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Why Does My Diaper Pail Stink?

Posted by Becca on 10/17/2010 to Troubleshooting

No matter how wonderful your cloth diapers are, there is one thing that we can never really improve on by making awesome cloth diapers—the fact that urine and poop stink! Yes, of course, when we wash our baby’s diapers, they come out fresh and clean, but you can’t pop every diaper into the wash immediately. In the real world, your diapers will get washed every 1-3 days which means that dirty diapers will sit and wait for 1-3 days.

Tip #1
Get a zippered wetbag or a bag that in some other way can seal smells out, or use a diaper pail with a lid that closes tightly. Planet Wise and Bummis both offer zippered wetbags. Fuzzi Bunz offers a unique door hanging wetbag that looks to have elastic on the top but zips open on the bottom for easy removal of the dirty diapers into your washer. Grovia and Bummis both offer drawstring wetbags. I use the Grovia wetbag, size large (and it can also be a pail liner) and this baby is HUGE! When we were on vacation we used it to store all of our dirty laundry from two weeks so you know it can hold a lot of diapers! I find that zippered wet bags are best when using the wetbag alone. If I pull the drawstring tightly on my beloved Grovia bags, then the smell will be mostly sealed out.

However, that doesn’t leave my second hand free for holding down my baby when stuffing a new dirty diaper into the closed hole, so I leave it slightly open which means that offensive smells sometimes escape. Maybe I should break down and get a diaper pail just to have the closing lid. If you use a diaper pail with a pail liner (some of which have drawstrings, and some have elastic) then your smells are really hidden. Honestly, even a trash can with lid will work. And if you’re like me and you like household accessories tailored to your specific needs, you can always sew a wetbag, but I warn you, your local fabric store will have no idea what you’re talking about when you ask for PUL. That will have to be bought online.

Tip #2
Add essential oils. Many wetbags—especially the small ones—have a little strip of microfiber or flannel inside. That, in case you are wondering as I was, is for adding a drop or two of essential oils to keep the smell down. Tea tree oil and Lavender oil are great options for your wetbag because they are both naturally antiseptic and antifungal. Besides, they smell great!

Tip #3
Wash your diapers more frequently. The more dirty diapers you have and the longer they have been sitting there, the more they will smell. Cloth diapers should not be dirty for more than 2 days, as recommended by most cloth diaper manufacturers. Letting them sit thus soiled will lead to things such as mildew, staining, and buildup that can cause your diapers to leak. So, if you start to smell your waiting load, then it’s time to put it in the wash.