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Save Money By Using Cloth Diapers Instead of Disposables

By Casey Slide

Cloth DiapersIf you are a parent of a baby or toddler, you are probably going through a lot of diapers. It seems by the time you snap up the onesie and take your baby off the changing table, your baby is wet or dirty again. The pile of dirty disposables grows larger and larger, and the amount of cash in your wallet gets smaller and smaller.

One way to keep your carbon footprint smaller and your wallet bigger is to use cloth diapers. Today’s cloth diapers are nothing like what your mom and dad used on you. There are no pins to stick you or the baby, and no confusing folds to learn.

How Much Can You Save By Using Cloth Diapers?

The cost of a disposable diaper can range from $0.14 to $0.44. If your baby uses eight diapers per day for two and a half years, that equals 7,300 diapers (and chances are you will use more than that). That means you will be spending anywhere from $1,022 to $3,212 on diapers just for that one baby at a minimum.

There are many types of cloth diapers. I have seen them range in price from $8 to $25, and the recommended number of cloth diapers is two dozen. Based on the use you can get out of each diaper, that means you can get enough cloth diapers for somewhere between $200 and $600. This equates to a savings somewhere between $400 to $3,000 depending on what brand you choose. And if you use the cloth diapers on multiple babies, you can save even more!

What Are The Other Advantages To Using Cloth Diapers?

1. Environmental – Disposable diapers are the third most common item found in landfills, outnumbered only by newspapers and beverage containers. They take about 100 years to decompose. Also, since dirty diapers are biological hazards, their contents need to go into a septic tank instead of a landfill (this can be read on the packaging of disposables). Additionally, it takes about 200,000 trees and about 80,000 pounds of plastic to manufacture the disposable diapers consumed by American babies each year.

2. Ease of Use – Modern day cloth diapers are as easy to use as disposables with hook and loop closures or snaps to keep them closed instead of pins. They are no messier than disposables either. In fact, I have had less leaks with cloth diapers than with disposables.

3. Good for Baby – There are harsh chemicals used to make disposable diapers extra absorbent. These chemicals contain traces of bleach and have caused such issues as rashes, allergic reactions, and even toxic shock syndrome. The long-term effects of these chemicals on your children can be significant.

Additional Costs

There are some additional costs associated with the cleaning of cloth diapers. I highly recommend investing in a diaper sprayer. A diaper sprayer is a hose that hooks onto your toilet that you use to spray off dirty diapers once your baby starts eating solid foods. I was able to get mine for less than $25. You will also need to consider the added cost of washing your diapers. I have found that it has only added about $5 to my water bill each month and also does not require much more detergent than I normally use. Tip: If you hang dry your diapers, you will save wear and tear on your dryer and keep your diapers nicer for longer.

My Personal Experience With Cloth Diapers

Before I started on cloth diapers, I was spending about $50/month on disposables. If I continued with disposables, I would have spent $1,500 on disposable diapers by the time my son turned two and a half. But when my son was 3 months old, I made the switch and bought a various types and brands of cloth diapers to experiment. I used these six diapers over the course of a month to gauge their ease of use, their durability, and their effectiveness. After that month, I was able to pick the brands and types that worked best for my son. I spent a total of $300 which I expect to last until he is potty trained, and I can safely assume that I saved myself $1,200 by making the switch. My son is now 8 months old and wears cloth diapers 100% of the time. He very rarely has leaks and has never had diaper rash.

Final Thoughts

Babies are expensive, and you need to save money where you can. Cloth diapers are a great way to do that. I personally love cloth diapers because I believe I am doing something good for my child, my planet, and my finances!

Do you have any firsthand experience using cloth diapers?

(Photo credit: simplyla)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • David Bibby

    There is also an additional benefit to using cloth diapers, and that’s the fact that the kids will learn to potty train faster. Disposable diapers keep kids dryer longer so the toddlers never get “uncomfortable” enough to become big kids and actually use the toilet. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, still register in the toddlers mind that “I went” and they’ll be coming to you for a diaper change. When that happens, potty training isn’t far behind.

    My wife and I used cloth diapers on both of our children back in 2001-2002. For the $600 one time expense, we have saved immeasurable amounts of money.

    Thanks Casey for writing this article!

    • Casey Slide

      Thanks, David! It is great to hear from someone who had a good experience with cloth. That is such a good point about the potty training. Thanks for sharing!

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