What to Do When Baby’s Room Always Smells Like Poop & Pee

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Keeping baby’s room clean is one thing.

Keeping the nursery SMELLING clean is another one entirely!

Chances are, once baby moves out of the bassinet and into his own room, the nursery will be ground zero for everything from sleeping to feeding to, yes, changing stinky diapers.

If you’re like a lot of parents, you’ll want to have some kind of receptacle, like a Diaper Genie, right there in the nursery to help with disposal.

So what do you do if baby’s room always smells like poop? Or pee? How do you keep the nursery smelling nice?

The main cause of a baby’s room always smelling like poop is storing dirty diapers in the nursery, even if they’re locked tight inside a diaper pail! Consider taking soiled diapers right out to the trash, adding a deodorizer to your diaper pail, or buying a better brand. Washing linens and deep-cleaning the carpets can help eliminate any leftover smells, too.

The cause is simple: poopy diapers! But there are many possible solutions, so let’s explore some of your options for keeping baby’s room smelling clean!

1. Empty the diaper pail more frequently

One major reason that poop (and even pee) odors can build up in the nursery is because the Diaper Genie or diaper pail bag is full.

I’m definitely guilty of this sometimes! At times, we’ll go several days (or more) without emptying the bag. That smell can build up over time.

The simplest solution here is to make sure you’re emptying your Diaper Genie more frequently to prevent excessive odor.

The downside? Replacing the diaper pail bag every day can get really expensive, those refills aren’t cheap!

So you do have other options.

(Wondering how to change a diaper without gagging on the smell? Read here.)

2. Use small plastic bags or doggy bags

Small disposable plastic bags (like the ones you pick up dog poop with) are a really popular choice among parents who want to make baby’s room smell good.

They’re really cheap and there are a few different ways you can use them.

First, you can pre-wrap poopy diapers before throwing them in the Genie. Toss them in a baggie and tie it up tight before throwing away.

This sort of doubles up on your costs, but it will definitely help seal in odors until you can replace the diaper pail bag.

Second, a lot of parents choose to place poopy diapers in the baggies and then take them right outside into the trash bin, skipping the pail altogether.

This is a great way to prevent odors! However, it’s not always feasible when you’re keeping an eye on baby. You might wind up leaving the baggie on the dresser and forgetting about it, which will only make matters worse.

However, if you can make this option work, it’s highly effective.

3. Use a regular trash can

Hear me out:

Some parents SWEAR that Diaper Genies only make things stinkier. That they somehow compound the poop smell and release it slowly into the room over time.

I don’t personally agree, but you’ll find a lot of parents who prefer a more open, regular trash can in the nursery. Then they just make sure to empty it regularly.

You can read more of my thoughts on trash cans vs diaper pails here.

4. Place an air freshener or filter inside the lid of the diaper pail

If you want to boost the effectiveness of your Diaper Genie or other diaper pail, you can get little air fresheners that stick inside the lid and absorb odors before they can escape.

Look for Diaper Genie carbon filters or Munchkin Arm and Hammer nursery air fresheners.

They don’t cost much, but you’ll need to replace them often to get the best results.

5. Use an air purifier and/or humidifier

If you’ve tried a lot of the above but you’re still having issues with air quality in baby’s room, an air purifier or humidifier can help.

These are less about tackling the root cause of the stink and more about removing it from the air once it’s already happened!

These machines are definitely great to have in a nursery and can help with odors, but they’re not the best option for really stubborn stink.

If you already have one, it should help a bit! But there’s no need to go invest in a state-of-the-art air purifier for this particular poopy problem.

6. Wash all bedding and linens

Another admission I have to make is that we don’t always wash our kids’ bedding as often as we should.

Hey, we’re busy! And the laundry around here never seems to end.

But fabric, cloth, and bedding can absorb odors over time. So if it feels like you just can’t get rid of that stink, try stripping the crib or bed and washing everything thoroughly.

There may have been a small overnight diaper leak you weren’t aware of, too, which could lead to the bedding holding a smell of pee of poop.

7. Go on a missing diaper hunt


This has definitely happened to us.

You’re in a hurry to change a nasty poop and you’ve got your hands full with a squirming baby. You wrap the stinky diaper up and then it falls off the corner of the changing table or rolls into a corner of the room.

And then you forget about it!

If the baby’s room always smells like poop or pee, it’s worth doing a sweep of the floors, corners, under the crib, etc. to make sure there are no forgotten dirty diapers.

8. Pre-flush BMs in the toilet

I’ve never tried this one personally but I know parents that swear by it.

If you’re lucky enough to be dealing with a fairly solid poop, you can try dumping it out into the toilet before closing up the diaper for good.

That way, the majority of the stink gets flushed away, and you can safely dispose of the diaper in your pail or trash can.

Of course, this is an extra step a lot of parents don’t have time for, and it won’t work with more… messy diapers.

9. Get the air moving in the nursery

If the air in baby’s room is getting a little stale, there are plenty of ways to freshen it up a bit.

If weather allows, open some windows in the nursery and air it out every once in a while. You’ll be surprised what a difference a few hours of open window can make!

If you have a ceiling fan in the nursery, it might be a good idea to run it on low for a couple of days and get things moving.

10. Upgrade your diaper pail

Did you know that the Diaper Genie isn’t the only choice on the market?

There’s been a lot of debate among parents and experts, but some people swear that the Dekor diaper pail system traps odors far better.

Others still? They’d swear up and down that the Ubbi diaper pail is the best one for smells.

Candidly, I have only ever tried the Diaper Genie, and found it to be just OK when it comes to locking in odor. If you’re having a lot of trouble with a poopy smelling nursery, consider trying a new diaper pail.

11. Deodorize your carpeting

We talked about how infant bedding and other cloth-based things in your nursery can hold onto odors for a long time.

The same is true for your carpet!

If you have a rug or carpeting in the baby’s room, consider giving it a deep clean.

We’ve had great success using carpet deodorizers that you sprinkle in and vacuum up.

If you can get your hands on a carpet steam cleaner, even better!

The nursery will look and smell great afterwards.

12. Use something that smells nice!

Finally, if that stubborn smell just won’t go away, maybe the best thing to do is cover it up.

You have a lot of options in this area including:

  • Glade plug ins
  • Reed diffusers
  • Febreeze
  • Wax warmers

Just be absolutely certain that whatever you use is never left unattended or within reach of baby!

Of course, mostly what you’re doing here is masking the smell and not eliminating it. But sometimes that’s just as good.

For the record, I would probably avoid burning candles in the nursery. The obvious safety issues aside, health experts aren’t big fans of the potentially harmful effects of burning scented candles. If you do choose to burn candles in your home and anywhere near baby, try soy or beeswax varieties.

Wrapping Up

Baby’s room smelling like poop or pee is something almost all parents have dealt with at some point!

Honestly, it’s tough to get rid of 100% of the odor if you’re keeping dirty diapers somewhere in the room, like inside of a trash can or diaper pail. If you really want to keep things clean, take poopy diapers out right away in a little plastic bag.

But since that’s not always feasible, hopefully the list above has given you some new ideas to try. Let me know how it goes!

For more, check out:

Hope this helps!