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The Best Diaper Pails for the Nursery

A diaper pail is essentially a specialty garbage can for dirty diapers, both cloth and disposable. While this may not seem like a strict necessity when most people own standard garbage cans that appear to suit the task just fine, a diaper pail can actually be a wonderful boon to parents with a new baby at home. Diaper pails are designed to be maximally efficient at trapping odors, as well as reducing the number of times you need to haul the smelly garbage out. This will prevent diaper odors from leaking and stinking up your home or mingling with the other odors in the garbage can. If you’re a new or experienced parent that’s looking to add a diaper pail to your nursery, here are a few we recommend.

What Should You Consider in Diaper Pails?

Here are a few things to think about before buying a diaper pail:

  • Odor-Blocking: The most important consideration to make before buying a diaper pail is how well it will block the smell of the dirty diapers inside since that is its main purpose. Steel diaper pails are a better choice than plastic ones in this regard. Steel is a much less porous material and thus contains bad smells better. It’s also more durable than plastic, so steel models are much less likely to wear down over time. Some models have built-in cartridges on the lids to absorb odors and give off much more pleasant scents. Others come with specialty bags that are scented, deodorizing, or have extra layers to help mask or block odors as well.
  • Bags: All diaper pails require the use of a bag to help with the odor-blocking and to keep the inside of it clean. The question is, does the diaper pail in question require specialty bags or not? Some brands are only compatible with diaper bags made by the same company or specifically for their particular model, which can get expensive. Some will work just fine with standard garbage bags. Others might work with any brand of diaper bag on the market but not with regular garbage bags. Some diaper pails will come with several complimentary bag refills, but you will have to buy replacements eventually. Be sure to check a diaper pail’s listing and see which of these three options it falls under so that you know what to expect and which products to buy along with it.
  • Design: If possible, you’ll want to buy a diaper pail with a foot pedal for a hands-free opening; you should always have one hand on your baby when changing their diaper and a hands-free model allows you to do so in safety. Other models have locking systems to keep older infants and toddlers out of the dirty diapers. You’ll always want to consider the diaper pail’s size and diaper capacity, especially if you have a small home, to ensure it fits in the required space. Diaper pails are commonly white, but some models come in several different colors so that you can better match your purchase to the nursery’s color scheme and décor.

Best Odor-Blocking: Ubbi Odor Locking Diaper Pail

This durable, eco-friendly, and highly rated diaper pail is also cost-efficient in the long run. The body is made of solid steel, so it’s less porous than plastic models, which helps to shield and trap the odor from the diapers inside the pail so that it won’t leak out and pollute the room. The damper mechanism gives this model a hermetically sealed closure to further prevent odors from escaping. The damper mechanism is also designed to be uncomplicated and sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking during opening and closing. Unlike some other models, this diaper pail doesn’t require specialty bags for use or refills. You can use regular, less expensive garbage bags instead, which will save you money in the long run. Despite the slender, modern design, this diaper pail can hold up to 55 dirty diapers at once, so you don’t have to empty it as often. There’s a childproof lock to prevent your baby, toddler, or pets from getting into dirty diapers and causing a mess. Choose between 13 different colors to best match your nursery or wherever else you change your baby’s diaper.

Best Odor-Blocking

Ubbi Steel Odor Locking, No Special Bag Required Money Saving, Awards-Winning, Modern Design Registry Must-Have Diaper Pail, Gray

A steel diaper pail with a hermetically sealed closure to prevent odors from leaking out.

Best for Small Spaces: Skip Hop Diaper Pail with Dual Air-Lock

If you live in a tighter apartment or condo or don’t otherwise have a lot of room, this diaper pail is designed for narrow spaces. This tall, narrow, streamlined model is purposefully designed to save space. The steel body and dual airlock system trap bad smells inside. To clean this diaper pail, all you have to do is give it a quick wipe down. The snap closure is simple to use, while the childproof lock prevents toddlers or pets from getting inside and making a mess with the dirty diapers. The built-in storage compartment holds all your diaper-changing items so that they’re always right at hand. You can also buy a matching wipes holder (sold separately) for the storage compartment. This model doesn’t require any special bags, as it can fit standard kitchen or garbage bags. To ensure the best and tightest possible seal, be sure to smooth out all the bag wrinkles around the top edge before you close the lid.

Best for Small Spaces

Skip Hop Diaper Pail with Dual Air-Lock, Universal Refill Bags, White

A tall, narrow, streamlined diaper pail that is designed to save space.

Best Hands-Free: Dekor Classic Hands-Free Diaper Pail

With this diaper pail, you’ll never have to worry about getting caught with your hands full during the changing process. All you have to do is step on the foot pedal, drop the dirty diaper in the trash, and you’re done. You won’t have to bend or twist or take your hand off your baby while you’re changing them. The closed-cell ABS plastic is less porous than most plastics, resistant to scratches, and you don’t have to worry about it rusting. The rubber seal along the rim helps keep smells inside, as does the spring-loaded trap door. The button closure on the top and reusable refill cartridges make it easy for you to remove bags and put in new ones. The diaper pail comes fully assembled with one full-sized refilled bag already installed; be sure to use only the Dekor brand refill bags with this model as they’re the only ones compatible. Once your children are fully grown, you can convert this diaper pail into a regular trash can. Choose between a white or gray model.

Best Hands-Free

Best Value: Safety 1st Diaper Pail

Having and raising a child is known to be pricey, and you may find your expenses are piling up quicker than you realized. If you’re on a budget, consider this diaper pail. It’s made of 100% imported plastic and is compatible with standard plastic garbage bags, so you don’t have to spring for more expensive specialty diaper bags. It’s also designed to be convenient to use. No twisting or turning is required, and you can operate this diaper pail with one hand; simply open the lid, drop the dirty diaper inside, and you’re all set. A deodorizing disc is included to help mask and eliminate odors within the pail. Replacement discs are sold separately.

Best Value

Safety 1st Easy Saver Diaper Pail

An affordable plastic diaper pail that is compatible with standard plastic garbage bags.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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