Diaper Pails Versus Hanging Wet Bags- Dirty Cloth Diaper Storage Debate

So you have decided to use cloth diapers.  Awesome!  Now you are wondering what you do with the dirty diapers?  Disposable diapers go in a diaper pail or trash can.  Where can you put your dirty diapers until wash day where they won’t stink up the joint?

Diaper pails or hanging wet bags for cloth diapers?

Most families choose between 2 options: A traditional Diaper Pail or a Hanging Wet Bag.  In either case, you will need a PUL (waterproof material, same used for most cloth diaper covers and shells) lined bag of some sort to either put in your pail, or to hang in the nursery to place your dirty diapers in.  There are certainly other options, and I will list those at the end as well.  Full disclosure: some of the links provided are affiliate links.

Diaper Pail:

If you have ever walked inside of a Target and shopped for baby stuff you have seen the aisle of large boxes containing a variety of different diaper pails.  The most famous being the “Diaper Genie.”  Unfortunately, most pails designed for disposable diapers are simply not cut out for cloth diapers.  Pails that have turning lids like the Diaper Genie don’t have room enough in their openings for many cloth diapers to fit through.  Other brands, like the Diaper Dekor (which I use) can be modified to accommodate cloth diapers and an elastic edged reusable pail liner.

Diaper Dekor Plus Diaper Disposal System

There are also cloth diaper pails which have locking lids.  I have not personally used one since I prefer the convenience of a step can.  Some of these pails use mesh bags to hold the dirty diapers.  The good news is that the mesh allows the diapers to breathe which can prevent odors.  The bad news is that the wet and soiled diapers could get the pail itself dirty.  You would have to wash the pail more often than if using a PUL pail liner.  Locking lids are great for curious little ones.  Since most people do not keep wet pails (pails with water and bleach to soak diapers between washes) at least there isn’t a worry about drowning.

Bambino Mio Dirty Nappy Cloth Diaper Bucket & Lid

A third pail option isn’t technically a pail at all.  Plastic or Metal step lid trash cans can work as a pail also.  You will just want to check the sizing and make sure a pail liner will work.  Many of these trash cans are too big or too small.  I found a hard time locating one to fit a pail liner when I shopped for one, so I bought my Dekor.

Umbra 12-Gallon Trash Can

With a pail you have the option of using an elastic edged pail liner, which functions like a trash bag, but that you wash over and over with your dirty diapers.  Many major brands make their own version.  Wahmies has a popular model which also has an elastic loop that you can use to hang it from a door knob if you choose.

Wahmies Diaper Pail Liner

I can’t forget those who want form with their function!  The Ubbi pail is a steel diaper pail that combines good looks with a smart design.  It works with disposables and cloth and you can purchase their reusable pail liner separately.  While it comes with a hefty price tag, it will last many years through many children and can then be resold or passed on to a friend or family member.   Steel, unlike plastic, won’t absorb odors over time.


Ubbi Diaper Pail

Wet Bags:

Hanging Wet Bags come in a large variety of options.  There are long skinny bags, short wide bags, zippering bags, drawstring bags, colorful print bags, plain solid colored bags, and so on.  These bags also come in a variety of sizes.

The best hanging wet bag is going to have an unsnappable handle.  These can be looped around anything sturdy enough and closed.  If you have bars on your changing table this is a good place to put one, other than a door knob.  Or, you can opt for a bag made to go on a door knob like the Knickernappies.

Knickernappies Doorknob Diaper Pail

For a less-mess approach when it comes time to dump the dirties into your washer try the GroVia Perfect Pail.  It has a handy bottom zipper that makes wash day a breeze.  Inserting diapers is easy too- a slit is at the top so there are no zippers to fuss with when you have a potentially explosive and drippy device in hand!  The Perfect Pail comes in a small color selection but makes up for that in functionality.



GroVia Perfect Pail

Another cool option out there is the wet/dry bag.  This bag has a front pocket that can be used for clean diapers, and the main pocket is lined with PUL for dirty diapers.  I usually recommend this bag for daycare families.  They can send the bag with clean diapers and have it returned with dirty ones, all in one shot.

Planet Wise Wet/Dry Diaper Bag

You don’t HAVE to put a wet bag in your nursery.  There is the option to hang a wet bag in your bathroom.  Since you will at some point likely be spraying down dirty diapers, this is a convenient place to put them, especially if your bathroom is far away from the baby’s room.  Some people also hang them in their laundry area.

If you are in the market for a MASSIVE bag because you either have more than one child, like to go a while before doing laundry, or will be going on a long trip, then you need the Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag.  I use this one every time I go on vacation!  It can be hung on a door knob or used as a pail liner.  It can hold enough diapers for 4-5 days worth of dirties.

Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag (Large)

(All of the wet bags I mentioned can also be purchased at my affiliate, Kelly’s Closet, if you would like to support my blog!)

Diaper Pails:


Can contain Odors

Some are lockable

Those with step lids are hands free and easy to use.


Take up more space

Might be hard to find one that works with a pail liner

If they don’t lock, toddlers can explore them and add/subtract items

Eyesores in the nursery

Hanging Wet Bags:


Take up less space

Can be placed on door knobs, changing table, etc.


Choice of cute patterns

Choice of various sizes to suit your needs


Zippering/ Unzippering can be a pain

Drawstring bags might not close all the way

Might not be as smell proof as a pail

Other Options:

There are also other options for storing dirty diapers.  Many of them cost little to no money.


Some families wash so often that they go ahead and throw the dirty diaper directly in the washer.  Once they have a load they start it up.  There is no middle man and no cost to this method.  If you have basement laundry then this is probably not a great option, unless you are trying to tone your legs!


You could also put the diapers in a hamper, which will more than likely be stored in your laundry room.  The obvious issue here is getting the hamper dirty.  You may or may not care.

Utility Sink:

Same concept as the washer.  You can use a utility sink to rinse off diapers and leave them there until wash day.

Plastic Bags:

Not the ideal option, however those grocery bags many people use as trash can liners can also be used as travel wet bags in a pinch.

Pail with no liner:

Some bucket type pails can be used with no pail liner.  You will likely end up washing the pail often, or ignoring the mess the diapers are leaving.  This method requires you to take the pail with you to the washer and dump your diapers in.

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