In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Munchkin Step Review

Great odor control with a large capacity makes this pail a winner
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $65 List | $65 at Amazon
Pros:  Best odor control, large capacity, self-sealing, durable, easy bag change
Cons:  Lavendar scent can be overwhelming, small opening, expensive, proprietary bags
Manufacturer:   Munchkin
By Juliet Spurrier, MD, and Lindsay Selig  ⋅  Aug 27, 2018
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The Skinny

We were extremely pleased with the overall performance of the Munchkin Step, with impressive odor control that helped it earn our Editors' Choice award. The hands-free system is easy to use with a convenient foot pedal, and the self-sealing system helps keep the odors trapped inside the can with each new deposit. While we weren't big fans of the strong lavender scent and the deposit opening is a bit small for size 3 and larger diapers, we think most families will be more than happy with what the Munchkin brings to the table.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Munchkin has developed baby products for almost three decades. The inventory ranges from feeding gear to bath accessories and more. Born and based in Los Angeles, California, they are now a worldwide corporation. Munchkin currently owns over 200 patents and adds to the list regularly. In a bid to help the environment, Munchkin has partnered with different organizations and is committed to planting a tree for every diaper pail sold to help offset emissions from the production process.

Performance Comparison


With its large capacity, superior odor containment and simple, user-friendly design the Munchkin Step offered an impressive overall performance during testing.

The Step beat out the competition in terms of odor control.
The Step beat out the competition in terms of odor control.

Likes


The Munchkin Step is an easy to use, hands-free pail with great odor control. The foot pedal operated lid lifts effortlessly, giving you easy access with a diaper in one hand and baby in the other. We think parents will appreciate making a deposit without juggling dirty diapers and a squirmy baby. The interior door closes after each diaper pushes through keeping interior smells on the inside where they belong.

The easy to use foot pedal on the Step makes it easy to toss diapers and hold your baby at the same time.
The easy to use foot pedal on the Step makes it easy to toss diapers and hold your baby at the same time.

When it comes to odor control, we are delighted with the Step's performance. It features a unique self-sealing system that twists the bag when the lid closes, which helps to trap the diaper and related odor inside the liner. This twist and seal process considerably alleviates noxious fumes from emitting when the top is open to accept a new diaper. The Step also comes with a baking soda puck inside the lid for additional odor control.

The twisting action helps to keep the dirty diaper stink inside the Step.
The twisting action helps to keep the dirty diaper stink inside the Step.

The container itself is a decent size providing a large capacity that limits the need for daily bag changes (though daily bag changes will help keep odor to a minimum). The hard plastic shell of the can is very durable and will hold up well over time. The system makes it easy to remove the bag with an inner blade to cut the liner so you can tie it off and throw it away. The front door swings open and provides enough room to situate and tie the liner end creating a bag for the next round of diapers. The overall style is sleek and unassuming, blending in with nursery decor instead of calling attention to itself.

The convenient blade on the Munchkin Step makes it a breeze to cut the bag when it is time to empty.
The convenient blade on the Munchkin Step makes it a breeze to cut the bag when it is time to empty.

Dislikes


While we like the idea of a baking soda puck on the underside of the lid, the lavender scent can be overwhelming for some. While it is better than the alternative poop smell, we wish they offered an unscented puck to absorb the odors. The experience of lavender scented poo can sometimes be enough to make you toss your cookies.

We appreciate the baking soda puck on the Munchkin Step but wish they offered it in an unscented version.
We appreciate the baking soda puck on the Munchkin Step but wish they offered it in an unscented version.

The size of the container is nice, but the diaper opening is a bit small. While this helps eliminate extra space for odors to escape, it means pushing the diaper through with a little extra oomph, which can potentially lead to the contents being pushed out. Wrapping poopy diapers well will help you avoid this problem. Also, a full liner can inhibit the twisting action of the liner as the lid closes. This problem means you'll need to push the diaper firmly through the opening so it will reach the main compartment of the container to allow the lid to shut. Otherwise, the diaper can get trapped in the twisting action, which prevents the cover from closing completely. Frequently removing a full liner can help you avoid this problem and being able to tie off the bag means you won't be wasting bag space or materials.

The hole to put diapers through in the Step is a bit small for our preference.
The hole to put diapers through in the Step is a bit small for our preference.

One of the downfalls of this system, like much of the competition, is the proprietary liner/bag system. The Munchkin has liners specially made to work with this pail, and you'll need to purchase them for the system to operate correctly. Requiring a proprietary liner system presents two challenges including finding the right refills and a more substantial lifetime investment. If you live in an area with limited shopping, you will likely have to order the refills online and plan to keep multiple backup refills on hand, so you don't run out. The price of the refills means you'll spend more to use the pail over time than products that work with kitchen trash bags. While these issues aren't deal breakers, they are something to keep in mind while making your final buying decision.

As with several of the diaper pails  the Munchkin Step uses a proprietary system of bags.
As with several of the diaper pails, the Munchkin Step uses a proprietary system of bags.

Conclusion


If your number one priority in purchasing a diaper pail is odor control, then there is no need to look further than the Munchkin Step. It has superior odor containment compared to the competition both as a closed unit and when making diaper deposits. While it has a smaller opening and will cost you more over the long haul than some other options, we suspect most parents will be happy to fork over the extra cash if it means a stink-free nursery and an easy to use pail.

Manufacturer Video




Accessories


The Step is compatible with both Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail Refill Rings and Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail Snap, Seal and Toss Refill Bags.

Other Versions


Munchkin offers a less expensive diaper pail in the Munchkin Pail. This pail uses the same baking soda puck and still requires the proprietary bags, but the capacity is smaller and it doesn't have the step to open feature. However, if you are looking to save some money at the outset, and you don't mind changing the bag more frweuntly or lifting the lid with your hand, then it could be one to consider.


Juliet Spurrier, MD, and Lindsay Selig