Cloth Diapering: Does It Save Enough Money To Be Worth The Extra Effort?

cloth diapers with plastic wrapMy wife’s best friend is a very strong environmentalist – in fact, she’s often the inspiration for the more green-tinged posts on The Simple Dollar. When she discovered she was with child several months ago, she decided that she was going to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones. We asked her to let us know how it was going in terms of cost and effort, because we were somewhat considering the idea for our second child after seeing how her experience went.

Recently, she told us about her experience. I jotted down some notes and here’s the scoop on cloth diapering.

Buying the diapers If you have social connections, ask around for any used cloth diapers. Many parents who have abandoned them or have had their child grow out of them will be glad to give them away or sell them at a very cheap price. Our friend reports that between cloth diaper gifts at the baby shower and an abundance of them given to her by a friend whose daughter grew out of them, she didn’t have to buy a single diaper. You’ll also need several waterproof covers (to keep in the liquid and have the cloth diaper absorb it). The cloth diapers work all the way through, but the waterproof covers vary in size – you’ll have to get a new batch of these a few times through.

So, the costs vary widely depending on what you can get as a gift, borrow, buy used, and buy new, but the investment can be quite low.

What’s the “best” brand? BumGenius comes recommended by tons of different sources for simplicity and cleanliness, but they’re very expensive. A BumGenius or two is a great baby shower gift for an expectant mom, even if that mom doesn’t plan on using cloth diapers. Why? A BumGenius is basically a cloth duplicate of a disposable diaper. Our friend has a small number of these and she claims to save them for nighttime changings because they’re incredibly easy.

How many do you need? From my own experience, newborns go through as many as a dozen a day, so at first, you should have a dozen for the number of days you want to have between laundry loads of diapers. As the baby gets older, (s)he will not go to the bathroom as often, but at some point you’ll have to start double diapering because of the greater liquid production from the child.

What about cleaning? Obviously, some of the cost savings from disposables are eaten by laundry, but you’re only paying with it with a bit of time, some water, and some laundry detergent. The strategy that was described to me was to wash the poopy diapers alone first with cold water and detergent, then add the wet diapers and run another load with hot water and detergent, then run it through a rinse cycle again with a half-cup of vinegar in the water (for odor removal). Then just dry them like normal clothes. If you estimate that you have a water cost of $0.05 a load, a power cost of $0.09 a load (both washer and dryer), a half cup of vinegar costing $0.10 or so, nd a detergent cost of $0.03 a load (using my science fair tested homemade laundry detergent), cleaning three dozen diapers costs about $0.50.

Does cloth diapering save money? You’ll pay about $0.20 a diaper for disposables, which equates to a cost of about $7.20 per three dozen diapers. After startup costs, you spend only about $0.50 per three dozen diapers. You’ll repeat this about fifty times before potty training begins, so the total diaper savings is $350 or so with cloth diapers. Of course, your startup costs aren’t included here. For example, if you were to buy three dozen brand new BumGenius diapers, they would cost you about $500, but they make cloth diapering as convenient as disposable diapering.

In short, buying new cloth diapers for a single child isn’t financially worth it, but if you have the ability to get used cloth diapers on the cheap and/or you plan on having multiple children, cloth diapers can easily recoup your investment and save money. There is additional time required for cloth diaper cleaning, but the tasks are simple and relatively minimal.

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69 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering: Does It Save Enough Money To Be Worth The Extra Effort?

  1. david says:

    You might also want to check out gDiapers, they are good for the environment as well.

  2. HappyRock says:

    My wife and I wanted to do cloth diapers for our first child, but we never got around to it. We were amazed at how far cloth diapers have come. Most people still picture a square cloth with safety pins. They are not like that at all anymore.

    -Rock

  3. Sean says:

    We started using cloth diapers, but we found that disposables did a better job keeping our daughter dry and keeping diaper rash at bay.

  4. Martin says:

    If I read this correctly, it seems as though once again cost triumphs over the environment. Although I understand that your blog has to do with frugality, it seems as though a sentence at the end of the article to the effect that it might not be a bad idea in cases like this to go with the less cost effective method and consider the extra money you’ve spent as a (non-deductible) contribution to our suffering environment.

  5. Trent says:

    In most cases, cloth diapers are in fact the cheaper option, but if you have to buy exclusively new cloth diapers and are only going to have one child, then they will be more expensive. We’re going for cloth, actually.

  6. Tyler says:

    Martin, we’re not all like you and let’s not make it political. Most people will not change their usual ways unless it makes financially sense, and Trent did a great job at breaking down the costs between the two scenarios. I for one do not care that our diapers go to one big landfill. As long as they are not thrown as litter, I have no problem, nor should anyone else. The planet has withstood the test of time and only God has control over it.

  7. !wanda says:

    I’ve heard from people that cloth diapers encourage children to begin toilet-training earlier. If that’s true, cloth diapers could potentially save you a lot of money.

  8. !wanda says:

    I’ve heard from people that cloth diapers encourage children to begin toilet-training earlier. If that’s true, cloth diapers could potentially save you a lot of money.

    And Tyler, you’re funny: “…let’s not make it political… The planet has withstood the test of time and only God has control over it.”

  9. Karen says:

    I wish i had discovered the cloth diapers when i had my first childbut i now use them for our second. i have used them for 3 months, i use bum genius and fuzzibunz for night.
    I think they are great and only wish they were more widely available if more mums knew how convient they are and how much better they are for the baby as there are no chemicals touching thier bum i think more would use them(i read they had to stop using the same chemical that they used in femeine products because they caused toxic shock and we dont know the effect on the babies genital area)
    http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/diapers/joy-of-cloth.html
    Also i found that diaper rash was lessened or rarely has any, diaper rash is often caused by what they eat or anti-biotics not the diaper.
    Also because disposable dipers allow them to do many wees before you change them i think they can cause the diper rash but iam no expert.
    Also the cost i have only brought 8 to begin with
    i have to wash every other day now i have 18 diapers and that seems to be enough so the start up cost was about $300 but you can buy used in good condition for 1/2.
    Another plus they will potty train quicker!!!! because they know when they are wet.

  10. Sick of Debt says:

    My wife and I are going the cloth route for our first child (due in 4 weeks). My wife decided to make them herself, using some materials we had around the house and extra purchasing material. Our out-of-pocket costs is looking around $220 for the smaller size and around $300 for the larger size (we haven’t made those yet).

    For me it was both the $ saving and the environmental aspects (I remember high school Chemistry class where we experimented on the material diapers are made of).

  11. Duane Gran says:

    We made a run at using cloth diapers, but found that it required running so many loads of laundry that it likely negated the environmental benefits. Additionally, you will find that they are much more bulky and it is hard to come by baby “onesies” that fit reliably with a cloth diaper.

    In the end, the most expensive option is to buy cloth and then switch to disposable. :)

  12. Tyler says:

    Wanda, “The planet has withstood the test of time and only God has control over it.” is not political. It’s spiritual. What part of God has anything to do with political nonsense?

  13. Amber says:

    “I’ve heard from people that cloth diapers encourage children to begin toilet-training earlier. If that’s true, cloth diapers could potentially save you a lot of money.” from Wanda

    According to my grandparents (who raised me), that is the case. They used cloth diapers and then apparently put me in actual underwear shortly after I could walk. Apparently I learned to use the toiled VERY quickly because, as my grandmother would say, “No one wants to sit around in their own mess.”

    My cousins who were all in disposables, on the other hand, didn’t use the toilet until they were 2 or after.

  14. Canadian says:

    Won’t cloth diapers be cheaper if you make your own? My mother made her own — just a rectangle of cloth which she hemmed and attached with safety pins. You can find patterns for more sophisticated designs. Like this one: http://www.diapersewing.com/fitted_with_velcro.htm Buy the fabric on sale, or else use things like old towels and flannel sheets. Should be cheaper than bought cloth diapers or disposables, no? You can also reuse the diapers with any subsequent children you may have.

  15. Kim says:

    I used the fuzzi bunz brand of cloth diapers for 2 of my 3 children. (oldest got disposables). While the upfront cost was high, we saved big time with the second child. They were great, They did not leak or smell any worse than the disposable. My size small and medium are in great shape and could b used again for another child. The large diapers took a beating, as they are for tots aged 1-2, when it’s mostly solid food and poop changes. After 2 kids they were toast. ( but we use the inserts as rags now). In the past I’ve thought that lots of fzzi bunz on ebay were fairly priced. Good luck! Oh also, I found that as the baby got older, using 1 disposable at night with cloth through the day was a great methid of diapering for my family.

  16. martha in mobile says:

    One consideration: most daycare providers will not use cloth diapers. So, if your reason for using cloth is strictly financial and you plan on using daycare, do take this under advisement.

  17. !wanda says:

    Tyler: The choice to do nothing about the environment is political, regardless of the reasons you have for making that choice.

  18. akl168 says:

    Cloth-diapered babies usually get potty trained much faster. Your calculations should take that into consideration.

  19. Jon says:

    Speaking as someone who lost around $200 trying to use cloth diapers with our first child, my (unsolicited) advice is to buy a couple of cloth diapers and covers before you commit. I wish someone would have suggested this to me.

    In our case, our baby just couldn’t stand them. He would cry every time we put them on and they would leak (yes they were premium diapers and covers) much worse than disposables.

    Plus, I the “green” argument for cloth diapers is often overstated, but this isn’t really the site for that debate.

  20. Anne says:

    I too want to reiterate the point made at the beginning of the post: the environment. Cloth diapers are a salvation to the earth, cheaper or not, and to some this is actually important.

  21. John says:

    One thing you are not considering enough is time costs. Most people assume their time is “free”, but in reality it is not and can often be put to more productive or rewarding uses in many cases. This needs to be factored in in any sane analysis.

    For example, I pay someone to mow my yard because it takes too much time for me. Time I could be spending instead with my kids and building relationships. It all really comes down to choices.

    Also, there are disposable diapers are recyclable and/or biodegradable, thus dampening some of the environmental concerns.

    And Tyler, you would be well to heed God’s word in environmental matters. We are here to be caretakers of His creation, and you really need to take a hard look at your statements and decide whether you are being a good caretaker of the earth and the riches God provided us…

  22. Susanna says:

    My daughter is 6 now, but we used Mother-Ease diapers and covers from when she was about 3 weeks old (big enough to fit into the one-size diapers) until she was potty trained at age 2.5 — for environmental and financial reasons. The diapers were awesome. We weren’t militant — when she got older, we used a disposable at night, and we usually used disposables for long day trips (the zoo) or when she went to Grandma’s for the night. Our investment was about $350 — but when we were finished, we sold them on eBay for $200. If I’d known, I’d have bought them used, too. Our in-home child care had no problem with them – they’re an easy snap design. Also, if you can hang diapers out to dry, your results (especially in terms of smell) will be MUCH better. Throw them in the dryer for a few minutes with a sneaker if you want them softer after they’re dry.

  23. Amy says:

    We have been cloth diapering our daughter and it has been a great experience for all of us. I think even if you only have one child, it can still be a savings, particularly if you are buying used. We bought all of our diapers used and then turned around and sold them. For awhile, I was working on a thirteen dollar profit from cloth diapering. Who would have thought that would happen? Buy used, sell them back!

  24. RG says:

    Line dry them – makes them last longer and it saves money on the electric bill. :)

  25. Seth Miller says:

    I appreciate the ‘greener’ posts. Thanks

  26. sandycheeks says:

    Good post. The only suggestion I have is to run your numbers a bit differently for disposables. 20 cents a diaper is for premium diapers. You can buy store brand for 15 cents a diaper and there are also great sales if you are not brand specific. The best I ever got was 6 months worth of Luvs for 4.5 cents each and about another 6 months supply of CVS brand for about 6 cents each. Deals where diapers are 10 cents or under aren’t uncommon. You just need to know ehere and when to buy. Keep up the good work.

  27. Jennifer says:

    Speaking from experience (2 kids, through 2 different daycares) cloth diapering can be a big savings, especially if you have more than one child. To maximize your savings, you can buy the diapers and the diaper wraps on Ebay or pick them up used from diapering services. There is no need for vinegar in the rinse. Wash all diapers/wraps in the same load… using a cold “pre-wash” and then wash in hot using your normal detergent (had not discovered homemade laundry soap by that point and we did not buy expensive “baby laundry detergent”). Occaisionally, I would add Borax to the laundry if I thought they needed whitening.

    I did find that certain diaper wraps were better than others. I am partial to Prowraps and Bummi Whisper wraps, both of which I found on ebay. Surprisingly, the wraps I got from a friend who had them from a local diaper servicer were the WORST!!!

    Our small, in home daycare provider was willing to use the diapers as they were pretty much just like using a disposable. Our 2nd daycare provider did not. As with all things frugal, it pays to ask…

    To be successful at cloth diapering, I think both parents have to be equally committed to it and be willing to work with it. It’s not quite as easy as disposables, but I felt better about it than adding them to the landfills. In addition, the diapers that I have not passed on to my sister for her child are being used as rags or “filling” for my homemade potholders. It’s this continued usage that I find rewarding…that they continue to have life and keep me from spending money on other disposaable things that brings me joy…

  28. Zachary says:

    Sounds icky-squishy to me!

  29. Ann says:

    We’ve been cloth diapering for 14 months and it has been great for us. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is first: buying cloth diapers used which saves on start up costs. Check out a site like diaperswappers.com. And second: recouping your cost by selling the used diapers when your child has outgrown them. I’ve sold nearly all of the small and medium diapers we used for probably 75% of the original cost. So if you spent $500 on start up of Bum Genius you could get back $375! And furthered the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle loop!

    Our daycare welcomes cloth diapers and many families that go there use them (and we go to the YMCA – a pretty standard daycare).

    Another thing that is important to remember is that the cloth/disposable thing can vary depending on where you live. For folks who live where water is plentiful (we do) and where landfills are scarce (like here, our garbage gets shipped on a train to the western portion of the state), it makes more sense to do laundry rather than throw away diapers. The opposite could be true for someone living in the wide open arid west.

    Also, it’s not an all or nothing decision. We use cloth diapers 90% of the time. We also use disposables when it’s more convenient (traveling, out running errands all day, etc.) You don’t need to beat yourself up over the decision. Do what works for you.

  30. Amie says:

    In preparationg for our new baby and getting used to cloth I switched when our son was two (wish I had done it earlier for the best cost savings). We got the majority of our diapers used. Some I bought at half cost, some were just GIVEN to us by kind people who were done with them. Then, anyone who asked what we needed for the baby we told “cloth diapers!” It helped a lot. We were able to get a lot of all-in-one diapers, which work just like disposables with velcro and everything. No separate wraps. The only hassle it rinsing and washing. We do use disposables at night (my husband put his foot down!) but that’s just one diaper for each kid, each night.

    Also, I am learning how to sew because I want to make my own diapers. Potentially, if I learn to do it well, I could make diapers to sell. There are tons of free patterns online, or great ones you can buy. Lots of SAHMs have started their own diaper-sewing businesses and become WAHMs. These WAHM-made diapers tend to hold their resale value on Ebay because they are generally well-made.

    I need to shut up now. I could go on and on about cloth diapers and how they have saved us money. I even made my own cloth wipes which work better than disposable and are actually easier since I throw them right in the diaper pail with the diapers instead of having to put them in the trash.

    See what I mean? Need to shut up now.

  31. Christine says:

    The best baby gift we received was 3 months of free diaper service. We continuted using the service, but had disposables on hand for nights and when we were going out. One thing that wasn’t taken into consideration is the time to do the laundry. With a new baby, time truly is money.

  32. Ken says:

    If mom works from/stays at home, consider potty-training right from the start like we did with my daughter. She just turned two, and we’ve only used about 2 diapers/day for most of the time (1 for bedtime & another for the rest of the day to catch “accidents”). Saves lots of money and lots of hassle. At first, you hold your baby over the toilet at about ten minutes after any feeding. By the time she could sit (we use the Baby Bjorn potty) she was used to going on the potty. At two, she still isn’t talking much, but she can say “Potty” to let us know that she needs to go.

  33. Kate says:

    Just a note on cloth diapers…we have used them for 14 months and love them. We have saved money, and plan to use these for all of our kids, so for the $300 or so we spend in start up, we would never have to buy diapers again. As for the time, I definitely spend more time brushing my teeth during a week than washing the diapers. It does take a few extra seconds to put them on, but not much. We wash once every three days, and in summer dry the diapers outside.

  34. Katherine says:

    I know you said you didn’t feel it saved money to buy new cloth diapers, but it looks like you were looking at the pre-fitted fancy ones that go for over $10 each.

    I bought 3 packs flatfolds which are around $10/dozen (1 newborn, 2 regular size), some nylon pants ($5/2, pricey but the vinyl ones are awful), and 3 snappis. The nylon pants I have to replace as he grows, but we’re still going strong. Yes, I have to do laundry a lot, but I never feel panicked about going ahead and changing a diaper even if it’s “mostly dry” (and yes, I’ve heard people on about this) because I konw I can just run a load really quickly. The other thing is, he’s never – yes, I really mean NEVER – had diaper rash, now at age 10 months 2 weeks. So I guess I’m saying the non-environmental peace of mind is definitely worth it too.

  35. Valerie S. says:

    No one seems to realize that people are putting raw sewage into the land fill by tossing plastic diapers into the garbage. I never have understood why there had been no discussion of this in public health circles.

    Using cloth diapers was pretty easy with the system we used when I had kids 40 years ago. We had a diaper pail (covered) next to the toilet…you’d put a little water into it with borax disolved. After changing the baby, you rinsed the soiled diaper in the toilet, holding the tip, and letting the flush clear it out of urine or solid material, then it went into the pail. At laundry time, the pail load was already rinsed and ready to wash. We had prefolded diapers and even form-fitted ones, although I preferred ready folds.

    I now do laundry with cold water to save energy, but frankly I think that you’d want to use hot water for the diapers, just to be safe.

    It was hard to come by used diapers…everyone knew that they made the best possible dust rags
    after the kids no longer needed them!

    Diaper rash was never a problem if you thoroughly cleaned the baby’s diaper area each time you changed diapers – and I found using baby lotion to cleanse it, was the best route.

    With the current focus on the extent to which plastics use petroleum products, disposable diapers may also increase in cost.

  36. Sara says:

    I question these calculations. They say 3 dozen diapers- at about 12 diapers a day, repeted 50 times. If you did that, wouldn’t that mean the baby would be 150 days old? Less than 6 months? Am I missing something here??

  37. JRoo says:

    I used cloth diapers for both my children. Telling my age, “Pampers” had just came out when my oldest was born so I tried them and he was highly allergic to the plastics in them so it was back to cloth. But he also could not wear the plastic overpants so I had to devise my own waterproofing. The cloth diapers I used were the ones that had to be folded so I just cut old bread sacks open & folded the bread sacks right into the diaper. It let in air and yet caught the liquids. Worked like a charm. Of course, it had to be changed with each use and that took care of the diaper rash. He also learned at a young age to go potty because it was easier for me to teach him that than it was to keep washing diapers.
    Just a little word from an older Mom & now Grandmom.

  38. Samantha says:

    Why do people continue to beleive the bogus information about running the washing machine having the same environmental impact as tossing a disposable diaper in the trash? Think about it…. When you run the washer, the water goes to a treatment plant (or septic tank). The nasties are filtered out and the water is recycled/reused. Thousands of disposable diapers put in the trash take up a large volume of space in the landfill and they don’t go away. Do you know of anyone who dumps the poo in the toilet when changing a disposable? Me neither…. You’re supposed to, but its easier to just roll it up and toss it. So not only are there millions of tons of non-biodegradable diapers in the landfill, there are millions of tons of human waste in the landfill, which will eventually leach out and pollute the groundwater. How does running the washing machine a few more times a week equal the same amount of environmental impact disposables have again?

  39. Michelle says:

    One quick thing that no one else has mentioned, you shouldn’t wash cloth diapers in Trent’s homemade laundry soap. You should use an actual detergent rather than a soap based detergent because the soap will clog the fibers in the diaper making it loose quite a bit of absorbency. So, in the calculations of how much cloth v. disposables cost, you have to factor in a higher cost for detergent, although if you don’t use Trent’s version then it’s not a big deal.

    That being said, I LOVE cloth diapering. I found a great deal on chinese prefolds and covers. So the startup wasn’t so bad, and I’ve been able to use the money we would have spent each payday on diapers to add a few more pre-folds to my arsenal, making life easier. But now I’m about where I need to be!! Cloth diapering is awesome!

  40. Trina says:

    We used cloth diapers for all four of our children and loved it. My washing routine was much simpler than the one described here, though. The dirty diapers were rinsed out briefly in the toilet, and then placed in a five-gallon bucket with lid. Wet diapers were just placed in the bucket. For washing, I dumped the whole bucket load into the washer and put them through a quick cold water rinse-only cycle. Then I washed in hot water with gentle detergent. The dryer is much hotter than the wash water, and I think that’s where the diapers get their best sanitizing.

    We used prefolds, and wool covers (Biobottoms or Aristocrats) and saved a lot more money than you’d think, since our only acceptable disposable option would have been very expensive 7th Generation unbleached, no-chemical diapers. It was also very satisfying and felt natural.

  41. Danielle says:

    I save at least $50 a month using cloth rather than ‘sposies’. Ive got 2 year old twins in cloth and a daughter for overnight only.

    I also use a front loader so I use barely any water to get them clean!

  42. Disposable Gal says:

    I only spend $20 a month on disposables. I use a combination of coupons and sales. I buy mostly premium diapers, but if a good deal comes up for a cheaper brand, I’ll still take it.

    You spend $15 a month just to wash cloth. Even if someone GAVE me the cloth diapers, I’m not washing diapers when I can get disposable for $5 more per month.

  43. Pingback: Queercents » Blog Archive » Beyond the Valley of the Diapers: Saving Money and the Planet (Even If You Must Use Disposables)
  44. diane says:

    I use a homemade soap on our Fuzzi Bunz and other WAHM diapers and have no problems. for a little over 2 gallons of water there is 1/3 of a bar of Fels Naptha, 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. 1/2 cups per load. We have saved a fortune but we use the homemade detergent and we have twins in cloth.

    It is so nice that they are not walking around in a traveling toilet.

  45. Gaynell says:

    Cloth for us was great! When they were soiled, any solids were dropped in the toilet and then the diapers (wet/soiled) went into an old cat litter bucket with three gallons of water, a small portion of laundry soap and a good dose of ammonia. The ammonia keeps the smell down. When our bucket was full, we put the washer on a low-water level, used hot water and added just a bit more detergent if the diapers were really soiled. No need for a second wash! Just dry and they were back in use. As for the diaper covers, we used some from a company called Cascade from Oregon. They were great and not that expensive! We used cloth for all three kids and would use disposable only when away from home. And it made potty training VERY easy! Now we still use the cloth diapers around the house. Talk about getting your money’s worth!!!!!

  46. Lori says:

    I think the calculations in the article are incorrect. You can save LOTS of money cloth diapering one child even if you buy the most expensive cloth diapering system (pockets and all-in-ones). I am proof of that.

    We cloth diapered my son from birth to potty training and spent a grand total of $580. He potty trained at age 3 years 4 months old, which brings our monthly diapering costs to less than $15/month. Many people I know who disposable diaper say they spend about $50/month on diapers. That means you’d spend about $1,800 total on disposable diapers from birth to potty training if your child potty trained at 3 years old.

    I should clarify that we really spent about $1,400 on diapers but sold them as my son outgrew them for a total of about $800. Hence, our net diapering costs for 40 months = $580. (I kept an Excel spreadsheet.)

    We found cloth diapers to be MUCH more convenient than disposable diapers. Turning a few knobs on the washing machine every 4th day was much easier for me than carting my son to the store every week to buy more paper diapers. Besides, the thought of throwing all that human waste into a landfill gave me the creeps. With cloth diapers, all the human waste goes to a water treatment plant where it belongs and can be properly treated.

    None of the daycares we used or even interviewed had a problem using cloth diapers. We bought a separate supply of all-in-one diapers to keep at daycare.

    My son did not potty train early; he was too attached to his diapers! Either that or he is just stubborn. ;)

  47. LeeLee says:

    I just want to say thanks to everyone for sharing. My first – and probably only – child is due this summer and I need all the information I can get!
    Thank you everyone!

  48. Elizabeth says:

    When my first child was born my mother gave me a big stack of the oldfashioned kind of diapers you use safty pins with. There were only a couple of brands of disposible (28 years ago) and I started using them, but found my son got bad diaper rash unless I used the most expensive. I switched to the cloth and it cleared up. I eventually had to switch back to disposible because we moved to an apartment without laundry facilities, I only had the car in the evening, and the laundry mat costs made cloth diapers a more expensive option than most expensive disposible. With the younger two, I had a washer and chose cloth for 90% of the time because washing seemed healthier,less diaper rash, and more space efficient in a small house. With my younger two, I found the then new disposible pull-ups slowed down the potty training as they could feel they were wet, but saved on washing bedding when used at night if you had a child who did not wake up soon enough at night , but was daytime potty trained.

  49. Heather says:

    Cloth diapers are very EASY to use and very CUTE now in days. When my now 2yr old was born I had just heard of cloth diapering from some moms on iVillage. They posted many comments, questions, pictures, where to buy, and what to buy. It was very helpful. I went with the AIO(all-in-one) cloth diapers because they were more husband and grandma friendly. They go on and off just like a disposable diaper. I bought the “Kushies” brand when he was 5mo old and am still using those same ones. He is 2yr and 3mo and potty trained during the day but not quite at night yet. Many of the AIO diapers cost around $10 each, Kushies brand were only $5 and come with very cute prints. I also ordered a few yards of PUL to make my own super cute diapers. They were very EASY to make. PUL is the waterproof material used for the AIO diapers….no cover needed! One of the best ways to start cloth diapering is to ask around where you live, you can come across gently used ones for cheap. Also check ebay, I bought 15 Kushie AIO NEW for 1/2 of what it would have cost me to order through the diaper website. Definately do your research before you spend a few hundred dollars buying everything you need to get started then realize that it’s not for you. If you use a daycare, check with them as well…MOST daycares have no problem using cloth but some will not do it at all. So be sure you check there as well. iVillage.com has an awesome cloth diapering site and the moms there are so wonderful and helpful. They can answer any and all questions that you have.

    PS washing them is very easy. Shake poo in toilet, throw diaper in pail(we used a small garbage can with lid) wash diapers every 3 days or so. Throw in washer on hot, add small amount of soap, wash on normal cycle, and do a 2nd rinse when the machine is done to make sure all soap residue is rinsed away(soap buildup with cause leaky diapers). Dry on the cloths line or in the dryer. AIO will take a little longer ot dry than 2IO(the absorbant layer in the center pulls out to make washing and drying more efficient.

    Hope this helps. Cloth diapering can seem overwelming sometimes but once you start, it is so easy!!!

  50. Michelle says:

    I’ll have to disagree on this one. I’ve done both (I have 5 children). Even if it DID cost a LOT more to cloth diaper, the impact you’re saving on the environment, in my opinion, is worth it. However, I don’t find that it’s more expensive in the long run. The initial cost for us last month was approx. $400 (for 2-dozen flat prefolds for newborn-20lb, 12 liners, 12 doublers, 12-all in ones from 20lb-35lb, a cloth changing pad, a cloth wetbag and 2 dozen cloth wipes). So far, I do about 3 extra loads per week in baby clothes and these items . Of course that will decrease as her bladder grows. I’m finished. She’ll use these until she’s potty trained in 2 or 3 years. My total cost was $400 plus my electric/water goes up about $10/month x 12months x 2 years= $640. If she doesn’t potty train until the age of 3 then the total cost rises to $760.

    Disposables are about $15 bag, wipes are about $5/tub. So that’s $20/week (supposing we don’t go through more than one tub per week) x 52 weeks = $1040/year times at least 2 years. So we’re talking $2080 by the time she’s potty trained. If she’s 3 before she trains, then that’s $3120.

    Add into the disposable cost all rash treatments due to exposure to chemicals; the untold health problems because those chemicals enter the blood stream and damage the immune system, etc and there’s an even higher price to disposable. Add to that the fact that disposables have been discovered to cause sterility in males, and there’s even more cost down the road.

  51. Cindy says:

    My oldest daughter we used clothes diapers on and then 3 other kids also,
    all 4 kids were potty trained by the time there were 15 months, I saved a bunch of cost and now that my youngest is 13 I still have some great rags

  52. CK says:

    I have a very easy, no-fuss way to wash cloth diapers. Throw them in the washer, and let them agitate for a minute or two. Stop the washer, and let the load soak for 1 hour. Restart the load, and voila–you are done! No need to wash twice, or do an extra rinse, or any of that jazz. Once a week or so, I wash them in soap, and then again in just vinegar. A vinegar wash does help with the smell, but I’ve found no need to do vinegar each time.

  53. Tracy says:

    I disagree with this article. I have been using cloth diapers on my daughter since she was three months old, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I use prefolds with Bummies wraps and I when she was a newborn, I found them to be far superior at keeping everything in then disposable. At her age now, I do not require double diapering her, even at night, she wakes up as dry everyday. In addition, my husband who is a database programer built a program to track our savings and I have faithfully entered a count from every diaper laundry for the past 30 months. In that time, we have save on diapers alone, $2100. When she was three months old, I made my own cloth wipes but unfortunatley we never added in those savings. While I believe the above article was a well thought out analysis, it can’t beat the hard data I have from the experience of using them first hand. The one downside to using cloth is that it is hard to find pants and onsies to properly fit. I was able to turn this problem into a cash savings opportunity as it gave me the incentive to make all my daughter clothes which is a tremendous saving. I have designed and modified a pants pattern for her that grows with her enabling her to fit the same pair of pants for 15 months now! It takes committment but the savings are there and I would recommend and encourage cloth diapers to anyone!

  54. Charlotte says:

    I have used cloth on both my boys and I love cloth diapers. They are not difficult to use – we have travelled to Hawaii, camping, parents house and used them exclusively. My oldest son potty trained at 21 months during the daytime and he is now 32 months and is night time trained with no accidents ever. My youngest has never had a sposie on. My costs to start were less than $150, as we got some free velcro diapers off freecycle, and used the Kushies wraps and I made my own wool wraps. Most of this is money for the wool, which we use as clothing. And it is the easiest load of laundry I do, no folding, just put it in a nice basket and use it right out of the basket. My wipes cost me $5 for Walmart faceclothes and they are still going strong.

    My friends tell me they don’t pay that much for sposies, but with gas as expensive as it is, and them having to make special trips with their kiddos just to pick up diapers when they run out, they probablly spend more than they think. Plus those pull ups cost about 5o cents per diaper!

    Anyways, I think it is whatever you get used to. My husband loves the cloth, and even uses pins and snappis like a pro…

  55. greenmommy says:

    My husband and I have used cloth diapers with our now 7 month old since day one and have loved them. We use the bum genius one size diapers, which have a snap system so that you can make them longer as the baby grows. They are supposedly good for up to 35 lbs but I can’t vouch for that since we’re not there yet. This does eliminate needing different sizes, which is more cost effective. These diapers are as easy to use as disposables and we’re very happy with them. We also use cloth wipes. I have often wondered how much money it actually saves us, which is why I was drawn to this post to begin with. For us, it was a consideration of both financial cost and environmental concern, so the cloth diapers won out. We do use disposables when we’re traveling but I buy the Seventh Generation unbleached ones. They are quite expensive, but we use disposables so rarely that it’s not a big issue. We were lucky to receive all of our diapers as a shower gift from my mother and also got a bunch of used fuzzi bunz from my sister in law. Our new ones came from cottonbabies.com and I think their website lets you sell back used ones in good condition. You can also sell them on ebay.
    Overall, I think cloth may become the way to go for more people as oil prices go up. Disposables are partly made from petroleum so I imagine the prices will be getting higher.

  56. Hot Momma says:

    Try baking soda in the diaper pail and or in the load you’re washing for extra help getting rid of the urine smell! I’ve made all of my own cloth diapers, and gotten a few bum genius’ free. I have to buy the rubber pants, but after repurchasing them for my second child I learned not to throw them in the dryer, and they’re holding up a lot better! I also have a three year old in cloth training pants, with the rubber pants over it and we save so much money. I factored out months ago, that even if I were only to do one cloth diaper a day that would save me an entire package of disposables each month! This is how I try to sucker my mom friends in, but once you’re already doing 1, it’s easy to start trying to do all cloth, except for when you’re out of the house, naps, and bed x. I think it is our responsibility to take care of this planet so that our grandkids can take two steps without knocking over a landfill of diapers! Anyone seen Idiocracy? Great movie and great political statement about how we have no real plan for where all of our garbage is going!

  57. Kevin says:

    We made the switch to cloth about 3 months ago. I really regret not doing it sooner, not only for the environmental impact, but the cost savings as well. We do still use some disposables when our son goes to day care and Grandma’s (3 times a week) which probably equates to about 3 diapers on each of those days. So you figure 9 disposable diapers total per week at $0.14 each (we buy the Target diapers that run about $14 for a box of approx 100). The rest of the time, we use the cloth diapers. I would guess our son goes through about 7-8 diapers a day, so right there we are saving 40 diapers a week at least (7 per day x 7 days less 9 disposables used) which equates to about $5.60 a week or about $25 a month.

    We spent around $200 for a dozen BumGenius diapers, which means our payback period is about 8 months. Our guy will probably be in diapers another year or so, not to mention his future brothers/sisters will use these as well. I estimate we’ll save in the thousands by the time we’re all done. Yeah we use a separate detergent, but we’ve had the same bottle for a few months and I think we spent $4. You use so little of it for each load that it lasts forever. The water and electric usage to wash a few extra loads a week is negligible since we have a high-efficiency washer and EnergyStar dryer.

    And the best thing is – we’re not throwing all that non-biodegradable junk (and poop) in a landfill for our kids to clean up later.

  58. jess says:

    I bouth 12 all-in-one cloth nappies for my son at a cost of 10 dollars each, which is a total cost of $120. I wash 3x a week now (he is 28 months and no sign of potty training yet) along with all his other clothes, so I’ll call it $0.50 a week in washing costs. 52 weeks a year x 3.5 years of nappies = 182 weeks. total cost of disposables is then $90.50+ $120 = $210.50.. also dont use wipes, cloths are just perfect.

    cloth nappies are incredible. I love them!

  59. Mary Beth says:

    I love my BumGenius one-size diapers. One-size means I don’t have to keep buying bigger sizes. I only have to do one cycle and an extra rense in our high-efficiency front-loading washer. I wash diapers every 2-3 days. There has been no noticable increase in our water bill, and I feel so much better knowing we’re not putting ‘diaper zits’ in mother earth… and I can either use these diapers if we’re lucky enough to have a second child, or sanitze and re-sell these. Why anyone who has a washer/dryer and start-up funds would use sposies is beyond me.

  60. Christine says:

    I used cloth diapers on our 4th child & began using them with the 5th. I would still be using them today, (for our 6th) but the 2 of them were so close together (17mos) that the laundry was overwhelming! I got rid of them 7ms into the last pregnancy – wish I had kept them! We used diapers from a company called mother ease – they were decent priced (about $200+/- for 12 with covers) and were fairly similar to plastic. Now that I’m actually BUYING diapers, I would love to have those back! I kept a 5 gallon bucket in the laundry room sink & washed the diapers every other day – wasn’t too hard at all, except with 2 kids in diapers!

  61. Rosalee says:

    Yes, I’m happy for all of you that have chosen to use cloth diapers. But,please remember the real reward in using them other than “environmental impact reduction”: It’s proof that you are willing and proud to take more time than the majority on something you care so intensely about that you would die for. Our children will remember and they will be better people. And better people is what this world ultimately needs.

  62. EngineerMom says:

    I wanted to use cloth diapers, but there is one major problem that I have not found a work-around for:

    Most daycare centers and many home daycares will not touch cloth diapers. Disposable, or don’t bother bringing the kid.

    I work, and my husband is in graduate school, so daycare is not a luxury – it is a necessity.

    This is an important consideration for parents thinking of using cloth. As soon as the kid goes into daycare (which is likely to be well before he or she is potty-trained), disposables become the only option.

    I suppose all those cloth diaper burp rags I have could, in theory, be put to use as actual diapers for a future child…

  63. tara says:

    gDiapers are NOT good for the environment, contrary to what the first commenter posted. You have to do all the laundry of using cloth, yet keep buying more inserts! How does that make sense?

  64. Crystal says:

    I didn’t read EVERY comment, so this may have been mentioned.

    You can sell cloth diapers and get a pretty good return, especially if you bought them used already. I spent $10 each for Fuzzi Bunz used and sold them for $9 each. I used those diapers for over a year! I had about a dozen of them. So $12 plus laundry costs to diaper my kid for a year? Yup, totally cheaper than sposies.

    But even if I had spent $18 each on the diapers, I could have sold them for $11 each and that still wouldn’t be a bad price.

    In many case I MADE money off of cloth diapering. I would find cloth diaper covers at thrift stores for $1 each, use them until she grew out of them, and then I sold them for $4 each.

  65. Stacey says:

    I don’t think this article is entirely accurate. First of all, you stated that a person would wash diapers about 50 times. I know I washed an average of twice a week. The average child is started with potty training at age 2. So that’s more like 200 washes. If you figure an average of 6 diapers a day (twice that in the newborn, and maybe fewer by age 2), using your .20 per diaper, then the expense is actually $876. That’s for 2 years. The cost of 200 washes at .50 each is $100. You could buy a pretty good supply of BumGenius with that. But the reality of cloth diapering is that most of us don’t buy all-in-one’s for the full supply. I bought a total of 6 dozen Chinese prefolds, at an average of $20/dozen. Also, I only needed the small then medium covers. Two of each size at $7 each for Bummi’s Super Whister Warp put my total expenditure at $144 for start up and $100 for laundry. I saved $632 on the first child I cloth diapered. By using them again for my next child, my savings jumped even more for a total of $1408 saved in just diapers. Now, if you add in the cost of wipes, which I used wash cloths in place of, and diaper cream that I didn’t have to buy because I had no rashes with cloth diapers, then my savings goes up even more. Add to all of that, the satisfaction I have of knowing that I DIDN’T put nearly 10,000 MORE disposable diapers into land fills, and there is simply no contest.

    I didn’t read all the comments and don’t know what all was said, but I felt you did not present the full picture in your article. I was also very confused by the 50 loads of laundry from birth to potty training. Maybe I misunderstood what you said. If so, perhaps you could clarify?

  66. Melissa says:

    I bought Fuzzi Bunz after my research. I bought sets of 18 in sizes small, medium, and large. I have two sons and they didn’t stay in small and medium as long so they are in better shape. My youngest son wore diapers until he was 18 months old my second was 19 months old. Neither one of my boys had a diaper rash. Savings most people I know don’t start potty training until 2 1/2 or 3 and have to take their kids to the doctor for diaper rash medication. (I worked at an up-scale day care during my undergraduate studies)
    As with any diaper you should be changing them at least once an hour. With the cloth diaper a child feels it when he is wet and changed to dry. They learn they don’t like wet so they want to stay dry. With a disposable diaper they put a chemical in it to absorb the wetness or pull it away from your babies bottom. They do not learn about being wet. And the craziest thing to me is a pull up. Expensive marketing plea to con parents out of more money. If you are serious about potty training your child use underwear. If you are scared of potty training like I was read a book. I read how to potty train in a day and my boys were going out in public with underwear on their third day of potty training.
    I put my career on hold to stay at home with my children. So I am the one taking care of the diapers. I have a sensitive stomach and the diapers don’t make me gross out. You pull the liner out and put it in a bag. If it has feces in it you just pour it in the toilet. It will fall out. Their is no scrubbing or yucky touching. I wash my diapers once a day with ALL Clear. Dry on delicate. If they start looking yucky I take them out side and hang them on a make shift cloths line and it bleaches them out.
    I do not use cloth diapers on over night outings. The only disposable diaper I found worthy of being sold were Huggies Supremes also the most expensive.

  67. Anne says:

    Nobody ever mentioned the cost of the water used to wash the diapers in. Where we are, they just raised the price of the city water. Too many people moving into the area, not enough water to go around, so we’ll charge everyone more so that everyone will use less! (actually it is graded, if you are under so much you get this rate, if you are over you pay more per gallon, if you are even higher then you pay even more per gallon!) In any case what it comes down to is seeing a difference in my water bill by how much laundry I do. (Summer’s lightweight clothes can have more of them in a load, so I wash fewer loads and therefore use less water.) Don’t quite know how much a load of diapers every day would make a difference, but in some place like Southern California, you might want to be aware of the cost and availability of the water needed to clean the diapers!

  68. Alecia says:

    I started using the Bum Genius cloth diapers when my oldest was 18 mo old. I rotated through the same six diapers until my second child was born. I can easily get by with 15 diapers, and I regret not doing this from the very beginning. I use the home made detergent and it’s great for my regular laundry needs but it doesn’t get the stains out of the diapers. Any suggestion?

  69. Vilate says:

    firstly Alecia hang them out in the sun. It is a natural bleacher and will get those stains out!

    secondly, I don’t know where you got your #s for the cost of diaposibles, but they are way off.

    A quick estimate of cost: Consumer Report estimates that the most inefficient washer and dryer system costs approximately $0.78 per load, whereas more efficient models cost approximately $0.44 per load. So wash your own twice a week for $0.44-0.78, including water, hydro and detergent — or spend $16.94-$22.05 for single-use disposable diapers. Please keep in mind that your child is in the large size single-use disposable diaper for the longest stage of diapering, and yes, they are the most expensive at approximately $0.45 each.

    here is somehting else to think on…
    Home laundry may take less than 10 minutes of your time per load, while using disposables entails repeated trips to the store. When running low on diapers and the weather was foul outside, I was so thankful that I just had to dump the diapers into the washer (less than $0.78) turn it on and within two hours (while I did something else), clean, fresh, soft cloth diapers were available. I would not have relished bundling up the baby(and other kids too), warming up the car and trekking to the store to spend $30.94 and carry the bulky disposables home.

    If you have any CDing questions you can visit my webapge at http://www.niftynappybybvilate.weebly.com

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