Why use cloth diapers: Saving money

At first we were going to go the disposable route because that’s just what most people use and picture when they hear the word “diaper.” The cheapest and most convenient disposables we could find were at Costco (Kirkland brand). I love Costco and anything from Kirkland. The quality has always been great and the price has been good as well. I’ve changed a lot of children that use Kirkland diapers and wipes and they seem to hold. I’ve personally used Kirkland wipes on myself when I want to feel refreshed. They stay moist for a long time, have a nice mild scent, and the material is thick and soft. That being said, I’m an adult. A baby’s bottom is more sensitive.

One day I calculated the average cost of using Costco diapers. It came out to $1336.33 for 2 years, and that’s without factoring in the cost of wipes. I thought that number was ridiculous, especially for diapers that are used once and then thrown away. It’s like paying rent on your space in the landfill. I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation where I plan on staying home with our baby for at least the first year. I know being a mom a full time job, but I also want to cut our expenses since I will not be bringing in any additional income. That’s where cloth diapering comes in.

Cloth Diapering Supplies

Most websites about cloth diapers say that for a newborn, you want to have a stash of at minimum 24 diapers, assuming you will wash the diapers every other day (newborns need between 10-12 diaper changes per day). Cloth diapering can get a bit pricey if you buy the fancy ones and use fancy detergent and have a coin laundry machine like we do. But it can also be really inexpensive. The cheapest option, which I will be trying out, is to use flat diapers with diaper covers.

flat diapers from amazon website
OsoCozy flats
osocozy prefolds from toys r us website
Osocozy prefolds

Based on dozens of websites I’ve looked at on cloth diapering, you really want to go for flat diapers that are made out of all cotton, bamboo, or hemp. Cotton seems to be the cheapest and easiest to find. At first I was going to go with prefolds (the same as flats basically but they’ve already been prefolded and sewn together somewhat so you have less folding to do yourself). Prefolds are thicker in the middle and thinner on the sides, but the length and width dimensions of a prefold are much smaller than that of a flat. I’ve decided to try flats first for a few reasons:

  1. Flats are more versatile in terms of the types of folds I can make and what I can use them for after diapering
  2. Flats are easier to wash and dry quicker than prefolds because they open up to a single layer and
  3. The same flats can be used from birth through potty training (prefolds often come in at least two sizes).

Some flat diaper options include:

  • OsoCozy Birdseye Flat Unbleached Diapers off of Amazon ($19.25/12 pack)
  • Flour sack towels (100% cotton, about 27” x 27” to 30” x 30”…We looked all over and finally found them for $1 each at Target in-store.)
  • Receiving blankets (again all cotton, somewhere between 27” x 27” to 30” x 30”)
flip diaper cover from amazon
“flip” brand diaper cover

I expect that I will be trying all three at some point. Both my mom and Tommy’s mom have given us old cloth diapers and a few receiving blankets. Our first order of Osocozy flat diapers also arrived in the mail today! I haven’t personally tested out any of these options to compare them yet. When I’ve assembled our stash of flats I will post an update on how to prep them and how our baby likes them!

Now flat diapers are good at absorbing urine and poop, but they are not waterproof, so you will want some diaper covers. I’ve heard that 4-6 covers is the minimum you want to go with for a newborn. The cover can hold the flat diaper in place, or you can buy a Snappi or diaper pins to hold the flat diaper together. Many companies make waterproof covers out of PUL (polyurethane laminate), but you can also find covers made out of wool which tend to be pricier but are made out of all natural materials. Anyway, if you go for the covers made out of PUL then you can wipe them clean with a diaper wipe in between changes (unless poop gets on them). That way, you can use the same cover a few times before giving it a thorough wash. We will be trying out a little bit of both. I’m looking into Alva, Thirsties, and Flip covers at the moment since they all have pretty good ratings on Amazon. Tommy’s mom is also giving us one of his old wool diaper covers so we can see how that goes as well!

Cost Breakdown

Assuming you get the minimum recommended amount of supplies…

  • 24 flat diapers (say we get two packs of the OsoCozy flats at $19.25/dozen)
  • 6 Flip diaper covers ($14.95/cover)
  • 1 set of Snappis (Tommy found a pack of 3 Snappis on ebay for $2!)

Cost: $130.20

Obviously, with cloth diapers you have to wash them and store them, so that can cause the cost to rise by a little or a lot, depending on how you want to go about cleaning them. I will be hand washing ours and hanging them to dry. We live in an apartment where our water and trash is paid for, so the only extra costs for me would be more laundry detergent and some accessories.

  • Laundry detergent: $70 for a 2 year supply
  • Wet bag: $7.99
  • Pail liner: $15.99
  • Bucket: $10?
  • (Optional) Diaper sprayer: $44.95

Total cost of cloth diapering with hand washing and line drying for 2 years: $279.13
Total cost of disposable diapers for 2 years: $1336.33
Savings: $1057.20 over 2 years!!!

Ways to further save include using cloth wipes, reusing your cloth diapers for subsequent children, and even buying gently used cloth diapers online. It may sound gross to some people, but most cloth diapering families have very strict washing routines and of course you can wash them again once you buy them. We also saw some new diaper covers made in China on ebay for about $4 each. We ordered one to check out the quality and see how it holds up compared to the rest of our diaper cover stash. It is the Alva brand. Even if you buy all new supplies, cloth diapering is a sweet deal! Ultimately, the monetary savings are what sold me on cloth diapering.

Bottom line: If you want to save a ton of money, use cloth diapers!


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