Fighting the Fecal Funk: 10 Ways to Freshen Up Your Diaper Pail

I think we can all agree – on the whole, 2020 simply stunk. But there’s no reason 2021 has to be that way, especially when it comes to your diaper pail.

DiaperWe’ve all been there. You go to change the diaper pail bag, and you’re instantly hit with a gut-wrenching stench bomb that could bring even the most iron-nostrilled among us to our knees. The dry heave may come first, or maybe the tears. Before you know it, you’re somewhere on the floor of the nursery, cursing the Gods, and questioning what on earth you fed your child that could produce odors of such an epic magnitude.

This is NOT where your story ends, mama. Help is out there in some low-cost, relatively simple ways. Sure, you could join the ranks of the Martha Stewart Moms out there, cleaning the diaper pail daily with a baby-safe, environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, homeopathic mixture of unicorn tears and essential oils {all the more power to you mamas, seriously!}, or, you could just settle for these 10 easy, no muss, no fuss hacks to making sure your olfactory system isn’t number two to your child’s, well…number twos.


  1. Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom of the diaper pail. Baking soda helps neutralize the very molecules that make things stinky. It works best if it’s sprinkled in a thin layer along the bottom, so don’t mound it in there, or drop in the whole box. And yes, you’ll want to dump it out and replace it with fresh baking soda once it becomes permeated with that poo smell.
  2. Ever wonder why perfume counters have coffee beans on hand? Yup, you guessed it — they help absorb smells! And you don’t have to waste perfectly good coffee beans for funk-defying results. Gather up your grounds from your morning cup, pot, or gallon of coffee {I see you, mama!} and then spread them in a thin layer to dry. You can also pop them in the oven at 250 degrees for a few minutes for a speedier result. Then? Put them in a little container, or make your own DIY satchel, and place it at the bottom of your diaper bin. The best part? In addition to a good cup of coffee and an odor eater, you can repurpose that stinky satchel for a third time by adding it to your compost bin. Win-win-win!
  3. Dryer Sheets can pull double doody! {See what I did there?} Place a dryer sheet {new or used} at the bottom of your diaper pail to help absorb moisture and keep things smelling fresh. You can even roll an old dryer sheet inside the smelly diaper to give that #2 the old one-two punch! {This is especially handy if you’re changing diapers on the road, and don’t have an immediate exit strategy for dumping that load}.
  4. Wanna swap the stench for a warm, spicy aroma? Who wouldn’t, right?! Try whole cloves! Yes, cloves can be expensive, so you can opt for the essential oil if that’s more your speed. Whole cloves not only fight the funk, but have also been known to kill bacteria and have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Some say, it’s also an aphrodisiac, so you may want to keep your partner at bay {you’ve been warned!}.
  5. Get your spray bottles ready! While I can’t help but think of Easter eggs whenever I smell it, vinegar is a great odor eater, and as an added bonus, it serves as a natural disinfectant. You can squirt in a few sprays while your diaper pail is empty, or add it in as you go, if you just can’t handle the stench of one more diaper. Not a fan of the vinegar smell? You can opt for other cleaning products as well, like Lysol or Mrs. Meyers, to help eat the odor and fight the smell.
  6. What’s worse? Dodging the dump smell? Or buying more bags/taking more trips to the trash? This might seem obvious, but the more they go, the more that stench grows! If you have one of the tube bagging systems, emptying it more frequently doesn’t cost you any more {in terms of bags}, but you will log a few more steps and burn extra calories by walking it out to the garbage can. If you have a diaper pail that uses garbage bags, try using a smaller-sized bag. That way, you’ll be forced to empty it more frequently without wasting money on a half-used bag. I’ve seen some experts recommend as few as 10-12 diapers a bag to help nix the noxious odors.
  7. Take note from your cloth-diapering counterparts, and pitch the poo! Walk to the nearest bathroom and toss the turds in the toilet. {Note, don’t ditch the diaper, or you’ll be calling a plumber real quick}. Once you’ve ditched the dookie, wrap the diaper like normal and toss it in the diaper pail. Simply separating the stink from the swaddle will help keep your diaper pail smelling fresher, longer.
  8. Make that bag work for you! Pack that poo into a scented bag to help disguise the smell. If you’re feeling really frisky, you can put your child’s crap carrier into a doggy pooper scooper bag. It might seem silly, but those bags are designed to handle a lot more than whatever your baby or toddler could possibly offload into a diaper. Knot those bad boys up and then toss them into the diaper pail, or add them to your garbage can outside so your kiddo’s feces can ferment with Fido’s.
  9. How often have you given that diaper pail a good scrub? I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not at the top of my to-do list, but it really should be…for a number of reasons. Cleaning your diaper pail will help fight the smell and disinfect any rogue germs or contaminants inside, including the ones that cling on to smells. Hot soap and water will do the trick, or you can add a little bleach {or bleach alternative} to the mix to help fight off any bacteria inside. If you opt for that route, it’s not a bad idea to let it dry out in a well-ventilated {see: non-nursery} area of your home.
  10. Oh, the stories that diaper pail could tell if it could talk. It’s been through a lot — no wonder it’s down in the dumps! Hard plastic can actually absorb odors, so if you’ve tried tips #1-9 and aren’t having much luck freshening up that nursery, it could be because the smelly poo particles have actually pushed their way into the plastic. Solution? Buy a new diaper pail for each child {Sorry, Facebook Marketplace}. Your kiddo may not notice the difference, but your nose sure will!

And there you have it, mamas! Ten fool-proof ways to rid your house of the fecal funk in your diaper pail! God speed! Good luck!
And here’s to a far less stinky 2021.


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