The area by my toddler's diaper pail smells like, well, poopy diapers. I have been aggressive about changing the diaper pail liner whenever it fills up to the point of jamming the lid open. I am keeping an odor-eating box of baking soda by the pail (the type with mesh on both long sides). Yet whenever I enter the kid's room there's this stench of dirty diaper.


6 Answers 6


I would pour baking soda directly into the bottom of the pail, as it may help absorb odors more effectively. I would also expect that a diaper pail will never be perfect. I have a Munchkin diaper pail, and it works pretty well unless you open it.

Other odor removers that can be effective include mild acids like vinegar and stronger bases such as lye. Both will actually chemically modify the odor causing chemicals, and both should be strong enough to get into the plastic some. Both are, however, fairly expensive solutions - vinegar in particular you need a lot of at full strength, and you need to really let it soak to do a good job. Lye can probably be used in smaller quantities, but still isn't super cheap.

You might consider a non-plastic diaper pail/trash can. Plastic inevitably picks up odors, and keeps it. We also have a metal trash can with a lid, and that seems to behave better than the plastic ones as long as we keep the lid on. It has to be 100% metal, or something will stick odor-wise.

  • I poured baking soda directly into the liner after I replaced the liner. Odor significantly reduced. I think I need to do this about once a week, to keep the odor fully under control. Jun 3, 2014 at 15:01

We have a "diaper genie" style diaper pail, that has two key features that help: The bag automatically twists open and closed when you open and close the lid, and also there is a small repository of baking soda in the lid that sprinkles some into the top of the bag every time you close the bag.

If your diaper pail doesn't have similar features (particularly the one where the bag gets twisted open or shut), you may want to consider switching to one.

Alternately, you can try actively sprinkling some baking soda into the bag after you deposit a diaper, and/or try placing some sort of cover over the top of the bag to provide extra "odor blockage".

  • I have a Diaper Genie proper. (I didn't want to say any brand names in the question.) My model doesn't have a built-in baking soda dispenser, so I'll start doing that manually. Updates to follow. May 21, 2014 at 15:16

I have found there's two issues to combat: the inside of the bag and the inside of the pail. Even after changing the bag there's some residual stink that has settled onto the compartment walls. My go-to for wiping stuff like that down is white vinegar but that's not terribly practical on a regular basis, so I keep some of those scent-reducing hockey-puck type things in there.

For the bag the absolutely most effective thing I have found is to dump my old coffee grounds in there. Whenever I make new coffee (which is when I empty the old grounds) I just put the old grounds&filter in a small tupperware container to take upstairs at my convenience. Then I dump the whole thing in the pail.

Grounds seem to absorb the smell even better than my back-up method, which is to dump about a half cup of baking soda in. I use some old plastic baby food containers which I fill up from the giant bag of baking soda I use in our laundry and just keep them near the pail.

Someone else we know helps combat the stink by dumping the poop out of the diaper and into the toilet rather than putting the full diaper in the pail. I've tried that - when the output is sufficiently solid - but my conclusion was that it's inconvenient at the absolutely least convenient time. I can change the bag and do other things when I have not just gotten myself an arm-load of toddler.

  • I'll try the coffee grounds trick tomorrow. I haven't had much trouble with stink in the pail (as opposed to the bag), though that may change. Jun 12, 2014 at 16:37
  • I took your recommendations and used baking soda and put coffee grinds in the diaper pail and it works! Thanks so much for the great ideas!
    – user17366
    Jul 23, 2015 at 11:34

We ended up taking a less is fresh approach and purchased a small garbage can like in the link below. Fewer diapers at any given point means less potential smell. It fits a plastic grocery bag perfectly and can manage almost a full days worth of diapers.

The other tip we received which really helped was to wrap the diaper up before throwing it out. So after removing and before you throw it away, wrap itself into a small ball.

Since we took these two approaches we have had no issues. We know the lid works as well because sometimes in removing the plastic bag when full the odors are strong in the bag, before we knot it.

Small Trash Can


I use those little Munchkin brand nursery freshener disks in the bottom of my pail. I have a regular pail that does not twist up the bag after each use and we are cloth diapering. The diapering area doesn't have a stink problem.


We also have a diaper genie, after starting with a trash can with a lid. "Oh, we don't need a diaper genie," we said. "That's silly!"

Nope, wish we'd had one from the start. It's not perfect, but it certainly helps a LOT. I also drop an Arm & Hammer deodorizing tab in the bottom.

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