cloth diapers

Cloth VS Disposable Diapers (How to Save Money AND the Planet!)

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If you landed on this page, you are probably considering reusable cloth diapers for your baby instead of disposable ones. I am guessing you are environmentally conscious but you want to find out if cloth diapers will break the bank! 🙂 Well, let me tell you, I don’t consider myself to be an eco warrior, but I went cloth diapers all the way with my two kids! Cloth diapers both helped me save quite a bit of money AND they made me feel like a was giving a little contribution to saving our planet. Here’s a comparison of cloth diapers vs disposable.

If you are looking for an in-depth guide to cloth diapers, or if you are already using cloth diapers but struggling with leaky or smelly diapers and need help with some troubleshooting, then have a look at my eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapers – everything you need to know for a stress-free cloth diapering experience.

Or join one of my Cloth Diapers Workshops <- here!

How much do cloth diapers cost compared to disposable ones?

Disposable Diapers

disposable diapers

I am going to make a comparison with Pampers disposable diapers. I think they are a relatively affordable brand, known all over the world. This is what you could end up spending.

AgeDaily UsageMonthly UsageDiaper CostTotal Cost
(US $)
0 to 1 month10 to 12 diapers320 diapers0.19 cents $61
1 to 5 months 8 to 10 diapers240 diapers0.19 cents$184
5 to 9 months 8 diapers240 diapers0.38 cents$364
9 to 12 months 8 diapers240 diapers0.47 cents$339

That’s a total of $984 just for the first year! Assuming your baby will be fully potty trained by the age of 3 (good luck!), then you need to add: 6 more diapers a day x 730 days = $2,059. That’s a total of almost $3,000 to use disposable diapers.

However, know that lots of kids still use diapers past the 3 years old mark as well, particularly at night!

Cloth Diapers

cloth diapers

There are many different types of cloth diapers that you could choose from. So, for the purpose of this exercise, I am going to do a comparison with only two types: AIO (all in ones) and Hybrid (with a separate waterproof cover from the inner inserts). And know that AIOs are amongst the most expensive type of diapers.

Bambino Mio is a very good brand of AIO cloth diapers and they cost on average $22 each. I have personally used this diaper with my second daughter and love it. You probably want at least 20 of these, so that you don’t have to stress about constantly washing them. That’s a total of $440!

Most AIOs come in one size, meaning one diaper will fit from newborn up to potty. However, if you want to budget for two different sizes, then double that. It’s $880, still less than $1000.

Also read: The Best All-In-One of Cloth Diapers

GroVia is a very good brand of hybrid diapers. I actually used similar hybrid diapers to these ones with my two daughters. Each waterproof cover costs about $20 and you want at least 10 of these. You don’t need as many as with the AIOs as you can keep using the waterproof cover while changing just the insert. You then need at least 20 inserts, and good quality ones are about $10 each. So, that’s a total of $400!

Again, allow for different sizes, as you might want newborn ones and bigger ones for up to potty. Let’s make it $800.

Also read: The Best All-In-Two / Hybrid Cloth Diapers.

For a list of all the different types of cloth diapers available on the market and how to choose the right one for your, click here.

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable: Conclusion

So, we have cloth diapers requiring an upfront investment of, let’s say $400 to $1000. This is compared to ongoing payments for disposable diapers leading up to a total of almost $3000. Sounds like a no brainer, right?! Plus, you get to do something good for the environment! Whoo-whoo!

Then why are so many people still going with disposable diapers? Well, you’ll say:

  • Cloth diapers increase your water and electricity bills because they need to be constantly washed
  • Disposable diapers don’t need to be cleaned, so I don’t get dirty and I don’t waste time cleaning them.
  • Disposable diapers are easier to dispose if I am outside.
  • Disposable diapers hold wees for longer.
  • Disposable diapers are not as bulky.

Is that really all true? Let’s find out here.

Extra costs of Cloth Diapers

One of the things that most sites report when comparing disposable to cloth diapers is the extra cost of water and electricity. I don’t really understand that though. I mean, yes, you may spend a tiny tiny bit more to wash the diapers. But let me tell you something: once you have a baby, you will be doing a washing every day anyway. You’ll have plenty of dirty clothes and bibs. So is adding 6 cloth diapers a day to all that laundry really going to make a big difference? I don’t think so! 🙂

And if you really want to consider this tiny extra cost of cloth diapers, then let’s also consider the extra cost of a diaper pail and its refills for disposable diapers. Because, trust me, you do not want to end up with heaps of pee / poo diapers in the normal bin.

Cleaning Cloth Diapers

cloth diapers drying

Ok, I give it to you, cloth diapers can be a little bit more annoying to clean than disposable diapers. Getting off those poos can be a pain in the butt sometime, particularly when you have little babies shooting off a poo every 2 hours 🙂

But, did you know there are also some awesome tips on how to clean poo off cloth diapers? Read this post with the Top 10 Tips on How to Wash Cloth Diapers to find out how it can be super easy to wash them and clean them.

In the end, what’s an extra 2 minutes per poo diaper, when you are literally doing something good for the environment? But if you are one of those people that really can’t stand the idea of handling a cloth diaper with some poo on it, then cloth diapers might not be for you.

How long Cloth Diapers last

It’s not true that disposable diapers hold wees for longer. If you choose the right cloth diaper (or combination of diapers), it will last as long as a disposable! It took me a while to find a cloth diaper solution that would last through the night for my second daughter, but once I did it was totally worth it. I now keep her with the same cloth diaper for 12 hours at night.

The Advantages of Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers do have some advantages compared to cloth diapers. In fact, I agree with the following:

  • They are easier to handle when outside. It’s not nice when you have a cloth diaper full of poo and nowhere to clean it. So you need to put it in a “sealed” bag and stick it in your diaper bag. Good luck re-opening that diaper bag later on 🙂 A disposable diaper can just be chucked in the nearest bin.
  • Disposable diapers are not as bulky as cloth diapers. I find with cloth diapers people always think that your child is way chubbier than what they actually are. And pants tend to get tighter quicker than with disposable. Do I really care? No, couldn’t care less 🙂 What about you. Do you care?

My own experience

What I have done with both my kids, is use disposable diapers if I know I am going to be outside for a very long time. Particularly when very young and pooing a lot. When they star eating solids, they only poo once a day, so the likelihood of having multiple poos in one outing is very low 🙂 From 6 month onward I have only used cloth diapers during the day.

What I have also done for Michaela, my second daughter, is use disposables at night when she was very little and pooing in the middle of the night as well. I was just too tired to take care of cloth diapers with solid wast at night.

Not to mention all the occasions when we went out for a long drive, or travelling overseas and we switched to disposable diapers for a while.

You don’t need to go all the way

The most important lesson I have learnt about cloth diapers is that you do not need to go all the way! It doesn’t have to be either cloth diapers exclusively or nothing. You can do a mix of both and still feel good about yourself. You are still saving a lot of diapers from going into the landfill and that’s awesome, you should be proud of yourself!

Don’t stress about it. Do what works for you, when it works for you 🙂 Use cloth diapers as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if one day you go visit some friends and you put a disposable diaper on your baby.

Almost 4 million babies are born every year just in the US (data from 2018). If every mom could save one diaper a day by using cloth diapers, that would save 1.5 billion diapers from going into the landfill each year! 4 million x 365 days a year = 1.48 billions.

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