We have a small trash bucket next to our changing table and this is where we put used diapers. We usually will flush solids down the toilet before we throw the diaper in the trash can.

I've noticed that for some reason, the urine/smell/etc. escapes the diaper, to the bag, and through the bag to the garbage can. I can't visibly see any moisture or feel it on the outside of the diaper or the plastic bag lining the garbage can.

How is the scent being transferred to the can?

  • You might want to try different brands or products for those trash bags. I've found big differences in "smell quality" depending on that, without it costing more money. Like you, we have a small trash can and we replace the bag at least twice per day; that also helps maintain a reasonably fresh smell. Nov 7, 2012 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Urine smell comes from urea that is converted to ammonia by bacteria.

Ammonia is a gas that can easily permeate through many textiles, and some plastics, too. So the smell being noticeable from the outside is not necessarily a sign of actual (liquid) leakage. Ammonia can attach itself to all sorts of surfaces by a process called adsorption, which explains why it is sometimes very difficult to get rid of it.

  • This is why scented nappy/diaper sacks are popular
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 5, 2012 at 10:41

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