Take a look at our shopping guide for everything you need to know about choosing the best diaper pail size, style, and liner compatibility. We've also listed a few product recommendations, including our favorite by Munchkin that offers effective odor control, hands-free operation, and sleek aesthetics.

Considerations when choosing diaper pails

Odor control

Since a diaper pail's primary purpose is to help keep your abode smelling like home sweet home, odor control is of the utmost importance. A tightly sealed lid, an additional barrier between the liner and the lid, a liner sealing mechanism, fragrance disks, and built-in carbon filter compartments can all help boost odor-busting efficacy.


Diaper pails come in varying sizes. It's worth noting that the overall capacity is typically based on newborn diapers. This means that a diaper pail with a capacity of 50 newborn diapers won't hold nearly as many toddler diapers. Households with more than one child in diapers would be wise to choose a plus-size pail with a larger capacity or two average models. 

Liner compatibility

While some diaper pails are compatible with regular trash bags, others require proprietary liners. Diaper pails that accommodate multiple liner types tend to be more convenient and easier on the pocket, but if hassle-free emptying is a priority, a model that works with proprietary liners might be worth considering.


Hands-free use: Every baby-toting parent understands the benefits of hands-free operation, but not every diaper pail offers this feature. For a streamlined, fumble-free experience, look for a model with a foot-pedal opening mechanism and an easy-close lid.

Easy liner replacement: Removing and replacing liners generally isn't too difficult, but some diaper pails go the extra mile to make the job as painless as possible. For instance, diaper pails that use specialty snap-shut bags can help save your nose, while those that work with continuous liner rolls and built-in cutters allow you to simply snip off the old bag, pull a new length of liner through, and tie the bottom.

Style: A diaper pail might not have a particularly glamorous job, but that doesn't mean style has to fall by the wayside. A sleek option with clean lines and neutral colors will blend into the background without detracting from your nursery décor.

Diaper pail prices 

Diaper pails can cost anywhere from $20 to $80. While pricer models often boast a higher capacity and additional odor control features, many mid-range options within the $30 to $60 price bracket prove more than adequate for the average household.


Q. How often should I empty my diaper pail?

A. Many people assume that a diaper pail only really needs to be emptied when full. However, for odor control and hygiene reasons, it's best to replace your liner at least once every three days, regardless of its capacity.

Q. Are diaper pails only suitable for disposable diapers or can they be used for cloth diapers, too?

A. A select few diaper pails are specially designed to accommodate both cloth and disposable diapers, but the average model isn't likely to be a good match for the added bulk and weight. When it comes to cloth diapers, a wet bag is probably your best bet. With that in mind, if you already have your heart set on a diaper pail, a sturdy extra-large model that's easy to clean in the event of leaks could still get the job done.

Diaper pails we recommend

Best of the best: Munchkin Step Diaper Pail

Our take: Ticks all the boxes with a generous capacity, superior odor control, and pleasing aesthetics.

What we like: Large capacity holds up to 100 newborn diapers. No-touch foot pedal for hands-free use. Exceptional odor control; accepts Arm & Hammer odor-control cartridges.

What we dislike: Heavier than others on our list, but it's a worthwhile trade-off for superior performance.

Best bang for your buck: Dekor Hands-Free Diaper Pail

Our take: A simple, but effective diaper pail that delivers excellent value for money. Hands down the best choice for budget-conscious buyers.

What we like: Features a large foot pedal for fuss-free opening and a quiet self-closing lid. Mid-range price tag is easy on the pocket. Comes with a lifetime warranty. 

What we dislike: Somewhat bulky. Some users found that although odors were minimized, they weren't entirely contained.

Choice 3: Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail 

Our take: This stainless steel diaper pail is ideal for families looking to reduce or do away with plastics. Sturdy, but pricey.

What we like: Durable stainless steel construction. Rubber inner seals help keep odors locked in. Streamlined design is modern and attractive.

What we dislike: Expensive. Odor control and total capacity could be better, given the price.

Erica van Blommestein is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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