START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Keeping Your Cloth Diaper Pail Smelling Fresh

  • 1 of 2
Keeping Your Cloth Diaper Pail Smelling Fresh

By Steve Graham, Hometalk

Cloth diapers can save money (despite a substantial initial investment) and reduce landfill waste, but cleaning them requires effort. All diapers smell, almost by definition. However, the smell of cloth diapers can linger long beyond trash day and spread far beyond the nursery if the diapers aren’t washed and handled properly. I have been using cloth diapers and following most of these rules for the first 11 months of my baby’s life, and I’m happy to say that they work and they are easy to follow.

  • Change diapers regularly during the day. Soiled diapers should be changed immediately, both to avoid diaper rash and reduce odors. Wet diapers should be changed every two to three hours. This will keep baby more comfortable, and will avoid stale urine smells. Babies urinate about 20 times a day. Fresh urine should smell very little, but the salts in urine gradually break down into pungent ammonia.
  • Change the baby once at night. After a few months, babies no longer regularly poop at night, but you could still have 12 hours of pee building up and breaking down into ammonia in an overnight diaper (assuming you are blessed with a good sleeper). Keep the lights dim, and a quick overnight change will barely awaken baby. Full disclosure: this is one rule I do not follow. I don’t think it’s worth the trouble, and I use an overnight double liner to keep baby’s bum dry. To be sure, the smell of his overnight diaper really wakes me up in the morning, but I take care of the smell fairly quickly.
  • Rinse diapers. Scrape or rinse all solid waste out of diapers. Some parents spray off urine into the toilet, but most put wet diapers straight into the pail and use a rinse cycle (see more below).
  • Use an open diaper pail or bag. It may seem counterintuitive, but leaving the diaper pail lid cracked will allow more air circulation and reduce smells. Also wipe out the pail with a non-toxic disinfectant regularly, and air out the pail in disinfecting sunshine while washing diapers, if possible.
  • 1 of 2

Read more: Babies, Caregiving, Crafts & Design, Family, Green Home Decor, Home, Household Hints, Materials & Architecture, Non-Toxic Cleaning, Pregnancy,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Selections from Networx empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.


+ add your own
8:34AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011


9:49AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Our kids dirty diapers were kept in a diaper pail until they got washed and line dried. Loved seeing all the diapers flapping in the breeze. Then they got folded as I took them off the line...
Thanks for the article...

8:45AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

My mom says to keep soiled diapers in a pail of water until washed, and then dry in the sunshine for natural whitening. She's a smart lady--with a lot of kids according to US standards :)

If I ever have a kid its cloth diapers and breastfeeding all the way. My BF agrees :)

5:33PM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

Definitely plan on using disposables when I have my children! They are cute too :)

4:03AM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

Noted with interest.

11:00AM PDT on May 29, 2011

I wonder how we ever managed years ago????

9:58AM PDT on May 28, 2011

thank you so much! i will definitly use these tips

11:13AM PDT on May 27, 2011

Thanks for the updates for those of us who were reminiscing. I'll have to check out the snaps and velcro closers. But folding was a quiet time for me that I relished and that made me feel happy to be doing something so good for my baby. Of course, no one else wanted to do it anyway!
Again, thanks.

10:42AM PDT on May 27, 2011

I am a mother to be and thinking about cloth diaper. Thanks for each of your input.

11:18PM PDT on May 26, 2011

Thx for the article!

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thanks very much for sharing!

This is a good post. Thank you!

good information

It's fun to meet the people that grow the food, especially if they are passionate about it. They can…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!