How to clean a diaper pail
Home Improvement

How to Clean a Diaper Pail and Keep Baby Nursery Odor-free

Have you ever opened your baby’s nursery and the first thing that hits you is a really strong urine-poopy like odor? Yes, that is the smell of soiled diapers that have overstayed in a diaper pail.

But do you know what stinks even worse; a diaper pail that has not been cleaned over a long period of time.

How to clean a diaper pail

The reason why parents buy diaper pails is to lock in odor and keep their baby’s nursery smelling fresh. Unfortunately, pails tend to absorb odor from the diapers and start to stink with or without diapers.

In this article, we shall talk about how to clean a diaper pail depending on the material it is made of; plastic and steel.

What causes diaper pails to stink?

First, it is important to talk about what causes a diaper pail to stink over time before looking into how to clean and de-stink your diaper pail.

The two main causes of a smelly pail are bacteria and mold/mildew, which thrive in a dark, moist and enclosed environment.

Diapers pails and genies are always closed to prevent the smell from leaking out into the nursery. The darkness inside coupled with the moisture from the soiled diapers encourages the growth of bacteria and mold.

How to clean a plastic and a steel diaper pail

Most diapers pails are made of either plastic or steel as discussed in this article about the best diaper pails for controlling odor.

While plastic pails are affordable and more popular than steel pails, they tend to absorb a lot of odor from the diapers. This is attributed to the fact that plastic is porous. Hence, it acts like a sponge that absorbs the bad smell and allows it to diffuse into the nursery.

Steel diaper pails, on the other hand, do not absorb as much smell as plastic pails do. However, they are prone to rust and mold if kept in a moist environment.

Cleaning a plastic diaper pail

It is necessary to do a deep clean of your diaper pail at least once a month to get rid of mold and prevent the growth of bacteria.

For plastic pails, follow the following steps:

  • Sprinkle baking soda inside the pail and let it sit for not less than 5 minutes. Baking soda will absorb all the odor).
  • Take a sponge and gently scrub both the interior and exterior of the pail. Pay special attention to the corners since that is where mold and bacteria are likely to be.
  • Rinse off thoroughly with clean water.
  • Mix a quarter cup of white vinegar in two cups of warm water in a spray bottle then add about 10 drops of an essential oil of your liking.
  • Shake to mix them well before spraying on the inside of the pail.
  • Leave the pail outside to air dry for a while.
  • Later, wipe with a dry cloth to ensure it is completely dry before taking it back to the nursery.

Cleaning a steel diaper pail

Steel will rust if cleaned using water. In fact, manufactures of steel diaper pails explicitly state that the pails should not be cleaned using any type of liquid including water, Lysol, or bleach.

These are the steps to follow:

  • Take a dry cloth (you can add a few drops your favorite essential oil and a bit of vinegar to remove mold).
  • Wipe the pail both inside and outside.
  • Leave it outside to air dry.
  • Ensure it is completely dry before taking it back to the nursery.


Cleaning a diaper pail well ensures that all pathogens are eliminated. Also, you no longer have to deal with odor in the baby nursery and in the rest of the house. If you follow the steps highlighted in this article, rest assured that you won’t go wrong.

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