The Cost of Cloth

Our baby Grok is almost here. . . 42 days!  Mama has been in full nesting mode and I have our stash of cloth diapers all washed and prepped for little one.  I decided to calculate out the cost of cloth diapering, because I hear a lot of rumors about it being too expensive.  (I can’t wait to post pictures of our new one in his/her adorable diapers!)

Here’s our breakdown:

Diapers & Wraps

36 Newborn Bummis Organic Prefolds (4-9lbs)  $57  (more than we really need but I’m taking them to the hospital and want a 3-4 day wash in this size)

4 Newborn wraps (Bummis Super Brite)  $60

24 Infant Bummis Organic Prefolds (8-15lbs) $180 kit, other items marked with *

6 Infant wraps* (Bummis Super Brite and Whisper Wraps)

24 Baby Bummis Organic Prefolds (16-30lbs) $112

4-6 Baby wraps $60-90 (Bummis Super Brites and Whisper Wraps)

Total diapers & wraps for 36 months= $469-$499


1 large wet bag*

1 medium wet bag (for diaper bag) $15

2-3 Snappis in size 1 & 2   $16-$24

48 cloth wipes $24

1 box of wipe solution drops (about a year supply) $15** You can skip this and just use water

Diaper sprayer for toilet (optional but nice) $50

Optional flushable liners – $6.00-$8.00/roll of 100

Total extras for 36 months = $150- $188


Diaper cream (Earth Mama Angel Baby- safe for cloth) $15**

Diaper pail (optional, also needed for sposies) $79**

** Not calculated in costs because these items are also purchased for throw away diapers.


Washing Costs: Based on 3 loads each week, double washed, machine dry, based on my HE machine and local water/electricity/sewer rates-

Detergent- $.10 (You can make your own detergent for pennies)

Optional Rock N Green Ammonia $.56 Per load used (1x weekly)

Wash- $.16/ per load (.96/week based on double wash per load- 3x weekly)

Dry- $.41/ per load (3 loads/week unless hang dry option)

($8.74/month wash and dry + detergent/stripper costs)

Based on these costs and the average potty learning age of 36 months, I came up with a cost per month of $26.16 to cloth diaper (excludes the cost of diaper pail and cream, since those would be used for disposables also and optional liners).

The comparable cost of good quality disposables would be (remember, my cloth are organic and there are no harmful chemicals in my detergents):

If you can wait for shipping, has decent prices on cases of Seventh Generation & Huggies Pure & Natural (the only two brands I would use considering our skin sensitivities and environmental concerns).  Based on usage of 8-12 diapers each day or 240-360 diapers per month, Seventh Generations would cost about $99.98 month for size 2 and above.  Huggies Pure & Natural would cost $130 month.  At Target, Huggies would be slightly less expensive at about $102/month and Seventh Generation would be about $90 month.  Throw away wipes add another cost: Earth’s Best at Target are $19.99 for 432 wipes, Seventh Generation are $9.99 for 256 wipes.  You can get the best deal at Costco at $19.99 for 900 (and often on sale, but not as natural/biodegradable as other options).  So, it’s safe to say that a family can expect to spend about $100 each month on disposable diapers and wipes. (Plus fuel, shipping, and garbage costs.) You may be able to cut that down by 25-50% if you use generics or a lower quality big brands (especially if you can devote the time to mega couponing).

36 months of disposable diapers $3,600   36 months of cloth diapering $941.76

(Liner cost varies based on how often you use the liner, if you only use it when your child is likely to poo then the cost is minimal, if you use them every diaper change it will add up.  This could add $72-$288 to your total diapering cost.)

So, it looks like disposable diapering is about 70-75% MORE expensive than cloth diapering.  Even if I didn’t love the environment and think a cloth diaper butt is super cute, I’d be on board just for the cost alone.  I think families are often lulled into a sense that they aren’t spending much if they are just buying a pack of diapers at a time and they never sit down to calculate the costs.  And that’s just for one kid.  This stash will get me through at least two children, cutting the cost and environmental impact dramatically.  Brands like Real Nappies (the number one choice in New Zealand) have a two kid guarantee!

Yes, you can spend a whole lot more on diapers.  If you go with all pockets or AIO’s, you can expect to spend $15-$25 per diaper/liner (with an adequate stash for a 2 day wash cycle being 20-24 diapers).  I’ve collected a few pockets through my co-op for $3-4 each, but I don’t love pockets or AIO’s as they tend to leak more IMO.  Diapers can be addictive!  They are so stinkin cute!

Yes, I know EC (elimination communication) is much less expensive.  But the reality is. . . I’m not gonna do it. 🙂

Disposable diapers create trash and use more water and resources to produce than cloth diapers.  Oh, and you are suppose to flush that poop out of the disposable before wrapping it up into a tight ball and throwing it into the landfill (even the package tells us this).  Sewer systems are set up to handle human waste, landfills are not.

***We are using Bummis Organic Prefolds and wraps. . . we haven’t received any products or payment for this post. I prefer Bummis because they are made in North America using textiles also made in North America (US & Canada).  This matters!  I also wanted organic, unbleached cotton against my precious ones skin.  So, to recap, we are using ORGANIC, North American made diapers at a budget price!

3 thoughts on “The Cost of Cloth

  1. This is awesome! I have cloth diapered 6 babies and our 6th is just 2.5 mths old. We did buy new dipes for him because he’s our first boy and we wanted a few boyish ones for him. We love cloth diapering!

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