Cubby Nursery Awards 2024

We Asked 1,000 Parents to Tell Us What Diaper Pail to Buy, and the Runaway Winner Locked Smells In

published Mar 24, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Parenting is hard, but discovering what baby essentials to buy shouldn’t be. If you’re looking for nursery ideas, you may be focused on pinning all the baby boy nursery ideas or baby girl nursery ideas you can find. But we know you’ve also got baby gear on the mind, like a diaper pail. We asked over 1,000 parents to make a case for the best diaper pail to buy for the nursery, and there was a clear winner.

Why You Should Trust Us

This is a best list that comes with real chops. Cubby is helmed by a small yet vibrant team of design-savvy parents who are unusually invested in finding the best products for life at home with kids, beginning with the nursery. Faith Durand (SVP of Content at Apartment Therapy Media, two kids, pro pinner of all the things), Cambria Bold (Executive Editor of Cubby, two kids, hobby designer, avid product researcher), and Laura Schocker (Chief Content Officer at Apartment Therapy Media, one kid and one on the way, small-space/city-living expert) have 40 years of digital editorial experience between them. They’ve already read about, researched, and purchased many of the baby products that you, as a soon-to-be parent, are wondering about right now. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about what to get. 

If they don’t know the answer, they know plenty of people to ask — fellow editors, parenting experts, designers, and Cubby readers — so you can be sure that these recommendations come from real-life experiences.

Most importantly, we don’t just “office test” these products (read: order a bunch and shake ‘em around in our office “lab” with a fake baby doll) because that is helpful to approximately no one. The products we recommend here are ones we or fellow parents have actually purchased ourselves for our nursery and used for at least a few months (and sometimes way longer). The rave reviews are real.

How We Chose These Products

We asked readers (and parents!) of Apartment Therapy Media, which includes Cubby, Apartment Therapy, and The Kitchn, to tell us what diaper pail (if any) they used with their baby, and why or why not they’d recommend it to other parents. We received over 1,000 responses.

We took the top two recommended diaper pails and then assessed our own firsthand experiences with them. If the products came strongly recommended by our survey parents and/or were personally used for a significant period of time (with positive results!) by one of our editors, it made it to this list!

Credit: Ubbi

The Stylish Steel Option: The Ubbi Diaper Pail

It might not be the cheapest option, but it’s far and away one of the better-looking ones! The Ubbi Diaper Pail was the clear winner in the diaper pail category, with more parents naming it as their diaper pail of choice than any other. Our survey parents especially loved the Ubbi’s sleek steel construction, its strong odor control, and the fact that it does not require special trash bags. (Regular trash bags will work just fine!)

What Parents Said About the Ubbi Diaper Pail in Our Survey

“I love the color selection and it’s easy to clean. Also love that you can use any bag in it. It holds about one week of diapers.”

“I like that it can be used with any garbage bag, it’s easy to operate, and it contains smells well.”

“Man oh man does it keep the smell locked in. It always surprises me when we open it and the contents REEK. But you really cannot tell once it is sealed again!”

“I did a lot of research — this one is nice because it’s steel not plastic (plastic absorbs odors). Also fits regular trash bags so you don’t have to buy special ones. Comes in cute colors.”

“Lasted us four years, durable. Like any diaper pail, it does get stinky and moist after prolonged use, and after that there is no real way to get it completely deodorized again.”

The Only Downside

While the Ubbi diaper pail came highly recommended, even the most ardent reviewers said that the pail did begin to stink pretty badly after a while. To be clear, any diaper pail is going to begin smelling if you leave dirty diapers sitting in it for a prolonged period. The Ubbi does seem to get to that inevitable smell, just maybe not as quickly as other diaper pails. Maybe we should all take the advice of one survey parent: “You have to make sure you are emptying it often or else it starts to smell a lot.” We’d add to make sure you air it out every so often as well!

It seems like parents who did these maintenance tasks were able to keep the Ubbi pail for up to five years. One survey parent put it this way: “All diaper pails smell a little bit — none of them are perfect. You have to change them out often. But the Ubbi one is easy to use and easy to clean.” 

What Cubby Editors Said About the Ubbi Diaper Pail

Cubby’s Executive Editor, Cambria Bold, purchased a white Ubbi diaper pail for her first baby. Here’s what she said about it:

“I honestly loved the Ubbi pail. It was sleek, small-scale, and fit neatly right next to the nursery dresser with the changing pad on top. And it really, really kept the smells in. But I concur with our survey parents that after two years, a dirty diaper smell had permeated into the pail and it smelled even when the pail was empty. However, I take responsibility for letting it get that bad, as I let diapers sit in there for, oh, a long time and I didn’t regularly air the pail out. 

The smell was too overwhelming by the time I had my second child, so I bought another diaper pail … but I bought another Ubbi, because I still think it’s the best pail, all things considered! I was much more conscientious about maintenance the second time around, though.”

Credit: amazon

The Hands-Free Option: The Dekor Classic Hands-Free Diaper Pail

One thing the Ubbi diaper pail does not have going for it is a hands-free option. (You have to manually slide the lid to open and close it.) That’s why a number of survey parents opted for our second-place winner, the Dekor Classic Hands-Free Diaper Pail. This plastic pail may not win on looks, but it’s a simple, solid performer. Our survey parents especially loved the Dekor’s foot pedal and the wide mouth opening, which was better for cloth diapers, and the unique bag design that lets you customize the size of the bag and only remove what’s full.

What Parents Said About the Dekor Classic Diaper Pail in Our Survey

“The bag design is really ingenious and odor control is pretty good.”

“It’s easy to change/empty and keeps smells at minimum. We have two, one upstairs and downstairs, and they have lasted through two children and now we use them as bathroom trash cans.”

“It keeps the smell out quite well. The bag system is so easy by allowing you to create your own size bags and change when it’s full.”

“We never smell weird smells from our pail and I like that we don’t have to push a diaper through a tight opening, like the DiaperGenie.”

“I got it initially because we were doing cloth diapers. When we transitioned to disposable diapers then pull0ups it was perfect because it held both types well.”

The Only Downsides

Unlike the Ubbi pail, the Dekor Classic does require special bags, but they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive. One advantage of these special bags, though, is that there’s no preset bag size: You simply cut the bag as needed when you empty it. Many commenters noted they liked that this enabled them to frequently empty the pail without needing to wait for a big bag to fill up (and thus risk a smelly pail). 

As is the case with all diaper pails, smells can become an issue. One commenter noted she solved this by installing a Munchkin Arm and Hammer Nursery Freshener inside the pail, so take note!

Stay tuned for more Cubby Nursery Award winners!