Cost of Cloth Diapers versus Disposable Diapers
Does cloth diapering make financial sense? Some say it’s too expensive. Some say it’s a frugal alternative to disposable diapers.
Today, I want to talk about cost comparison – disposable versus cloth diapers. This is a hot topic, and has been covered incredibly well, I think. Therefore, I do not want to be redundant, but I want to share our experience.
So without further ado, let’s get started crunching the numbers.
The average number of diapers a baby goes through in a day will depend on the age of the baby. Newborns can use anywhere from 8-10 diapers (sometimes double that) a day, whereas an older baby might only use 4-6.
In our case, Samuel probably goes through 6-10 diapers a day. It depends.
For our example, let’s go with the low number of 6.
6 diapers x 30 days = 180 diapers a month
A case of Size 3 Luvs Diapers* (with 234 diapers using Subscribe & Save) costs – $32.29. This is $0.13 a diaper, which is pretty cheap.
*Luvs are the only diapers Samuel can use
Disposable wipes (probably use at least 1-3 per diaper change), which is approximately 200 wipes a month
Wipes cost (bought in bulk) = About $0.03 per wipe at 200 per month, that’s another $6 monthly.
Total disposable diapering monthly cost: $29.40 approximately (higher for a baby under 3-4 months old)
(This total does not include the use of other products like a Diaper Genie and its refills, etc.)
Now, let’s look at the numbers for cloth diapers.
I have an assortment of 30 one-size pocket diapers, along with inserts, that I got off Craigslist. The brands include Kawaii, BumGenius, and Fuzzibunz. Each diaper has at least 1 insert, but most have 2. We have a roll of disposable liners, as well as a hanging laundry bag.
My total paid for my one-size pocket diapers (which is more than you need) & laundry bag = $135.00
I use baby wash cloths (found on clearance) for baby wipes with a spray bottle of baby wash (that I make myself). This cost approximately $10 (and I think that’s high).
These diapers & baby wipes will carry each baby we have from the time they are 8-10lbs to potty training. You really only need about 15-18 diapers, but since I got such an incredible deal, I have 30. I only use about 18 of them regularly, and this allows me to do laundry every other day.
Let’s say we have Samuel potty trained in 24 months.
The average monthly cost of cloth diapers for us is $6.04.
To note, we will most likely have to replace the hook & loop system on our diapers as time goes on. However, we can get this done for free or at a minimal cost at the very most; thus, not adding much, if any, additional cost for us.
Also, we will be able to use these diapers for at least 2 children. This means our $6.04 can be divided in half making our monthly cost $3.02!
I would say this is quite the savings! Cloth diapering just makes sense for us.
To be fair, not everyone can get great deals on used cloth diapers (but now you know it’s possible). I stalked Craigslist waiting for cloth diapers to be sold. I wouldn’t even consider the diapers if they were not a brand I was looking for, or were higher than $4-5 a diaper. There were two sellers that met these expectations.
The numbers I see floating around blogosphere for the average cloth diaper expense ranges from $14 to $22 dollars a month – still far cheaper than disposables.
As I stated in a previous post, cloth diapering is what you make it. The cost savings for us is significant enough to make it work. For you, it may not be.
Next, we’ll talk about what kinds of cloth diapers I have used and what I use now.
So what do you think? Do these numbers surprise you? Do you think cloth diapering would be worth it for your family in regards to finances?
Check out all of our cloth diaper posts below:
Cost of Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers
Cloth Diapering – What Do You Do When…?
Cloth Diapers: How to Use Prefolds with Covers and One-Size Pocket Diapers
Cloth Diapers: 5 Tips to Get You Started
Trouble Shooting Cloth Diapers – 5 Real Life Cloth Diaper Problems and What I Do to Resolve Them
An eBook I recommend to those looking to cloth diaper:
Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert – Learn more here.
This post contains my referral link. Please see my disclosure policy here.
Cloth saved us a ton of money and even more as you have other children that can use the same diapers. It also makes a huge impact on our land field situation.
I agree, Marcie! It’s such a money saver, and wonderful solution to help reduce wastes!
There are websites like http://www.cottonbabies.com where new moms can set up a registry to have people buy their cloth diapers, inserts and liner for them. Cotton Babies has all the major brands of cloth diapers including bumGenius, Flip System and FuzziBunz. This is what we have done, so our up front cost for cloth diapering will be $0!! Also, cloth diapers are not what people remember from when we were kids. There are systems with no pins and no diapers you have to fold yourself. These are diapers that grow with your kids, have snaps or velcro closures, elastic legs holes and come in every color you can imagine!
Thanks, Mia! I plan on talking more about Cotton Babies in a later post. I love that site!
And that is wonderful that you registered for cloth diapers and people are GETTING them for you! We registered, but they are so foreign to most of the people who bought for us we didn’t get many. But that’s ok! That’s what Craigslist is for 😛
Can’t wait to learn more about WHICH cloth diapers you like. So far, my two experiences with cloth have disappointed me, but I’m holding out hope that it really could work for the next baby. Thanks for keeping my hope alive. 🙂
Erika, you need to talk to my sister about this. She and her hubby had never even changed diapers before they had their daughter and they LOVE cloth diapers. They have it down to a science and convinced us to do it as well.
I think comparing cloth diapering to a science is quite accurate, ha! It’s truly an experiment of trial and error. But so rewarding! Glad you have good influences, Mia!
So glad I could keep your hope alive, Erika! I will be sharing more specifics of what we use in the next post.
I have debated cloth diapers a long time. Do you factor in detergent and water cost? It seems like a lot of washing to keep up with. A lot of running the washing machine and dryer to get them to the level of clean most moms aspire to.
I’ve never done actual numbers, but I would estimate that it adds 2-3 extra loads of laundry a week with an extra rinse cycle. We’ve not seen a huge increase in our gas/electric (we’ve had both) or water bill. So I estimate the costs are minimal. I use the sun to dry and sanitize my diapers and rarely run the dryer for my diapers. Hope that helps!
Yes, cloth diapering saves so much money! I invested in cloth when my first baby was 8 months old. Now that I’ve had 3 kids in 4 years, I have to admit that I can’t always use cloth when life gets hectic. But any time that I do, it’s money in the bank. I calculated that with the frugal way I built my cloth diaper stash, they would pay for themselves within 3-4 months. Since that was back in 2009, we just enjoy the savings now!
I think the savings comes most with babies 2, 3, etc! And like you, I don’t always use them. I use them when I can!
Very nice review… Serves as a good guideline, specially for new moms!
Do you have an update on how many diapers are needed if you have two children in diapers? We are trying to decide if we should invest in cloth diapers for our 2 year old who has not started potty training yet and our 5 week old.
I don’t have an update for this, but I would think you would want at least 20-24 diapers. I don’t like to do laundry every single day. But we’re in the camp that for every time we put a cloth on our baby(ies), it’s one less disposable we pay for and throw into the landfill. Some days I go back and forth between cloth and disposables. So, I would say start with what you have and add to your stash as you are able. 🙂 Something is better than nothing!