When new parents and caregivers begin their cloth diapering journey and come to our boutique for help, the most common question they have, once they understand how a cloth diaper functions, is ‘how much does it cost to use cloth diapers?’
The relative cost of cloth diapering can sometimes seem confusing only because it’s not nearly as familiar to most people as the cost of disposable diapers. However, once you understand the comparative cost breakdown of cloth diapers, it becomes clear that cloth diapers are not only the best financial choice, but can save you even more money when used for multiple children as well.
Having four kids born in two different countries, two different states and across nine years, I can promise you that one of the best financial parenting decisions we ever made was switching to cloth!
Having said that, this article will focus on how much individual diaper styles cost, how much you can expect to spend when building your cloth diaper stash, and the comparative cost of disposable diapers.
How Many Diapers Do I Need?
When choosing the best cloth diaper style for your family, the cost can absolutely be a key contributing factor. But before we discuss cost, let’s briefly discuss how many diapers we need to purchase.
On average, a cloth diapered newborn will need at least 12 diapers per 24 hour period. As baby grows, and the time between wet diapers increases, you may transition to as little as 9-10 cloth diapers per 24 hour period.
Because babies and their growth patterns are all unique, these are averages to help you get started. We generally recommend that parents new to cloth select 12 diapers per 24 hour period and multiply that by the number of days they want to go between washes.
Assuming you would like to wash every other day (our recommendation), you will need 24 diapers. In addition, we encourage parents to add 2 diapers for the period of time that your diapers spend in the wash, for a total of 26 cloth diapers.
Cost Breakdown by Style
Prefolds and Covers
Prefolds and covers can be considered one of the most budget friendly options because this combination allows parents and caregivers to use the waterproof element (the cover) multiple times.
Covers can be used an average of 3 times before they must be changed if they are properly wiped clean. (The exception is stool. Always use a new cover if and when there are feces present).
Quality covers average between $13.25 and $16.95 each (depending on brand), while bamboo/cotton prefolds average about $3.00 each.
In total, 10 covers and 26 newborn prefolds using this system will range from $210.50 to $247.50. It’s important to mention that most caregivers also prefer to use Snappis with their prefolds, so we will add in an additional $9.99 for 3 Snappis to give us a range of $220.49 to $257.49.
Pro Tip: The cost of prefolds fluctuates slightly when purchasing different sizes, so there may be a slight increase if you are beginning cloth with an older baby or toddler.
all-in-one Cloth Diapers
The cost of all-in-one cloth diapers varies from brand to brand unlike covers, but they do not require any additional parts or pieces.
all-in-one cloth diapers must be changed at every wet diaper and have a wider range of pricing than prefolds and covers, but durable brands are available from $15.95 to $25.75.
A complete 26 diaper all-in-one purchase can range from $414.70 to $669.50; however, it is worth noting that every diaper brand we carry offers packages for their all-in-one collections that can save you even more when compared to disposables.
Hybrid Cloth Diapers
One of the most popular styles we sell is the hybrid system. Snap-in soaker pads are combined with covers to create a happy medium between prefolds and covers and the all-in-one options. Snap-in soaker pads must be changed every wet diaper, but hybrid covers can be reused 2-3 times (again, the exception here is the presence of stool).
Hybrid covers average about $16.95 and soaker pads range from $16.95 to $18.95 per two pack, depending on fiber. Assuming you needed a new cover every other change, hybrid systems can range from $440.70 to $466.70, depending on the soaker pad fiber you choose. Again, many brands offer packages in this style as well.
Pocket diapers are extremely customizable and very popular with parents who need different levels of absorbency for different times of the day. Pocket diapers and their inserts must be changed every wet diaper, but inserts are almost always included. Pocket diapers can range from $19.95 to $22.75, bringing your 26 diaper total to anywhere from $518.70 to $591.50.
Fitteds and wool covers
Fitted diapers are extremely absorbent and are used in combination with wool covers. Although there are several fiber options to choose from, on average, extremely absorbent fitted diapers can range from $26.00 to $29.00 each, bringing your 26 diaper total to anywhere from $676.00 to $754.00.
Wool covers average about $48.00 to $52.00, but you only need 3 to 4 of these to cloth diaper successfully, bringing your cover total anywhere from $144.00 to $208.
How Much Can I Expect to Spend When Building a Cloth Diaper Stash?
Once you have chosen the style that you would like to use, it’s easy to build your cloth diaper stash slowly. Many brands offer packages in each style that will help you get started, and most parents choose from these first. Once you have all the cloth diapers you need, it’s time to think about a wet bag to store dirty diapers in at home and one for on the go, cloth diaper safe cream and a diaper sprayer and/or liners.
Cloth Diaper Accessories
You want to make sure that any product you use on your baby’s diaper area is cloth diaper safe, so be sure to check your ingredient list thoroughly.
Cloth Diaper Creams
Although there are many cloth diaper safe creams, their average costs are very similar and fall into the $12.95 to $14.95 range.
A good quality wet bag for your home has a wider average from $14.95 to $35.99, while diaper bag friendly wet bags can run from $10.00 to $15.00.
Liners and sprays
Beyond those, you may need either liners or a diaper sprayer to deal with the solids that will eventually need to be removed before washing your diapers. Bio-liners will cost around $11.00 and a good diaper sprayer with a great warranty can be $40.00 to $69.95.
To give you an average, let’s assume that your wet bags and diaper cream fall into the $45.00 category and you choose to use Bio-liners rather than a diaper sprayer, you will just need to add $55.00 onto the diaper style totals that you chose.
So what does all this mean in comparison to disposable diapers?
At the time of publish, the very lowest regular price in the country of the most popular disposable diaper brand on the market today, would leave you spending $1802.00 to diaper your child for 24 months, given that you always purchased in bulk at these prices and were able to potty train your child at 24 months.
If your child spent 36 total months in diapers, your cost would rise to $2656.00. 48 total months puts your cost at $3510.00.
Again, that assumes you purchase at the very lowest price offered every single time, always buy in bulk, never waste a diaper due to outgrowing a size and that you never have a need to purchase diaper cream.
More realistically, let’s assume that you don’t always catch the very lowest price every single time, you need to grab a few small packs here and there and you actually do need to use that diaper cream (because the chemicals found in disposable diapers really can cause rashes!). Or, maybe you would like to try a more eco-friendly brand, but it is at least two to three times the price. Any of these assumptions only mean your costs continue to add up.
Final breakdown: At the end of your child’s diapering years, given that your potty learning journey ends at 24 months, your specific choices could potentially mean that cloth diapers would save you anywhere from $1500 at the very least to upwards of $3000! Beyond that, each year your child is in diapers will save you hundreds and hundreds more. Imagine buying diapers once and using them from birth until potty learning with no extra costs or spending!
Hoping to save even more? Many parents who choose cloth diapering do so because they intend to have more than one child. Purchasing high quality cloth diapers will allow you to use your diapers across multiple children, which can multiply your savings two or even three times!
For more comparisons, our diaper styles and packages can be found on our website, which features several brands and styles for those who would like to compare more than just cost. If you’d like more cloth diaper tips and tricks or just to learn more about cloth diaper products, LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook!