Cloth diapering is a choice many families make out of necessity. Simply put, disposable diapers are a huge budget breaker and a waste of money.
I’ve struggled severely financially before. I know the gut punch it is to buy groceries and then spend a fifth of your budget on diapers only to throw it in the trash after one use.
I clearly remember how responsible it felt to purchase my first set of prefolds and covers. I was saving my family money! This meant more groceries!
The following post was written by my dear friend Mindy. Mindy has 6 children and used cloth diapers off and on throughout the diapering years to save her family money. I always appreciated how she fully used each cloth diaper she had, using it to till it fell apart or passing them on to other moms in need. (I helped her sell some cloth diapers that had to be more than a decade old!)
Benefits of Cloth Diapers:
Freeing up the Budget for More than One Home in More Than One Way
The financial benefit to using cloth diapers is more than meets the eye and affect more than just the original cloth diaper purchaser. You might be surprised to learn the amazing ways cloth diapers save money.
For the original purchaser
Most children wear diapers for two to three years. If a parent is buying a new diaper for every single diaper change, which is what happens with disposable diapers, the cost adds up. Cloth diapers offer some financial wiggle room in the budget as compared to disposables since there is a onetime purchase for a smaller number of diapers.
Many naysayers refuse to look at the bottom line, financially, when considering cloth diapers. The ten-thirty-six cents per disposable diaper seems not that big of deal to them and the upfront cost for a stash of cloth is uncomfortable. When presented with the financial facts, though, those naysayers are left speechless.
There are many different numbers out there, but one paper cites: “total cost for reusable diapers would be $400 to $725, compared to $1,600 to $2,500 for disposables. The savings would be $1,200 to $2,100 for three years, or $400 to $700 per year.” 1
A consumer can save $400-700 a year! Several cite even more of a savings. Cloth diapering can free up a budget that is already tight, or offer some extra spending in a budget that isn’t. Either way, it’s a win.
It cannot be argued that disposable diapers are cheaper short term, of course. The start up for stocking a cloth diaper collection is definitely higher than one bag of disposable diapers, but when the disposables are gone, the cloth keeps diapering, hence the savings.
For the next purchaser
Helping free up some money in the original budget is a terrific reason to use cloth diapers, but since cloth diapers can be passed down to others or sold once the first child no longer needs them, a second family’s budget could reap the benefit of cloth diaper savings.
When a consumer sells her cloth diapers to another parent, she, in essence, gets some of her money back. Just for using cloth diapers! This means her budget is affected again!
Secondly, the mom who bought the used diapers has her budget affected by having to spend even less than the already money saving cost of cloth diapers. That means, in a way, that her budget is doubly affected.
Now, two budgets have saved due to cloth diapers. If the diapers are resold more than one time, even more budgets are affected!
For the cloth diaper user at the end of the line
Eventually, even the best cloth diaper meets the end of the road as far as taking care of diaper needs. That does not mean the diaper meets its demise, though.
Almost all kinds of cloth diapers can be repurposed once no longer effective on baby bottoms. Prefolds are the easiest to covert since they are easily used as dust, polishing, or car care/washing cloths. Other considerations are the following: batting for quilts or oven mitts, doll diapers, menstrual pads, and even compost, when worn out beyond all other use. All-in-one diapers are not to be left out of the repurpose game though. A few snips with a pair of scissors could change it into any of the above uses or into a swim diaper.
This repurposing creates more room in the budget for each item replaced with a retired cloth diaper. No longer is money spent on those products. That means a budget saves money again!
For the tax payer
Believe it or not, cloth diaper users actually save the government money too, therefore affecting the tax payer! Every disposable diaper ends up in a landfill eventually, and this costs money.
“In their study, Brown and Pham found that cloth diapers also saved local governments money because less waste is contributed to landfills. A baby can produce up to 1 ton of trash from disposable diapers per year, they found. That equates to a municipal savings of $100 to $180 per ton to dispose of them.”1
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, end up being used until the cloth itself disintegrates. That’s a long time and it doesn’t cost tax payers anything.
>>>Sign the petition for the Environmental Tax Credit for Cloth Diaper Usage!<<<<
A single budget can be affected many times! Once, by saving money on using cloth diapers instead of disposable. Twice, by selling these diapers used. Thrice, by repurposing the diapers into other household items. Fourthly, by affecting the tax environment.
Using cloth diapers saves money, that’s clear. It’s also beautiful that it can save so many people money in so many different ways.
Other posts written on cloth diapering to save money:
Saving money with cloth diapers
How to cloth diaper your baby for $200
Do Cloth Diapers Really Save You Money?
Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ.
Pheodora Holmes says
Such an informative article. I’ve just started CDing my second child and would like to share this link on my blog please, I’m trying to spread the word. In our town with a population of about 700 000 I think there’s less than 100 parents that CD their kids, LOL. Needles to say here in South Africa it’s not a popular choice at all. ;)
Mary Jo Ruck says
I don’t think cloth diapers are actually going to save me money. At first I thought they would. I even bought diapers they were only $7/each or so.
My problem is that my water bill nearly doubled. It went from $25-$30/month to $50 a month. So not cool. Before I was only spending about $30/month on sposies. :( I also live in Japan, and so that may be partly why. Have any of you noticed an increase in your water bill from when you were using disposables vs. cloth?
However, I take solace in the fact that either way, saving money or not, it IS better for the environment. And that does make me happy.
Julie Craft says
As a cloth diaper retailer… I have to chime in that depending on the brand that you use and how/where you are purchasing — you’re also helping a few other families along the way… The small business who retails/stocks them… And the small business/WAHM that makes them! It’s amazing to think of how many can be impacted by a thoughtful choice! Plus, when you spend/buy local — those dollars usually stay local and boost the local economy! Imagine the impact if we all encouraged a friend or three to follow suit!
Autumn Beck says
Absolutely! That’s part of the joy of buying cloth diapers for me… Supporting wahms and their families!
I used donated disposables from our church’s food bank because things were so tight. It makes me happy to know that by using cloth diapers there are more donated disposables for other families in need. Btw, I’ve been seeing the diaper tax credit being suggested and I always point out a better alternative. Check out http://www.fairtax.org The fairtax would simplify the tax code and reward all families that consume less with a smaller tax burden. A cloth diaper tax credit would add more complication to an already over-complicated tax code and could end hurting the lowest income members of the cloth diapering community through the law of unintended consequences.
Always use my story as well Autumn…….The economy tanked and we became homeless after the birth of baby #4. All she cost us was the price of her car seat……because between my boobs and the stash from my other 3 children (to include clothes and diapers) I just had to wash laundry, lol! Can’t tell you how many times people have ragged on my “Hippie Ways” only to turn around and BLESS THEM because it never cost them a cent when those same people thought they would be expected to help us.
Don’t forget that if you use the diapers for more than one child, you could spend $0 to diaper a second and even third child…even more savings there!
Excellent post! At potty training a few years ago I calculated each pull-up to be 54-56 cents per diaper!! That sure adds up fast. The other huge savings for me is less runs to the store or online shopping in which I inevitably find something I NEED (that if I hadn’t seen it would not have been purchased at that time or ever). At the end of the month when things are tighter my cloth diapers make me so happy :)