One unfortunate side effect of having a baby is that you will have to deal with baby poop and dirty diapers. While nobody enjoys changing a dirty diaper, it is even worse if you find yourself with a baby room that smells like poop and you aren’t sure what to do!
Fixing a baby room that smells like poop will involve taking the diapers outside immediately, using a well-maintained diaper pail, cleaning bedding and covers, and adding deodorizers to your cleaning regimen.
If you are suffering through the reality of a stinky nursery then you need to check out these tips for getting rid of the odors. Depending on your situation, you might only need one of these or you might have to try them all!
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What to do if your baby’s room smells like poop
Here is everything that I have had success with as a parent during the past nine years when it comes to making my baby’s room smell awesome!
1. Take the diaper outside immediately
This might seem like a no-brainer but I am always amazed at how many people don’t consider this as a first step.
In my house, we have a rule that no dirty diaper shall remain inside the home for more than five minutes – no exceptions! This means as soon as we change the dirty diaper we are walking over to the trashcan that we keep in the garage just outside the door to the kitchen. Using this method there is literally no way your baby’s room could smell like poop!
Of course, many people don’t have this option or simply don’t want to walk across the house a half dozen times per day to throw a diaper outside. I can imagine those of you living in the city on a fifth-floor walkup don’t make a lot of trash runs in general!
By the way, I’ve created a whole resource on what it means when your baby’s diaper smells funky (like metal, popcorn, or vinegar) that you can check out right here!
2. Put the diaper into a plastic bag
This is the first big trick that I consider a game-changer.
Even if you are going to throw the dirty diaper into a big trashcan or a diaper pail you should put it into a little plastic bag and tie it off first. This will do WONDERS for keeping the smell down, especially if you don’t plan on changing out the trashcan often.
Many people simply hang on to their plastic grocery bags and keep a stockpile in the baby changing area. After the change is complete, just drop the diaper into a bag, tie it off, and throw it into the bigger trashcan.
My personal recommendation, however, is to pick up a few rolls of the little plastic bags that you can buy for picking up dog poop because they are going to do a better job keeping the smell inside the bag where it belongs. Sure, you’ll find those little bags in the baby section too but they are going to be at least twice the price of the dog version.
If you want to try some of these bags for yourself then I highly recommend these poop bags from Pet N Pet. They are pretty cheap and available on Amazon Prime. What I like about them most though is that they are biodegradable so you won’t have to worry as much about contributing to the plastics problem in our landfills. They also come with a handy dispenser that you can clip to your diaper bag or changing table and they aren’t overly dog-themed so you might pass them off as a real baby product!
3. Use a diaper pail
I have to admit that we never really used a diaper pail with either my girls or my son but everyone else in our family and many of our friends swear by them. The basic idea is that you have a separate trash can in your baby’s room to keep all of the dirty diapers together in one place with a special lid that locks the odors inside until you get ready to swap out the bag.
The biggest benefit of using one of these is that you won’t have to change the trash out constantly or run outside to throw your dirty diapers away in the middle of the night.
The biggest downside, however, is that diaper pails can become pretty stinky if you don’t take care of them and some of the models use proprietary bags that can cost a lot of money over time.
With those pros and cons in mind, my recommendation is the Ubbi steel diaper pail which you can find here on Amazon along with the latest reviews (it currently averages over 4 stars). Because plastic is porous, using steel to make the pail helps keep the odors inside where they belong. It also has a heavy-duty rubber seal along with a neat sliding lid which minimizes the amount of stinky air you let out each time you throw a new dirty diaper inside. You also won’t need to worry about proprietary bags – you will just use your own trash bags!
It’s also available in a lot of really cute designs!
4. Clean your diaper pail
Even though diaper pails are super handy to have in your nursery you will still have to do a little work to keep them fresh.
Every so often you will need to completely empty out your diaper pail and give it a good cleaning to prevent odors from accumulating inside the plastic or rubber pieces. Exactly how you go about cleaning it will depend on the model that you have but I generally recommend using good old soap and water to give it a good scrub down. If you feel the need then you could soak it in the bathtub with a bleach solution but I wouldn’t worry about that unless you need to.
Aside from odors, it is important to point out that diaper pails are holding human feces so you should also take special care to disinfect it frequently. You could use a cleaning spray like Lysol to do this, but I recommend using a homemade disinfectant made from common ingredients that you know are safe. Here is a fantastic recipe from Clean Mama that includes vinegar, vodka (yep!), and essential oils to keep things clean and smelling great.
While you are in cleaning mode you might also want to take care of some baby toys around the house as well. Check out my resource for cleaning baby toys here!
5. Add a deodorizer to your trashcan or diaper pail
In addition to cleaning your diaper pail, it might not be a bad idea to add a deodorizer in the bottom or even inside the trash bag. Instead of masking the poopy smell with perfume or fragrance, deodorizers literally pull the stink from the air and soak it up. Once the bag is full you can just throw everything away at once!
Since I try to avoid synthetic fragrances which can include harsh or dangerous chemicals, I prefer to use natural deodorizers that are either unscented or use natural oils for their smell. Something that many parents have had great success with is called Fresh Wave and you can find it here (currently rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with almost 1,000 reviewers). The great thing about it is that you can just pour a little into whatever it is you want to keep fresh and it will work for 30-60 days. This means that you can throw it into the diaper pail bag or even your regular trash cans. It’s also 100% non-toxic, non-GMO, and non-hazardous!
6. Wash the baby sheets and bedding
Again this might sound overly simplistic but I need to mention this one because it often gets overlooked.
Babies tend to leak out of their diapers every so often and if you aren’t careful then a little bit of…ahem…poop juice may have leaked into your baby’s sheets or bedding and then dried before you realized it. This is also a GREAT reason to use a plastic mattress cover for your babies and even children until you are absolutely sure they won’t be wetting the bed!
7. Clean the changing table cover
Just like the baby sheets and bedding, the changing table cover might not get washed as often as it should.
Since there is usually just one cover, it can feel annoying to keep washing the cover. This leaves it ripe for leaky diapers, accidents during changing, and general spit-up or other messes to take place. Frankly, I prefer to keep the cover off the changing table because the plastic cover is so much easier to keep clean!
8. Air out the room
Sometimes there is no substitute for a little fresh air.
After you’ve done your cleaning, open up the window in the room and turn the ceiling fan on to get the air moving. Even better, open up another window on the other side of the house and get the air moving in one way and out the other!
9. Search for hidden stinky diapers
You’ve probably already checked this box but I’ll mention it just in case.
Most parents are a little sleep-deprived, especially early on, and it is easy to overlook a dirty diaper or two that has fallen behind a dresser or gotten kicked under a bed. You might laugh, but this happened to us once and it took us a week to figure out that the horrible smell in our baby’s room was just an old diaper that had been hidden away!
Other usual suspects are inside the trash can (but not inside the bag!), inside a diaper bag, or mixed in with the baby’s clothes. If your baby is old enough to run around and pick things up then you might also want to check literally everywhere else in the house because it’s anyone’s guess why babies put things anywhere!
10. Use a natural charcoal-based deodorizer in the room
Even if you are using a deodorizer inside the diaper pail you might want to consider putting one outside it in the room. That’s because the one inside the pail won’t be able to do anything about the odors outside of it and there are bound to be stinky smells coming out of your baby in general!
These bamboo charcoal deodorizers are VERY highly reviewed and won’t look out of place sitting in a baby room or hanging in a closet. You’ll get four of them, they aren’t very expensive, and they can last for up to two years. If they seem to be losing effectiveness you just put them out in the sun for an hour and they will be good as new!
11. Spray the baby room with a natural deodorizer
Rather than using synthetic fragrances like candles or plug-ins, my family likes to use natural products that still smell great!
There are a ton of options available that avoid harsh chemicals and won’t break the bank. For baby rooms and bedrooms, in general, we like to use a lavender scent because it is soothing and relaxing. This particular lavender spray can be used throughout the room and is made of just a few simple ingredients. You won’t have to worry about using too much and it can even pull double-duty in the bathroom if you need it!