Hands-on Gear Review

Ubbi Review

The Ubbi is a stylish powder coated steel pail that looks great with almost any decor
Price:   $79.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Stainless Steel body, child lock, fun colors
Cons:  Poor odor containment, open door when disposing of diaper lets odors waft out unchecked
Bottom line:  Unique body construction, with interesting features, but odor control is really lacking
Editors' Rating:   
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Dimensions:  10.75" W x 15" D x 23" H
Estimated Diaper Capacity:  Average: 35 Diapers, Newborn: 58, Size 1: 50, Size 2: 41, Size 3: 38, Size 4: 31, Size 5: 23
Type of Refill:  Ubbi Unscented 13-Gallon Refill Bag, Standard 13- Gallon Kitchen Trash Bag
Manufacturer:   Ubbi

The Skinny

The Ubbi diaper pail is a looker of a pail with an eco-friendly steel body that is powder-coated and contains rubber gaskets to help seal in odors. Unfortunately, odors escape from the main can when inserting the diaper due to a lack of containment when the deposit door is open; a huge downfall in our opinion. Overall, we didn't like this pail as much as we thought we would after reading about it. Given the novel materials and lack of excessive plastic we thought we'd love this diaper disposal. Unfortunately, it failed to truly contain odors and the child safety lock won't prevent a persistent tike from simply opening the main lid instead. With multiple concerns and the lowest score in our review, this pail is one we can't recommend.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Diaper Pail Review


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Monday
May 11, 2015

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The Ubbi has a powder coated stainless steel body with plastic and rubber components. It is available in a variety of colors and has an easy sliding access door for dirty diaper deposits. The pail can be used with special Ubbi biodegradable bags or regular 13 gallon kitchen trash bags. It has a child-proofing lock on the diaper door to keep little ones from dropping toys inside, and they claim the pail holds 58 newborn diapers. The pail has a list price of $80.

We believe Ubbi overstates their capacity that 58 Newborn Diapers will fit in a bag. We cut this capacity figure in half for our tests and lifetime estimated cost analysis. Reason? In the real world, we believe parents are unlikely to fill the Ubbi to the brim like they might with the Genie Essentials due to odor containment issues and bag changing difficulties.

Performance Comparison


The Ubbi is a stylish powder coated steel pail that looks great with almost any decor
The Ubbi is a stylish powder coated steel pail that looks great with almost any decor

Odor Control


The deposit door on the Ubbi has no odor control mechanism to prevent stink from rolling out unchecked
The deposit door on the Ubbi has no odor control mechanism to prevent stink from rolling out unchecked
This pail is unique in its powder coated stainless steel design. The manufacturers claim this construction helps prevent odor build up as steel doesn't absorb odors like most plastics can. While this is true in theory, in practice we experienced a build up of odors we couldn't get rid of even with a thorough cleaning and airing out. We aren't sure if this is the interior plastic components absorbing odors or what, but it does somewhat negate the point of using steel and the claim of better odor control, at least in our tests.

When the can is sitting closed and not in operation, it does a pretty good job of containing odors. In our sniff tests we experienced very little scent coming from the Ubbi when closed, but putting a dirty diaper inside changes the story completely. Because the mechanism for diaper disposal is an open door, a strong and continuous whiff of poop escapes as long as the door is open, which can be awhile. This results in parents speed loading the sliding door to decrease the amount of stink that hits the nostrils, which in our experience led to "spillage" of diapers onto the pail itself and our hands (eww).

The Ubbi only scored a 4 for odor control. This score is primarily a reflection of the open deposit door design. It is the only pail in our review that doesn't at least make an attempt to seal or close the opening immediately after deposit or as the new diaper is put inside. The competition all offered a "clam closure", "trap door", or twisting seal containment, some attempt is made beyond a gapping hole for odors to seep out of. The best in our tests for odor control is the Diaper Genie Essentials that scored a 9 of 10 and has a great double sealing containment system and 7 layer bag to control the stink.

Ease of Disposal


The Ubbi door is easy to open once you know that you have to push down slightly before sliding the door back
The Ubbi door is easy to open once you know that you have to push down slightly before sliding the door back
Disposal of diapers is relatively easy and the Ubbi scored its highest score in our tests for this metric with a 5 of 10. The pail with the easiest diaper disposal is the Diaper Genie Elite; it offers a hands free foot pedal and simple drop in design with no pushing necessary. The first problem with this pail is the sliding door.
To make deposits in the Ubbi you must push the door slightly down and then back
To make deposits in the Ubbi you must push the door slightly down and then back
It opens easily once you know the trick of pushing slightly down before sliding it back, but the opening for the diaper lets out a huge puff of poop smell and the opening is fairly small, so larger or more full diapers are a struggle to squeeze inside. While this is difficult with disposable diapers, it starts to be downright impossible with cloth diapers given their larger bulk (Ubbi claims compatibility with cloth diaper systems). There are other design flaws for cloth diapers, including the inability to flip certain brands in and having to touch the liners to roll them closed getting poop on your hands, but if you ignore the option of cloth, then you may not notice this small door problem until baby gets into a size 3 diaper and has a blow out after eating solid foods.

The other potential problem with diaper disposal is if you use the child proof lock you will need two hands to open and unlock the deposit door and push the full diaper in. And while we like a child proof lock to avoid unsanctioned toy deposits by curious toddler (a fun past time of Diaper Champ toddlers) it isn't even that effective because truly curious kids will just open the pail lid which does not have a lock on it. We suspect parents will think this diaper door is fine at first, but grow disenchanted over time as baby and their diapers grow in size and contents. In our experience, as the smell increases so does the difficulty of making deposits.

Ease of Bag Changes


This view shows the Ubbi Diaper Pail Liner and how the bag is inserted into the pail
This view shows the Ubbi Diaper Pail Liner and how the bag is inserted into the pail
We have a few issues with the Ubbi as far as bags and bag changes go. We feel Ubbi's marketing oversteps reality in several areas; mainly in what we call "green washing" with their biodegradable bag (something unlikely to happen in a standard landfill situation), and their capacity claims, which we think are high and unrealistic given the amount of odor we experienced. We think parents will want to changes bags more frequently with the Ubbi than the competition to limit odor build up, and thus even if parents could get the claimed amount stuffed into the can, we doubt they would want to.

In addition, even if odors didn't change parents feelings on bags, the experience of changing a very full bag most likely will. In our tests we had trouble getting a full bag of diapers out without tearing the bag on the "teeth/tabs" located on the lid and spilling poopy diapers everywhere (a bigger problem with the Ubbi biodegradable bag than the kitchen bags, but this just makes another reason to not buy their proprietary bags).

This can also works with ordinary kitchen garbage bags, which will keep costs down over time, but the bags don't manage odors as well as the Ubbi bags. So it can be a trade off in what is most important to you, cost savings and a strong bag that doesn't tear, or the slim possibility the bag with decompose in the landfill before you die of natural causes at 90 and better odor management with a higher price and better chance of tearing. We honestly aren't sure which is better and think both options kind of stink… literally. We think most parents will want to change the bag every 2-3 days maximum to keep smells to a minimum. Because of this we think the bags are unlikely to be full and that over the lifetime of the pail you'll be using more bags than with other brands or pails, which might negate savings or the amount of plastic added to the landfill biodegradable or not.
The Ubbi bags are easy to insert whether you choose the Ubbi proprietary bag or ordinary kitchen bags
The Ubbi bags are easy to insert whether you choose the Ubbi proprietary bag or ordinary kitchen bags
The last two problems with this pail, and changing bags, is the rubber gasket that seals the lid to the body can and does fall out. Our gasket did during testing and our at home testers had similar experiences. Apparently this happens so frequently they have a video on how to put it back in (see video below). This may not be a deal breaker, since it is fixable, but we think for $80 the pail should be a little more bomb proof than falling apart with each bag change. Also, and this is minor we admit, the bottom of the pail is rimmed in metal and we had difficulty getting the pail to sit steady on floors that weren't perfectly flat.

A Note for Disposable Diaper Use
Disposable diaper users who use the Ubbi with their proprietary plastic bags may find them to be a bit flimsy, and the inside lid can tear robustly filled bags upon removal. This might cause dirty disposable diapers to fall on the floor. So, take heed, and change bags frequently to avoid this messy mishap!

Best Applications


We really wanted to love this pail and feel sort of bad saying there is no best application for its use. With the possible exception of using it simply to avoid the use of plastics, there is no best application for this product. With an odor control problem and a hard to change bag, this pail fails to function in a way we think parents will love over time. The primary reason for diaper pail usage is to contain and control odors between trips to the outside garbage receptacle. If the deposit hole releases excessive odor with each deposit, then you are in essence letting the smell permeate your home 6-12 times a day. This is a deal breaker for us.

Value/Estimated Lifetime Cost


Ubbi bags will cost more over the lifetime of the pail than standard 13 gallon kitchen bags
Ubbi bags will cost more over the lifetime of the pail than standard 13 gallon kitchen bags
The up front cost of the Ubbi is $80, and even using their odor reducing proprietary bags, this pail is less investment over time than most of the competition with a lifetime estimated cost of $149; $69 of which is special bags. The cost is even less if you use kitchen bags and comes in around $133. However, given that we feel that the capacity claims for the Ubbi are overstated, we estimate a real lifetime cost to be closer to $218 if you use the proprietary bags since they cannot be filled as full as ordinary kitchen bags for fear of tearing the material. Using ordinary kitchen bags still makes this unit one of the cheapest, with only the Diaper Champ coming in at a lower lifetime estimated cost.

Conclusion


The unique makeup and styling of the Ubbi might draw you in  but the open door smell will likely send you away
The unique makeup and styling of the Ubbi might draw you in, but the open door smell will likely send you away
We really wanted to like this pail and found the modern styling and eco-friendly steel body to be bold new steps in diaper pail design that we hope to see become a trend. However, the design of the diaper disposal system leaves some things to be desired, namely the size of the opening and the relentless stench that flows out unperturbed while we wrestled to get larger diapers into the can. If the hole were larger and/or there was some kind of inner seal to prevent odors from the pile of diapers inside from escaping with each new deposit, this might be a contender for top pail or at least rank higher in our tests. As it stands this pail came in dead last and a full 34 points below our Editors' Choice, the Diaper Genie Essentials. We look forward to seeing future revisions of this product and how it might evolve over time. However, as it stands, this is a design we do not recommend.

Other Versions and Accessories


Ubbi makes no other version or accessory for this pail beyond bag refills.

Video


For more information about how the Ubbi pail works, you can view the video provided below:


This video explains how to put the rubber gasket back on if it falls off.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: May 11, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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1 star: 100%  (1)


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