Friday, February 5, 2010

Cloth Diapers: A Cost Analysis

Disclaimer #1: Before I begin, I would like to say that these results would (obviously) be very different if we chose to buy less expensive diaper covers and inserts or more expensive disposables.

We started using cloth diapers on Miriam when she was two months old. We have two older children, but we did not use cloth on them, so this is our first experience with cloth diapers. Miriam is now 7 and a half months old. We have been using cloth for 5 and a half months, but there were three weeks when we didn't.

Those three weeks of using disposables started with her getting a stubborn diaper rash that took forever to heal (so we switched- thinking the disposables would keep the moisture at bay). What ended up healing her was a proper diagnosis (after two visits) from the pediatrician and treatment. Then, I had surgery, so we just let her in the disposables so it would be easier for Jamey. Then, we traveled for a week over the holidays when we didn't use cloth. It's confession time, folks.

So, let's say we've been using them for 4 and a half months. Let me get a calculator and begin....

Disclaimer #2: We do use a disposable diaper at night on Miriam. She sleeps so very long (6:30 pm until 7am) sometimes without getting up to eat. We do not wish to wake a sleeping baby to change her, so we use a disposable at night. I didn't factor in this cost because I didn't think it necessary. This is an analysis to show how long it takes to pay for the diapering system we use.

Cloth Expenses

4 size small gdaiper covers with plastic liners... $50 (I bought two of their old versions of a Starter Kit, each containing two covers with liners for $25 per kit, or $12.50 each. This is much cheaper than buying individual covers which are $14.44 on sale and $18.99 regular price.)

4 size medium (she's growing!!) gdiaper covers with plastic liners...$50 (I about had a heart attack when I saw that our little non-chain grocery store started carrying gdiapers! They had packages of two covers with liners on sale for $25 per package, normally $29.99.)

4 6-packs of bumGenius inserts (from$72 (These fit super-well in the medium sized gdiapers and are a little bulky in the small ones. We used size small regular cloth tri-fold diapers while she was itty bitty, then used the inserts as her bum grew. They work great and are easy to wash and so far do not smell when washed with only a tad of detergent and cold water- granted, Miriam is breast-fed, but she has started eating some vegetables and cereal.)

Total: $172


If We Were Still Using Disposables Expenses

How many times a day does one change their baby? Let's estimate 5 times in a 24 hour period. I think that's being pretty conservative.

5 times x 134 days = 670 disposables divided by 40 per package = 16.75 packages x $10 each (assuming you buy generic) =

Total: $167.50

In about 18 diaper changes, the cloth diapers will pay for themselves! The size medium gdiapers are to fit babies up to 28 pounds. Once those don't fit anymore, we will borrow Miriam's cousin's size large gdiaper covers. Miriam's size small gdaiper covers will be passed on to her new cousin, due in May:-).

All the to say, we will not have to buy any more cloth diapers or accessories.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby indeed.

Disclaimer #3: I did not include tax, shipping charges or gas money to run to the store to buy disposables in my figuring. I also did not include a water cost for washing the cloth inserts. I don't care that much about the cost analysis. Pin It


  1. Now days they are really making it much more user friendly for moms and babies who choose to use cloth diapers. The covers are much more comfortable, a better fit, and I'm assuming work better. I think if they had had these when my girls were young, I would have been more willing to consider cloth diapers as well. (Okay, so number 3 isn't that old, but by that time I was into a routine and didn't even think about it.)

    Interesting post, THHP! Hopefully I can get my girls to consider this when they are moms. Someday.

  2. Another thing you did not add into your "cost analysis"... the "feel good factor"... as in you are not adding disposable diapers to the landfill...that must make you feel good. Oh... and what about the cost for the garbage haul away all those disposable diapers? Good job! Cloth is cool...

  3. So do you want to do the math for me? Four children equals about 12 years of cloth diapering. How much money did we save? Come on now, make me feel good.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I have spent probably 150 hours researching cloth diapers and wondering if it's really worth it/at all realistic that I can handle the extra laundry...every little bit of related experience helps.

  5. JJ, I did some rough calculations for you (really rough). It took us four and a half months to pay for ours. I know you used less expensive diapers, but you used them for so much longer and on multiple kids, so I will estimate that it took a year for you to pay off all of yours (probably a lot less). Anyway, in those 11 years of cloth diapering, you would have saved about $5600!! Now, go buy yourselves something nice. Oh. Sorry, I guess you can't:-(.

    Tori, I wash diapers about every four days- I thought the washing would be a bigger deal, but it really isn't. I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy using cloth has been. I certainly don't think of it as a burden at all.

  6. I like your math. I like your style. and I would have done it but I'm lazy. there I said it. Actually, I will say, I had to pick my battles, which is what you did when you realized during a surgery or travel, it's just more than can be practically managed or too difficult to accomodate. If #3 ever comes along, I'm in. I almost started towards the end of henry's need, but by the time I could get my mind around the initial investment H was almost done.
    I'm really going to have to do the math for myself on formula. Of course I had 'sensitive' babies. That means $ in the formula department. Precious as they were they started on the infamil plus, then H needed soy. I can't even think about the pthalates they ingested... but that's for another day.
    I love diaper talk.

  7. Sigh... we wanted to do cloth when we had our first and second child. We were doing service work in a water-poor area and were begged by our organization to NOT do cloth for that reason. "Biodegradable" diapers are expensive!

  8. We cloth diaper out little Miriam and love it! For us we can also factor in using them for siblings, since she and my almost two year old are both in cloth. :)

  9. As a mother of a 10 month old and one on the way in early June, I have been considering making the switch to cloth. I've been putting off looking into it knowing that I'd have to make an investment to start, but wow! We would be saving a lot with two in diapers if we made the switch, thanks for posting this!

    So glad I found your blog! :)

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your cloth diapering research! I'm considering the switch, but have a question for you: Why did you decide to go with BumGenius cloth inserts instead of the gDiaper cloth inserts? I realize that gDiaper also produces disposable inserts, but I'm talking about their cloth ones (they offer both options). Thanks!!

  11. LeighSabey,
    I went with bumGenius cloth inserts because at the time gdiapers wasn't making cloth inserts (this is a rather new development for them). I'm sure the gdiaper cloth inserts fit their covers better, so if I had to do it over, I would seriously consider their cloth version, although I haven't compared prices.

    Everyone who has tried cloth (that I know) thinks it's much easier than they thought it would be- myself included. I hope you give them a try:-).

  12. Thank you, that answers my question perfectly! I will probably try the gDiapers cloth inserts -- I'll let you know what I think just in case you need to restock on inserts down the road. Thanks again!

  13. Hello, again! If you don't mind, I have one more question for you. Did you consider the BumGenius Flip Hybrid diaper? I'm not sure if it was available when you were doing your research. It's basically the same as gDiaper except that it does not have the plastic liner -- the cover is waterproof, so you simply replace the insert and wipe out the cover if soiled with each diaper change. It's one-size, so you only need 4-6 covers to go from birth to potty training. It's cheaper than gDiapers in the long run for that reason.

    The only thing that's hanging me up...the gDiapers are so much cuter! I like their fitted look. But I'm curious if you considered these and if there was another reason you didn't choose them. If you didn't consider them, do you feel that caring for the plastic liner in the gDiaper is a hassle?

    THANK YOU in advance for all of your help!

    Here's a link to info about Flip:

  14. LeighSabey,
    I actually like the gdaiper snap-in plastic liners. Because they touch the actual soiled insert, after a day or so of usage, they can start to smell like urine (the smell always comes out in the wash for me). Since you can swap out the smelly one for a new one, you don't have to wash the cover to get rid of the smell. They snap in and out very easily, too. And, if they get soiled by poop at all, swapping them out is easy- no wiping involved. So, I haven't used the Flip, but I'm not sure I'd like it because of all that.

    I hope this is helpful:-).


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