Choosing a Diaper Pail - Use the Toilet Not a Plastic Box!

Jun 6, 2006

The Bottom Line If you don't want your diaper pail to stick, flush the poop and empty it every night! Of course by the time you do that, who needs a diaper pail?

Look through most new mom-to-be’s baby gift registry and you will most likely find a diaper pail of some sort. If you have never changed a diaper before how do you know which one to chose?

There are two basic styles of diaper pails, those that use special insert bags to hold the diapers and those that use regular trash bags. While the mechanisms are all a little different, the principle is the same; dirty diapers go into a bag inside the pail and a few days later you take your most recent supply of used diapers out to the trash. Here is how the competition stacks up.

The Diaper Genie
One of the first special diaper pail system to hit the market, the Diaper Genie uses a continuous tube of plastic bags to hold your child’s gifts. You knot the bottom of the bag, push the dirty diaper through the top of the pail and into the bag and then use the specially designed ring to twist the bag shut. Once the Diaper Genie is full you trim off the bag with the included cutters. When you open up the bottom hatch a continuous string of individually wrapped diaper sausages is ready for the trash. The special refills can be pricey and the mechanism can be a little tricky to operate especially one-handed.

Neat Diaper Disposal System
Similar to the Diaper Genie, the Neat Diaper Disposal System uses a similar tube of plastic to hold diapers. A plunger is used to deposit the dirty diaper into the special liner. Thicker than average liners helps control odor when changing out the bags but this one of the more difficult mechanisms to use, often requiring two hands to pull up the plunger and actually slipping you hand through the liner to get the diaper into the pail.

The Diaper Dekor
Welcome to the second generation of specialty diaper pails. Like others before it, the Diaper Dekor uses a similar continuous tube of plastic to hold dirty diapers. The concept is improved by hands-free uses. You step on the pedal at the front of the pail to open the lid, you drop the diaper onto the circular trap door and the diaper falls down into the bag. Changing out the scented refills means brief exposure to all of the diapers since they are not individually wrapped.

The Diaper Champ
This is a simply diaper disposal system heralded for its ability to contain odors without the need for special bags. You line the pail with any trash bag, even using larger shopping bags if you like. The neatly rolled up diaper is inserted into a chamber and with the pull of a handle the chamber flips upside down and deposits the dirty diaper into the pail. You do need to be careful that any sticky tape on the diaper is tucked inside or the diapers can get stuck inside the chamber. You also need to be sure that there is no mess on the outside of the diaper or you will be doing some extra cleaning. Since the diapers are not individually sealed when you go to change out the bag prepare yourself for the sum total of stink to hit you all at once.

Standard Diaper Pail
This is pretty much the standard diaper pail of days gone by. Most feature two lids. Lift them both, put a standard kitchen bag in and the lower lid will keep the bag in place. The top lid, usually smaller, covers the hole that you use to pass the diaper into the pail. There is nothing fancy here, they most closely resemble a standard kitchen trash can. There is no special odor control system and this “design” will ensure you empty the pail contents regularly.

Now You Smell it, Now You Don’t?
When you hear a parent singing the praises of the odor controlling qualities of their diaper pail, make sure you ask how old their child is. In case no one has let you in on the secret yet, by and large infant poop does not stink. Odor control is a non issue with any diaper pail until children start solid foods in the 4-6 month age range. Then you will have something to deal with!

Before your child starts solids you probably do not need any sort of special diaper pail. Our regular kitchen trash goes out on a daily basis, so infant diapers just get wrapped up and tossed in with our regular garbage. This is convenient for us since 90% of diaper changes take place in our main living space, attached to our kitchen. If you have a dedicated diaper changing area away from a trash can that is emptied on a regular basis, a diaper pail near you changing station is convenient.

Once your child has graduated to food the game changes, and so should the location of your diaper pail if I have not yet convinced you that you need one. If you still feel that a dedicated diaper pail is the only way to dispose of your child’s diapers, now is the time to move the pail into the bathroom. Why? Because for a tube of plastic to keep smells at bay you need to minimize the odor going in. The best way to do this is to flush that which is flushable and the toss the wipes and empty diaper into the diaper pail. This probably seems like some extra work, but your sewer or septic system is the right place for raw sewage, not the landfill. Of course with nothing left to make a stink the diaper pail will have very little odor to control. But again, without much smell to control a special diaper pail is probably unnecessary.

Now of course there are the instances where your sweet child is going to fill a diaper with something that just isn’t flushable. As a mom of three I have found a direct correlation between the messiness of the diaper and the smell. For those instances, no diaper pail is going to help, those need to get outside and quickly. Plastic garbage bags from the grocery store are a great way to get the diapers from point A to B, but you can also purchase specially designed lightly scent disposable diaper bags for this purpose.

Still Think You Need a Diaper Pail?
There is no doubt that there are people who need a dedicated diaper disposal system, such as those without easy access to outside trash facilities. If you need to walk down two flights of stairs and across the parking lot to get rid of your trash, you will probably need a place to store dirty diapers. But use it properly. Think of it as a temporary holding spot for dirty diapers and plan to empty it on a daily basis.

Also if you aren’t going to take the time to flush the diaper contents you will need to put the filled diapers somewhere, because you that isn‘t something you want sitting in your kitchen garbage can all day. Just remember that you are asking a piece of plastic to act like a port-o-potty without the benefit of super strong chemicals to control odor and germs.

Still Not Convinced?
Here are a few reviews of these diaper pails that you might want to check out:

If I Rub The Diaper Genie, Will It Grant My Wish And VANISH?
The honeymoon is over between me and this pail
This isn't a garbage pail, it's a PIECE of garbage

Final Thoughts
The best way to control diaper odor is to ensure that whenever possible solid waste is flushed away. Then most diapers can just go in with your regular kitchen trash. For extra smell protection and to contain really messy diapers a plastic bag should do the trick. You just can’t expect a tube of plastic to hold a week’s worth of dirty smelly diapers and to come up smelling like a rose. The only way to prevent a stinky diaper pail is not to let it get stinky in the first place. So then what’s the point of having one?

We’ve owned or extensively used ever diaper disposal system out there. Eventually they all stink. I can tell which of my friends flush the poop and empty and clean their diaper pail regularly and those that let loaded diapers fester until they can’t squeeze one more diaper into the pail. Even if you get used to it, even if your friends and family are too polite to tell you, a dirty diaper pail smells and that smell permeates the air.

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