Many people jumping into cloth diapering have an idea that they might be saving some money, but really, how much? Sometimes, it seems easier to parents to keep buying $20 packages of disposable diapers instead of investing a few hundred dollars in a cloth diapering system. So, let's crunch some numbers here, and see what we can find. How much can a cloth diaper user really save?
AssumptionsWe are going to have to make a few assumptions here in order to make this number crunching workable.
- Let's look at the cost of diapering a child from birth until potty training starts. For our purposes, let's say children will be in diapers for 2.5 years, so we will study the costs for that time period.
- Some people are really great about buying diapers at inexpensive prices. Others buy them at regular price in small packages. Still others focus on more high-end disposables (ie Seventh Generation and Tushies). For this study, we are going to look at the cost of buying diapers in bulk through diapers.com, getting the discount of bulk without adding the discount some people get for couponing. I am going to look at the cost of Huggies Supreme diapers in the Giant Case size, a middle-of-the-road diaper as far as cost is concerned. Hopefully this will even things out overall.
- We are going to assume there are 30 days in every month, just to make my life easier. This shorts us by about 12 days in the final cost analysis for disposables.
- With disposables, I did not figure out the cost of garbage, just like I did not figure out the cost of water and electricity for washing. I also did not figure out the cost of manufacturing and transporting to stores (and then to consumers' homes) over 7000 disposable diapers. I am hoping the costs about even out. Let me know if you want to do the number crunching for those. :)
Sticking with DisposablesWhen breaking down the cost of buying disposables, you cannot pick one flat rate per diaper, because the cost of each diaper goes up as a baby increases in size, and at the same time the number of diapers used each day goes down. So, I first figured out the price per diaper at each size based on current prices at diapers.com. Then, I did a price breakdown of the cost per month based on the growth of my older boys, who honestly were always big for their age.
So, you can see that in my calculations, the cost for 2.5 years of disposable diapers is $2294.39. But there are more costs to consider, including wipes and garbage bags. For wipes, I looked at the 576 count refill of Huggies Natural Wipes on diapers.com for $22.99. For garbage bags, I turned to amazon.com, where you can get 180 Glad drawstring kitchen bags for $45.99.
So, with these calculations, the grand total for diapering a child in disposable diapers for 2.5 years is $2489.91.
Cloth diapersThe cost of cloth diapering can be extremely variable, based on the types of cloth diapers one purchases, whether they are sized or one-size, the accessories purchased, etc. So, I did three different cost analyses. The first is for a frugal cloth diapering system, the next is for a one size system, and the third for a sized diapering system.
All three include diaper detergent and other accessories to make cloth diapering full time a possibility, including hemp doublers for nighttime and at least one pail liner and wet bag for storing diapers at home and on the road. For detergent, I picked Rockin' Green Detergent, which is the least expensive cloth diaper-specific detergent out there. Some people buy mass-market products (ie Tide), while others choose more expensive options (like Allens Naturally or Country Save). I chose this option because it is middle-of-the-road.
Here is where the numbers fall...
So, the cost of cloth diapering for 2.5 years ranges from $358.10 to $927.19. The savings can range from $1562.72 to $2131.81.
The Final NumbersIf I average the three cloth diapering packages, I come up with an average cost of $629.80. If I use this number as the cost of cloth diapering for 2.5 years then we find...
Cloth diaper users can save an average of $1860.11 from birth through age 2.5!What do you think? Without even considering the environmental and health benefits of cloth, will over $1800 dollars in your pocket convince you to use cloth? For me, it is a no-brainer.
Sara, Diaper Daisy