Baby Gear Reviews: Diaper Pails (Part 4)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

diaperpailsHere is Part 4 of my series on baby gear, organized in the order of Amazon’s Baby Registry. The entire multi-part series can be found with the Baby Gear tag here. This time I’ll talk about our experiences with diaper pails.

Gotta put the poop somewhere, right? I’ll focus on diaper pails for disposable diapers. Most of them have some sort of mechanism to help prevent stinky odors from escaping the poop bucket. We got a Diaper Genie Elite from our baby registry, which was one of the two recommended by the Baby Bargains book. (The other was the Dekor.)

It works more or less, but like with razors and printers, the bag refills are where they make their profits. Each refill canister is really only 3-4 bags of diapers and they cost $6-$8 each. So essentially you’re paying upwards of $2 for a plastic bag! Compare this with under 10 cents for a kitchen trash bag from Costco. Also, the advertised “count” refers to an imaginary pile of newborn diapers that are vacuum sealed or something because I’ve never fit that many.

Parents have come up a number of ways to frugalize the diaper pail:

  • Wrap up your diapers as tightly as possible.
  • Throw the pee diapers in the regular trash and only the poops in the diaper pail.
  • Don’t waste too much bag when cutting and tying. Make sure you squeeze all the excess air out. Some use scissors instead of the provided cutter. I used to use those wire twist ties from other bags.
  • Use a plain kitchen trash bag wrapped around an empty refill canister. Note that it won’t fit perfectly and we got mixed results.
  • Buy generic refills. Note that Diaper Genie changed their design so they might not fit right anymore on new models. Check it out. Rather lame attempt at keeping their monopoly, in my opinion.
  • When your Diaper Genie bag is full, place a regular trash bag underneath and cut only the bottom knot. Let the diapers all fall into your 10 cent kitchen trash bag and throw that away. If you keep your wrapped diapers clean your refill liners can last 5 times longer or more.

We experimented all these things (with my prodding). In the end, my wife didn’t want to deal with any added hassles and we just buy the overpriced refills at Sam’s Club. I personally throw all the non-stinky diapers that I change straight in the regular the garbage.

  • Verdict: Considering you only fit around 50 diapers max at $2 a bag, that’s 4 cents a diaper which is an additional 20% of the cost of the diaper itself. In the end, you either think the reduced odor and convenience is worth the extra cost (my wife) or think you should just throw your diapers in a regular trash pail and wrap up the stinky poops in an extra plastic bag (me). For what you’ll be paying in refills you could buy a really nice trash can that will last for a long time.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I have one thing to add in your list of ways to frugalize the diaper pail: use a small bag and change it often (every other day or so).

    We use mostly cloth diapers for the first two years on our kids, so those go into a cloth liner bag on a large step lid trash can. The disposable diapers and wipes go in a small step lid trash can–it fits a plastic grocery bag–and the small size keeps them from spending too much time smelling in there before I empty it out. The step lid does a good enough job keeping the smell under control.

  2. Squeeze all the air out? I do this, reluctantly. The air that comes out of a week’s worth of dirty diapers is weapons grade. You know what I’m talking about!

  3. We use cloth diapers from a service and bought an Ubbi diaper pail from Babies r Us. It was $80, but you can use the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons at our B r Us so it was about $64. They sell their own bags, but kitchen trash bags work fine. It is metal and traps odor very well. It has a small sliding door at the top to put the diaper in, reducing the exposure to smells each time you add a diaper.

  4. This is going to sound really lame to non-cat owners, but we recently purchased a litter genie, which is pretty much the same thing as a diaper genie. And I’m only mentioning it here because we have a nice fancy Simple Human trash can that locks in odors really, really well and we thought it would be good enough to handle kitty poop (which is first put into a small bag before dumped into the trash can).

    The only problem is that as soon as you open the trash can to dump more trash in, you want to vomit because the smell is so bad. Since kitty poop and baby poop are both just plain old poop, you’ll likely run into the same problem if you ditch the diaper genie and rely solely on a nice trash can to keep the smell out. just fyi…..

    • I thought most cat owners just scooped the poop out of the litter into the toilet? That’s what I did during my limited cat-sitting stints, and also what people (especially cloth diaperers) can do with baby poop to reduce the stink.

      I agree though, my dogs’ poop bucket still stinks to high heaven even though all the poop is sealed in bags. Good thing is somewhere between age 1 and 2 our kid only poops once a day so it’s not that much to deal with.

      • Jonathan,

        it’s bad for the environment to flush cat poop, but I’m sure most owners do this. The clay litter will clog the toilet eventually too since it builds up along the pipes. I’m pretty sure in CA they have regulations against flushing cat poop (it has decimated sea otter populations with a parasite)

        I also use a Litter Genie (the old version called Litter Locker 2, uses Diaper Genie refills). Have tried using regular garbage bags tied around old refill cartridge, and the smell was noticeable still thru the walls of the Genie. So we started buying Target generic brand Diaper Genie refills and they fit. The plastic looks a little flimsy but still no smell coming thru.

        FYI the new Litter Genie uses a special square shaped cartridge probably because they knew cat owners were using the much cheaper Diaper Genie refills in the past. I don’t know of any generic square refills, so they are forcing you to buy their specific Litter Genie ones.

        • Thanks for the info, I had no idea about cat poop. Yuck. I guess all those videos of toilet-trained cats aren’t so cool after all.

          Square refills? Next, hexagonal…

  5. I use regular kitchen trash bags with the Diaper Genie. I don’t use the empty cartridge technique, I just clamp the top lid over the edges of the trash bag. It doesn’t look as neat because the edges of the trash bag stick out, but who cares. It’s fast and saves 10x the cost.

  6. Your strategy is totally the way to go. Diaper pails are a racket. With our first kid we had a diaper pail and that thing just stunk up the place. Second kid, diapers straight in the kitchen trash (poop ones wrapped in plastic grocery bag), and try to remember to take the trash out every day. No smell, piece of cake.

  7. I have found my friends’ houses with diaper genies to have a worse diaper smell than what I got using a regular trash can (with lid) and changing it more frequently. At one point, we had 4 babies/toddlers in diapers (we were fostering one of them). If you wrap the diaper tightly (or toss the poo from the diapers in the toiiet and flush like you are legally required to), the smell is minimal and it isn’t much work to take the trash out every day or two.

    Diaper genies at friends houses had me gagging as soon as I opened them due to how long the diapers had been sitting.

    I also had the babies we had since birth pooping in the toliet by 8 months. It is pretty obvious when they have to go.

  8. I honestly don’t understand how somebody trying to be frugal with regards to diapering expenses wouldn’t use cloth diapers. They’re so much less expensive over the life of your child (or children, as they can be reused), with the reduced environmental impact just being a bonus.

    My son, who is 3 now, wore cloth diapers nearly exclusively, except when we traveled and when he started at a daycare at around 1.25 years old. He toliet trained by the time he was 2, thanks in part, we believe, to using cloth diapers. We spent maybe $150, total, on disposables diapers. My daughter was born earlier this year, and we now are reusing our existing stash of cloth diapers. We have had to replace a few things — wet bags, covers, etc.

    Given that many of our initial collection of cloth diapers were acquired as gifts, or secondhand (Craigslist) from others, we’ve spent around $1000 total on cloth diapers and supplies. Assuming my daughter ends up with roughly the same requirements for an eventual daycare and toilet training age, that would equal around $1300 total to keep two kids in diapers for around 48 months, total.

    Obviously there is some costs for the cleaning of the diapers, but with a high efficiency water heater, washing machine, and dryer, those costs are small. I mean, with small children around, you end up running those appliances frequently, anyhow, might as well make sure they’re energy efficient.

    • Cloth diapering is certainly a good option and one that everyone should consider. Would you like to expand your comment and contribute a guest post on cloth diapering, as I have no expertise on the subject? Perhaps something geared towards the skeptics and those scared it’ll be too much hassle?

  9. Thank you for your blog Jonathan. Our frugal and easy solution for our baby’s disposable diapers. A 5 gal bucket from Lowes with a matching lid, a thin layer of carbon used for fish tanks, and grocery store plastic bags. Total cost = less than $10. We throw out the trash daily, and, replace the carbon whenever it gets smelly. Our daughter is nearly 2 and we haven’t used up the initial carbon container. Our house never has a diaper smell.

  10. I found that using a small garbage can with no lid actually worked just fine, and we didn’t have any issues with smells. I would re-use grocery store plastic bags, so zero cost. Wet-only diapers just got wrapped in themselves & chucked in there, but after each poopy diaper, I would take the bag out to the outside garbage can. Sometimes I mightn’t empty it straight after a poop ,especially in those early days when they pooped like every 5 minutes!!!, but never seemed to have an issue with smells. From experience with friends who had all sorts of fancy contraptions or bins with lids… they just seemed to concentrate the smells & let them fester, whereas the open top bin seemed to let the odor disperse & dissipate.
    My son was poop trained from about 18 months though, so it probably helped that the bucket never had to deal with stinky “toddler poop”! 🙂

  11. Diaper Champ!
    Diaper Champ!
    Diaper Champ!

    With that product you can use your own bags. Unless you live flushing money down the toilet it is the only diaper pail you should buy.

    • From the 3.3 out of 5 star Amazon reviews, it seems like the Diaper Champ is basically a well-sealed trash can (i.e. no smell when closed). But when you open the lid, the trash bag is essentially open to the air and the smell gets out, no?

      • I am not shocked by that considering all of the plants that are around these days. I am on my 2nd one with a second child. The first never broke, it was just tossed because we thought that was it lol.

        At no time during usage is the the holding area exposed. The cylinder rotates back from side to side and when this happens the drum falls because of gravity. What you see before you use it is an area to place a diaper. Then flip the cylinder to the other side and the drums drops by gravity; dumps the diaper in the sealed area where the bag is; and then you are left with an area at the top to start all over again. Very simple engineering and very effective.

Speak Your Mind