Home » Diaper Wars: Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

Diaper Wars: Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

by Baby Cures
Cloth diapers

Are You Stumped On What To Get Mom-To-Be As A Baby Shower Gift? Consider Cloth Diapers

Take it from me and get low down on cloth diapers vs disposable diapers. I am going to give you my no nonsense honest opinion in this Cloth Diapers 101 article. Let me start off by saying that I am a cloth diaper veteran. Really, my wife is the veteran, I am just her assistant in all things in the diapering world. Did you know that using cloth diapers is not all poo but easy on the pocket too!

I am going to come right out and say it, babies need diapers. Diapers are an absolute necessity when it comes to raising a baby or toddler. For the average baby, in their first year, using the assumptions found in the table below from New Kids Center, a new parent can expect to change or go through 2,960 diapers on average in a baby’s first year. Wow! That is a lot of diapers and a lot of landfill.

“I used them off and on with all my kids. There is nothing cuter than a little baby butt covered in a cloth diaper.” – Sandy B. on Facebook, personal friend”

Further, if you take that figure and multiply it by 3 years (assuming your child will be potty trained by their 4th birthday) that would be nearly 9,000 diapers by age 3. According to Bun Bun 1 on YouTube, they are much more conservative at an estimate of 8,149 diapers over the course of infancy through toddler years. That’s not all, diapers are also big business too.

AgeHow many Diapers a DayNumbers of Diapers per Month (Estimated)
0-1 month10-12320
1-5 months8-10240
5-9 months8 240
9-12 months8 240
Total: 240*11+320 = 2,960

How Many Diapers Will A Child Go Through From Birth To Being Potty Trained?

If you take the estimates above, my estimate of nearly 9,000 at $.30 per disposable diaper would cost $2,700 from birth through potty training. The estimate in the video above is $2,444,70. That’s a lot of money, if you ask me.

How Much Will You Save Using Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers?

Let’s Break It Down Starting With The Startup Cloth Diaper Inventory

If we look at these same numbers for cloth diapers, let’s now take a look at our intial investment and startup of owning cloth diapers with some assumptions on the initial costs:

Item/AssumptionCloth Diaper Inventory
Eeach cloth diaper shell is $20 and we buy 30 (having us do laundry once to twice to three times per week)$600
Wet bags for storing soiled cloth diapers are about $12 each and we pick up 3$36
A pack of 12 inserts is $30 and we pick up 3 packs$90

Beyond this initial inventory, laundry detergent, a special kind for cloth diapers is $60/year and utilities (water/gas/electricity) is about $180/year. Let’s also suggest that you really like the latest designs in year 2 and 3 and pick up 3 more cloth diaper shells in both years 2 and 3 for your baby, that would equal $60/year.

ItemYear 1Year 2Year 3
Cloth Diaper Inventory Purchase$726$60$60
Utilities (Water and Electricity)$180$180$180
Total per year:$966$300$300
Total cost owning cloth diapers over 3 years: $1,566

The Cloth Diaper vs. Disposable Diaper Breakdown

Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This Cloth Diaper vs. Disposable Diaper Cost Analysis

Using the most conservative cost estimate for disposable diapers available above from Bun Bun 1 on YouTube, we find out the winner in this cloth diaper vs. disposable diaper cost breakdown analysis. Drumroll please… And the winner is… Cloth diapers by an $848 savings margin!

Total cost owning cloth diapers vs. Disposable Diapers:
$2,444.70 – $1,566 = $848.70 in savings

Beyond this estimate, if you happen to have more than one child, these savings can then apply exponentially to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more babies because you already have cloth diapers, only adding new ones when one shell needs to be thrown away due to wear and tear. So… much… savings using cloth diapers!

When looking at the math, when my children were still babies, it made financial sense. I could deal with some poop for a couple of years for an extra $848 in my pocket. So, my wife and I took the plunge with our first born and picked up some cloth diapers, bumGenius brand specifically.

Just about everywhere you look, using the most basic of searches on the internet proves that using cloth diapers far outweighs the costs associating with disposable cloth diapers.

“A typical family can spend between $2,000 and $3,000 per baby for two years on disposable diapers while cloth diapers and accessories run about $800 to $1,000 if you wash them yourself. If you go with a cloth diaper laundering service it will run you closer to the cost of disposables around $2,500 to $2,800. But also keep in mind that you can reuse cloth diapers on any new siblings that come along.” – The Bump

Don’t just take our word for it, here is just a small sampling with a basic internet search that compares the costs of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers.


Have You Ever Heard… “We’re Out Of Diapers. Can You Go To The Store?”

Yes, there is a convenience to using cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers, but when it is late at night or cold and blistery outside or in other cases, swealteringly hot (depending on the time of year), no one, especially mom or dad want to go to the store becuase they ran low on disposable diapers. Cloth diapers saves an exhausted mom or dad from having to deal with that scenario because all you need to do is make sure your baby’s cloth diapers are fresh from the laundry.

Disposable Diapers Take 500 Years To Decompose According To Some Estimates

Diapers, if they are the disposable type, create more strain on landfills and over the course of the time that a baby or toddler is in diapers. Sure, there is a convenience to buying disposable diapers and just tossing them into the garbage. You don’t have to dunk a cloth diaper into the toilet or play the swirly-twirly game until the poo releases from the cloth diaper with your toilet, but your wallet is paying for that convenience, not to mention, Mother Earth. Every diaper you dispose of makes its way to a landfill and truth be told, according to the Real Diaper Association at RealDiapers.org, who mention their citations at the bottom of their article, it can take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. That means a baby will have grown up, lived their full life and passed away 5 or 6 times over by the time their poo-filled diaper eventually decomposes in a landfill. This is the most phenomenal fact about disposable diapers that no one likes to think about when buying them.

“We [used cloth diapers] with [our first baby] Liam and loved it. Started to with Alec but switched to disposable since I was working and we were lazy and short on time. I did sell everything for almost what I paid for them so it was a win for us” – Jess E. on Facebook

How To Clean Cloth Diapers

Most of the concern on whether to use cloth diapers with a baby is how to clean a cloth diaper. What do you do with the poo? Well, the video collection below will show you what you need to do to ensure that your cloth diapers get and stay clean when washing them.

How To: PROPERLY Wash Cloth Diapers

The Daycare Dilimma And Whether Using Cloth Diapers At A Licensed Daycare Is Permitted

“Love them. Have used them on all three of my kids. I brought the Great Cloth Diaper Change to Australia, am a member of the Australian Nappy Association and my husband (who initially said no to using cloth nappies) crows about the benefits of cloth nappies and recommends them to his friends and colleagues who are expecting.” – Vicky M. from Squiggles and Bubbles, a part of the Kid Blogger Network

Cloth diapers, in some cases are allowed at daycare and in some other cases they are not due to health reasons. When it comes to licensed daycare, each state is different that it is specifically permitted in some states while in others it may be restricted. But, according to Diaper Wrecker in their 2013 article, only 10% of states have regulations that do not permit cloth diapers at licensed daycare facilities. 61% of states in the United States specifically permit the use of cloth diapers and 29% do not have any regulations on the books that disallow the use of cloth diapers. That means 90%! In 90% of states in the United States, you can have cloth diapers at a licensed daycare facility.

Here are some other sources that confirm Diaper Wrecker’s findings:

Of course, it is recommended for you to research whether your state restricts the use of cloth diapers at a licensed daycare or not, but chances are, as we found above, your state more than likely doesn’t restrict the use of cloth diapers at a licensed daycare facility.

“[I]f [you]’re a full time working mom and Dad and use Daycare it may not be worth it because ours would only accept disposable. So [you will] need to ask if [your] daycare provider would be willing to use them.” – Erin M., a member of the Kid Blogger Network group on Facebook

The Cloth Diaper Lifestyle… Is It For You Or Mom-To-Be As A Baby Shower Gift Idea

Using cloth diapers is a lifestyle choice that you and your family need to make together. For some, it might not make sense if you have little to no extra time. Additionally, some parents may not want to go through separating diaper inserts from the cloth diaper and removing the poo from fecal matter soiled cloth diapers before washing them. For others, it is convenience of tossing a disposable diaper in the trash that matters most without having to deal with bodiy waste. For others, cloth diapers make sense.

Cloth diapers can make sense for you and your family. Financially, cloth diapers are worth it when it comes to cost savings. If it matters that your landfill footprint is as small as it can be, then cloth diapers might be the way to go. If your schedule permits you the time to take your diapers apart and wash them, you may benefit having cloth diapers. If you don’t mind the dunk and swirl or using a cloth diaper sprayer that connects to a toilet, cloth diapers might be for you.

One thing is for sure, cloth diapers make for a fantastic baby shower gift idea because you can get one or two and if mom-to-be wants to give it a try, you have provided a means to do so to see how easy they really are to use with your baby. Besides, you get to pick out the cutest ones available when you give them as a baby shower gift. I think, out of respect and value for your friendship, mom-to-be will give them a try and let you know how well she likes them.

Quotes About Cloth Diapers From Personal Friends And The The Kid Blogger Network

“I spent a lot of money on a cloth diaper system, then ended up hating it and switching back to disposable. I felt like they were never truly clean.” – Erika B., personal friend.

“I used cloth diapers with my first child until I went back to work. Once I returned to work I used the disposable opting to use cloth only on my days off. When using cloth diapers, I used the disposable diaper liners which made washing the cloth diapers less time consuming.” – Debbie R., personal friend.

“I didn’t use cloth diapers until #4 and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner!!! We used one size pocket diapers and they were WAY easier than I anticipated! Everyone told me to get the sprayer attachment for my toilet but I would just dunk them and swish them around and toss into the pail to be washed!” – Rachel W. of Wunder Mum, a member of the Kid Blogger Network

“I did not know anyone else in real life that used cloth diapers so I was a little nervous about making the leap. My son is now 2 and I can honestly say it was one of my best decisions! One of my favorite perks to using cloth was just how cute my little guy looks when he is running around in one! We are getting ready to have baby number two in February and to my amazement they are all still in great condition! I really don’t need to add any to my stash…even though I kind of want to!” – Kayla O. of Parenting Expert to Mom, a member of the Kid Blogger Network

“I used cloth on both of mine and loved it. Cleaning was never a problem and I think it helped us go down a more natural route with washing powder. For me, the cost [savings is why I chose cloth nappies.] Larger outset but cheaper overall especially when [we] used with a second child was one draw. The fact that neither child ever had serious diaper rash or problems was another reason.” – Cerys P. of Rainy Day Mum, a member of the Kid Blogger Network

“Been cloth diape[s] for 18 years. I’ve cloth diapered all 4 of my kids as soon as each came home from the hospital. Currently, with my 6 month-old in cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are really so easy and so cute and nowadays they aren’t much different than disposables – you just throw them in the wash every few days. We also use cheap white washcloths as our wipes. The best part is we never have to make a run for diapers or wipes to a store in the middle of the night. I just hate to put paper and plastic on such delicate skin when they can wear a nice soft cloth diaper instead. ” – Stephanie P. of The Tip Toe Fairy, a member of the Kid Blogger Network

“As a self proclaimed cloth diaper blogger it’s a slippery slope of awesome. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but be easy on yourself, motherhood is hard. And yes, both kids are in disposables tonight because sometimes I just need a break…” – Bailey D. of Simply Mom Bailey, a member of the Kid Blogger Network

You may also like

Leave a Comment