You may be wondering, "Do cloth diapers save money?" We'll show you the math! Even when you consider the hidden costs (water, energy, detergent), there's no doubt about it, cloth diapers cost less than disposable diapers in the long run. Read on for a more detailed breakdown.
Consider the fact that most parents do not start potty-training
their child until they are 2-3 years old. Over the course of 2.5 years
most babies will average 8 diaper changes per day. This works out to
7,300 changes per baby.
Cloth diapers can save you $885 or more!
If you choose cloth, you may experience other cost savings as well:
While costs for disposable diapers can vary a lot depending on brand,
size, and where you shop, my estimations assume an average of $0.17 per
diaper for store brands and $0.25 per diaper for brand names.
Disposable diapers can range in cost from $1241 to $1825 for each baby. Add to that the price of wipes - at $0.02 per wipe, and 2 wipes per change, you are looking at a minimum of $300 in wipes, and more if use name brands! The total is between $1500 and $2100, depending on brand.
There are several types of cloth baby diapers
you can choose from, ranging from prefolds to pocket diapers. Do cloth
diapers save money? Depending on your choice of system, the brand you
choose, and how often you are willing to do laundry, the total
investment you will make in cloth diapers can vary.
With Made in North America brands, I've estimate that it you will need to invest between $758 and $1,240 to cloth diaper your first baby, depending on the system you buy (see below). You can definitely cloth diaper for much less than that - we've shown that there are ways to cloth diaper your baby for under $100, and there are many cheap one-size pocket diaper options for under $12 per pocket, including inserts.
Keep in mind that with many diapers, you will likely be able to re-use your diapers on a second child (or sell them as used cloth diapers if you don't plan to use them again).
Cloth Diaper Costs
Small and Large Sized Pocket Diapers
Pre-Folds and Covers
Front-Load Washing Machines
Washing - $0.19 per cycle
Drying - $0.41 per cycle
Total Spend per Load - $0.60 per cycle
Loads per Week - 3
Spend per Week - $1.80
Total Cost (2.5 years) - $234.00
Top-Load Washing Machines
Washing - $0.37 per cycle
Drying - $0.44 per cycle
Total Spend per Load - $0.81 per cycle
Loads per Week - 3
Spend per Week - $2.43
Total Cost (2.5 years) - $316.00
Assumptions:Calculated using assumptions from Michael Bluejay's Laundry Costs Calculator, updated May 2011.
Do Cloth Diapers Save Money? Calculations
assume a Hot/Cold cycle in a typical washing machine, and include water
plus electricity for washer, electric dryer and electric water heater,
with incoming water temperature of 77F (25C), an average electricity
rate/KWh of $0.15, plus price of water of $5.50/1000 gallons. If your
electrical or water rates differ, the Michael Bluejay site offers a
laundry cost calculator
to help you calculate how much you will spend on diaper laundry.
Click here to read about Eco Friendly Diapers: The Environmental Impact of Cloth vs. Disposables?