Do You Need A Diaper Pail? 5 Alternatives That Work

Do you need a diaper pail

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A diaper pail is not necessary to get rid of stinky and soiled diapers. You can throw dirty diapers in a regular trash can or bag them individually in a plastic bag and dispose of them.

I’ve been changing diapers for over 19 months. I can honestly say that a diaper pail wasn’t on my list of baby items. You can save money by just throwing them in the trash.

I surveyed a parenting group on Facebook to see if other parents agreed. 

Diaper pail survey

Surprisingly, 48% of parents said that a diaper pail is helpful but not necessary, 37% said diaper pails are not needed at all, while only 15% said that you must have one.

As you can see, most parents who answered the survey agree that you can simply use a trash can and save money on diaper pails and diaper pail bag refills.

Do you need a diaper pail? 5 alternatives that work

If you are going to skip a diaper pail, you need to find an alternative that is convenient and minimizes the smell of dirty diapers. 

Below are some of the best alternatives to Diaper Genies, Ubbis, and other diaper pails.

1. Throw them in the trash

Throw diaper in trash can

Throwing dirty diapers directly into the trash is the most obvious alternative to a diaper pail. It is a straightforward method due to its simplicity and convenience. 

You don’t need to invest in any additional equipment or spend time maintaining a specialized diaper pail. 

It is a cost-effective option because you can simply use regular trash bags or bins that you already have at home. This can potentially save you over $300 a year just on diaper pail bag refills! 

You can easily dispose of the diapers when you take out the trash, which eliminates the need to take separate trips to empty a diaper pail.

But you may encounter an unpleasant odor in your house if you just throw dirty diapers in the trash, especially if you don’t empty your trash frequently. I’ve used scented trash bags to minimize any lingering smells.

If you don’t use scented trash bags, you’ll have to empty out trash more frequently which requires more trips to the dumpster.

2. Bag each diaper individually

Another effective alternative to using a diaper pail is bagging each diaper individually. Simply throw a dirty diaper in a grocery bag before you throw it in the trash.

For convenience, you should have a steady supply of grocery bags or small trash bags next to your changing area.

You can minimize the smell of dirty diapers just by bagging each diaper individually since the sealed bags can prevent the smell from spreading throughout your home. 

However, you should consider the environmental impact of using trash bags because plastic bags take years to decompose.

If you’re concerned about adding to landfill waste, you may want to explore more eco-friendly alternatives like biodegradable trash bags

These options help reduce plastic waste while still providing the convenience of individually bagging diapers.

3. Use a small trash can with a sealing lid

Using a small trash can with a sealing lid is a practical alternative to a dedicated diaper pail. A small trash can will not take up a lot of space, you can fit a good amount of diapers, and the sealing lid will contain the smell of dirty diapers.

We like this Glad Stainless Steel Step Trash Can because the tight-sealing lid does a great job of trapping odors. We also like that we don’t have to touch the lid. We simply press the foot pedal to open the lid.

Another advantage of using a regular trash can is the cost savings. A small trash can and trash bags will cost a lot less than a diaper pail and bag refills. It may not seem obvious at first but you’ll save a lot of money in the long run.

Just make sure that you choose a trash can with a lid that provides an airtight seal like the Glad trash can we use. This will effectively contain the odors and prevent them from escaping. 

Some trash cans even come with odor-absorbing features or charcoal air deodorizers to further minimize any unpleasant smells.


4. Switch to cloth diapers

Cloth diapers

You can also switch to cloth diapers, which is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to using disposable diapers and diaper pails. 

We opted for cloth diapers because they are better for the environment and less expensive in the long run.

There are many benefits of using cloth diapers and you should think about switching from disposable diapers too.

We like cloth diapers because they are more breathable and gentle on our baby’s delicate skin and can help reduce diaper rashes and other skin irritations. 

They are also reusable, which significantly reduces the amount of waste generated. Unlike disposable diapers, you can wash and reuse cloth diapers multiple times, making them a more sustainable choice. 

This also means that you won’t need a dedicated diaper pail for disposal since soiled cloth diapers can be stored in a wet bag until laundry day.

Wet bags are designed to prevent leaks and lock in odors until you’re ready to wash the diapers. 

While using cloth diapers requires an upfront investment and the commitment to regular laundry, you will find the environmental and cost benefits to be well worth it.

5. Use a wet bag

A wet bag is a waterproof bag specifically designed to store wet or soiled items. Using a wet bag is a convenient and portable alternative to diaper pails, especially if you are on the go or if you prefer a minimalist solution.

The benefits of using a wet bag for diaper storage are many. Wet bags are highly portable and compact, making them ideal for travel or outings. 

They take up minimal space in a diaper bag or backpack, which allows you to easily store and transport dirty diapers without worrying about odor leakage.

You’ll find this helpful when you’re on the move and need a reliable method to store dirty diapers until you can properly dispose of them.

Simply empty the contents into the trash or your washing machine, depending on whether you’re using disposable or cloth diapers, and then wash the wet bag for future use. This helps reduce waste and promotes a more sustainable approach to diapering.


Pros and cons of using a diaper pail

If you remember from the survey I did on a parenting group, 48% of parents found the diaper pail to be helpful.

There are some benefits of using a diaper pail, the main one being odor control. If you have a sensitive nose, then you are better off investing in a good diaper pail.

But even if you can handle a small scent of pee, friends, and family may get a bit uncomfortable when they visit your home. 

With that in mind, think about what it’s important to you before you decide if you need a diaper pail.

To help you decide, I created the small table below:

Item Diaper Pail
Seal odor?
Save space?

Diaper pails are great for sealing odors, and as your baby’s diet changes (from breast milk to solids), their poop smell will get stronger. 

With stronger odors, you’ll need a system that will control or seal these unpleasant smells.

You’ll also need to think about the ongoing costs. You may only need one diaper pail, but the ongoing costs of diaper pail bag refills will quickly add up.

So will you get a diaper pail?

Best diaper pails for cloth diaper

If you think you’ll be fine without a diaper pail, then kudos to you! The diaper pail alternatives I mentioned before will work just fine. 

But if you do want to get a diaper pail that can leave your house smelling clean and minimize ongoing costs, I recommend the Ubbi Diaper Pail.

As I mentioned previously, you can spend a lot of money on just diaper pail bag refills. Unlike most diaper pails that need special bags, you can use regular trash bags with the Ubbi

We like the Ubbi not only because it saves us money on bags, but also because we can use it with cloth diapers. We started cloth diapering when our baby was an infant, and having a diaper pail that stores wet cloth diapers was life-saving!

If you get the Ubbi, I also recommend you buy these wet bags that work great with the diaper pail.

Diaper pail and alternatives FAQs

A Diaper Genie is a popular brand of diaper pail that provides a convenient and odor-controlling solution for disposing of dirty diapers. You may need one because it helps to trap the odors of dirty diapers and keep them contained.

The frequency of emptying a diaper pail depends on various factors such as the number of diapers used, the size of the pail, and personal preference. You can empty your diaper pail every 2-3 days to prevent odors from building up.

Yes, I recommend you rinse solid waste from cloth diapers before you place them in a diaper pail. 

This helps to minimize odors and ensures that the diapers are clean and ready for washing. You can rinse cloth diapers using a diaper sprayer or by dunking and swishing the diaper in your CLEAN toilet!

To get rid of poop smell from a diaper pail, you can regularly clean the pail with soap and water and use odor-absorbing products like baking soda or charcoal deodorizers, or use scented garbage bags or pail liners. 

Good ventilation and keeping the pail in a well-ventilated area can also help reduce odors.

You can keep diapers in a Diaper Genie for several days or until the pail is full, depending on the size and capacity of the specific model. However, you should empty the pail regularly to prevent odors from becoming overwhelming.

No. Diaper Genie systems typically require specific refill bags that are designed to fit and function properly with the pail.

Yes, you can put a dirty diaper in a dog poop bag before you dispose of it. It will do a good job containing odors and preventing leakage, but you should throw the poop bag in the trash immediately.

What to do next?

A diaper pail is not necessary because you can just throw a dirty diaper in the trash and take the trash out. The diaper pail alternatives I listed will work fine but may not be as effective in sealing odors.

If you feel like you do need a diaper pail, check out the best diaper pails we personally tested.

About Leslie - Latinx Montessori

Hello, I am Leslie. I am on a mission to help you support the growth and development of your child. With the right tools and proper guidance, you can navigate parenthood with confidence and assertion! My goal is to equip you with knowledge to help you construct a strong foundation for your child’s life.

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