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This is a big one, and one that has a lot of people turning back around and walking away.
Cloth diapering. In essence, it sounds nice. It saves you a ton of money on disposable diapers and saves the environment.
On the other hand, you are reusing diapers. You are touching pee and poo. You are praying your wash cycle did its job.
Can I tell you a secret? Even those of us who have fully committed to cloth diapers think those things.
Cloth diapering is overwhelming. I don’t even know where to start.
I hear you. That was me a year ago.
We had a baby on the way, and I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. But I didn’t know where to start.
Prefolds or pockets? All-in-one or flats and covers? The lingo was foreign to me, and I didn’t know what I should stock up on before the baby got here.
We did some research online to see what different types of diapers there were, the pros and cons of each (because there is no perfect type!), and what would work best for us.
Even then, you still might not know what will work best for you once baby is here.
So here’s what we did.
We started with “preloved” diapers. That is a gentle way of saying that our diapers were hand-me-downs.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: GROSS! You used used diapers? On your baby? How COULD you?
All right, already, calm down. As it turns out, there is a huge community on Facebook that buys and sells preloved diapers. Most people see these diapers as an investment, and take very good care of them.
And even then, there are instructions on how to bleach and strip your preloved diapers, before you wash them a few times, before they even touch your baby’s bottom.
We were lucky enough to be gifted with a ton of pockets and all-in-twos. We bought some preloved covers and all-in-ones, and we were off to the races!
What worked best for you guys?
Honestly, we thought all-in-ones would work best for us. They are closest to a disposable (no putting anything together, just straight onto baby’s bottom like a disposable) and the least amount of hassle while you’re changing baby.
All-in-ones turned out to be a pain for us because of how long it took to dry them!
We did not put them in the dryer, and it ended up taking a day or so for them to completely dry. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
We ended up going with a combination of prefolds with covers, and all-in-twos (GroVia with soakers).
These were easiest for us, since the prefolds and soakers could go in the dryer for fast dry time. They’re also easy to hang on the line outside to get bleached by the sun (flat prefold vs several layers in an all-in-one).
We bought new prefolds on the Green Mountain Diapers website and love the quality.
Do you have to line dry or can you use the dryer? I don’t want a clothesline in my yard.
Yeah, I hear you there. Although I have to say: I grew up with a long clothesline in my backyard and remember running through the sheets and having a blast. But I don’t think that’s what you’re asking here.
I didn’t want a clothesline in my backyard either. It takes up space and isn’t nice to look at.
We ended up buying a retractable clothesline, and it has been AMAZING. It has two lines in it, which holds all of our prefolds perfectly. We mounted it on our brick house, and it extends over our yard to our fence.
I extend the line the day I need to line dry my diapers. Let them sit outside in the sunshine to kill any bacteria and bleach them naturally. Then retract the line back when I don’t need it.
We also bought these clothespins, which are perfect for sitting out in the sun and not rusting. They are really durable, and hold heavy, wet prefolds easily.
Finally, let’s get down to dollars and cents.
I’m going to use us as an example, since there are so many ways you can go with buying your disposables and cloth diapers.
Adding up everything we have spent on cloth diapers so far, it’s a grand total of $536.87.
This was for:
- 15 new covers
- 78 new prefold diapers
- 9 preloved all-in-ones
- 3 preloved pockets
- 5 preloved fitted diapers
- 4 preloved covers
Now, onto disposables.
Doing some research online, it is estimated that a baby goes through 2,500-3,000 diapers in the first year.
Looking at a popular brand of diapers on Amazon, sizes 1-3 (a good average of sizes in the first year) average about $48.00 at the time of writing this post. The median amount of diapers in these packs is 186, so we’ll use that number.
- 2,500 diapers per year / 186 diapers per pack = 13.44 packs / year
- 3,000 diapers per year / 186 diapers per pack = 16.13 packs / year
If we use the average of $48.00/pack, we get:
- 13.44 packs / year * $48.00 / pack = $657.25 / year
- 16.13 packs / year * $48.00 / pack = $788.71 / year
Our total savings in year 1: between $120.38 and $251.84.
The savings only continue to go up from there, since I haven’t done the math for year 2 and beyond, depending on when we potty train.
And we will use these same diapers on any subsequent babies, saving us even more money!
Cloth diapers may seem overwhelming. But, like anything else, you buckle down and figure it out, if it’s the route you want to take.
For us, it was a no-brainer. We are saving quite a bit of money, and we’re not throwing away thousands of diapers into the landfill. Plus, we will likely use the prefolds and pocket inserts for cleaning instead of paper towels once we’re done having kids.
It’s possible to save even more money than what we did, since I wanted to buy some things new. But whatever route you go, cloth diapering can save your family a ton of money over time.
Do you cloth diaper your littles? What has been your favorite and least favorite aspects of it?