The Best Diaper Pail Review

Which diaper pail is the best? We took six of the most popular and top-rated diaper pail containers and put them through a stinky series of side-by-side tests to find out. We found big differences in odor control; some pails are much, much, better at containing the stinky poopy smell than others. We also looked at total cost of ownership to fairly compare those pails that can use regular kitchen trash bags to those using proprietary refills.

Read on to learn how the competing pails fared in our testing, how they stacked up in the all-important sniff testing, and which ones we choose as the best available.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Mom-in-Chief, BabyGearLab April 14, 2012

Top Ranked Diaper Pails Displaying 1 - 5 of 6 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Diaper Genie Essentials
Diaper Genie Essentials
Read the Review
Video video review
Diaper Genie Elite
Diaper Genie Elite
Read the Review
Diaper Champ Deluxe
Diaper Champ Deluxe
Read the Review
Video video review
Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail
Munchkin Arm & Hammer
Read the Review
Diaper Dekor Plus
Diaper Dekor Plus
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award    Best Value Award     
Price $37 List
$20 from Amazon
$57 List
$37 from Amazon
$35 List
$34 from Amazon
$40 List
$29 from Amazon
$44 List
$42 from Amazon
Overall Score 
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77
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71
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57
100
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52
100
0
46
Editors' Rating
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Pros Best odor control, easy to change bags when full2nd place in Odor Control, very easy to useUses regular kitchen bags, average smell containment, one-hand operationEasy to empty bag, child-proofed, baking soda dispenserHands-free, child-proof, refills made of 20% recycled materials
Cons Expensive refillsExpensiveCompeting products contain odors better, especially when placing a dirty diaper in pail and removing bagPoor odor control, hand gets caught when disposing diaperPoor odor control, scented refills smell, trap door doesn't open with a lightly soiled diaper
Bottom Line Best diaper pail for controlling the stink and our Editors' ChoiceA compromise between the best odor control and ease-of-use that is worth considerationAlthough offering less expense when you factor in cost-of-bags, the best odor control is elsewhereBetter off putting your money into the Diaper Genie EssentialsNot our favorite. Look elsewhere.
Date Reviewed Apr 09, 2012Jan 06, 2012Apr 04, 2012Jan 06, 2012Jan 06, 2012
Weighted Scores Diaper Genie Essentials Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Champ Deluxe Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Dekor Plus
Odor Control - 60%
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
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5
10
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3
Ease of Diaper Disposal - 25%
10
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5
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8
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6
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4
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8
Ease of Bag Change - 15%
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5
Product Specs Diaper Genie Essentials Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Champ Deluxe Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Dekor Plus
Type of Refill Proprietary refill cartridge Proprietary refill cartridge Compatible with standard kitchen bag, or
Proprietary refills offer better odor control
Proprietary bags Proprietary refill cartridge
Estimated Lifetime Cost of Refills $190 $190 $45 (kitchen bags)
$145 (proprietary bags)
$190 $130
Estimated Total Cost of Ownership $225 $245 $80 (kitchen bags)
$180 (proprietary bags)
$230 $174
One-hand Operation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Foot-pedal Opener Yes Yes

BabyGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products

We put more weight on odor control than any other factor, and even in our tests of things like the ease of changing the bag, differences in the stink involved were a key consideration.

You'll find full details on the nasty hands-on (and nose-on) process we used to test diaper pails in our "How We Tested" section, but we will tell you that we're happy that we won't need to retest them again until next year.

The "Sniff Tests" Divide the Competition
We found that all of the pails did a pretty good job managing odors when they were closed. Each of the pails offers some way to keep the pail relatively tightly sealed up when closed. We observed minor differences between odors coming from closed pails that had not been disturbed for hours. However, the differences in competing products really come out when you open and close them to put a dirty diaper in them. And, you'll be opening and closing your pail a lot in practice, up to every few hours.

Despite various innovative designs which seek to minimize the odors released when placing a diaper in the pail, the stinky wiff coming your way varied from mild to a nasty blast when inserting a dirty diaper inside. The resulting stink bomb can linger in your nursery (or whatever room you normally change diapers in) and become a real buzz kill on your newborn bliss.

Thankfully, the top performing products did a great job at containing odors. Without further adieu, let's break it down for you.

Editors' Choice Winner - Diaper Genie Essentials
Surprisingly, it was not Playtex's top-of-the-line Diaper Genie Elite that won our award, but their lower cost entry, the Diaper Genie Essentials (formerly known as the Diaper Genie II). More than any other product tested, the Diaper Genie Essentials minimized dirty diaper odors. Simple in design, easy-to-use, the Diaper Genie provides a quick drop-in for dirty diapers through a clam-shell shaped flap. You can easily operate it with baby in one hand and the dirty diaper in the other, despite the fact that it lacks a foot pedal like several competing products. Most importantly, the Diaper Genie Essentials was the best pail in our tests at controlling odors.

When closed, the Diaper Genie Essentials is well sealed and even when full of "testing material" we could barely detect any smell even when nose-to-the-pail. When inserting a dirty diaper, all the pails released some odor, but the Diaper Genie Essentials released less than any other, in some cases by a very wide margin. We think their clam-shell insertion flap, which is pretty tightly sprung and requires you to push through the diaper, combined with their proprietary refill bag system, are the two keys to the Diaper Genie's superior odor control.

Click to enlarge
Diaper Genie Essentials. Push-N-Lock clamp to seal away odor.
Credit: BabyGearLab Staff
The Diaper Genie's innovative "Push and Lock" clamp design for inserting a dirty diaper is slightly more complex than competing products, and some parents complain that when you push a leaking diaper into it you can sometimes end up with a bit of poo on your hands (we did find this complaint valid, but we also found a combination of carefully wrapping up a dirty diaper and care in pushing it through mitigates that risk). Nonetheless, day-in and day-out, the Diaper Genie's ability to manage your stinky poopy dirty diapers is unmatched. Simply stated, you can comfortably place the Diaper Genie Essentials in an enclosed room and experience no noticeable smell. We also liked the Diaper Genie's system for changing the bag when full, which allows you to wrap up the dirty diapers like a sausage and never risk touching the diapers.

So, what's the downside? Total cost of ownership. At roughly $35 street price, the Diaper Genie is not expensive at first glance. But, you'll need to add in the cost of enough proprietary refill cartridges for the 5,000 diapers your baby will go through, and we estimate that will add about $95 in cost in the first year, and another $95 over the next 2-3 years of use. That places total cost of ownership at about $225 over four years. Is it worth it? We think so, but you'll want to consider whether the convenience of spending an average of $0.15/day is worth the convenience of avoiding nearly 5,000 trips to the outside garbage can.

Bottom line: the Diaper Genie Essentials is our Editors' Choice for best diaper pail.

Best Value Winner - Diaper Champ Deluxe
Fortunately, for those of you gulping at the prospect of spending over $200 in total cost of ownership on the Diaper Genie, the Diaper Champ Deluxe is an alternative worth considering. While the Diaper Champ does provide proprietary bags as an option, it is compatible with normal kitchen trash bags. In terms of total cost of ownership through the estimated 5,000 diapers you'll go through over four years, we estimate you'll spend about $45 on kitchen trash bags (we estimate you'll need about 215 bags) bringing total cost of ownership to approximately $80 for the Diaper Champ Deluxe. If you use the Diaper Champ proprietary bags which claim to offer superior odor control (we used them in our sniff testing), you'll spend an estimated $145 on bags, bringing your total cost of ownership to about $180. The invisible cost with the Diaper Champ is inferior odor control when compared to the Diaper Genie Essentials. In our tests, the Diaper Champ did a good job with odor control, but the Diaper Genie was noticeably better. Many parents find that the Diaper Champ to be completely satisfactory in use and claim they never notice diaper smells. What we can assure you of based on our tests, is that the Diaper Champ, offering good odor management with normal trash bags, is going to save you over $145 when compared to the cost of getting the best odor management.

Diaper Champ vs. Diaper Genie — the Cagematch
The Diaper Champ versus Diaper Genie debate has raged on for years between newborn parents, with many parents taking a passionate position on one side or the other. And, while there are a number of new products on the market, such as the Munchkin Arm and Hammer pail, in our ratings and rankings we came down to the same two finalists many others have debated about. We decided to put the argument to rest by detailing a point-by-point comparison of the two based on our hands-on tests. You'll find those details and our answer in the related article titled, "Diaper Champ versus Diaper Genie Cagematch."

Conclusion
You can see the full details of our test results in the ratings and comparison table above. There were a number of products which did a good job in our tests, and we've attempted to document our findings on each in detail.

And, while on the subject of changing diapers, you might want to check out our comprehensive The Best Diaper Bag Review. It will give you the straight scoop on the best and most stylish Diaper Bags ranging in cost from less than $30 to $200.

Juliet Spurrier MD
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