How Much Cheaper Is Cloth Diapering?

How Much Cheaper Is Cloth Diapering?

There has been much debate over how much cheaper cloth diapering is. It may seem expensive upfront, but when you really do the math, it will save you a lot of money.

Cloth diapering will save you roughly $1,374 for your first child and $1,644 for your second. Disposable diapers cost $2,220 over 3 years. They are about .20 cents per diaper. Your child will use around 7,000 over the course of 3 years. It is about $1,400 to use disposable diapers plus wipes ($700) and diaper pail refills($120). Cloth diapers cost $576 to wash over 3 years. These diapers have an upfront expense of $480 plus wipes ($72) and wet bags ($30).

Cloth diapering can be a money saver. If you take into account all of the disposable diaper accessories most people forget to add into the equation, cloth diapering is a real winner.

How long will my baby wear diapers?

Your baby will wear diapers for about 27 months, or a little over 2 years. Most children continue to use pull-ups until at least age 3. Pull-ups or diapers are then used 2-3 times per day during nap times and through the night. This is an average. Some babies are potty trained at 18 months, while others are trained at 3 years old. Remember potty trained doesn’t mean your child won’t wet the bed while they are sleeping.

How many diapers will my baby use?

In your baby’s first year she will use 2,500 diapers. In the second year, baby will wear around 1700 diapers. In the third year, your toddler will use about 2-3 diapers or pull-ups daily during naptimes and bedtime. In total, over three years your baby will use 7,000 diapers. This may be more for boys who tend to potty train later.

How many wipes will my baby use?

Your baby will use approximately 2 wipes per diaper change. Pee diapers usually only need 1wipe, while poop diapers need a few more. If your baby uses an average of 2 wipes per change and 7,000 diapers in total, you will need 14,000 wipes. This is a very conservative number. Leaky poop diapers usually increase this average. You may also use baby wipes to clean little hands and mouths also. Baby wipes average around .04 cents a wipe. If you buy in bulk, they can be as little as .02. Chemical and eco-friendly wipes can be in the .06 to .10 cent range. If we use .05 cents per wipe, you will spend $700 in wipes over the course of three years. Yikes!

How many diaper pail refills will I need?

The internet is flooded with diaper pail refill hacks for a reason. Diaper Genie refills average $15 for a 3 pack. Your baby will use about one refill every two weeks over three years. The cost for a 3 year supply is $120.

Disposable Diaper Cost

Disposable diapers will cost about $1,400 to diaper your baby until 3 years old. This is assuming an average of .20 cents per diaper. If you consistently use cheaper diapers this could be less. If you use premium or eco friendly diapers, this price will be substantially more.

Wipes will be at least $700, if you are very conservative. Refills for a traditional diaper Genie will be around $120 for three years. This assumes you are using an average of two refills per month.

In total for three years of disposable diapering, your costs will be $2,220 conservatively.

Cloth Diaper Cost


Cost of washing cloth diapers

Aside from the initial purchase price, each cloth diaper has washing expenses. Fortunately, The cost to wash a load of cloth diapers at home is a little less than $1 including detergent. If you wash every other day, It is only $4 a week. The total is $576 for 3 years. If you divide this by 7,000 diapers, this is about .08 cents per diaper

Cloth diapers can vary greatly in start-up costs. Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers come in many different styles and fabrics. Each style comes with a different price tag. You can even buy used cloth diapers to decrease the startup price. These diapers are made to last. If you can acquire cloth diapers as a gift, you can bring your startup cost to zero. It only takes 24 cloth diapers to fully cloth diaper your baby. It’s much easier to request these diapers as gifts as opposed to requesting all 7000 disposable diapers.

Prefolds – The Budget-Friendly Option

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Prefold diapers with covers are the cheapest startup. Prefolds are rectangular pieces of fabric that have multiple layers of fabric sewn together. Prefolds are the absorbent part of the diaper. They are folded and placed on baby or are laid in the diaper cover. Diaper covers are a waterproof shell that is put on top of the prefold to contain moisture. 24 prefolds are about $2 each. A waterproof PUL cover is roughly $15. To cloth diaper full time, you will need to invest in 24 prefolds for $48 and 8 PUL covers for $120. The total for this style of cloth diaper is $168.

Pockets – An Easy to Use Mid Range Solution

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Pocket diapers are popular because they are easy to use. Pocket diapers are waterproof covers with a layer of stay-dry material sewn in. This extra layer of material creates a pocket where you can stuff absorbent inserts. Pocket diapers average around $20. For a full stash of 24 diapers, it would be $480.

All-in-ones – For Parents Who Like Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers

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All-in-one diapers are an excellent choice for parents who usually buy more expensive biodegradable diapers. All-in-one diapers are great for these parents because they are the most similar to disposable diapers. You don’t have to stuff or fold them before use. The absorbent inserts are stitched onto the waterproof covers. All-in-ones are extremely easy to use.

All-in-ones come with a higher upfront price for new diapers. Keep in mind this can always be offset by buying used diapers or requesting these as gifts. You only need 24 cloth diapers to take your baby through potty training. All-in-ones average around $25. The total for this style of cloth diaper is $600.


Cloth wipes are extremely economical. These can be tossed into the laundry along with your cloth diapers. You only need to buy or make 48. Each wipe is about $1.50. For three years, you can use these wipes for $72.

Wet Bags

Skip the expensive diaper pail altogether. Cloth diaper wet bags can be hung on doorknobs or the backs of doors. Wet bags are made of a similar material as cloth diaper covers. They function as waterproof laundry bags for your cloth diapers. To cloth diaper full time, you only need two of these. Wet bags are about $15 apiece. For $30 you will not have to buy any diaper pail refills.

Buying & Reselling Used Cloth Diapers

What I love about cloth diapers is that there is a market for used cloth diapers. When you are finished cloth diapering your children, you can recoup some of your money spent on cloth diapers. You can recover about 25% of your original investment.

Another way to cheaply get into cloth diapering is by buying a used stash of cloth diapers. This drastically cuts down on the upfront cost and keeps cloth diapers out of landfills. Also, once you’ve used your stash of cloth diapers on your first baby, they can be reused on your second child. Now you won’t have any upfront costs, except if you need to replace a diaper or two.

The Numbers

Disposable diapers, wipes, and refills will cost you $2,220. Cloth diapering with prefolds and covers will save you $1374. Pocket diapers will give you an extra $1062. All-in-ones will save you $942. Baby number two will save you $1,644 on all styles of cloth diaper if you reuse your entire stash. Cloth diapering can be a simple way to reduce your expenses for baby. If you commit to all cloth, including wipes, your savings will be substantial.

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