What does your diaper pail smell like? — The Bump
Cloth Diapering

What does your diaper pail smell like?

We use a trash can with a lid and a PlanetWise diaper pail liner.  When we open the lid to put in a dirty diaper, you get a strong whiff of yuk!  I can't really describe it as ammonia or barnyard, well maybe more ammonia.  It doesn't really bother me because, well, its a bunch of dirty, urine-soaked diapers.  But DH will wash diapers as soon as he smells anything, I think too often.  We usually do laundry every 2-3 days.

We used to use a 7.5 gallon trash can and would wash when its full but we just moved up to GMD medium (red) prefolds, so they are taking up more space so DH wanted to get a bigger trash can.  I think its 13 gallon.  But he's doing laundry pretty much when its only half full.  Today he told me he could smell the diapers down the hall...I think he's exaggerating.  It just irritates me that he's so sensitive to smell.  I feel like he's being dramatic.

Anyway, could you tell me what a diaper pail is supposed to smell like?  I think I still need to tweak my wash routine, but I'm not sure if this is normal stink or an actual problem.  Also, we have not started solids yet.  Thanks! 

                                                                                          BFP #1 3/2/12, T born 11/7/12
                                                                                             BFP #2  7/2/14, CP 7/6/14
                             BFP #3 8/28/14, MMC 10/2/14 @ 9wks - misoprostol 10/6/14, D&C 11/3/14 for retained tissue
                                   BFP #4 12/25/14, EDD 9/7/15 - please stick baby, you are so loved and wanted!!!!!                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                               
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Re: What does your diaper pail smell like?

  • Ours does not smell...at all. But we also do not have a lid on it. I have heard that lids can help trap the funk?
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  • You don't want to let your diapers sit more than 2-3 days. It gets harder to get them clean the longer they sit.

    My diaper pail smells like pee. Probably because it's full of pee. I wash every 2-3 days, but I wouldn't be trying to go more than 3 days.

    If he's doing the laundry, what exactly is your problem? I'd love if DH did diaper laundry. 

  • We don't use a lid on our 13 gallon diaper pail. I don't have any smell issues with it. However, we do have smell issues when we travel and use closed wet bags. So, try leaving the lid open for a few days and see if that helps.
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  • I would leave the lid off your pail. Air circulation is key for keeping smells to a minimum. But I do agree with PP, washing every 2-3 days is a must!
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  • There is a small tag of fabric on the inside of my pail liners, and I put a drop each of lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils on it. So that's what my diaper pail smells like.


  • Lavender oil. Woo hoo for cloth wipes/solution. :-)
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  • OP, you and I have the same set up.  We tried leaving the lid off, but the smell is even worse.  I wash the PW bag with every wash (we wash every other day), and once a month we soak the pail in the tub with soap and a bit of bleach.  It's working for us.
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  • Thanks ladies!  I'm not suggesting going longer than 2-3 days...DH just sometimes wants to do laundry every 1 1/2  when there aren't really enough diapers to do laundry.  I guess I'm being silly.  We'll try to leave the lid off for a few days and maybe try some essential oils on the tag.
                                                                                              BFP #1 3/2/12, T born 11/7/12
                                                                                                 BFP #2  7/2/14, CP 7/6/14
                                 BFP #3 8/28/14, MMC 10/2/14 @ 9wks - misoprostol 10/6/14, D&C 11/3/14 for retained tissue
                                       BFP #4 12/25/14, EDD 9/7/15 - please stick baby, you are so loved and wanted!!!!!                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                   
                                            image  image                                                                      
  • Do you have a diaper sprayer?  I haven't taken this from experience (still preggo but I have all the stuff except that diaper sprayer!), but what I have been told from multiple CD mamas is that if you spray them (#1 or #2) it really helps to keep the smell at bay because you're getting rid of most of it. 

    Other suggestions I have heard are keeping the lid cracked/open. Also, Febreeze just made that sticky refresher thing so maybe you could stick one of those on the side of the can or on the inside of the lid.  That essential oil idea sounds pretty good, too! :)

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