Munchkin Step Review
Pros: Best odor control, large capacity, self-sealing, durable, easy bag change
Cons: Lavendar scent can be overwhelming, small opening, expensive, proprietary bags
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.
The Munchkin Step is an easy to use hands-free pail with great odor control. The foot pedal lid lifts effortlessly, giving 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.
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 trap the diaper and related odor inside the liner (woohoo!).
This twist and seal process considerably alleviates noxious fumes from emitting when the top is opened to accept a new diaper. The Step also comes with a baking soda puck inside the lid for additional odor control.
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 durable and will hold up well over time, even if it absorbs odors like all plastics. 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.
While we like the idea of a baking soda puck on the underside of the lid, the lavender scent can be overwhelming for some. It is better than the alternative poop smell, but we wish they offered an unscented puck for sensitive sniffers. The experience of lavender-scented poo can potentially be enough to make you toss your cookies.
The size of the container is nice, but the diaper opening is 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 of the diaper. 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. If you don't, the diaper can get trapped in the twisting action, which prevents the cover from completely closing. 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.
One of the downfalls of this system, like much of the competition, is the proprietary liner/bag system. The Munchkin has liners especially for this pail, and you'll need to purchase them for the system to work. Requiring a proprietary liner 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, 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.
If your number one priority in 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 unassuming pail.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD, and Lindsay Selig