How much can you REALLY save cloth diapering?

When I found out I was pregnant (Surprise!) I started doing some research. A friend of mine, who the year before had twins, had mentioned during her pregnancy about maybe cloth diapering. She didn’t end up doing it, but it got me thinking at the time and those thoughts returned full force when I realized I was about to have a baby that we were not financially ready for. So, this is what I did for myself while pregnant to determine cost savings. I am happy to announce that even though the cost savings isn’t as much as a lot of cloth diaper sites preach, it was enough for us and we have never looked back. Now I look at the decision as not only a money saver, but a eco-friendly choice for my family. We love using them, I know it sounds nuts. But they are so easy to use, and really baby butt friendly. Oh, and cute too!

First of all let’s do a breakdown of how much you can expect to spend on disposable diapers from birth to 30 months old (2.5 years). I decided on this age because it is the average age children are potty trained now-a-days according to this article.  I am basing my number of diapers used per day off of this article.  For simplicities sake we are going to assume that one month = 30 days (365 days/12 months = 30.41.)

Here’s the usage breakdown:

Newborn: 10 diapers used per day.
1 – 6 months (9 lbs – 17 lbs): 8 diapers used per day.
7 – 12 months (18 lbs – 23 lbs): 7 diapers used per day.
13 – 18 months (24 lbs – 29 lbs): 6 diapers used per day.
19 – 30 months (30 lbs – 41 lbs): 5 diapers used per day.

(If from personal experience you know these numbers to be wrong please let me know and I will adjust as needed!)

Disposable Diapers

Here’s the price breakdown:

Size 1 (pack count 264) 8 to 14 lbs = $35.88/264 = $0.14
Size 2 (pack count 228) 12 to 18 lbs = $35.88/228 = $0.16
Size 3 (pack count 204) 16 to 28 lbs = $35.88/204 = $0.18
Size 4 (pack count 180) 22 to 37 lbs = $35.88/180 = $0.20
Size 5 (pack count 150) 27+ lbs = $35.88/150 = $0.24
Size 6 (pack count 120) 35+ lbs = $35.88/120 = $.30

(For this I just went to Walmart.com and searched diapers. I choose to use the prices for the Luvs diapers, if you think I should be using a different brand or price please tell me and I will try my best to do a price breakdown for your request!)

Newborn
Size 1 diapers:  10 diapers per day for 1 month (30 days): 300 x $0.14 = $42.00
Total: $42.00

1 – 6 Months
According to the weight average she should gain 8 lbs, which means she should gain 1.6 lbs per month. So assuming that she gains exactly that amount per month the breakdown is as follows:

1 month: 9 lbs – Size 1: 8 diapers per day for 1 month: 240 x $0.14 = $33.60
2 months: 10.6 lbs: Size 1: same as above = $33.60
3 months: 12.2 lbs Size 1: same as above = $33.60
4 months: 13.8 lbs Size 2: 8 diapers per day for 1 month: 240 x $0.16 = $38.40
5 months: 15.4 lbs Size 2: same as above = $38.40
6 months: 17 lbs Size 2: same as above = $38.40
Total: $216.00

7 – 12 Months
She is expected to gain 1 lb per month.

7 months: 18 lbs – Size 3: 7 diapers per day for 1 month: 210 x $0.18 = $37.80
8 months: 19 lbs – Size 3: same as above = $37.80
9 months: 20 lbs – Size 3: same as above = $37.80
10 months: 21 lbs – Size 3: same as above = $37.80
11 months: 22 lbs – Size 3: same as above = $37.80
12 months: 23 lbs – Size 3: Same as above = $37.80
Total: $226.80

13 – 18 Months
Again, 1 lb per month.

13 months: 24 lbs – Size 4: 6 diapers per day for 1 month: 180 x $0.20 = $36.00
14 months: 25 lbs – Size 4: same as above = $36.00
15 months: 26 lbs – Size 4: same as above = $36.00
16 months: 27 lbs – Size 4: same as above = $36.00
17 months: 28 lbs – Size 5: 6 diapers per day for 1 month: 180 x $0.24 = $43.20
18 months: 29 lbs – Size 5: same as above = $43.20
Total: $230.40

19 – 30 Months
This time she is expected to gain 12 lbs in 12 months, so once again 1 lb per month.

19 months: 30 lbs – Size 5: 5 diapers per day for 1 month: 150 x $0.24 = $36.00
20 months: 31 lbs – Size 5: same as above = $36.00
21 months: 32 lbs – Size 5: same as above = $36.00
22 months: 33 lbs – Size 5: same as above = $36.00
23 months: 34 lbs – Size 5: same as above = $36.00
24 months: 35 lbs – Size 6: 5 diapers per day for 1 month: 150 x $0.30 = $45.00
25 months: 36 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
26 months: 37 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
27 months: 38 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
28 months: 39 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
29 months: 40 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
30 months: 41 lbs – Size 6: same as above = $45.00
Total: $495.00

Grand Total: $1210.20 (approx. $40 per month).

This grand total is low compared to the amount that most CD sites say you will spend (usually $2000 – $3000). Of course, if I were to have a larger baby I would have to transition into the larger diapers sooner which would be more expensive over time. I also could be estimating the number of times I will change her per day to low or to high. There are a lot of unknown variables, but this is at least a basic minimum cost. Now to cloth diapers!

Cloth Diapers

When all was said and done after my diaperjunction.com and cottonbabies.com purchases:

  •  6 diaper covers (2 each of Flips, Thirsties Duo, and GroBaby)
  • 42 small diaper prefolds
  • 1 Snappi
  • 58 disposable covers (40 GroBaby and 18 Flips)
  • 1 Wet bag
  • 200 ct. Flushable Liners

I spent: $202.26

6 – 18 Months
According to the diaperjunction.com site the prefolds should last until she is 5 months old. Then we will need to buy the next size up which will last until she is 18 months old. I bought 200 flushable liners and want them to last 5 months (because I can reuse ones that are not soiled by washing them with the prefolds.) This means that over 150 days I plan to use 200 liners = 0.75 liners per day. Therefore from 6 months all the way to the end of 18 months I would expect to use: 13 months x 30 days = 390 days x 0.75 liners = 292.50 liners. They come in packs of 200 for the infant size and 100 for the toddler size. For simplicities sake lets say that I will buy one package of infant and one package of toddler for the period of 6 – 18 months. I also bought 58 disposable diapers for traveling and long day trips. I don’t plan to use these very often, so let’s assume that I use all 58 up in the first 5 months: 58 liners/150 days = 0.40 liners per day. That means I would expect to need: 390 days x 0.40 liners = 150 liners. At this time I will also buy 3 more of our favorite covers. Assuming they are the most expensive ones and that I don’t get a discount this time around. All orders over $75.00 ship free.

  •  35 medium diaper prefolds: $2.25 x 35 = $78.75
  • 3 diaper covers: $16.95 x 3 = $50.85
  • 200 ct. infant sized flushable liners = $12.99
  • 100 ct. toddler sized flushable liners = $7.00
  • 3 – 50 ct. boxes disposable liners: $19.95 x 3 = $59.85

Total: $209.44

19 – 30 Months
On to the large size of prefolds for the next 12 months! We will only be buying toddler sized flushable liners now: 12 months x 30 days = 360 x 0.75 liners per day = 270 liners or 3 toddler sized packs. We will need more disposable liners as well: 360 days x 0.40 liners = 144 liners or another 3 boxes of liners. I do not plan on buying anymore diaper covers at this time.

  • 25 large diaper prefolds: $2.75 x 25 = $68.75
  • 300 ct. toddler sized flushable liners: $7.00 x 3 = $21.00
  • 3 – 50 ct. boxes disposable liners = $59.85

Total: $149.60

Now, I just need to figure in laundry costs. According to this post I plan to wash 100 loads of CDs per year. If I plan on having AJ potty trained by 30 months that is 2.5 years = 250 loads of diapers. So, since life happens lets round up to 300 loads.

300 loads x $0.03 in homemade laundry detergent + 300 loads x $0.61 in water and energy (Go here to determine your average cost per load.) =  $192 ***EDIT: Please for the love of keeping your cloth diapers in good condition do not use homemade laundry detergent. I made the mistake, don’t you make it too***

Grand Total: $753.80 (approx. $25 per month) with Prefolds.

Savings: $453.40 (with prefolds)

Instead of doing the above, after my first purchase mentioned above, I actually ended up buying 6  Bumgenius 3.0 with 6 liners for $89.00 (Buy 5 get 1 free!) and 24 BumGenius diaper doublers for $39.60, and 24 BumGenius one-size inserts for $83.76. Total: $212.36 and these she still wears along with the 4 one-size GroVia and Flips covers. I wanted to leave the original calculations though, in case someone was interested in using prefolds all the way through potty training. We gave up on them after she grew out of the first set.  Also, we are still using washed pieces from the original set of flushable liners. Until they start solids, you don’t need to use the liners, so we just started using them around 5 months and wash the ones that she doesn’t poop in.

This brings the total for me to $607.12.

Savings the real way: $603.08

If I was going to go back in time and do it over again, I wouldn’t have bought the prefolds. I would have just bought the 12 covers (because the Thirsties fit her when she was small and nothing else would) and the BumGenius inserts. I do fully plan to use what I have already bought on our next child and only buy more flushable liners and maybe another cover or two (probably Flips) just to add a little to the stash. Hope this helps!

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One thought on “How much can you REALLY save cloth diapering?

  1. Pingback: Weekly Top Ten: How In the World Did I End Up Here? « Chemically Inclined

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