Perhaps strangely, this is one of the great debates newborn parents find themselves in, a true sign that their world has been rocked by junior and there is no going back.
We decided to settle the debate once and for all, by isolating each of the questions surrounding these products and putting them to test with side-by-side performance comparisons.
Stink Containment Test
The first side-by-side comparison test we performed is the crucial issue of odor containment.
We loaded up both pails with a stinky load and then gave them a sniff test when closed, and also when putting another diaper in the pail.
Both pails did pretty well when everything was closed up. We felt there was a minor advantage to the Diaper Genie when closed, but it was not a big difference.
We also found that the Diaper Champ seemed to absorb stink into its plastic over time. No matter how we washed, we couldn't remove the foul odor. In contrast, the Diaper Genie did not appear to absorb odors. Even after years of use the Diaper Genie's plastic did not smell. That may be due to the Diaper Genie's bag system, or perhaps they include some kind of antimicrobial material in their plastic (Playtex explicitly says the Diaper Genie Elite contains an antimicrobial plastic, but makes no such claim for the Essentials).. Whatever the reason, it's another advantage of the Diaper Genie on odor control.
Winner on Stink Containment: Diaper Genie
No matter how you slice it, the Diaper Genie Essentials is hands-down better at odor control.
Total Cost of Ownership Test
Both the Diaper Genie and the Diaper Champ sell for about the same price, approximately $35 street price. But the Diaper Genie requires proprietary refill bags, while the Diaper Champ is designed to be able to use standard kitchen trash bags (much less expensive). To get at the real cost of ownership, we'll need to calculate both the initial purchase, and the total amount spent on replacement bags. You'll need to add in the cost of enough refill bags or cartridges for the 5,000 diapers we estimate your baby will go through in the next 3-4 years.
For the Diaper Genie we estimate that you'll spend about $90 on refill cartridges in the first year of use, and another $90 over the next 2-3 years of use. Add in the $35 initial purchase price, and that places total cost of ownership at about $215 over lifetime use.
The Diaper Champ costs are less if you are using standard kitchen trash bags rather than their priorietary refill bags. We estimate you'll spend about $45 on kitchen trash bags over the same 5,000 diapers (we estimate you'll need about 215 bags) bringing total cost of ownership to approximately $80 for the Diaper Champ Deluxe. Note that if you use the Diaper Champ proprietary bags, you'll spend an estimated $125 on bags, bringing your total cost of ownership to about $160.
Winner on Total Cost: Diaper Champ
The Diaper Champ takes this category, coming in $135 less expensive than the Diaper Genie in total cost of ownership. (Of course, it will be more stinky.)
Ease of Disposing Dirty Diaper Test
The Diaper Champ is a bit lower, so we were stooping a bit more to put a diaper in. But, not much more. The Diaper Champ's handle and container hole lets you pretty much drop the diaper in. Its simple and easy.
The Diaper Genie requires you to push a diaper through the clamp, which means can't just drop the nasty thing, but have to reach your hand down and push it through.
If you have a leaky blowout diaper, care is required with either product.
The Diaper Champ tends to get poo on the plastic if you put a leaky diaper in it. That can be nasty to clean up.
If you push a leaky diaper into the Diaper Genie and you can end up with poo on the bag near the clamp. That can be nasty in that you can end up getting some of it on your hand. Yuck. To fix it, you need to wash your hand and push the poo-i-fied part of the bag past the clamp. In some ways though, getting a bit of poo on the Diaper Genie plastic bag is a lot better than getting poo on the plastic of the Diaper Champ. Pushing a bit of Diaper Genie plastic bag through the clamp is pretty easy and completely resolves the situation. Cleaning off the plastic of the Diaper Champ is more work, and as we've already noted the Diaper Champ plastic has a tendency to absorb odors.
Winner on Dirty Diaper Disposal: Diaper Champ (barely)
A leaky blowout-diaper is trouble with both pails, and neither is ideal in this situation. In terms of ease-of-disposal for your normal diaper change, the Diaper Champ system, allowing you to just drop it in, is a bit easier. So, on strictly an ease-of-use metric, we give it to the Champ (but hold you nose).
Ease of Changing Full Bags Test
Changing a full bag of stinky dirty diapers can be less than pleasant. Up until baby starts eating solids, it's actually not that bad. But, once you get some solid food into junior, things take a turn for the stinky and so does that bag filled with dozens of aging dirty diapers.
Not so the Diaper Champ. To change its bag, you need to open the top to expose the full gullet of nastiness. There is no way to change the bag without putting yourself nose-to-stank with all those dirty diapers, at least until you get the bag removed and tied off. In doing so, you are going to squeeze a full dose of dirty diaper smell from the bag and near your face. Not pretty.
Winner on Changing Bags: Diaper Genie
It is pretty clear-cut on this test. The Diaper Genie is a lot more pleasant when it comes to changing the bag.
Here's the summary of the tests and who won each one:
- Stink containment: Diaper Genie
- Total cost of ownership: Diaper Champ
- Ease of diaper disposal: Diaper Champ
- Ease of changing bag: Diaper Genie
If all the tests were given equal weight, then it's a 2 to 2 tie.
But, we feel the Stink Containment test is really the most important and it carries more weight from our point of view. And while the cost difference is real, we're willing to spend an extra $3 a month for less smell in the house.