Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cloth vs. Disposable: Let’s talk money

When it comes to the money side of this debate, there’s no contest. Cloth diapering wins hands down. While the initial investment in cloth diapers and diaper covers may seem high, when you compare this with the cost of disposables over a two to three-and-a-half year period, the savings are significant. Add to that, your supply of cloth diapers can be reused with future children.

I’m not going to post any actual cost comparisons here because the costs vary greatly depending on whether you choose generic or store brand disposables or the more expensive brand names. There is also a wide variety of cloth diaper options and prices. Additional cost factors include whether or not you plan to have more children who can reuse the cloth diapers and the amount of months your child is actually in diapers. Research shows that, across the board, cloth diapered toddlers are potty trained much earlier than their disposable diaper wearing playmates, due to the fact that a child is aware of a wet diaper when in cloth, but does not mind wetting his diaper when wearing a super absorbent (and chemically laced) disposable.

One way to offset the initial cost of cloth diapers is to register for them as gifts. Do your research ahead of time to determine which type of diapers are right for you. Ask your environmentally-conscious friends which cloth diapers they use. Many prefer all-in-ones, but they are quite a bit more expensive than standard pre-folds. AIOs do not require any type of diaper cover, so not needing to buy covers offsets the price a bit. One of the popular brands of AIOs is bumGenius™ which boasts their diapers are designed to make cloth diapering easy for every-day people. The company estimates a savings of approximately $1200 for one child using bumGenius AIOs over disposables.

We use standard pre-folds with plastic pants, although we do also have a few diaper covers, styled like disposable diapers, that go over the cloth diaper and fasten with Velcro®. While a set of AIOs would be nice, the pre-folds are quite easy to use, especially since we use Snappi® diaper fasteners and not diaper pins. T-shaped, a Snappi® is made out of a stretchable non-toxic material with grips on the ends that attach to the diaper. Visit their website for more information and purchasing information:

Of course, the cost of laundering cloth diapers is an issue, but is offset by the added cost of trash bags (more plastic in the landfill) and extra trips to the store for diapers when you run out unexpectedly. Not to mention the increased visits to the pediatrician that are often necessary when using disposable diapers, due to increased and worsened cases of diaper rash, respiratory problems and reactions to the chemicals in the diapers. Tomorrow, I’ll address the health risks and issues associated with disposable diapers.

Basically, it’s just common sense to realize the savings of using cloth diapers over one-time-use diapers. If you pocket the weekly savings, you could reward your potty-trained toddler with a trip to Disneyland and not even touch your budget!

Keeping it green,



  1. Hey, anyone out there interested in buying 10 size small BumGenius diapers? My daughter outgrew them. They're still in good shape. The ONLY cloth brand I've used is BumGenius. They're very much like a disposable. Very convenient. They cost like $16 per diaper new. I'm looking to get $8 per diaper. Any takers? If so, email

  2. We used cloth diapers for most of the years when our kids were in diapers. I think it is a lot more sanitary for the environment to dip your dirty diaper in the toilet and then wash than to seal it up and throw it in the trash. You make very good points, Hana.

  3. Hi Hana,
    It's great to see your thoughtful chatting about the issues involved in the choice to cloth diaper. One thing I don't *quite* get is people ranting on about the water and washing issue - it's not like they'd use disposable clothes just to save water?

    I understand it is actually very little water - about 5 loo flushes to wash cloth diapers in a load. (something like that!) and well, the impact is something you have more control over - by line drying, minimal dryer use, not soaking and bleaching, sanitising with the sun and so on.

    The next step for eco-conscious families to consider is combining cloth diaper use with Baby Pottying - The Elimination Communication method is an ancient way to gradually reduce your use of diapers, one at a time.

    May I offer a link to my resources helping families ease into EC part-time? I am really enthusiastic about helping families ease into baby pottying as a way to reduce diaper washing and waste.

    I have put together a free introductory series of emails - a guided tour about the best attitudes to adopt when beginning EC. It's very popular!



  4. Hi Chandra,

    Thanks for posting such relevant comments. Would you be interested in guest blogging about EC? I know nothing about it, but I'd like to introduce it to my readers. Could you do that for me?

    Let me know. Thanks!



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