Are Cloth Diapers Expensive?
According to Consumer Reports, with disposable diapers you could be spending about $2500 for diapers from birth until potty training for each child. Obviously, this is going to depend a little on what kind of shopper you are, the frequency of your changes, and of course when your child finally potty trains. You all know I'm a frugal shopper, so I'll be really generous and say disposable was half what they are saying, so let's use a cost $1750. I know it was probably more though. I've already purchased an entire stash and then some for the next baby and I've spent around $400 (rounded up), but it can be more or less depending on which brands and what extras you purchase. I also shopped a lot of sales and purchased some used diapers, but less than $500 is a realistic figure for many families to reach through strategic buying. So the savings from disposable to cloth is about:
70% less for cloth!
What's in a Stash?
Typically, the average stash is 24 diapers. This should get you through 48 hours of diaper changes for a newborn with enough diapers to wear while washing. Older babies/toddlers need less diapers, younger need more. There are also a few different kinds of diapers, below are some of the major kinds. You can mix and match your stash however you want.
Prefolds + Cover
|Prefold and Cover|
This is very similar to the system our parents and grandparents may have used. It's a cloth with seams that you fold and either place in the diaper or attach around baby with diaper pins or a snappi. You then put a cover on top to keep from getting wetness on clothes, floors, and furniture. Generally the prefolds are fitted, so you will need to buy a new set each size (which depending on the brand could be 1-4 sizes), but they are the cheapest to begin with ranging around $2-$6 a prefold. The covers are one size (OS) generally, so the covers will last the whole time, and you only need about 6-8 covers as you don't need to change them with every diaper change. These are usually around $5-$15. Average cost for entire time of diapering $250. For a more economical option, Cotton Babies offers a one size prefold called Econobum. A set of 24 of these will cost about $100, if you buy their kits.
|Insert and Pocket|
|How Pocket Works Photo: Cotton Babies|
A pocket is exactly how it sounds. There is a pocket in the back where you put an insert. It's very customizable as you can put two inserts, doublers, hemp, etc. inside to fit your child's wetting needs. These come in fitted sizes and OS. The snaps on the front of the diaper are how you adjust size. Diapers are usually available in hook and loop (velcro) and snaps. It's a matter of personal preference when it comes to that. Prices for pockets can range from $10-$25 depending on brand, fabric content (organic or not), etc. Average cost for a stash of pockets: $400
|Photo: Cotton Babies|
These are just some of the most common diapers listed above. There are also All-in-two's (kind of a cross between a pocket and an AIO), fitteds (a lot of the one's above can come in fitteds, but then there are ones that are their own kind of diaper where it's a fitted cloth diaper that you then put a cover over), hybrids (you can use cloth or disposable inserts in them), and contours (similar to fitteds).
But What Else Do You Need?
Well besides detergent and a washer and a bucket (really it can be a bucket it doesn't have to be fancy) to store the dirty diapers in, you don't need anything else. There are some things you can purchase that will make life easier though. Some things you might like are:
|Photo: Cotton Babies|
- Diaper Sprayer- allows you to spray the poop off the diaper into the toilet.
- Pail Liners and Wet Bags- Pail Liners make it easy to keep the pail clean and you can just dump the whole thing, pail liner included, into the washer. Wet Bags make traveling with cloth easier, just pop the dirty diaper in the bag and bring home.
- Flushable Diaper Liners- These can be used when you have to use heavy duty rash creams, when baby is sick, or all the time.
- Cloth Wipes- You can use regular wipes, but then you need to remember to throw those away when you stick the diaper in the pail. Cloth wipes can be as simple as baby wash cloths with some warm water to ones already made that you put special solutions on. It's really a personal choice.
- (6) BumGenius 4.0- Bought on B5G1 Sale on DiaperJunction for $86.90 total.
- (10) BumGenius 3.0 (Older model of BumGenius)- Bought used from a friend for $50 total.
- (4) Econobum Trial Packs (3 Prefolds, 1 Cover)- Bought on DiaperJunction Black Friday for $9.75/each, $39 total.
- (4) 3-packs Econobum Prefolds- $6/each, $24 total.
- (6)Hemp Doublers (3 Small, 3 Large)- $3/each, $18 total
- (2)Diaper Sprayers (1 for each bathroom)- Bought on DiaperJunction Black Friday for $34.95/each, $69.90 total.
- (6) Wonder Wrap Covers- Bought from a friend used for $40 total.
- (2)Small Fuzzibuns- Bought from a friend used for $10.
- (2)Small Wetbags- Free purchasing various products.
- (2)Kissaluvs Diaper Pail Liners- $9.90 after using reward money from DiaperJunction
- (1)Diaper Rite Pocket- Free with purchasing various products on DiaperJunction
- (1)5 Pack Snappis- $10.95 on Amazon
- (1)Safety First Easy Saver Diaper Pail- $12 at BabiesRUs (I liked the way this one worked, and it was cheaper then the trash cans I was looking at).
- (10)BumGenius Refresher Kits- $1 each, $10 total (used to replace hook and loop on BumGenius 3.0)
Total Cost of Just Diapers (17 OS Pocket, 2 Sized Pockets, 24 Prefolds, 10 Covers) : $249.90
What About Caring For Them?
|My Diaper Pail and Liner|
- Cold Wash, No Detergent- I either do a quick wash or a soak depending on smell of diapers/if it's been longer than 48 hours. I add a gallon of water, since I have a front loader and front loaders tend not to add enough water for diapers (remember diapers are meant to absorb water!) I do a low spin on this one.
- Hot Wash on Heavy- I add one gallon of hot water to the beginning again because of the front loader. Heavy wash on my washer is a little longer wash with more water and it does an extra rinse and extra spin.
- Detergent- Rockin' Green Soft Rock. I have really soft water because we have well water with a water softener. I'm currently using Rockin' Green because I won an awesome giveaway for it. Prior to that I was using regular old detergent. If you buy new diapers, read your warranties, otherwise just use what works. Obviously, if you have a baby with sensitive skin, you'll need to take that in to consideration. If you have an HE washer, you'll need to take that into consideration. Here is a good list of detergents and their effectiveness. This is one of those things that really will just depend on all your circumstances. The amount used also depends on your circumstances, but one thing to remember is most commercial detergent tells you to use way more then you really need.
- Dry- I line dry. Line drying can bleach out stains and sanitize. Because of the front loader and the extra spin and the fact that I live in sunny South Florida, they easily dry outside in less than an hour. If I wash at night, I put inserts and prefolds in the dryer, but anything with water- proofing (so covers, pail liner, the actual pocket diaper) I hang in the bathroom.
But is it Really Still Cheaper with All the Care?
Are They Really "Green" Though?
Are They Really Easy to Use?
YES! This was my biggest fear. I'm currently using them on my almost 3 year old. If you know anything about toddlers, you know that they are super wiggly and their poo is not always the easiest to deal with, but I've had no trouble with getting them off and getting them clean. I've even used them for trips away from the house for most of the day. The washing really doesn't take away from my day, I usually just throw them in before breakfast, start the second wash after breakfast, and then go about doing other things and then hang them out. I like to stuff the pockets so they are ready to use, but even if I don't it doesn't take any longer to get them in now. The poop removal was a change, but you should be doing it with disposables as well (see HERE, click on helpful hints and read under "Waste Removal").
Where Do You Buy Them?
As you can probably tell, I have some favorites. You may be lucky and be able to buy them locally, but there isn't a store around here that sells cloth (with the exception of some mommy-made diapers). That being said, I buy online. My favorite manufacturer/retailer (as you can tell from my diapers) is Cotton Babies, this is the manufacturer for BumGenius, Econobum, and Flips. They have great quality diapers. Shopping with them has been a great experience. My other favorite retailer is DiaperJunction. They sell all Cotton Babies products as well as many others. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either company.
Any Other Benefits?
The one main benefit is the ability to use them with future children. If you take good care of your diapers, they will last. What does this mean for you? It means your savings over disposable grows with each child. Remember how I used the amount $1750 for one child and $500 for a stash of cloth? Well for two children that's $2500 for disposable, but still $500 for cloth (saving 80%). If you have 3 kids the cost for disposable is $4250, but the cost of cloth is still the $500 (saving 88%). Obviously, if your children are spaced close or you have multiples, this changes things, but you will more than likely save with each kid. Another benefit of taking good care of your cloth is that there is a huge market for used diapers. Many manufacturers and retailers have buyback programs. There are also websites devoted to selling used diapers (think craigslist for diapers), and speaking of craigslist you can sell them there and consignment shops/sales usually accept them too.
What Have I Learned?
Disclaimer: Cloth diapers may become addicting. ;-) Also, I received no compensation to write this post and all writing and opinions are my own; however, I do intend to enter this post into this contest where I could win 12 BumGenius 4.0's and one commenter would also win 12 BumGenius 4.0's (so comment and it could be you!).