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How to Scent-Proof a Diaper Pail

Can you make your diaper pail smell less? Oh, yes. Get your diaper pail to contain bad odors for a fresh and clean-smelling home.

How to Get Rid of Diaper Pail Odors

For new parents, one of the first major hurdles to tackle is dealing with a new baby's diapers—particularly, their smell!

One of the best ways to deal with diaper stink is to invest in a diaper pail, a small, covered trash can that is small enough it needs emptying every day or two. However, those diaper pails can get stinky themselves—but with a few tips and tricks, you can minimize that "new baby" smell and keep your home smelling fresh and light.

What causes "diaper stink"?

The science behind diaper smells points to a number of different sources (not just your baby's bottom). People who use cloth diapers may struggle to reduce stenches if they live in an area with hard water, which contains excess materials that reduce the effectiveness of detergent.

Similarly, the buildup of detergent residue, bacteria, or other day-to-day detritus can lead to an increase in "stink" when it comes to diapers. A diaper pail that's only half full could still be building up a steady base of residues from waste, bacteria, and ammonia. That's why it can be so tough to minimize the smells—and why it's so important to stay on top of diaper pail cleanliness.

How do you reduce smells from a diaper pail?

  1. Take out the trash as quickly as you can. This might seem like a no-brainer, but emptying your diaper pail as often as possible will cut down on nasty smells. Most diaper pails are strategically designed small for this very purpose—if the pail gets full, you've got to take it out! However, getting ahead of the curve is the best way to keep scents at bay.
  2. Deep-clean the pail at least once a month. Because of their contents, diaper pails require a little more elbow grease than regular trash cans. At least once a month, fully empty the pail, including any scent-busters you've tried out along the way. Then, spray down the insides with a heavy-duty (nontoxic) cleanser, scrub any stains, and wipe down everything with baby wipes or antiseptic wipes. Let the whole thing air dry, and repeat the process the next month!
  3. Dump solid waste as best as possible. Before you dump your diapers in a pail, tip out the contents and flush as much as you can. This reduces the amount of waste sitting in your diaper pail, cutting down on the amount of scent buildup as well.
  4. Line the bottom with cat litter. Kitty litter is designed to combat the odors associated with cat waste—particularly ammonia, one of the strongest smells that can come from your baby's diaper. Sprinkling about a half cup of cat litter in the base of your diaper pail (and fully cleaning it out and replacing it every few weeks) can help deodorize some of the worst diaper smells. Just make sure to line the bottom with cardboard or paper towels to make it easy to clean up. Alternatively, put the kitty litter in an old sock, tie it off, and secure it to the lid of your diaper pail. That will help cut down on smells and reduce your cleanup!
  5. Add a sprinkle of baking soda. Where kitty litter combats bathroom smells, baking soda combats all smells. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, which makes it a natural companion for your diaper pail.
  6. Invest in a high-quality disinfectant spray. Once a day, spray the inside of your diaper pail with a disinfectant like Lysol. If you don't want to go the chemical route, apple cider vinegar or white vinegar will also do the trick!
  7. Get creative with the kitchen. Coffee grounds, spices, and even citrus peels can all improve the smell of a diaper pail. Just make sure you keep them in a plastic container or put a lining between your scraps and the bottom of the pail to help with cleanup.
  8. Move it outside. Designate a specific spot for your diaper pail—preferably not in your baby's room. It adds a few extra steps to your diaper-changing routine, but setting your diaper pail in an outdoor area adds some much needed fresh air to the equation.
  9. Try a few drops of essential oil. Besides their surprising health benefits, essential oils smell amazing. Layer a few paper towels in the bottom of the pail, then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. (Lavender is a great pick because of its natural relaxing properties.) Be careful not to overdo it, though—essential oils can be overpowering in high quantities.

When it comes down to it, diaper smells aren't the best part of becoming a parent. However, they're one of the easiest to avoid. With a few extra cleanings and a few DIY tricks, you can enjoy a stench-free diaper pail.

Resources— Mighty Moms, Apartment Therapy, Mama Instincts