Step-by-step Cloth Diapering: Step 1- Why (cost)

Why do I cloth diaper?

My first reason is because it saves money, cash, moolah 🙂

1.  Economics:  The biggest cost with cloth diapers is the initial cost.  The initial cost can be from $300-$1,000 depending on which cloth diapers you buy. 

An extra bonus is that you can use your cloth diapers again on additional children.  The savings can go on for many years.  You can also resell used cloth diapers, although I’m not so keen on that idea.   

I’ll attempt to calculate how much an average person would spend on disposables.  Well, a baby will use between 5-12 diapers a day, and they are potty trained somewhere between 2 and 4 years old.  So, let’s average around 8 diapers a day and say the kid is potty-trained at 3.  That is a total of 8,760 diapers.

Okay then we have to decide how much our disposable diapers would cost. Wal-Mart brand Parent’s Choice diapers are $13.97 for 96 diapers (size 2 & 3). That’s about $.15 per diaper.  Pampers Baby Dry (Size 1 & 2) at Wal-Mart are $29.95 for 192.  That’s about $.16 per diaper.  So, let’s say the average price of a disposable diaper is $ .15.

So, 8760 x $.15 = $1,314   That’s a low estimate because we took the average price and also only diapered until 3 years old.  The reality is that the price goes up on the diapers the larger they are.  Our prices only went up to size 3, and your baby is bound to be larger than that! 🙂  So, let’s take that into account.  Size 3’s fit up to 28 lbs, but size 4’s start at 22 lbs.  Most kids are around 13.5 months at 22 lbs according to the CDC growth charts.  I chose the girl chart because girl’s have a tendency to stay small longer.  So, let’s recalculate a little.  🙂  8 diapers a day for the first 13.5 months = $486.  From 13.5 months to about 24 months, they can be in size 4 for our estimation purposes.  Okay, size 4 diapers in Parent’s Choice on Walmart.com are $13.97 for 82 = ~$.17  Size 4 in Pampers on Walmart.com are $35 for 156 = ~$22  So, the average price of the size 4 = ~$.20.  For 10.5 months in size 4 = $504 Then let’s say that the child stays in size 5 until they are 36 months.  Parents Choice size 5 are $13.97 for 70 = ~20.  Pampers size 5 are $34.31 for 136 = ~$.25   So, the average price for size 5 is ~$.23.  For the remaining year of diapers, let’s say the child uses size 5.  That would be $671.60. For a more accurate grand total of size newborn-3 $486 + size 4 $504 + size 5 $ 671.60 =  $1,661.60

If you only spent $300 on cloth diapers, you saved $1,331.60!  On the other hand, if you spent $1,000, you only saved $661.60.  Either way, cloth diapers are cheaper!

How much have I personally paid?  Hmmm  Well, I have been very, very blessed with kind and generous friends and family.  Most of my diapers were gifts at no cost to me!  When I have purchased them, I try to buy them at $10 or less.  From taking a quick look at my “fluff stash”, I estimate that I’ve only spent about $60!  I know, pretty good huh?

A typical load of "fluff" at my house

Of course, there are a few other costs to consider when cloth diapering.  You also need to take into account the cost of electricity, water, and detergents. 

We’ll start with water.  I’ll even calculate a few extra toilet flushes too!  I have a diaper sprayer to spray off the solids on the diaper, and then I flush the solids.  According to the USGS, one toilet flush takes 3 gallons of water.  I’ll estimate that I probably flush the toilet 4 extra times in a day to flush down the bowel movements.  So, that’s 12 gallons.  Then a load of wash takes 12.7 gallons of water.  I do about an extra 3 loads of wash a week for just the cloth diapers.  So, that would be 84 gallons.  Then 12.7 gallons x 3 loads of laundry per week = 38.1 gallons.  That’s a total of 122.1 gallons a week.  A year of diapering would equal 6,349.2 gallons.  Three years would equal 19,047.6 gallons.  According to my water bill, a gallon of water costs $.0093 a gallon.  So $177.14 for water!  Is it just me or does that not sound like very much for 3 years?

Next is electricity:  According to E-how, the electricity you use will depend on the type of washer you have and also the type of water heater.  I have a front-loader washer and a gas water-heater.  So, I pay about $.08 a load because my diapers are washed on the hot wash.  So, if I wash 4 extra loads a week that is $.32.  Three years of diapering would only equal $49.92

The last cost we need to calculate is detergent.  This cost, of course, will depend on the type of detergent you buy.  There are a few choices.  You can use any free and clear detergent or a cloth diaper detergent.  I have heard that the free and clear options end up creating a build up on the diapers, so I haven’t gone that route.  The cloth diaper detergents that I’ve used are Rockin’ Green and Charlie’s.  I’ve found that I go through about one bag of Rockin’ Green a month.  That probably means that I’m not using the right proportions because it’s supposed to last 45 loads!  Ooops!  It’s only lasting me about 16 loads.  Note to self, measure better.  Let’s estimate that you’re not so bright, like myself.  That would cost you around $15 a month.  That’s $180 a year and $540 for three years.

Okay, so let’s total up the cloth diaper cost vs. disposables:

Cloth costs:

Diapers: $300-$1000

Water:  $177.14

Electricity:  $49.92

Detergent: $540 (really this should be half this price :))

Total: $1,067.06 – $1,767.06 or with half the detergent cost $797.06 – $1,497.06

Average Disposable Cost: $1,661.06

The moral of the story is that cloth diapers, as a rule, should be much less expensive unless you spend $1,000 for the diapers and use way too much detergent! LOL! 

Also, my estimation of how much the disposables cost is very low because we did averages.  Also, the cheapest disposables often leak!  Most moms choose a different disposable brand, after they realize that the cheap ones aren’t worth the problems.

I found a cool website where you can calculate the cost of cloth vs. disposables depending on what you buy or want to buy 🙂

http://www.diaperpin.com/calculator/calculator.asp

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2 thoughts on “Step-by-step Cloth Diapering: Step 1- Why (cost)

  1. You should check out Eco Nuts to even further enhance your savings.
    I use them for cloth with Calgon because of the hard water in Canada but you can re-use and re-use and they are antimicrobial.
    Not all soap nuts are alike, there’s is the best in the soap nuts world and don’t smell either 🙂
    Great post!

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