Hands-on Gear Review

Diaper Genie Essentials Review

Diaper Genie Essentials.  Holds up to 34 diapers.
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $308.00 Estimated lifetime cost
Pros:  Best odor control, easy to change bags when full
Cons:  Expensive refill bags, bags not sold everywhere
Bottom line:  Best diaper pail for controlling the stink and our Editors' Choice
Editors' Rating:   
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Dimensions:  10" W x 11" D x 21" H
Estimated Diaper Capacity:  Newborn: 34
Type of Refill:  Playtex Refill Cartridge
Manufacturer:   Playtex

The Skinny

The Diaper Genie Essentials diaper pail was discontinued by Playtex in 2017.

The Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials (formerly known as the Diaper Genie II) has been a long-time favorite in the diaper pail category. In our sniff tests it contained odor better than all the other diaper pails that we reviewed. While some of the other pails are slightly easier in disposing of a dirty diaper, they do so at the cost of escaping odor. The proprietary refill cartridges add a larger lifetime cost to this pail you'll want to consider, but the system contains odors better and is easier to change when full than much of the competition. Since your pail will likely be in baby's room, we consider odor control to be the single most important factor in choosing a pail. The Diaper Genie's unmatched odor control earns it our Editors' Choice winner for the second time in a row.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Diaper Pail Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
May 11, 2015


The Diaper Genie Essentials is a tried and true diaper disposal system that has a lot to offer in odor containment. The Essential has an AIR-TITEĀ® system that activates the Push-N-Lock clamp every time you add a diaper to help seal in odors. It can be operated easily with one hand by lifting the lid and tossing the dirty diaper inside. The refill bags offer 7 layers of barrier technology for odor and germ containment that can hold up to 100 newborn diapers at a time (not to be confused with the pail itself which holds 34). It has a list price of $27 dollars and a lifetime estimated cost of around $308.

Performance Comparison

Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials has a simple design and a narrow footprint for smaller nursery spaces
Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials has a simple design and a narrow footprint for smaller nursery spaces

Odor Control

The Diaper Genie is our Editors' Choice winner for best diaper pail for one main reason, it beat the competing diaper disposal systems in our most important test: the Stink-Containment Test. For more details about this test, you can check out our "How We Test" section.

Given that most parents purchase a pail for odor control we feel this metric is the most important in our tests. not only did the Essentials contain the odors of a full diaper bag easily, but it also offered great containment with each new diaper added by limiting the amount of stink that escapes as the new diaper drops in. Thanks to the "air tite" Push-N-Lock clamp feature of the drop in opening, the diapers are clamped away each time a new addition is made, which translates into significantly less whoosh of stinky air with each deposit.
Diaper Genie Essentials.  Push-N-Lock clamp to seal away odor.
Diaper Genie Essentials. Push-N-Lock clamp to seal away odor.
. Though the clamshell-like clamp means that you need to push the diaper through, we've found that you really only need to push it through about two-thirds of the way, because the clamp's spring-loaded mechanism is so tight that it ends up sucking the rest of the diaper right down inside.

This pail earned the highest score in our review with a 9 of 10 for odor control. No diaper earned a 10 (which would have been no scent at all), and none of the remaining competition even came close with second place earning just 6 of 10 for odor. The hands-free system of the higher-end Diaper Genie Elite even includes a double lock design to help seal in odors, but in our testing we found that this wasn't as effective in smell containment as the Essentials because the closing lid, and lack of containment, mean a fanning of odors into the room.

Ease of Disposal

This pail earned a fairly low score for ease of disposal with a 4 of 10. Our research showed that some parents feel that necessity of pushing the diaper through the clamp lock is a deal breaker, citing that if a diaper is really full of #2 and needs to be pushed through anything, that the contents may ooze out of the diaper getting onto hands as you push it. We admit that even the most tightly wrapped diaper will leak once in a blue moon when pushing it through the clamp. However, we feel this occurrence is so few and far between that we are willing to endure this rare misgiving, but it did hurt it in the scoring process given that much of the competition is a simple drop the diaper in and close the lid procedure. However, it is this simpler procedure that lets odor escape with each new diaper so the trade off is up to you.

Diaper Genie Best-Practices
There are three steps to Diaper Genie's one-handed operation:
  • Lift the lid
  • Push the diaper down through the Push-N-Lock clamp
  • Close the lid

What we do really like is that when disposing of a dirty diaper, it does not touch the plastic clamp or pail directly. It only comes into contact with the refill bag. For maintenance purposes, this is fantastic. One of our complaints about our Best Value winner, the Diaper Champ is the plastic receptacle which receives each dirty diaper. This receptacle gets filthy easily and needs to be cleaned with regularity if you want to keep the microbes and stink at bay.

Ease of Bag Changes

Refill for Diaper Genie Elite & Diaper Genie Essentials.  Refill holds up to 270 newborn-sized diapers.  5-layer refill bag helps seal in odor and germs.
Refill for Diaper Genie Elite & Diaper Genie Essentials. Refill holds up to 270 newborn-sized diapers. 5-layer refill bag helps seal in odor and germs.
Even though the Diaper Genie system requires using their proprietary refills, they work great for several reasons. The multilayer odor barrier film technology in them basically means that there are 7 layers to the lining which helps seal away odor. In our opinion, Diaper Genie's refill lining really does contain odors well, unlike Diaper Champ's multilayer refill system. When a Diaper Genie bag of dirty diapers is collected and left out (instead of putting it directly into the trash), it really is difficult to detect any odor.

In addition, it is very easy to change a bag of dirty diapers from the Diaper Genie. Because all of the dirty diapers are sitting in a sausage shaped sealed container when you open the system, there isn't that overwhelming whoosh of horrid stench you are exposed to with several of the other pail systems that we tested like our Best Value winner, the Diaper Champ, has this problem in spades. The child-proof scissors in the interior of the Diaper Genie are used to cut the refill film in a snap and if you keep the seal with your hand while tying the film off, odor is minimal. Then to prepare the bag for its next use pull the film the full length of the pail and tie a knot. The refill cartridge is also a cinch to replace.

A footnote about the Diaper Genie is that as with the Diaper Champ Deluxe, toddlers may become very interested in this contraption. So, when emptying a bag of dirty diapers, do not be surprised to find your child's toys or other household items intermixed among the detritus. Consider yourself fairly warned.

Best Applications

The best application for this pail is just about anything concerning a stinky diaper. We really like the containment system on this product that prevents most of the odors from reaching your nose and it keeps the nursery smelling diaper free. With the only potential drawback being the cost and inconvenience of the proprietary bags, if you can handle the extra $4.50 a month, we think it is worth the added cost to have significantly less odor (see more about cost below).

Value/Estimated Lifetime Cost

What does all of this really cost, you ask? Well, compared to pail systems that utilize regular kitchen trash bags, more, perhaps a lot more. But, in our opinion, not that much more and worth it when you consider the odor control they offer. Over a 4 year span, one child will go through an approximation of 5,000 diapers. We estimate that you will spend $281 in refills (taking into account that the system will fit less as the child grows and needs larger diapers). This puts the total cost of ownership for the Diaper Genie at about $308 for the lifetime of the unit. In comparison, if you were to use regular kitchen trash bags with our Best Value winner, the Diaper Champ, you would spend about $53 on bags with a total cost of ownership of $92. Basically, this comes down to a difference of about $4.50 per month between the Diaper Genie and the Diaper Champ (with kitchen trash bags). For superior odor control and easier, less stinky bag changes, this seems so worth it to us. And, considering that this diaper pail will be inside your home, typically inside baby's nursery, it just makes good sense if the budget will allow.


If you are looking for the best diaper pail to control the stink, search no further than the Diaper Genie Essentials is it. In our testing the Diaper Genie Essentials is the best at odor containment hands down, which is a large reason why it won our Editors' Choice. With the "Air Tite" clamp system and the 7 layer bag you can feel confident you are getting the best bang for your buck. If you still aren't convinced you might take a look at our article Diaper Champ versus Diaper Genie Cagematch.

Other Versions and Accessories

We also tested the Diaper Genie Elite in this review. While it has a foot pedal for hands free disposal, and a carbon filter on the lid that is supposed to decrease odors. However, in our tests we didn't feel that this product worked as well as its cheaper brother and in the carbon filter kept falling out.

Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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5 star: 100%  (1)
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