For me, the benefits of cloth diapers (saving money, avoiding blowouts, and reducing trash output) easily outweigh the inconveniences (washing, stuffing, and storing the diapers). However, storing three days worth of smelly diapers requires several effective diaper pails to keep the house from smelling like a litter box. Diaper pails can be surprisingly expensive, though, so you may want to make your own like I did. Why spend $30 on one bin when you can have a whole fleet of them for less than half that much?
For less than $5, you can make a diaper pail that will easily hold a day’s worth of diapers; I use three of these bins in different locations around the house so we never have to carry a dirty diaper very far. It is a simple matter of buying two identical trash cans and making minor modifications so one trashcan can serve as the lid for the other.
Tools and materials:
- Two FNISS wastebaskets from IKEA ($1.99 each as of this moment)
- Cabinet knob
- Foam pipe insulation
- Utility knife
- Duct tape or gaffer’s tape
The wastebasket on the bottom requires no modifications; I used a translucent wastebasket for the bottom half so I could see how much space was left inside without opening the pail. For the lid, use a utility knife to score a line below the second “ring” from the top of the wastebasket (see diagram) and keep following that line until the knife cuts through the plastic. This process is easier if you turn the lid upside-down and hold it down so the plastic does not bend as much as you cut. With the top two rings removed, this wastebasket will serve as a well-matched lid for its partner when turned upside-down.
A handle makes the lid easier to remove. Drill a hole in the center of the lid and install a cabinet knob there. Make sure the handle is on the outside of the lid.
To ensure an airtight seal between the lid and the pail, cut a piece of foam pipe insulation to match the circumference of the lid. Pipe insulation usually has a slit along one side so you can slide it onto a pipe; instead, slide it onto the rim of the lid. Use tape to secure the two cut ends together. When you put the lid on the pail, push down firmly to compress the foam and make a tight seal. The foam ring acts as a gasket to keep the ammonia gas from escaping the pail. The seal is so tight that you can pick up the pail by the lid, although I don’t advise this with a full load of diapers inside.
With the lid on the pail, you can actually overfill the pail (several diapers will fit inside the lid) without releasing any stink. You will still get a noseful of ammonia whenever you take off the lid, so I open the pail just long enough to toss the latest diaper inside and then reseal it. Otherwise, the only time you have to deal with any diaper stink is when you open the pails to throw the diapers into the washing machine.
When our household finally graduates from needing diapers, the bottom half of each pail is an ordinary wastebasket, ready for reuse. However, these could also make good composting bins or storage pails depending on your needs.