How to find the best diaper pail for your nursery? First, realize there are two schools of thought when it comes to diaper pails.
The first school: pails that use special, deodorized-plastic refills to wrap diapers. The advantage: they do better at controlling stink. The downside: you have to buy those expensive refill cartridges, which can run hundreds of dollars over time.
The second school: use a regular pail (plastic or steel) with a regular kitchen trash bag. Then frequently empty the pail to keep the stink down. The advantage: much less expensive overall. The downside: frequently emptying a pail is a pain point, especially if your outside trash can isn’t conveniently located nearby.
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question—either school can work, depending on whether your baby is breastfed (less stinky diapers) or eating solid food.
If you prefer a diaper pail with refills, we’d suggest a model that is hands-free. Yes, believe it or not, there are some diaper pails that force you to push a dirty diaper down into the pail. Or require two hands to operate. This is sub-optimal.
For the best hands-free diaper pail, we’d recommend the Dekor Classic Hands Free Diaper Pail. We’ve recommended this pail in several editions of our book and the reader feedback has been very positive—we think it does the best job at keeping the stink down.
What We Liked
• Easy to use thanks to foot pedal.
• Unlike other diaper pails that have proprietary refills, the Diaper Dekor doesn’t individually wrap each diaper. This means you will use less refills than other competing pails, based on our testing.
• Affordable (at least to start). This pail costs 50% less than those fancy steel models.
• Three sizes for different uses: the Mini (holds 25 diapers), the Classic (40 newborn diapers) and the Plus (60 newborn diapers). This article links to the Classic, FYI. Why three sizes? Well, you could use the larger one for a room that is farther from the trash, requiring less emptying. Smaller sizes might be better for grandma’s house or other occasional diaper change areas.
• Biodegradable refills also available for those looking for a more sustainable solution.
What Needs Work
• Not completely hands free. When you hit the foot petal, you must turn a knob on the top to unlock the hatch. This is a safety feature . . . but somewhat defeats the hands-free claim.
• Be careful which size refills you buy: the Classic size won’t fit in a Plus can and so on.
• Less plastic used. This pail does not wrap each diaper in plastic, like some other pails (we are looking at you, Diaper Genie). That means the refill packs will last longer (less plastic is used overall).
• Regular refills work better at holding back the stink than the biodegradable versions, based on our reader feedback. Since odor control is the main reason you buy this type of diaper pail, we recommend sticking with the regular refills.
• Expensive—when you factor in the cost of refill plastic packs. If you’d prefer a less expensive solution, we’d suggest a diaper pail that uses regular kitchen trash bags . . . like the one we’ll discuss next.