Cloth Diapering

This might sound crazy to some of you, but… my husband and I are thinking about cloth diapering!  Or at least a hybrid where we’ll cloth diaper when she’s at home, and use disposables when we have to go out somewhere.  My husband was even more enthusiastic about this idea than I was (and he was the one who suggested it!).  But guess who gets to do all the work?  Yep, that’d be me.

Cloth diapering isn’t what it used to be, where you just get a rag cloth and safety pin your baby in it.  It has evolved into this mult-million dollar enterprise featuring different varieties of diapers, in all sorts of designs and colors.  After a bunch of research, I think I’m most interested in using prefolds and all-in-ones.  What the heck is the difference?  Read this post that breaks down all the different cloth diapering systems!

Also, the cost difference between disposable diapers and cloth diapers are tremendous!  I broke it down in a spreadsheet (I don’t know what I’d do without excel) and the savings from the time they’re an infant to a toddler are easily over $1000.  This includes the cost of water and electricity too.  Tack on another kid or two, and the savings double/triple because you can keep on using cloth diapers over and over again once you buy your initial set.

I used one of the higher-end cloth diaper brands to estimate the budget and it’s still a lot cheaper than disposables.  If you choose to go the really cheap route, shave off another $200 from the estimate.  Savings galore!

These aren’t just arbitrary numbers that I decided sounded good, so how did I come up with these calculations?

  • I made the assumption that the average child will not start potty training until they’re 2 years old, so these calculations are 2 years’ worth of diapering your child.
  • I calculated out the 2 extremes of cloth diapering. The very upscale vs. the dirt cheap. It seems that most women do a mix and match of the two so your cloth diapering costs will be somewhere in the range of $250-600.
  • I didn’t calculate out the cost of laundry, but a 240-load box of Tide Detergent will set you back $45. Assume you did a load of cloth diapers every other day at $0.75 a load (to account for water + electricity).  That’s a total of $11.25/month x 2 years = $360. For 2 years you might need 2 boxes of detergent. That’s a total laundry expense of $450 on top of your other cloth diapering expenses.

For Disposables, these were my assumptions:

  • I assumed that newborns up to the first 3 months will average 12 diapers per day.
  • That number decreases to 6 diapers/day for the remainder of their 2 years.
  • I assumed that with every diaper change you’d use 3-4 wipes and that’s how I calculated the number of wipes needed.

I’m going to give cloth diapering a shot!  Maybe not in the first month when I’m adjusting, but once I get the hang of things I’ll make the transition from disposable to cloth and see how it goes.  To make cloth diapering cheaper, you don’t have to buy brand new everything.  I found someone on craigslist who was selling her barely used, upscale BumGenius diapers and some prefolds for cheap.  If I like them, I’ll slowly add more to my cloth diaper collection.

Other options are websites like DiaperSwappers exist where women sell/trade their diapers.
This website – Everything Birth – lets you sample a bunch of cloth diapers for the low price of $9.95 before you decide to buy. If you decide it’s not for you, simply return it!

I know cloth diapering is almost a stigma because of what we think cloth diapering is – a big hassle, gross and disgusting, etc etc.  But times have changed and I’ve learned so much about it in my research that I’m much more open to it now than I was at first.  I totally thought cloth diapering was an ancient art form done by old grandmas!


5 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering

  1. how weird! my mom & grandma are ALL ABOUT the cloth diapering! So i am highly considering it myself… of course, this means I will be in comfortable CA living in a huge house with my own washer & dryer. lol. I cannot put my baby’s wash with the same machine that the homeless man down the street uses. (Yes, we use the same washing machine… gross.)

  2. I’ve started looking into cloth diapers and came to your blog referred by a friend. This is a great post about cloth diapers. Thank you for this awesome cost breakdown, very helpful!

  3. Very interesting post! I just read your guest post on Geek in Heels and decided to check out the rest of your blog. Your daughter is ADORABLE and I’m enjoying your blog. I was just wondering if you found your estimates to be accurate now that she’s older and now officially starting cloth diapers. Did you use 12 diapers a day for the first 3 months?

    I’m so sorry to point this out but I thought I was going nuts for a while so I’m just going to ask. Was “That’s a total of $11.25/month x 2 years = $22.50” a miscalculation or am I reading something wrong? In regards to the estimate of laundry. The overall cost of 2 years of laundry should be $360 right? Either way, great blog! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kimberly, thanks for checking out my blog! Wow what a BIG typo = thanks for the catch! Actually, if you read some of my more recent posts… I didn’t end up cloth diapering until my daughter was about 9 months old. I LOVE IT so far though and it is a lot easier than it sounds when you’re reading it up about laundry and wet pails, etc. I have enough to last me 3 days before having to do the laundry, but I tend to do it every other day just because I don’t like the idea of pee sitting there for so long. I am planning to do another update about my actual cloth diapering process/methods but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Based on my experience with cloth these past 2 months, she averages about 8 cloth diapers a day (as a 10-month old)… and sometimes 1-2 on top of that if she poops. We actually change it a lot more frequently than we really have to though.

      – 1x in the morning when she wakes up
      – 1x before her first nap
      – 1x after her first nap
      – 1x before her 2nd nap
      – 1x after her 2nd nap
      – 1x after her bath
      – 1x before bed

      I still use nighttime disposables for bedtime, not cloth. Hope this helps!

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