Eliminating Stinky Diaper Pail Smells

diapers When our daughter was first born, we got a Diaper Champ.  It has a big piston-type top where you drop the diaper in, and then grab the handle and turn the lid over.  The great thing about it is that means you don’t have to open it in order to put a diaper in.

Also, it doesn’t take any special (expensive) plastic bags like the Diaper Genie and assorted knock-offs do.

But, over time, either the plastic started to absorb some of the odors or the seal broke down or whatever, so we tried to replace it with another Diaper Champ.  Somewhere in between the first and second one, they redesigned it with an internal plastic ring that holds the trash bag that you put inside.  Whether it the plastic bag helped seal the old one, or what, I don’t know, but the new one never held the odors inside.  Soon the kitchen smelled and we took it back.

Recently, I found a small brushed metal trash can with a foot pedal that opens the lid.  Between the lid and the trash bag liner, it seals in even the smelliest of diaper smells.  Unfortunately, when you open it, a blast of stinky air comes out.

The solution?  Air fresheners.

Types of Air Fresheners

Most air fresheners are nothing more than perfumes that go into the air as the alcohol in them evaporates.  That means you have a sweet smell mixed with a yucky smell.  Pass.

What you actually want is not an air “freshener”, but rather an odor eliminator or odor absorber.  The key is to get a deodorizer that actually absorbs the bad smells.  While many air fresheners claim they absorb bad odors, many do not.  The key ingredient to look for is activated charcoal.

For whatever reason, activated carbon, sometimes called activated charcoal, actually absorbs malodors.  If you can find it plain, that is without a scented wax or liquid air freshener around it, it can be recharged and ready to absorb more odors just by putting it out in the sunlight.  (It has to be sunlight, not just light, and through a window doesn’t seem to work, so outside is the way to go.)

Put one on the inside of the lid that opens and closes to help neutralize diaper odor when the pail is shut.  Then, put another one on the outside of the trash can to help neutralize the blast of gross air that comes out.  If you have your diaper pail in a closet or closed in space, one on the ceiling in there would be a good idea too.  And, viola, no diaper smell leaking out and stinking up your whole house.

Finding this kind of air freshener isn’t hard, but you have to look someplace different.  Apparently, Sally Housewife wants heavily perfumed flower smell in her air purifiers, so you won’t find plain activated charcoal ones in the kitchen or household sections.  Instead, check the automotive, garage, laundry, or shoe odor control products.  It doesn’t matter what it is “for”, you can use it as long as it isn’t the kind for water-based purposes like fish tanks, aquariums, ponds, or filtering drinking water.

The most common places you’ll find it is refrigerator odor eliminators and pet odor eliminators.  Anywhere where you want to get rid of the smell 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  In those applications, putting some chemical in the air to perfume it isn’t practical or desirable.  You can also use cat litter, if you don’t mind.  Just put some inside of a cheesecloth bag to keep it from making a mess and change it every once and a while.

If you ever find a mesh bag with plain activated carbon in it, buy it and hold onto it.  When you do find them, grab 5 or 6.  You’ll end up wanting them in multiple places and they always prove a little bit tough to find, so you’ll be happy to have some on hand.

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