Wet Diaper Pail? Gross. (Storing Dirty Diaper Laundry)

Every now and again, I see a post on Facebook where someone asks about using a wet diaper pail for their dirty diaper laundry.  I always tell them that it’s no good.  Sure, my mom used a wet diaper pail for my cloth diapers back when I was in cloth.  But my mom wasn’t using modern cloth diapers.  I was in the best cloth diapers that technology had at that time: flats with pins.

So why is a wet diaper pail so awful?

A Wet Diaper Pail is a Safety Hazard

Did you know that children can drown in as little as two inches of water?  And babies have little melon heads?  It’s quite simple for one to pull up and get that massive head in a position that the little one can’t get out of.  Really, anything that requires standing water shouldn’t be kept in the home.  (And if you keep it outside, it’ll freeze in the winter and be a mosquito hazard in the summer.)  A wet diaper pail should absolutely not be used just because it’s a drowning hazard.  Isn’t that reason enough?

Some Gross Things Grow in Damp Places

Wet Diaper Pail?  Gross.  (Storing Dirty Diaper Laundry)

Do you really want this stuff growing on your diapers? Image courtesy of Photokanoc / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 




Mold.  Mildew.  Various bacteria.  They all love wet places.  A moldy diaper is a disgusting diaper that can present a health issue, particularly if your child has mold allergies.  A mildewy diaper is a stinky diaper.  Either way, it’s just gross.  It’s far more disgusting that poo.

Won’t Someone Please Think of the Diapers?

Leaving your diapers to soak in a wet pail can actually break down aspects of your diaper.  Constant soaking isn’t great for elastics.  Soaking in some of my mother’s favorite treatments for flat cloth diapers are guaranteed to void your warranty with modern diapers.  There is absolutely zero benefit to using a wet diaper pail for modern cloth diapers.

So now that I’ve told you how not to store your dirty cloth diapers, here’s a break down of the best ways to keep your cloth diaper laundry.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I agree: Yuck! I store my dirty diapers in a dry bag until wash day. If something needs a little extra care, I either wash the diaper out in the laundry room sink or just go ahead and run a rinse cycle in the washer.

  2. Lauren Stevens says:

    I respectfully disagree. We used a wet pail up until our little guy started solids. I only use prefolds, so the integrity of the diaper was just fine. The pail was changed every other day because our little guy was a newborn [and went through up to 18 dipes a day], and he was immobile that young (so no drowning hazard presented, especially when we had the lid on). We’ve no need for a wet pail now that D’s on solids — those messes go right into the toilet. But, I would advocate using a wet pail for the first few month — breastmilk diapers are pretty messy!

    • With prefolds, you don’t have to worry about the integrity of the diaper as there is no elastic or PUL present to be ruined. (Prefolds aren’t exactly modern cloth diapers.) However, the hazard is VERY real, particularly if you have an older child. Just this morning, I saw a headline about a three year old drowning in a bucket.

      • Lauren Stevens says:

        I should have noted that D is our first child, so we didn’t have other children to worry about a drowning hazard. I didn’t realize that this post only pertained to ‘modern cloth diapers’?

        • No elastics to worry about in flats/prefolds, and no PUL either. 🙂 The other stuff (mold, etc) can still very much apply.

  3. Maegan L says:

    I agree! Sounds nasty!

  4. Blech on diaper pails! I’ve had a hanging wetbag because of space issues, and I just love it. *Never* any stink at all!

  5. Misfit Momma says:

    I used a dry pail but made the mistake of leaving some diapers wet for a little too long and they were absolutely destroyed! I always tell people to use a dry pail no matter what.

  6. I don’t CD, but this certainly does sound gross! Yucky!!

  7. Well I do agree that a dry pail is best (and I’ve done both – I started cloth back when no one really knew about wet pails) but I don’t necessarily agree with all the reasons. The mold thing can, and does, apply to any pail really. The minute you rinse a diaper (which between dunking and the use of sprayers, covers a heck of a lot of cloth diaperers) then it’s plenty wet for mold to grow. If anything fabric in a tub full of water is probably LESS prone to mold growth than a soaking wet diaper left to half dry in a warm, moist environment. Mold grows in moist environments, not totally soaked ones. But really, the fact is that mold won’t grow in diapers unless they’re left sitting for way too long unless you’re in a really hot/humid tropical enviroment (in which case just the moisture of the pee may be enough to do it).
    Far as I’m concerned the biggest issue with a wet pail is that it’s way too much trouble for what it’s worth (and it does have some advantages – like less staining). Lugging a heavy pail to the bath to dump out yucky water and then get soaking wet diapers into the washer without dripping that same yucky water everywhere is not easy and not fun!

  8. Danielle D says:

    Ummm, gross! I am so glad that I read this before I decided which bags to use.

  9. Ashley Weber says:

    Yuck! The dry is bad enough.. lol I have a hanging wet bag… doesnt stink until you open it haha

  10. Tracy Adler says:

    This is a great review. I was wondering about the wet pails. I was also concerned about the safety hazard for our child if we had standing water… And the mold/mildew etc. I plan on using a wetbags system inside of a dry pail…. Hopefully that will work well.

  11. Vanessa V. says:

    Wet pails have always sounded gross to me! I keep my diapers in a dry pail and have never had any problems, although I do need to get a wet bag!

  12. Rachel N says:

    I use a dry pail but for night time diapers I soak them in a pail of water for an hour or so in the morning and then rinse them/ring them out and put them into the dry pail. It works well for ammonia issues for me.

  13. Amanda S. says:

    You probably just saved a ton of mamas from the hassle of lost money, lots diapers, and lost sanity! Thanks for the tips!

  14. I have been considering using a wet pail, because I don’t have a diaper sprayer, and can’t dunk and plop all of the poop off. I thought it would help remove the smaller pieces of poop if I soaked them for a bit. I am not thinking it would be worth it now, lol. It sounds like a big mess now that I think about it. lol

  15. Jessica Hughes says:

    Thanks still learning about all this. Very helpful!

  16. Carissa Whaatt says:

    I put my dirty diapers in a Diaper Genie (it’s the only thing I have) I just don’t put the bags in them. I’ve been using this since I started and it works well. I don’t know how bad it is for the diaper, but I had wash my diapers every few days, so they don’t really sit in there dirty to long.

  17. Rachel A. says:

    This is good to know! I had heard some people using them today and I can’t believe it after this article!

  18. Anne Sweden says:

    My mother also used a wet pail, however she did use a bleach solution instead of just plain water, to help with odor and bacterial growth. But I agree, having a pail of water sitting in my home is just an invitation for disaster with toddlers around.

  19. I too disagree. I have done both wet and dry pails and have used a combination and my washing machine as a wet pail too. I think the wet works best for us right now as I have three kids and too much laundry! My diapers are the old kind, not prefolds and I used safety pins (aghast!) and plastic pants. Doing it the way my mother did is the best. She even taught me. It’s the cheapest too! I don’t bother wasting my money on the new way of doing things. Now I don’t have to worry about stains with the wet pail, the smell, or any dunking and swishing. It’s super fast and easy and I don’t have to keep my washing machine out of use. I keep the pail locked and behind a child safe closed door too. Works great for us!


  1. […] pails are really no good for modern cloth diapers.  I know that my sister used to put vinegar in a diaper pail and keep it closed, but that was […]

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