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Saving Money by Using Cloth Diapers

Updated on September 3, 2017

Would you like to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars? Using cloth diapers has given us some of the biggest savings in raising our children. Having four children (three who we used cloth diapers with), disposable diaper costs could have really added up. A trip to Walmart recently showed me just how much money we saved over the years. A generic package of diapers was around $7 for about 30 diapers, it varied depending on the size. A name brand package of diapers was closer to $10 for about 30 diapers. A pack of 30 diapers used to last us less than a week. But to make things easier we can say that the average baby will use one package a week.

I invested around $200 to get the cloth diapers and covers (also known as wraps) to get started. This might seem like a lot until you realize that $200 in disposables will only last you a few short months and cloth diapers will last for much longer and can be reused. Many people will say that the cost involved with washing your own diapers negates any savings. I disagree completely with this. Washing the diapers myself was easy and I did save money. I washed two loads of diapers each week, each load costing around $1 - estimating for detergent, energy used, hot water and heat for the dryer. Washing cloth diapers cost $2 per week versus the $7 or $10 for disposable diapers.

Let's talk about the generic diapers at $7 per week first. We started using cloth diapers when our second child was eight months old. We used them for 14 months. Using disposable diapers for 60 weeks would have cost us $420. My start up cost was $200 and my laundry costs were $112. $420 - $200 - $112 = $108. Using name brand diapers would have cost $600 during this time. $600 - $200 - $112 = $288. This might not seem like very much money but it really does add up.

When we had our third child we had to purchase newborn diapers and wraps. The total cost was $150. A newborn uses many more than 30 diapers a week. When we had our first child, my husband and I actually counted how many diapers he used those first few weeks and it was around 80 each week for the first month. Then it gradually went down from there. To make things easier we will say that a younger child will use two of the 30 count packages during the first seven months.

From birth through seven months generic diapers would have cost $392. After laundry costs of $56, and the purchase price $150 for the diapers, my savings were $186 during this time. Brand name diapers would have cost $560, and my savings was $354 over the cost of brand name disposables. My real savings came when this child reached the eight month mark and began using the cloth diapers that we had kept from my second child. I did not have to purchase any new items for him. From eight months until he turned two we used these diapers. Generic diapers at $7 a week for 64 weeks would have cost $448. Laundry costs were $64, so using cloth diapers during this time gave us a total savings of $384. Brand name diapers would have cost $640, making the savings $576.

Because my second child potty trained early at 22 months, I did not have any large diapers. My third child did not potty train until he turned three. When he was two years old I spent another $200 on diapers and wraps in a larger size. Generic diapers during this time would have cost $364. Laundry costs were $104. My total savings during this time was $60. Brand name diapers would have cost $520, giving me a savings of $216.

When we had our fourth child, the savings really began adding up. I did not need to purchase anything to diaper her. The first 7 months we would have spent $392 on generic diapers or $560 on brand name diapers. Laundry costs were $56. Using cloth instead of generic diapers during this time saved us $336. Using cloth diapers instead of brand name diapers during this time saved us $504. From seven months until 26 months we also only had the laundry costs. During this time we spent $152 on washing the diapers. If we had used generic diapers for these 76 weeks it would have cost us $532. Our savings then is $380. If we had used brand name diapers our cost would have been $760, our savings were $608.

Some of these numbers don't look like much. If you add them all up, however, it is a lot. Using cloth diapers on three of my children saved me $1426 over the cost of generic diapers. Using cloth diapers saved me $2506 over the cost of brand name diapers. On top of these savings, I have sold many of the cloth diapers and wraps that I used over the years for several hundred dollars. This increased my savings over disposable diapers. When you are done using disposable diapers can you resell them?

Notice my biggest savings come in using the diapers on more than one child. I cringe when I think of what my savings could have been if we had used cloth diapers with my first child as well. Even when using the cloth diapers for the first time on just one child, I did save money over disposable diapers. Now that I have convinced you that you will save money let me alleviate some of your other concerns.

The old days of pins and leaky diapers are gone. In other words, these aren't your Grandma's cloth diapers. For those skeptical people who think it is a lot of work or dirty, it really isn't. When a diaper is dirty put it in a bucket with a tight fitting lid. When the bucket is full, dump into the washer and wash. It is just as easy to put a diaper in a bucket as it is to put it in the trash.

There are so many types of cloth diapers out there, you can get some that are just like disposables, only you can use them over and over again. Of course these fancy cloth diapers are much more expensive, therefore probably not giving you savings in the long run. But it is an option. We tried many different styles of cloth diapers and both my husband and my favorites were the basic chinese prefolds with snappis and velcro wraps. These are the basics when it comes to cloth diapers and these were the easiest and most economical for us. I had great luck ordering most of my products online. I did call a diaper cover company directly and was able to get seconds for about half price. They always worked great.

There are also cloth diaper services that do all the washing. This would eliminate the laundry costs involved. You don't purchase any diapers by going this route. You sign up with the service and they deliver the diapers (chinese prefolds) to your door. A drawback I see in this is that you don't get the savings of reusing the diapers on subsequent children. You will pay the same price for all of your children, unless of course they raise the rates, which would mean it would cost more for each child. But if you don't want the hassle of washing them yourself this is a good route to go.

Other benefits include decreased diaper rashes, children typically potty train earlier if they are in cloth diapers, and it is so much better for the environment. The biggest benefit for us however, is all the money we saved. Think of all the money you could be investing in your child's college fund if you were using cloth diapers. Over a three year period you can easily save $1000 or more. This will go a long way towards something else in your budget. So just in case you were wondering, using cloth diapers definitely saves you money.


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    • profile image

      empoweringellie 5 years ago

      Here is a link to an excellent calculator that helps you get the most out of saving money with cloth diapers!

    • profile image

      karen- bumgenius organic 7 years ago

      I love using cloth! They're SOOO much easier and better at keeping in leaks than disposables. I made the first few for when my preemie had a tiny butt (because I knew we'd only be using the newborn size for a few months) then we got some One-Size ones. They're perfect and everything comes out in the wash. Thanks for running the numbers though. Its always nice to know just how much you're saving. Even with my $400 bill of getting name-brand diapers I saved over 1,000!

    • profile image

      cloth diaper 7 years ago

      you can buy this very less cost .I have just gone back to cloth at night bc my son also always had a rash at night. The solution? A Fuzzi Bunz stuffed with 2 microfiber inserts. To combat the rash, I’ve started bleaching my inserts only with a capful of bleach (I primarily use mf) and it has helped tremendously. Great tips Autumn!! Also to avoid leaks with a tummy sleeper in pockets, I don’t stuff all the way to the front seam, I keep just a little gap so it doesn’t leak you can also use one size diapers ..thanks..........

    • profile image

      cloth diaper 7 years ago

      i love this blog . this give the information about how to save money by using cloth diaper. you always try to save your money . by using this phenomenon you can save your you can also use one size diapers ..thanks.......

    • jessefutch profile image

      jessefutch 8 years ago from North Carolina

      You have some really great info here. I agree totally that there are some fantastic savings to be had in buying cloth diapers. Also, the "Gross" factor is really just in people's heads. No one considers that having a dirty diaper in their garbage can stinks up the house and is quite disgusting if you think about it. Just "Dump" then wash with the laundy, like you said. Everyone who isn't a millionaire (and even them, in my opinion) needs to give cloth a shot!

      I found you through a search because of my own interests. Please check me out

    • profile image

      Tash 9 years ago

      Yes I am loving these hubs on cloth diapers, it is about time we start looking after the environment, and if through the hip pocket is the only well it will happen, well so be it. By that I mean, if people won't do it for their baby and the environment, maybe they will do it purely because it's cheaper. Personally I like the fitted styles of cloth nappies, but who cares, as long as they are cloth I say.

    • Moondrops Way profile image

      Moondrops Way 9 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      very good hub jennifer.

      i'm a WAHM who makes cloth diapers, and a mom of a toddler who is also cloth diapered. we use the "fancier" cloth diapers and the savings even adds up using them on one child.

      there are so many helpful resources when it comes to cloth diapering.

      you don't have to soak, swish, or do anything gross with cloth diapers, that's the great thing about modern washing machines...they can take care of it! AND since starting cloth diapering my utilities MAYBE went up $3/month...though that's being generous, i didn't actually notice an increase.

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 9 years ago

      Hi ekta,

      Thanks for asking! There is a message board on ivillage that I always found extremely helpful when I had kids in diapers.

      Just reading through the posts should answer a lot of questions for you, however you can ask everything you need to. Good luck!


    • profile image

      ekta 9 years ago

      I have beeen reading about cloth diapering for a while and am convinced to try that for my baby. However I am afraid that I wont don it correctly for the first time. Is there any place where we can go and learn how to use cloth diapers


    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 10 years ago

      Actually it never bothered me. I would dump, but not swish, if that makes sense. Everything just came out in the wash. I tried hard not to really have to touch it so much and it worked fine. Sorry about the bad memories though.


    • profile image

      Diapers 10 years ago

      I'm not sure about this. There is something about washing dirty diapers that isn't worth the cost savings. I have memories of my parents doing this for my little brothers. My father used to scrub the diapers in the toilet. It still grosses me out to think about it. Although the extra cash savings is nice.