How to Dispose of Diapers (The Right Way!)

Making the best of a stinky situation.

If you’re a new parent and the thought of dealing with your child’s dirty diapers is causing you anxiety, we’re here to help.

It’s not exactly the most obvious problem to deal with. You might think you can just throw them in the trash, but that’s a bad idea.

A dirty diaper in the trash can is going to stink the place up to high heaven, and that’s a mistake you’d only make once.

While reusable cloth diapers are better for the environment, there’s really no beating the convenience of a disposable diaper.

Even if you’re not at home, it’s possible to properly dispose of your baby diapers. If you’re not sure how to do so, this guide might be just the thing you need.

Simple steps to disposing of a dirty diaper.

Ready to deal with your first dirty diaper? Here’s what to do.

Dump the poop in the toilet.

The first step that many parents don’t realize they should do is to dump the poop in the toilet. This makes the diaper a lot less stinky, and makes less bacteria go into the landfill which can be dangerous for the sanitation workers but is also potentially bad for our environment.

Wrap the diaper up.

The next step is to wrap the diaper up into a ball. If you roll it, you should be able to stick the tabs from the back onto the front, securing it from opening.

baby in diaper

Put it in a sealed container.

Once you have the diaper all neatly rolled up, it’s time to put it in a sealed container to reduce some of the stink.

Here are your options:

1. A diaper pail

The best way to hold your diapers, but some parents might find it unnecessary. These are basically specialized bins that use seals to completely trap the smells from escaping. If you’re someone who wants the simplest at-home solution, a diaper pail is the answer.

Our recommended diaper pail is the Ubbi – the main reason being that it takes standard trash bags or an eco-friendly reusable cloth bag if you prefer. It’s also made out of stainless steel instead of plastic so it won’t hold in the stink.

2. Ziploc bag.

This solution is best for when you’re out and about because it can get a bit expensive to keep throwing about ziplocs. But in a pinch, they’ll do the trick for keeping the diaper contained and reducing the smells a little bit.

3. Doggie bags.

These will work in a pinch, especially if you already have a dog and have some of these bags already. They’re not going to hold in the smells all that well, but it will keep the diaper from potentially leaking everywhere.

Disposing of diapers without a diaper pail.

If you’d rather not invest the extra money into a diaper pail, that’s totally fine too. It just means you’ll have to be a bit more proactive with getting rid of the diapers.

You’ll want to get the used diapers out of your home ASAP because any amount of time they spend indoors is going to make for a stinky room.

If you have a garage, I’d recommend having a separate trash can that you use only for diapers. But if not, you can dispose of them directly with the rest of the trash.

Disposing of Diapers Without a Diaper Pail

If you’re not going to use a diaper pail, that’s fine, too. No matter whether you’re at home or on the road, you’ll be throwing the diaper in the trash, but it’s important that you follow the proper steps, first.

  • First of all, if it’s at all possible, be sure to dump any feces from the diaper into a toilet. This is pretty obvious: it helps reduce odour and bacteria growth, and just makes it easier to dispose of it without making a mess.
  • Try to wrap the used diaper up as tightly as possible to reduce risk of spillage. You can use the sticky tape sections to help keep it wrapped up.
  • Put the diaper in a sealed trash can if possible.

Disposing of diapers when you’re out and about.

If you’re on a plane, or traveling by car, disposing of a diaper can be a bit more of a challenge. However, it’s still pretty easy if you know how to do it.

If you don’t have access to a trash can, the best thing to do is put the diaper in a sealable plastic bag. If you’re on an airplane, you can use the sick bag to store the diaper. However, please be aware that the FDA prohibits airline staff to handle soiled diapers when they’re serving food, so you may have to wait, or dispose of it yourself.

If you’re out for a walk, please don’t dispose of your diapers by throwing them away in the woods or any other area. This is terrible for the environment! The best option is to place them in a sealed plastic bag until you find a trash bin

Can you recycle or compost diapers?

No, no no, please don’t do this.

Unfortunately, there are really no good eco-friendly options for diapers. Even those labeled as “biodegradable” aren’t really all that biodegradable in a landfill. And even if they were compostable, you probably wouldn’t want to use them in your veggie garden.

It should also be obvious that you should never put your diapers in the recycling, either.

Can you burn used diapers?

This is another horrible idea.

Not only is it actually quite difficult to burn a diaper, but the plastics will release a lot of awful chemicals into the environment. You wouldn’t want to inhale them, and not only that, but it’s damaging to our ecosystem as well.

Please don’t try it.

Remember to wash your hands.

After handling a used diaper, be sure to wash your hands.

Proper sanitary habits are very important when you have a baby, especially when it comes to handling dirty diapers.

Your baby’s immune system is much less developed than yours, so you have to take extra care in making sure that your hands are always properly sanitized after handling things like used diapers.

Do you have any questions about disposing of diapers? Let us know in the comments below.

8 comments
  1. Thanks for the tips! Knowing how to properly dispose of a diaper while on the road will really help me out this week. My family is going on an extended road trip to visit family. We have a couple of little ones who are still in diapers, so we’re not entirely sure how to get rid of dirty diapers without littering and making a lot of stops to gas stations to throw them away. Sealing dirty diapers in a plastic bag until we can get to a trash can seems like a good tip. It seems like I’ll need to include a box of sealable plastic bags along with the other things that we’ll need for our trip.

    1. Of course, it doesn’t really hold in the stink, but it’s a lot better than throwing them out the window!

  2. How is using a diaper pail much better? Ultimately the pail trash goes out to the outdoor trash can. Am I missing something??

    I recently heard you should dispose of feces in the toilet so how does this work practically? Keep a small can by the changing station and empty the contents out after you change baby’s diaper and set baby down somewhere safe?

    I have the diaper genie and it’s annoying. Half the time it forces me to push the diapers down and I don’t like putting my hand in the thing.

    1. Mo, maybe you should read my full post on diaper pails.

      Basically, if you throw diapers in with your regular trash, your home is going to be a stinky disaster really quickly. Those typical trash cans aren’t meant to seal in the stench, but a good diaper pail does it well.

      As for the poop-scraping, it’s not a huge deal if you can’t do it.

  3. I’m a new mom who is very environmentally conscious. However, I have been wondering whether or not it is right for me to throw away diapers in the trash. I really like your tip about dumping the diaper’s feces in the toilet so that it doesn’t cause bacteria to grow when it is just sitting in the trash can. I don’t know anyone who does that with their diapers, but I am willing to try.

  4. You should never put a daiper in a plastic bag. This will lead to it becoming a plastic ball of pee lasting forever. Most landfill operators agree it’s fine to simply leave an open daiper in your your general waste – it will biodegrade much faster & the sodium polyacralyte will actually absorb other waste in your bin and landfill.
    As someone previously mentioned – scoop out the poo into your toilet and simply rush a dirty daiper to the bin.

  5. let me speak from waste management s point of view and ask this simple question: what is the manufacture s statement on environment about the invention and finally the product itself? i am saying this because is like now is the sole responsibility of the consumer to find means of dealing with this product and at the same time not being given any guide from the manufacturer. let think outside the box

  6. Flight attendant and soon-to-be new mom here. Thank you SO much for mentioning that airline crew aren’t supposed to handle diapers. Diapers should always be disposed of in the lavatory bathroom (where there are changing tables!). Most parents probably don’t think much of it, and hand them to us (which means you changed your baby in the seat or on the tray – yuck!), but unfortunately, we can’t take them – serving food or not. You’re going to have to get out of your seat anyways, so you might as well change baby in the designated spot.

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