Cloth Diaper Pail: Do You Need One? Here Are Some Alternatives


There are a lot of cloth diaper accessories to choose from, and you may be wondering if you really need them all. The answer, of course, is no, you don’t need them all, but you will certainly need a cloth diaper pail, or a cloth diaper pail alternative in order to store soiled cloth diapers.

You do need a cloth diaper pail for cloth diapering. The cloth diaper pail is the place that you will put dirty cloth diapers until laundry day when you will then empty the diapers out of the pail and toss them into your washing machine.

This is a cloth diapering necessity that falls into the “must-have” category, not the “really want” category. There are, however, some cloth diaper pail alternatives, and I will list them down below.

Types Of Cloth Diaper Pails: A Quick Overview Of The Options

  • No-Lid Pail – For Maximum Airflow

A pail without a lid allows for the most airflow which helps prevent strong odors from building up. Good ventilation is very important when you are storing soiled cloth diapers because these damp conditions are an ideal place for bacteria, mildew, and odors to run rampant.

  • Lid-Style Pail – With odor control design

Pails that have lids are still a great option as long as they have some kind of ventilation, or odor control feature built-in.

You could try to use a lid-style pail without these features, but I would keep a close eye on the diapers to make sure nothing yucky starts growing on them. It’s also a good idea to wash at least every two days. If you need more days between wash cycles, I would opt for a better cloth diaper pail with excellent airflow.

  • Hanging Bag – Wet Bags or Liners

A popular cloth diaper pail alternative is a hanging wet bag or liner. These bags are made with waterproof material and typically have some kind of strap or hanging attachment that allows you to hang them up in a convenient location.

Hanging bags are not only a super functional alternative to cloth diaper pails, but they are also perfect for travel. If you plan to cloth diaper while traveling, a hanging bag is a must-have for storing dirty diapers. Let’s be honest, who wants to lug a giant pail around with them on vacation? No thanks. A bag is super portable and compact, and even if you can’t find a great place to hang it up, because it is waterproof, you can lay it anywhere.

How To Use A Cloth Diaper Pail

Cloth diaper pails are typically used in conjunction with a pail liner. The liner is made with a waterproof material and coating, and the seams are taped to prevent any leaks.

Elastics or drawstrings around the opening of the bag secure the liner around the top of the pail. This prevents the liner from falling into the pail when you toss in the soiled diapers.

When you’re ready to wash a load of diapers you can empty the liner by turning it inside out into your washing machine, and simply washing it along with the diapers. Moms love this feature about liners because it allows them to easily transfer dirty cloth into the washer without touching it or making a mess. It also reduces any stink from building up in the pail.

You’ll want to decide where in your home you will dedicate a space for your pail, and make sure you purchase one that fits the dimensions of this space. Avoid cupboards and cabinets with limited airflow.

One more consideration you’ll want to think about is whether or not to purchase a pail with a lid. Many cloth diaper manufacturers recommend allowing adequate airflow to soiled diapers. This airflow will actually reduce the level of odors. However, plenty of moms use lid-style options and have great success.

There are many lid-style pails with the convenient feature of a step-on foot pedal that opens the lid hands-free, but you may want to check that this type of lid-style system also has some kind of airflow or odor-control feature.

Cloth Diaper Pails: Best Pails For The Money

  • OsoCozy 54 Quart Diaper Pail:

Designed specifically for cloth diapers this pail has a nice large capacity and features a deodorant disk compartment. You can find this pail at clothdiaper.com here.

  • Busch Systems Odorless Cloth Diaper Pail:

The pail is also specifically designed for cloth diapers and has a carbon filter that lets airflow inside and keeps odors in also. You can get it on Amazon here.

  • Dekor Plus Hands-Free Diaper Pail:

The Dekor Plus Diaper Pail is available in different sizes and is also manufactured with cloth diaper parents in mind. Dekor has a compatible Cloth Diaper Liner that is reusable and washable. Available on Amazon here.

Image Credit: Kathryn Theesfeld – Check out Kathryn’s setup below. She loves the Dekor because it keeps curious pets and children out. She uses a KangaCare Pail Liner with her Dekor (find it here on Amazon), and KangaCare hanging wet bags hung on hooks next to baby’s changing mat. These wet bags are available in a ton of adorable prints and you can check those out on Amazon too, here.

cloth diaper pail alternative

Cloth Diaper Pail Alternatives

  • Grovia Perfect Diaper Pail

The unique design of the Grovia Perfect Pail allows the bag to be hung almost anywhere with a hanger. It’s made of water-resistant TPU that keeps odors inside. This spacious bag holds up to 3 days of dirty cloth laundry! Available on Amazon here.

  • Kitchen Trash Can

It may not sound very sophisticated, but a simple wastebasket works really well with most pail liners. This is what I have used for many years, and it has done our family just fine! If you’re on a budget, I recommend you start out with a cheap trash can, with or without a lid.

Image Credit: Brittany Handloser – She uses a 13.3 gallon Hefty Touch-Lid trash can and these Teamoy Liners.

  • Hanging Wet Bag or Liner

Another option would be to forget the pail altogether and instead use a large hanging wet bag or pail liner. I have done this with my Thirsties Pail Liner which has a snappable strap sewn onto it. This allows you to hang the bag almost anywhere. I sometimes hang mine on our shower rod.

  • Laundry Basket
cloth diaper pail alternative

For the best budget-pick, you can simply use a laundry basket. I have used a laundry hamper for this purpose (see mine above) and it works great. There is excellent ventilation and the basket itself is very easy to wipe clean.

I love this setup because it is a perfect example of SIMPLE cloth diapering. It doesn’t have to be fancy, complicated or expensive. Just use what works!

  • Diaper Genie

A lot of people wonder, “Can you use a Diaper Genie for cloth diapers?” You can use a Diaper Genie for cloth diapers, with a slight modification. All you need is a screwdriver in order to remove the trap doors inside the Diaper Genie. Here is a YouTube video that shows the process step-by-step.

If you do decide to use your Diaper Genie for cloth, check out the Grovia drawstring pail liner which works well with this setup. You can find them over at Grovia by clicking here.

Bonus Tip! How To Keep A Cloth Diaper Pail From Smelling

Here are some quick ways you can reduce any odors coming from your cloth diaper pail:

  • Sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of the pail
  • Try using a well-ventilated pail
  • Tape charcoal purifying bags onto or close-by the pail
  • Sprinkle 10-20 drops of essential oil onto a cotton ball and place near the pail

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