The Best Diaper Pail Review

Diaper Dekor Plus Kolor has several child-proof features to prevent little ones from accessing dirty diapers or making toy deposits.

Which diaper pail is the best? Which offers the best odor control and protects you from getting too intimate with the contents within? We took 6 of the most popular diaper pail containers and put them through a series of stinky side-by-side tests to find out all the stinktastic details. We found big differences in odor control (even those with filters struggled), and we found differences in ease of bag changing (where stink also played a factor). We also looked at total cost of ownership to fairly compare the pails that use regular kitchen trash bags to the models that use their own proprietary refills. Read more below to learn how the diaper dumpsters fared in our tests, how they stacked up in the all-important sniff test, and which options we choose as the best pails on the market.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

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Analysis and Award Winners

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
May 11, 2015


Best Overall Diaper Pail

Diaper Genie Essentials

Diaper Genie Essentials.  Holds up to 34 diapers.
Editors' Choice Award

Estimated lifetime cost
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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, which earned it top marks. Simple in design and 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 a baby in one hand and the dirty diaper in the other, despite the fact that it lacks a foot pedal like several competing products (including its more expensive brother).
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
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.

Diaper Genie Essentials.  Push-N-Lock clamp to seal away odor.
Diaper Genie Essentials. Push-N-Lock clamp to seal away odor.
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 little to 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 $280+ in cost to the overall ownership of the pail. That places total cost of ownership at about $335 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. Overall, this makes the Essentials our Editors' Choice for best diaper pail in our tests.

Read review: Diaper Genie Essentials

Best Bang for the Buck

Diaper Champ Deluxe

Baby Trend Diaper Champ Deluxe. Holds up to 30 diapers.
Best Value Award

(62% off)
at Amazon
See It

Fortunately, for those of you gulping at the prospect of spending over $335 in total cost of ownership on the Diaper Genie Essentials, the Diaper Champ Deluxe is an alternative worth considering. While the Diaper Champ does provide proprietary bags as an option, it is also compatible with normal kitchen trash bags which is a plus. 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 $53 on kitchen trash bags (we estimate you'll need about 215 bags) bringing total cost of ownership to approximately $92 for the Diaper Champ Deluxe.
Diaper Champ Deluxe's lifetime cost is lower compared to some of the competition because you can use regular kitchen trash bags instead of costly brand bags.
Diaper Champ Deluxe's lifetime cost is lower compared to some of the competition because you can use regular kitchen trash bags instead of costly brand bags.
Toddlers may find the rotating handle and empty cup irresistible once they realize that toys magically disappear when placed inside the Diaper Champ Deluxe.
Toddlers may find the rotating handle and empty cup irresistible once they realize that toys magically disappear when placed inside the Diaper Champ Deluxe.
If you use the Diaper Champ proprietary bags that claim to offer superior odor control (we used them in our sniff testing), you'll spend an estimated $143 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 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, offers good odor management with normal trash bags, and is going to save you over $145 compared to the cost of getting the best odor management. Changing the bag more often or keeping the handle in the up position so the "cup" is ready for the next diaper will help limit the smell during regular use.

Read review: Diaper Champ Deluxe

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 other products on the market, such as the Munchkin Arm and Hammer pail and the Ubbi, 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."

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
Editors' Choice Award
Best diaper pail for controlling the stink and our Editors' Choice
A compromise between the best odor control and ease-of-use that costs the most
Best Value Award
Least expensive with kitchen trash bags, but the best odor control is elsewhere
Despite looking good, this pail struggles with odor containment. Look elsewhere.
Better off putting your money into the Diaper Genie Essentials
Unique body construction, with interesting features, but odor control is really lacking

Analysis and Test Results

Choosing a diaper pail might feel like one of the more mundane or boring items you will be purchasing for baby's arrival, but given its daily use and ability to affect the smell of your nursery and adjoining rooms, it won't be long before you realize it is probably one of the more important decisions in the baby gear buying realm. Because odor issues are the top complaint, or compliment, that parents have when making pail purchase decisions, we put more weight on the bin's ability to control odors than any other factor. Even in our tests for ease of changing the pail's bag, differences in the overall smell involved were a key consideration in scoring. Given that pretty much all the bins were able to hold diapers, the ease of use, day-to-day smell, and bag changing factors all played a role in determining the final scores and awards given.

Given that all the pails smell to a certain degree, we suggest you store your diaper pail in a location outside your nursery. No matter which product you choose, there will be some kind of odor associated with it and we feel this odor is best housed in a bathroom or well ventilated area. Baby and baby's nose will thank you.

You'll find full details on the often nasty hands-on (and nose-on) process we used to test pails for diapers in our How We Test section. Needless to say, we are happy that this particular review won't be updated for another year, relieving us of our sniffing duties in the meantime.

Types of Diaper Pails

Refill for Diaper Genie Elite & Diaper Genie Essentials. Refill holds up to 270 newborn-sized diapers. 7-layer refill bag helps seal in odor and germs. Easy to replace refill: tie knot & replace cartridge.
Diaper Champ Deluxe has a lower lifetime cost because it can be used with ordinary kitchen trash bags
The two photos above show the proprietary bag of the Diaper Genies (left) and the Diaper Champ with a regular kitchen trash bag (right).

Diaper dumpsters come in two main types, those that only work with proprietary bags (bags made specifically for that pail) and those that can accept ordinary kitchen bags (sometimes in addition to the brand specific bags). Beyond the type of bag that each pail will accept, the remaining differences include whether or not they offer some type of odor reduction filter or a diaper drop in method that seals odor into the bag so your senses aren't assaulted each time you drop a stink bomb inside. Some things to keep in mind when considering the different options are the lifetime cost of owning the pail (including the purchase of bags) and which features are most important to you given the way you plan on using the pail (how often you plan to change it).

The Straight Poop

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of all things odorous, we thought it wise to give you a little inside knowledge about the lifecycle of diapers and plastic bags full of diapers. Despite the claims that some diapers and proprietary bags for pails are "biodegradable" (Ubbi claims a biodegradable bag) it is highly unlikely that either bag or diaper is going to have the opportunity to break down once they hit the landfill. In fact, it can take over 100 years for a biodegradable diaper to degrade under the best of circumstances exposed to oxygen, weather, and sunlight; it can take far longer when trapped inside a plastic sausage buried under other trash or dirt (ordinary landfill conditions).

There are two things to consider when you think about diapers in the landfill, one is that they are not likely to biodegrade no matter what the diaper is made of or what bag it is sitting in. Second, the poop inside the diaper is technically not supposed to be in there at all. That's right, when you fold up your disposable diaper into a nice tight package with poop tucked safety inside it and place it in the landfill you are in violation of the law. You have contributed a biohazard to the environment that can potentially leach into the water table and cause all kinds of problems. This is at least part of the reason why landfills are required to have an impermeable liner to prevent toxic substances from reaching the water table.

Most children will go through about 6000 diapers from birth to potty training. This translates to lots of diapers in the trash. So if you add to that that biodegradable isn't really biodegradable in the truest sense, and the marketing is misleading, then you have no real environmentally responsible way of using disposable diapers. In response to diapers being biodegradable, the FTC made its feelings known when it filed charges against the gDiapers company for misleading marketing that their diapers are biodegradable and compostable. Under perfect circumstance they might be, but under "normal circumstances", presented at the average landfill, they aren't.

So if you are going to use disposables, the reality is that you will be contributing a significant amount of diapers to the landfill. For this reason we suggest you consider using cloth diapers and look at our articles on cloth diapering and cloth vs disposable for more insight and information on the debate between the two. However, if the information still doesn't persuade you to try cloth over disposable, then we do suggest you rinse the poop from your disposables before placing them in any pail, and try not get too hung up on which bag (regular or biodegradable) to use. In the end, it doesn't matter as much as you think. If you are interested in cloth diapering there are different options for keeping the dirty diapers until it is wash time. Most traditional pails will not be suitable for this given their tendency to trap all air which allows for the excessive creation of ammonia, which is a hard smell to remove from diapers. We look at cloth diaper bags and pails in our cloth diaper review, here.

Even though the Ubbi and the Dékor claim that they will work for cloth diapers, we don't think these are good choices for cloth diapering due to the build up of ammonia from the lack of air. Instead, we like the products recommended in our review on cloth vs disposable, which are specifically designed with cloth in mind

Criteria for Evaluation

For testing we considered the overall stink of a full pail, the individual stink produced when adding another diaper, the ease of use when throwing a diaper away, and the ease of use changing the bag once it is full. Given that most parents are concerned with the smell generated by this collection of mini stink bombs, we gave more weight to the odor metric than the other metrics.

However, that being said we think a common problem with the use of any of the pails is that parents wait too long between bag changes, which results in very stinking pails and hard to change overfull bags. While the convenience of a diaper receptacle is so you don't need to make a trip to your outside garbage with each diaper, the true spirit of the pail is not to collect 4-7 days worth of poop. Even if the pail can control that level of odor and hold that many diapers, it is still a hot bed of bacteria and potential for the growth of grossness in a warm, moist, dark environment that we suggest you change the bag often to avoid problems altogether.

It is important that you have realistic expectation when it comes to this kind of product. No matter how fancy, what materials are used, or how ingenious the open/close design is, it is still a big pile of poopy diapers and that means it is going to smell like… surprise! a big pile of poopy diapers, especially when changing the bag.

Odor Control

We found that all of the pails did a pretty good job managing odors when they were closed. Each pail offers some way of staying relatively tightly sealed when closed. We experienced only minor differences in odor levels coming from closed pails that had not been disturbed for hours, meaning that the competition is pretty close when it comes to the control of odors on a closed pail. However, the differences become more obvious when the pails are opened and closed to put a dirty diaper in, an activity you are likely to be doing every few hours.
Baking soda insert is designed to keep odors down by dispensing powder with each lid lift
Baking soda insert is designed to keep odors down by dispensing powder with each lid lift
Despite various innovative designs that seek to minimize the odors released when placing a diaper in the pail, the stinky whiff coming your way with the door open varied from a mild poof to a nasty blast when making a fresh deposit. The resulting stink bomb cloud can linger in your nursery (or whatever room you normally change diapers in) for a significantly long period of time and become a real nasal buzz kill on your newborn bliss. This is sort of where the competition gets heated. The pails that offered the least amount of escaping stink won over our noses and minds, because in contrast, those options that fail to contain the stench were so offensive we'd pay just about anything to not smell that stench multiple times a day.

The twisting design of the Munchkin Arm and Hammer bag puts tension on the lid and makes closing the pail difficult over time
The twisting design of the Munchkin Arm and Hammer bag puts tension on the lid and makes closing the pail difficult over time
Several of the products offered a open/close system designed to limit the amount of odor that escapes with each new offering. The Arm and Hammer Munchkin has a twisting mechanism that twists the plastic bag around to stop the stench from seeping out after each individual diaper is put inside. The Diaper Genie models offer a double clamp system to prevent a lot of odor from escaping. The Diaper Champ has a rotating cup that theoretically limits the amount of stink by sealing the open gap as the cup moves to from open to closed. The Diaper Dekor has what the company calls a Magik™ trap door that auto seals after you drop the diaper in. The Diaper Genie Elite now comes with a odor absorbing carbon filter, but it seems to fall off and doesn't do much more than the baking soda option on the Munchkin model. Only the Ubbi has a simple open hole design that allows for stink to be expelled as long as the door is open. However, Ubbi is the only product not made of plastic (it is made of powder coated steel) which should prevent the absorption of excessive odor over time, so the difference might be a trade off in the long run. Dekor is made from ABS plastic which the company claims will not absorb odors or turn yellow over time.

Thankfully, the top performing products did a good job at containing odors. The Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials earned the highest score for odor control with a 9 of 10. Even though it lacked the filter of its more expensive brother, we felt it controlled odor better with each new diaper deposit and in the room overall with the simple twisting bag design that trapped in smells better than the competition. The product with the lowest score for odor control is the Ubbi; with a diaper deposit hole that is simple "open" and emitting odors with each new diaper it didn't compare well to other products for odor escaping during use, given that the competition all made at least some effort to limit the time or hole size for odor to escape and Ubbi did not.

It is important to remember the limitations of these kinds of products and to keep your expectations realistic. If your goal is absolutely no odors in the nursery, you might be better off taking each individual diaper to an outside garbage than investing in an indoor pail.

Ease of Disposal

This metric is the reflection of how easy it is to dispose of a single diaper using a maximum of one hand. A few of the products offered a foot action pedal to open their doors for disposal and while these were nice, they weren't necessarily easier to use than the products that were hand only operation. In the end, the major differences included the amount of odor that escaped with each deposit and whether or not there is a tendency for diapers to get hung up on their way in or needed assistance from another hand or a shove to get the job done.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer
The Diaper Champ Deluxe plastic cup for diaper disposal should be kept in the open and ready position to avoid a stench filled burst of air from within when making a new deposit.
The Ubbi deposit door is an open hole with no odor containment features
Diaper Dekor Plus Kolor has a trap door for odor containment when adding new diapers. It usually works  but lighter or smaller deposits will require pushing the diaper into the bag which can get messy.
The open "mouth" design of the Playtex Diaper Genie Elite allows excessive odors to escape with each new diaper added
The photos above include shots of each pail's diaper deposit opening. From left to right they are: Arm and Hammer Munchkin, Diaper Champ, Ubbi, Dekor, and the Diaper Genie.

The hands free options of the Diaper Genie Elite worked well even when the bags were full, but the carbon filter on the Elite fell off randomly during use. The Baby Trend Diaper Champ was easy to use at first, but struggled with stuck diapers as the bag got fuller. While not a deal breaker it does mean that the bag should be changed more frequently or the whole pail needs to be shaken to distribute the diapers more evenly. The Ubbi suffered from the release of odor with each new diaper drop and the sliding door needs some downward pressure to get the door to slide open; if you use the child lock you might find the whole operation is easier with 2 hands not one. With the Munchkin we experienced a tension on the lid with each twist of the bag that made the operation difficult. The trap door on the Dekor worked well until the bag started getting full, and it seemed to "relax" over time resulting in more odor released with each new diaper and lack of full closure on the interior door.

The Diaper Genie Elite earned the high score of 8 of 10 in this metric with the closet competitor, the Diaper Dekor Plus Kolor coming in with a 7. The hardest for ease of disposal is the Munchkin; we experienced an increased need for putting our hands in the pail to shove diapers down so the bag could twist and the lid could close.

Ease of Bag Change

Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials refill bag can be cut and tied off each time the bag is changed which helps keeps smells to a minimum
Playtex Diaper Genie Essentials refill bag can be cut and tied off each time the bag is changed which helps keeps smells to a minimum
The final metric is ease of changing a full bag.
Munchkin Arm and Hammer pail has a proprietary bag that snaps closed and is easy to remove
Munchkin Arm and Hammer pail has a proprietary bag that snaps closed and is easy to remove
While we have already discussed our belief that the bag should be changed frequently no matter which pail you choose, this test was performed to determine the difficulty of changing a full bag and replacing it with a fresh one.

The Munchkin bag is the easiest to replace and remove. With a snap and lock proprietary bag that snaps on the rim of the pail it is easy to put in and simple to fold, close, push through the hole and remove. It earned the high score in our tests with an 8 of 10. The hardest bag to change is the Ubbi which eanred only 3 points of 10. The small bag holder can get in the way of bag removal and the smaller body can catch and tear the plastic bags leading to a mess of used diapers on the floor.


In the end we have found that parents can become quite passionate about their diaper disposal system and why they love or loath it. The key to success for this group of products is keeping realistic expectations, changing bags often, and remembering that poop is poop, and it smells like poop. We believe our tests are some of the most comprehensive ever done in a side-by-side comparison method to determine how well each pail does its job. The winners speak for themselves in their test results and in their ability to control odor in a way that is easy to use. If you are ready for the lifetime investment and you are dedicated to managing odor then the Diaper Genie Essentials is definitely your new pride and joy. If you are more concerned about keeping lifetime costs low and you don't mind a little waft of odor with each deposit, then you are likely to be happy with our Best Value pick, the Diaper Champ.

For more information on all things diaper, you might also want to take a look at our review on the The Battle for the Best Disposable Diapers and The Search for the Best Cloth Diapers. 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 up to $200.

Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.

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