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Affordable Cloth Diapering Options? How to Start a Stash on the CHEAP!

Updated on June 11, 2015
My Sun Baby Starter Stash
My Sun Baby Starter Stash | Source

One thing I hear a LOT from parents interested in cloth diapering is the fear of the start-up costs. I’ll let you listen to my pretend but often discussed in real-life conversation.

Me: “You want to start using cloth diapers. That’s great!”

Friend: “Yeah, but the start-up cost is sooo expensive! I mean, I know I will save money in the end and it is better for my baby but right now, all I can spare is $100. What’s that two diapers?”

Me: “No way! With a $100 we can get you set up with a great starter stash! You can even just use this the entire time. But if you want more convenience, you can add some more diapers when you have a little more money later on. Now, let’s see what kind of diapers you are interested in.”

For the budget-minded, two very inexpensive options exist. They are prefolds & covers and one-size pocket diapers. If you need a refresher of what these are, head over to my hub

Option 1: Prefolds & Covers

For some quality prefolds, I suggest you purchase either the Chinese or Indian prefolds. A great site is Prefolds here, range from about $1.00 to $2.00 each depending on the type and size you need. You can buy a dozen for $12.00 - $24.00. You'll also want to pick-up a "Snappi" fastener to close those prefolds. I'd go with their 2-pack for $5.75. But do a Google search, sometimes you can find things on sale, who knows. Also, you need a few covers to make them waterproof. If you are really on a budget, check out the "Used Diapers" section (on the Left Menu Bar, Under 'Diapering') and see what Gently Used Covers they currently have in stock. If must have NEW - Econobums may not be fanciest covers but they are tried and true, quality one-size covers. The come in all white and white with blue, red or green trim. You will need a minimum of four and for a comfortable wash schedule, I'd suggest six as a good starting place. Keep in mind, if you are using prefolds and the baby simply has a wet diaper, you do not need to change the cover with each diaper change. You can reuse the cover while changing out the prefold, giving it a wipe if needed and then changing the cover only when baby soils his/her diaper. With four covers and a newborn, you may be washing every day but it should be "possible" to cloth diaper with that set-up until you can afford to add more. With six covers, you will have a little more "wiggle room" in your wash schedule.

Let's take a look at our total cost for our minimum needs. (Note: I am going to add-in the cost of two other items I consider "must haves" that I will discuss later.)

12 premium chinese prefolds = $18.00

4 (new) Econobum covers = $35.80

2 snappi fasteners = $5.75

1 FuzziBunz Hanging Wet Pail (or similar) = $19.95

1 pack of 3 Wet Bags = $9.97


Total $89.47

Option 2: One-Size Pocket Diapers

Several affordable options exist for one-size pocket diapers. Two of my favorite top performing affordable brands are Sun Baby diapers and ALVA Baby diapers. Go to Google to find their websites. As of writing this hub (July, 2012), you can buy 12 Sun Baby diapers & 12 inserts for $60 or 10 ALVA Baby diapers & 10 inserts for $50. A note on the Sun Baby diapers. For most people, I suggest choosing their Size 2 diapers as it will last you through the widest weight range. Both have options for 2 rows of snaps which help for a better fit with smaller babies and both have very cute prints for girls and boys as well as some gender neutral prints. Both have a nice selection of bright, bold solid colors as well in case you wanted a diaper to go with an outfit or for pictures. Both of these diaper producers are overseas however so you have to wait about 3 weeks for you diapers. When you order in quantities of this size, the shipping is free.

However, I have also found some outstanding deals on Ebay by searching for terms such as cloth diapers, one size and AIO. I have found the "unknown" Ebay brands to hold up just as well. Take note that not all of these brands have the second row of hip snaps. For me, I was adding diapers for a larger toddler and the lack of hip snaps was a bonus. Again, these are often from overseas diaper makers so count on a long lead time for shipping. If you are in a hurry, look for someone selling in the same country you live in. The cost will generally be higher but you will receive your diapers sooner. Personally, I prefer to be patient and pay less!

Other "Must Have" Items

Aside from diapers themselves the only other "must haves" are some sort of diaper pail or hanging "wet" bag for your dirty diapers and some "wet" bags for containing your dirties in your diaper bag for on-the-run diaper changes. I intentionally put "wet" in quotes as many new-to-cloth-diaper parents think that water is added somewhere to the bag or the pail when they hear the term "wet bag". In actuality, it is referring to the "wet" diapers that go into the bag and the fact that you need a special bag to keep those icky wet things away from anything clean and dry.

There is such a thing as "wet pail" and water IS added to it. But this practice is generally outdated and infrequently used. Aside from the fact that is is inconvenient to have to carry a sloppy pail of diaper soup to the washing machine, it also makes a marvelous breeding ground for bacteria and mildew. Then, when those babes get to toddling it can become at worst a dangerous drowning hazard or at best a very gross mess for mom or dad to clean up. True story, my fabulous crunchy-goddess-mom friend Queen Roody, has always been endlessly curious about things. And when she was just Princess Roody, she managed to dump the entire contents a wet-pail on her head while inspecting it. Or, maybe she fell inside? Either way, she covered in filthy pee-poo water and to this day screams and covers her head whenever she hears the words “wet pail”. Alright, I exaggerated the last bit a tad. My point is, skip the wet in the “wet pail”. Grab yourself either a nice inexpensive lidded trashcan that pops up and giant pail liner and or just really good hanging giant hanging wet bag and you are all set. My personal favorite is FuzziBunz Mess Free Hanging Diaper Pail Laundry Wet Bag. You can use it with or without a diaper pail/trash can. I have two so I can haul one to the wash and a clean one ready to be filled. But, whatever works for you.

Then, as I mentioned, you need some wet bags. Your least expensive option is bags meant to keep your gear dry when you are camping. Here’s a link to a 3-pack at Walmart. They are awesome for tossing into diaper bags and the price can’t be beat!

So, let’s review the cost of a beginner stash of pocket diapers.

12 Sun Baby Diapers = $60

1 FuzziBunz Hanging Wet Pail = $19.95

1 pack of 3 Wet-Bags = $9.97


Total = $89.97

Now you have the numbers. For around $90 for either prefolds & covers or pockets you can yourself a nice starter cloth diaper stash. If you were of truly limited funds, you could cloth diaper your child from birth to potty training with this amount of diapers. It would be a LOT of diaper washing, but it could be done! Most parents prefer to gradually build-up their stash to a point where they can wash every 2-3 days. I work full-time as does my husband and we cloth diaper. It really is easy-peasy once you get started and get the hang of it. And what is listed above is by no means the extent of your cloth diapering options. A whole ginormous variety exists! This is just a simple get-started guide for those with a limited budget.

Good luck and as always, feel free to comment if you have any questions!


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