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You need a good diaper disposal system: Here’s our best advice

If you think you’re going to use the regular trash can to dispose of your new baby’s diapers, we strongly suggest you rethink it. If your baby is already here and odors are overwhelming your house, it’s time for a new diaper disposal system.

The good news is that you can control odors and grime wafting out of your diaper pail, but you may have to make some changes. To make sure you have the best chance of success, we’ve put together this list of tips to conquer those odors and have people back over to your house embarrassment free.

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Get a sealing diaper disposal

It’s not enough to have a lid on your diaper can. It needs to create an airtight lock to prevent lingering odors from escaping. Systems like the Diaper Genie pioneered this type of locking, sealing lid system in order to trap those smells.

mother changing diaper
Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images

Sealing disposals have a double layer that minimizes opening the top as much as possible. In some systems, the outer top opens to reveal a platform where you place your dirty diaper. Once you close the outer lid, you can release the diaper into the inner chamber — no escaped smells.

Use baking soda directly in the can

Baking soda helps absorb and neutralize odors right on the spot. Sprinkling baking soda in the can could help prevent the plastic from absorbing the bulk of the odor. When you remove the bag and take it out, sprinkle more baking soda before you put in the new bag.

You can also get baking soda disks that help absorb odors for more extended periods of time. Scented ones can help impart a pleasing fragrance to replace the diaper odors and reduce the chance that the plastic absorbs diaper odors.

For a baking soda alternative, these activated charcoal sachets also help absorb odors for longer periods of time. Be sure to replace these and other systems per the manufacturer’s directions.

Take the bag out frequently

You may be tempted to stuff your diaper disposal system full to save on bags, but this is one time where less is more. Removing dirty bags from the pail every day can reduce odors and allow your pail to breathe.

Part of the issue with the smell is that plastic will absorb odors over time. Once this happens, you’ll still smell diapers even if you’ve put in a new bag. Taking bags out more frequently helps reduce the time odors spend soaking into your trash can.

Use scented bags

Some diaper pail systems are compatible with scented bags. This adds an extra layer of protection between your baby’s dirty diapers and your nose. It also helps absorb odors before they ever get to the plastic in your disposal system.

When you take the trash out, the scent from the trash bag can also help prevent odors from lingering in the air as you change the pail. When used with a baking soda or charcoal sachet, it offers an extra solution to diaper odors.

Clean your diaper disposal frequently

You may not want to hear this, but if you’ve never cleaned out your diaper pail, it’s time. Not only does odor linger, but mold and mildew can grow because of the humid environment inside. It’s not pretty.

father changing diaper

If you take it apart and discover mold, look for cleaning products that will kill and sanitize your diaper pail’s surfaces. Kitchen or bathroom cleaners can be good choices because they’re designed to deal with moldy surfaces in environments similar to your diaper disposal system.

If you don’t see mold, it’s time to tackle that odor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • water
  • borax
  • white vinegar
  • tea tree oil
  1. Mix two tablespoons of borax into two cups of water in a spray bottle.
  2. Swish around until the borax is fully dissolved.
  3. Add a fourth of a cup of white vinegar
  4. Add tea tree oil until it smells the way you like. We recommend at least 10 drops.
  5. Shake it all up and spray it all over the surface and interior of your diaper pail.
  6. Allow it to sit for a minute or two, and gently wipe off. Repeat as necessary.

Many manufacturers recommend cleaning the diaper pail once every three months, but in our experience, this doesn’t get ahead of odors. Instead, spray down your diaper disposal system at least once a week, but maybe more if you notice odors building back up.

Use doggie bags

If you’ve also got a furry friend around, you can use the poop bags from your dog’s walks to insulate against odors. Wrap your poop diapers into the doggie bag and tie off just like you would on your dog’s walk.

This extra layer could help prevent odors in between taking the trash bags out and give you a little leeway in cleaning. You could also reuse plastic grocery bags to accomplish the same type of thing.

Store your diaper pail in the open

It’s counterintuitive, but the more airflow your diaper pail gets, the less it smells. Locking it up in a cabinet or even in a closed bathroom can cause odors to trap and linger. Instead, put your pail near where you change diapers, preferably in a dry room with plenty of good airflow.

One thing to note: If you plan to store the diaper pail in your child’s room, make sure to clean out the pail frequently.

Getting ahead of odors

Staying proactive and on top of odors helps you cut down lingering smells. If your pail is already stinky, adding in products like charcoal or baking soda can help in the immediate term. Changing bags more frequently and avoiding leaving stinky diapers in the pail too long helps keep your pail fresh, as well as ensuring proper airflow.

And once you’ve got your routine down, it’s much easier to manage odors and keep things smelling fresh. Your diaper disposal system is designed to work with you to remove odors, so help keep it in top shape.

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