Cloth Diaper Series: Do I Actually Save Money?

Posted on Sep 25 2013 - 7:00am by Markell

howmuchdoIsaveThis is the last post in a cloth diaper series. So far, I’ve talked about why I switched to cloth, my cloth diaper washing routine, how I fight diaper rash, and how I convinced my husband to do cloth diapers. This post is all about the money side of cloth diapers. 

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers claim that they saved over $1000 by switching to cloth. I wasn’t too sold on that fact, so I decided to do some math on my own. 

I always buy the cheapest disposable diapers I can that aren’t super crappy. That usually ends up being parent’s choice brand at Walmart. I am lucky that my kids didn’t have any bad reactions to these diapers or anything like that. For my one year old, we pay about $30/month for diapers. That’s just a rough estimate. That’s about 200 diapers, which is about 6-7 a day. 

When my kids were younger, we spent more on diapers. I never tracked exactly how much we were spending, but my guess is about 8 diapers a day on average for the first year. I can get those diapers for an average of 15 cents a piece, so that ends up being $1.20/day, or about $438 for the first year. The second year, at $30 per month, it’s about $360 for the second year. Most kids are potty trained by 30 months, so that’s 6 months after their 2nd birthday, for another $180. So all in all, that’s $978 in diapers, assuming you use the Parent’s Choice brand. Those are also assuming that your child isn’t in a size 5, because my kids never made it that far. Size 5 Parent’s Choice are 18 cents a piece, meaning a month of size 5 would be $35-40/month. The bigger your child is, the more expensive the diaper. This is also assuming you buy in bulk. 

If you were to use a more expensive brand, say Pampers, by these same estimates, you would end up spending $675 for the first year and $575 for the second year and $280 for the last 6 months, totaling $1530

If you use organic diapers, that number will be even higher. Seventh Generation diapers, for example, are $1.50 a piece. Honest Diapers have a package that are $79.95/month. At 30 months, that would cost you around $2400. It’s not hard to see how some other blogs show how those numbers add up. They really can if you’re buying really nice diapers. 

I’m all for buying the diapers that are organic or more earth friendly, if you can afford it. We, however, can’t. No way could we pay $80/month on diapers. So, we don’t. When we used disposables, like I said, we used Parent’s Choice. So, when we used disposables for 2.5 years, we spent around $1000 for diapers. I do think that’s a pretty low estimate, but I don’t want anyone thinking that I lied to them about if I save money on cloth diapers. 

So, cloth diapers can be expensive. If you want to buy the BEST diapers, you are looking at over $20 per diaper. Considering you need a minimum of 20 diapers (25 or so would be better) if you want to wash every other day, you would be looking at spending $400 for your stash. Many diapers are what is called an one size, meaning that the diaper grows with the baby. It can fit almost from birth to potty training. Many of the one size diapers don’t actually fit right away, so disposables or a separate newborn stash need to be on hand. 

If you want to do it the cheap way (which I did) you can go with prefolds and covers or pocket diapers. Prefolds and covers (or flats and covers) are the cheapest way to diaper, but a little more of a hassle. You can buy prefolds for about two dollars a piece (a dollar a piece if you buy used). So, for 24 prefolds, you’re looking at about $50, plus four covers for around $10/piece. You would also need either Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners or diaper pins. So you’re looking at about $100 to cloth diaper your baby, or at least to get started. Chances are good that you would want to replace a cover or two during your time cloth diapering and maybe get a few more prefolds, but you can easily have everything you need for less than $100. That means you can save $900 even if you buy cheap disposable diapers. If you use those same prefolds and covers for your next child, you’re looking at another $1000 in savings. 

I forgot to mention laundry cost. Based on my calculations, I spend about $80/year extra on laundry when I cloth diaper (including detergent). That adds about $200 on to the cost of cloth diapering, which means you spend $300 total during your time cloth diapering, for a savings of $700, or $1230 if you buy Pampers, or $2100 if you buy Honest Diapers or another high end diaper brand. 

If you choose something a little more convenient than prefolds, and go with pocket diapers, your price will be a little higher. You can buy cheap pocket diapers for about $63 for a dozen including inserts. You can find cheaper deals on coops or by buying used.

I feel like those numbers are pretty honest and truthful about how much you actually save using cloth diapers. If your child has some kind of an allergy to cheap disposables, or if for whatever reason you decide to use nicer diapers, you are saving a ton of money by using cloth.

So there you have it!  




2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. CraftyHourMom September 29, 2013 at 7:32 am - Reply

    thanks for posting this! My sister was just asking me about the numbers last week. 🙂

  2. Sarah September 30, 2013 at 6:39 am - Reply

    After reading this I need to go back and read the rest of your series. Thanks for doing the math and being honest, I had heard about grand savings but wasn't sure. We used Target store brand with our first and plan to cloth diaper with our second. I have a better idea of the cost of both now. Thank you!

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