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What to Look for In a Diaper Pail

What should you look for when shopping for a diaper pail? Here's what to keep in mind. Get a diaper pail that really works to contain odors.

Diaper Pails: The Best Types and Features to Look For

From your first day home with a newborn baby—in fact, probably within the first hour—you will be faced with the question of what to do with a dirty diaper. While this is typically a question that is resolved well before the baby actually makes an appearance, it’s a good question to ask yourself before the big arrival. With so many other things to consider about bringing a new baby into the home, this question sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. A diaper pail may also be something given to you as a shower gift so friends and relatives will want to know what kind of diaper pail you need. But how do you know if the pail you’ve chosen is the best diaper pail for your baby’s needs?

One of the first things to consider when selecting a diaper pail is whether you plan to use cloth diapers or disposables.

What to Look for in The Best Diaper Pail Options for Disposable Diapers

When you are choosing a diaper pail for disposable diapers, it’s important to consider several details, such as size, lid-type, odor control, and the type and cost of pail liners.

Diaper pail size

The size of the diaper pail is important not only because of the amount of space it takes up in your baby’s room but also for considering how long you want the dirty diapers to sit between emptying. The best diaper pail choices are medium-sized. A pail that’s too small will need more frequent emptying, and one that’s too large will allow diapers to linger long enough for odors to intensify. The goal is to plan on emptying every two or three days, and keep in mind that babies typically go through ten diapers a day as newborns. You will want a diaper pail that can hold around thirty rolled diapers.

Diaper Pail Lid Types

Lid types are also important, not only to minimize odors but also to ensure the safety of children. When choosing the best diaper pail for disposable diapers, consider pails that have a pedal push opening mechanism for hands-free operation. You will have one hand holding a diaper, and the other hand on your baby during changing. These are more sanitary, which is why they are used in daycare centers. You may also wish to find a diaper pail with a childproof lock. Busy toddlers will get into anything, and the last thing you want is your toddler playing in your diaper pail.

Diaper Pail Odor control

Odor control is another consideration when looking for the best diaper pail. Some diaper pails have carbon filters in the airtight lid, to keep odors inside. The famous Diaper Genie brand made this feature popular. They also work with plastic bags built with several layers for odor control. This feature, however, means that you will be purchasing special bag refills until potty training time, so cost is a consideration. You can swap out the special bags with regular trash bags for cost efficiency, but then you lose some of the odor control qualities.

What to Look for in the Best Diaper Pail Options for Cloth Diapers

When choosing the best diaper pail for cloth diapers you will have to decide between wet pail or dry pail options. A diaper pail for cloth diapers is considered a must-have accessory for cloth diapering because unlike disposables, cloth diapers have to be stored until wash day. While wet pails for soaking cloth diapers used to be a popular choice, dry pail storage has become much more common than wet.

Diapers are stored dry inside a pail lined with a reusable and washable storage bag. These bags are placed inside a lidded trash can or diaper pail that is designed for cloth diapers. Some parents choose to hang the bag itself and eliminate the need for a pail altogether. You should have two-liner bags so you can use one while the other is being washed.

Cloth diapers don’t need to be pre-rinsed, but any solid baby poop should be dumped and flushed prior to storage. Once the diapers and storage bag are in the washing machine, run a rinse cycle prior to a wash cycle.

Many people choose metal diaper pails or trash cans for cloth diaper storage because it does not absorb odor the way plastic ones do.

Can you just use a regular diaper pail for cloth diapers?

Some parents still prefer the wet pail option as the best diaper pail for cloth diapers. This helps prevent stains by soaking the diapers until wash time. Soaking also helps to reduce odor.

Some draw-backs of the wet pail options are the fact that water must be changed often, and they work best with top-loading washing machines since the diapers and water are dumped together into the machine. Otherwise, the water has to be drained out first.

It’s especially important to have a locked lid on wet diaper pails, or else it must be stored out of reach. Unfortunately, toddlers have drowned in wet diaper pails.

Once you’ve determined which type of diapers you plan to use the next step is to consider which is the best diaper pail option for your family.

Resources— BabyGearLab, WikiHow, Thinking About Cloth Diapers