Cloth Diapers – Massive Money Saver?

how much money do cloth diapers save andthenwesaved .com

Before I had a baby I never would’ve guessed how much I’d end up talking about bodily fluids and functions. It all begins with the pregnancy, and it just continues on. It’s strange because throughout your whole life, it’s like, “okay, avoid these topics,” and then BOOM! All of a sudden you get to talk about all the gross stuff your 10 year-old self wanted to talk about back in the day.

Once the baby arrives, there are all these stages of poo that you have to be on the lookout for, too. You constantly get asked about the color, frequency, quantity, and consistency of said poo. Strangely enough, I’ve found myself bonding with friends over the messiest details of life. Asking them for advice. Asking if things are “normal.” Finding out what my friends know, then sharing what I know. It’s like this whole messy, beautiful, circle of life, kumbaya bonding experience with us ending every conversation by saying, “I never would’ve guessed we’d be talking so openly about poo.”

Aaron and I made the decision to use cloth diapers with Henry in an effort to save buckets of money. DiaperDecisions.com reports that “you need about 8,000 diapers from birth to fully potty trained. That equals approximately $2,500!”

We have 20 diapers and made an initial investment of $400 for all of them. If we were to do it again I would have hunted for these diapers used.

We got a brand that has a high resale value and ones that are the most convenient and the most like disposables that we could find—All In Ones (AIO for short). Aaron insisted on these so we could avoid the “stuffing” part of the process, (“stuffing” diapers is when you put the absorbent padding into a pocket that is built into the diaper [here’s a video that shows you how’s it’s done if you’re curious]). I’m so glad we went with the AIO route even though I wasn’t into them in the beginning (because of the higher cost of them). The diapers we went with can be used from when the baby is just a week or so old (after the meconim stage) up to when the baby is ready to be potty-trained, and that’s our plan. (Full disclosure: We do use disposables at night and sometimes when we leave the house, but we use cloth diapers 75% of the time.)

But with diapers comes poo, and as we all know, with poo comes stink. And that stink quickly takes you on a nose-plugging trip to the clothes washer with the full bag of dirty cloth diapers held out at an arms-length, getting quickly stuffed into the washer, all while holding your breath in an effort to not let any of the funk seep into your nose.

 

How We Wash Our Cloth Diapers:

We don’t soak our diapers or use a sprayer. Instead, we use breathable, diaposable diaper liners (we started using these when we introduced solids since that’s when the consistency of the poo starts to shift from nice to “Oh Dear, God. What is that!?”). These keep the poo from soaking into the diaper, and we get to avoid the potentionally very messy spraying poo into the toilet with a high-pressure water gun option. We have 2 diaper pails that sit outside on our porch that we can use standard, off-brand garbage bags in. One gets the diaper liner and it’s contents and the other gets the cloth diaper. To wash the cloth diapers, we first rinse them in a cold cycle without detergent. Then, I get out my trusty recipe of Homemade Laundry Detergent and bottle of Clorox® Regular-Bleach. We use 1/3 of a cup of the Homemade Detergent and a teaspoon or two of Clorox® Regular-Bleach. Next, we do a hot water, heavy-soil washing cycle. Something you might not know about cloth diapers is that they can develop an ammonia smell. It smells terrible, but luckily there’s an easy fix. The easiest way to get that smell out is with a bit of bleach so I put that in during the heavy-soil wash. The diapers get disinfected, the insides come out sparkling white, smelling fresh, and looking just about brand-new.

 

The Simple Dollar did some research on the cost efficiency of cloth diapers, and they found that, “If you estimate that you have a water cost of $0.05 a load, a power cost of $0.09 a load, (…) detergent cost of $0.03 a load. (…) Cleaning three dozen diapers costs about $0.50. You’ll pay about $0.20 a diaper for disposables, which equates to a cost of about $7.20 per three dozen diapers. After startup costs, you spend only about $0.50 per three dozen diapers. You’ll repeat this about fifty times before potty training begins, so the total diaper savings is $350 or so with cloth diapers. Of course, your startup costs aren’t included here.”

If you can get the cloth diapers used or if you plan on using them for multiple children then that’s really where you’ll see the most savings. Also, if you do invest in a high-quality brand that holds up well (btw, we chose snaps over velcro for longevity reasons) then you can potentially re-sell your cloth diapers when you are done with them to help recoup your initial startup costs.

We feel good about being able to keep disposables out of landfills (as much as we can), while also saving money, and keeping extra chemicals off of Baby Henry’s precious derriere. While we haven’t hit the “massive money saver” zone yet I still feel very glad that we went this route!

 

I’ve got so many questions for you: Do you cloth diaper? If so, what has your experience with them been-better, worse, or what you expected? What kind of diapers did you decide to go with and why? Do you find yourself talking about poop with your friends too? 

 

This post is sponsored by Clorox—helping you find the joy in making a mess.

As always, my opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! xo Anna

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24 comments

24 thoughts on “Cloth Diapers – Massive Money Saver?

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  1. Annie

    Can you explain the liners? Are they disposable liners or reusable/cloth liners?
    Expecting a baby soon and planning to use Flip cloth diapers with inserts.

    Reply
  2. amanda s.

    We use the same brand as you (well, 6 of them are the BumGenius with the inserts that were gifts). Personally, I feel like BumGenius is the brand to go with. So easy to use.

    We also use a sprayer and find that works best for us. It was an easy install and easy to use.

    Unfortunately our son started developing major diaper rash, so we stopped cloth diapering for a while.

    After researching, it turns out we needed to strip them (i.e. add bleach and wash several times over).

    From now on we go with the method you list, by always including bleach. I use Charlie’s Soap as a laundry detergent. We like and I still have the same tub I purchased before Han was born! Oh, that’s my son’s name.

    I love cloth diapering! It’s the way to go. I find it just as easy as disposables (which we use at night/travel too).

    The ammonia stank is worse than cat pee! Haha! Do you just hang dry yours?

    My son is 10 months and we use wet bags, but I think we need to up our game to pails and reusable liners. Granted we only have 12 cloth diapers, but I’d like to purchase a few more. Great post, btw! I’m definitely gonna add some of your methods to ours. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Reply
    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      omg. that ammonia stink is SOOO terrible! def worse than cat pee (which is the worst smell in the world, imo!). for drying i actually just toss them in the dryer. i know some people don’t recommend than but it hasn’t seemed to affect absorbency so… sometimes, i line dry if i’m feeling particularly domestic. hah;)

      i’m so glad you like the post! :D

      Reply
      1. amanda s.

        I’m thinking of throwing them in the dryer too because of the rash business with my son’s bum. I just think it might be an extra step in stripping them clean of bacteria and such.

        Reply
        1. Muriel

          It could be the Charlie’s soap, I read that some children had a problem with it. Also, if you have hard water it’s hard to get the diapers to rinse completely clean. Adding a capful of water softener usually fixes the issue. I used Calgon, it’s about $5 a bottle

          Reply
  3. Lyndsay

    We do cloth! We use Tide and treat our diapers like heavily soiled laundry, a little in the pre wash and a full cup in the hot cycle. We have NEVER had stink issues at all, needed bleach or a strip! Cloth is so much easier than what many anti-cloth people make it out to seem! It’s just an extra wash twice a week, very managable! We do fitteds at night with PUL covers, and during the day we use a hybrid system (gDiapers). For our newborn on the way we will be doing prefolds and covers during the day and AIOs at night to help us maximize our sleep! The diaper sprayer really helped get hubby on board with it, plus the extra savings!

    Reply
  4. Felicity

    Great post! There is so much info out there on cloth diapering that I often find it overwhelming. What you shared is very digestible.
    I am really frugal most of the time, but we use a cloth diaper service for our 4mo old and we used the same service when our now 4yo was in diapers. For us, it was and is completely worth it. During the newborn days, we were going through more than 100 diapers a week! Now that the poo and pee have slowed down, you’ve got me thinking that maybe we could handle diaper cleaning on our own. Hhhmmm.
    I don’t think it was mentioned in your post that cloth diapered kids often potty train sooner than kids who use disposables, so there’s potential savings there.
    One more thing. I noticed on a box of disposables that it stated that caretakers are supposed to dump the poo from disposables into the toilet. I had no idea! If people knew that and actually did it, it would kill a lot of the convenience of disposables.

    Reply
  5. Edith

    I raised 3 kiddos on cloth diapers. But, in the 70’s, they were around $12.00 a dozen. We used “diaper pins” to fasten them and put plastic pants on over the diaper. The idea now of the huge diaper pins scares the putty out of me, but back then we didn’t think anything about them – it was just the way it was done. I’m not understanding the excessive cost for today’s brands of cloth diapers and why it is so complicated.

    Reply
  6. Kim

    Oh you’ve hit upon my favorite topic here!
    I cloth diapered my 9 year old, primarily with Fuzzi Bunz. I still have those diapers and they just need new elastic in the legs so that’s another great plus to cloth if you have more than one child. I would imagine with less spacing, the elastic would be in better shape. Back then, I had a crazy routine and was doing it to save money. I was a single mom and later a college student. I liked pockets then because he was a “heavy wetter” and I could add extra for naps and bedtime. I had some great hemp ones that folded in half around the insert and usually kept him dry.

    This time, with my 10 month old, we did get some more new diapers. Okay, more than we needed. I cold soak, hot wash with Tide and call it a day. I hang them on the line when the weather allows. (We haven’t had a day above freezing in all of February. The weather doesn’t allow often right now.) I still use pockets but am really liking fitteds now and have a small stash of them.

    Reply
  7. KariD

    I lived with my baby daughter all over the Western states, in a car and tent, and in the jungle in Hawai’i, often completely off-grid. It was an amazing experience that I couldn’t have done without using cloth diapers! It was a little crazy being a single mom and washing diapers in the jungle in a bucket but the combination of those and breastfeeding kept us completely, blissfully free to do whatever.

    Reply
  8. Izabelle

    We live in England, so some of the brands are different – we used one here called ‘little lamb’, who also supply flushable liners which can go down the toilet – a revelation – I have to say the worst of the mess went down the toilet, so what was left to the washing machine was very little. I have to say I preferred this option on smell alone; even compared to friends’ houses where disposables were kept in a bin that was emptied every day – every time the lid was lifted off the bin – whoosh! You could gag! Especially if it’s summer and a few number-twos were warm for the day. Two things we did was wet-pail, using a dilution of a product called ‘milton’ in the water, and then washed with detergent plus a spoonful of a product called ‘napisan’ which is a disinfectant/antifungal. Clean result every time. Only other thing invested in was strong rubber gloves for when loading the washing machine – having a leak in cheap rubber gloves was unpleasant and definately false economy!

    Reply
  9. pamela

    I have a six month old, and I just don’t know where I would find the time to wash and dry cloth diapers every couple of days, on top of prepping the diapers for the wash. I think if you can do it, it’s great for the environment. I do feel guilt every time I throw a diaper away (so like a hundred times per day lol), but I think you should incorporate the cost of your time involved in cleaning the diapers as part of the cost. For me, I’d rather have the time to be with my son…

    Reply
  10. Angela

    We cloth diaper about the same as you, using disposables at night or if out for several hours. Disposables are really expensive here in New Zealand so cloth diapering saves us a ton of money.

    Reply
  11. Kate @ MP

    I also used cloth diapers before that was 8 years ago. I only used disposable diaper every night or when we go out. For me, it definitely saved me a lot of money.

    Reply
  12. B

    um – I think the math in this article might be a little wonky…

    Disposables:

    According to the numbers in this article, an expensive disposable diaper costs – 31.25 cents each. Another figure of 20 cents per disposable diaper is also given.

    Cloth diapers are given a value of 1.38 cents per clean diaper

    If you use 8000 diapers
    – disposables could cost $2500 high to $1600 low
    -cloth could cost $110.40

    Total savings – as much as $2,389.60 or as little as $1,489.60

    Even if you factor in using a clothes dryer and buying designer cloth diapers, the savings are still truly fantastic!!!

    Reply
  13. Mae

    If you are spending in the thousands for disposable diapers you are shopping in the wrong place. I used coupons at CVS. With their spend $30 get$10 extrabucks you can get the disposable cheap coz u only need to meet the $30 before coupons. Normally huggies has $3 off 1 diaper pack. So the first time you shop you’d have to pay that $30 if you are just starting. So if the diapers are 9 each pack thats$ 36 for 4 pack minus 4 of $3 coupons = $24 plus tax and thats yiur initial out of pocket. The next time you shop its ven sweeter coz u can use that $10 extrabuck reward. Making your next purchase out of pocket at $14 and get $10 back. Thats why I didnt do cloth diapers. I was put off by the expensive start up cost of cloth diaper that it didnt make sense for me to use cloth.

    Reply
  14. Cheryl F

    With us its a little different-we have a newly adopted 14 year old daughter whom we got two months ago.She is bedwetting and having some daytime wetting accidents,so we are using cloth pin on diapers and plastic pants[aka-rubberpants] on her 24/7.They are a money savor and i dont mind washing them since she doesnt have bm’s in them.I buy the Gerber flat cloth diapers in the 10 count package that come in the 24×27 inch size and sew them together to make one 10 ply thick diaper out of them and they are pinned on her with regular baby diaper pins.I buy the rubberpants in adult sizes from a couple of websites and they fit her blousy for comfort and come in pastels and prints.So far they have been working for her and she doesnt mind wearing them.I use the Dreft brand detergent to was the diapers and rubberpants in and the diapers come out soft and nice smelling.Her baptism/christening is comming up on October 28,and she will be wearing the traditional white gown and bonnet with tights and white shoes and will have an extra thick diaper with white rubberpants over it under the tights.

    Reply

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