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Cloth Diapering: Get the Bottom Line on Saving Money


If it has been said once, it’s been said a hundred times: cloth diapering will save money and is better for the environment.  But… (back of hand to forehead) the hassle! The laundry! The mess! The smell!

Well, no, actually. I started cloth diapering first to cut expenses. The price of disposable diapers is exorbitant! For $70, a friend sold me 18 cloth pocket diapers with double inserts (don’t worry if you don’t yet know what that means). I loved it! For Christmas, a friend got us six more diapers, and I bought six more myself using coupons, of course.

With 30 cloth diapers, I  do, on average, two loads of diapers per week (we do use a disposable for overnight). You’re not afraid of an extra two loads of laundry, are you? Because that’s really all there is to it.

Cloth diapering isn’t what your grandmother is used to.  No more safety pins and sweaty plastic pants. Today’s cloth diapers are fitted and shaped. They come in various sizes or an “all in one” size that adjusts to fit newborns, infants and toddlers. Many come in adorable patterns and colors.

Try cloth diapers without a commitment at Jillian’s Drawers. Jillian’s offers a $10 cloth diapering trial. They’ll send about a dozen cloth diapers to try for three weeks. Return them all, and the program costs you only $10. Keep some and they’ll just add that amount to what you owe. I tried this program for three weeks with the thought that if I could manage the trial then I could handle it full time. Cloth diapers are cute, easy, eco-friendly, and not the hassle or mess that many think they are.

I didn’t know anything about cloth diapering and spent some time researching. Jillian’s Drawers is an excellent resource to learn about different types of diapers, how to use them, how to wash them, and how to get the most for the money. Here’s a primer:

Basic Types:

  • Pre-folds: These are the most economical kind of cloth diapers and would look familiar to grandma. No more safety pins anymore, though; now we use a Snappi.
  • Pocket diapers: What I use. An insert is placed inside the pocket of a diaper. Mine have double inserts, so I can double up for overnight, naptime, or long trips.
  • All-in-ones: Definitely my favorite from the Jillian’s trial pack. There are no separate pieces. You take the diaper off the baby and throw it in your diaper pail. Wash. Dry. Reuse.

Storing Dirty Diapers:

  • I didn’t buy a diaper pail. I washed out an old kitty litter bucket. We keep it in the garage and throw dirty diapers in there.
  • Many sources say if your baby is exclusively breastfed, you don’t have to pre-clean any poopy diapers. The poop is liquid, so just toss in the diaper pail for later washing.
  • Once baby starts solids, get rid of the solid poop before they go in the washing machine. We installed this diaper sprayer to our toilet for that purpose. An awesome product!

Washing and Drying Diapers:

  • Cold rinse followed by a warm water wash using regular detergent (commercial or homemade). Most diapers require a hot water wash, but mine specifically said to not use hot water. Always follow the directions so your diapers last a long time!
  • Diapers can be line or machine dried. When they get stained, dry them in the sun because UV rays get the stains out!
  • Once a month I use a brand name detergent (RLR) to “strip” the diapers to keep them clean and prevent odors.

Tips:

  • Talk to friends. You’ll be surprised who uses cloth diapers!
  • Read, read, read! There are tons of online resources.
  • Search Craigslist and local Facebook online yard sales for used cloth diapers for sale.
  • Enjoying cloth diapering? Get really brave and use cloth wipes!
Cost Breakdown:
Type Brand Jillian’s Drawers Green Mountain** Kelly’s Closet
Prefolds* varies $1.75-8.00 $1.25-3.75 $2.00-8.00
  Pocket BumGeniusOne size $17.95 $17.97
Kawaii One Size $9.95 $9.97
Fuzzibunz Elite $17.95 $17.95
   All in One BumGenius Elemental One Size $24.95 $22.08-24.95 $24.97
Swaddlebees Simplex 2.0 $17.95 $18.95 $18.97
Tots Bots Easy Fit $23.95 $23.95
Kissaluvs Marvels $22.95 $14.95 (newborn size only)

*Prefolds require a Snappi, about $4, and a diaper cover, about $9.50 – $20.00.
**Green Mountain Diapers carry several unique brands.

For very basic, no-frills diapers, check out Cloth Diaper Wholesale and Just Simply Baby, which sell diapers for $12 and $11.50 each, respectively. Here are some other links to investigate: Kelly’s Closet, Green Mountain DiapersDiaper Swappers.

  This has been a guest post by Tiffany from PA.
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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19 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering: Get the Bottom Line on Saving Money”

  1. Chrystal Otto says:

    After 2 years of cloth diapering, I can’t even imagine how much money I’ve saved never buying a single diaper! I even made my own wipes and wipe solution.

    I LOVE econobum covers and a basic flat fold, I even purchased 2nds with small flaws for 1/2 the price. I purchase on cottonbabies.com or momsmilkboutique.com (often give out coupons, freebies AND has a program to earn points with purchases towards future purchases).

  2. for any one interested you can also get cloth diapers from http://www.comfyrumps.com for like 9 to 10$ each… and they work really good.. ben using them for a year and have had really no problems 

  3. Thank you so much for reviewing Jillian’s Drawers! Just a quick note on pricing… FuzziBunz Elites at our store are only $17.95 (not $19.95) AND Buy 5, Get 1 FREE. Also, Tots Bots are $23.95 (not $29.95). This is a great article introducing cloth diapers! Nice job!

    Gently used diapers are another great option to saving. Our gently used diapers are virtually new (only 3 weeks old), guaranteed, and you can save 25% – 40%. Your area may have a local cloth diaper swap. Craig’s List can be hit or miss… if diapers haven’t been taken care of, are old, or have lost their waterproofing, they can definitely leak. If you know the person, that’s great!

    Snaps tend to last longer than Aplix, so if you want to use your diapers for a second baby and save even more, we recommend snap closures.

    Look for awesome return policies that let you return diapers you don’t love. In our store you can buy, wash, and try any cloth diaper for 30 days… don’t absolutely love them? Return stain-free and you’ll get a full store credit. That way you can turn around and try something else that works better for you!

    Thanks again for spreading the cost savings of cloth! Not to mention the environment and health benefits! Go cloth.

    -Mandi Meidlinger, Jillian’s Drawers Owner

  4. I cloth diaper and I bought all of the diapers I tried at first from Diaperswappers.com. Great online community to ask for advice and you can buy a few pre-owned diapers to try first if you think you know what you want to start with. Then if that particular diaper doesn’t work for you can sell or trade it for something else. After trying multiple brands I settled on Bum Genius Sized All in Ones until my little one learned how to take off velcro and so now I use Bum Genius One Size Pockets and they work great and dry quicker. I get my new ones from Cottonbabies.com and right now they have a buy 5 get one free sale going on!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish there had been all these choices when my now-adult children were in diapers, but still found cloth to be the best and loved hanging them out in the sun to get them nice and bright.

  6. Sure, this article isn’t totally comprehensive.  If it were, it would be a lengthy novel.  This is a great article to plant the seed for anyone thinking about doing cloth.  Jillian’s Drawers, Kelly’s Closet, and Nicki’s Diapers are great resources, as well as the cloth diaper board on The Bump if you want to learn more.  I use the Best Bottoms system-I have about 8 covers and 30 inserts in each size.  The covers are adjustable and last from birth to toddlerhood.  Instead of the toilet sprayer, I buy disposable inserts that protect my diapers from solids.  Thanks for the tips KCL!

  7. AnneB says:

    I’m planning on cloth diaper my little one (who should be here any day!) and after talking to all of my cloth-diapering friends, have found some great deals on NEW diapers on E-Bay!!  Just thought I’d throw that out there since you can find name brand diapers for as low as $5/diaper!!!  Unbeatable!!

  8. Melissa says:

    Great article!  We cloth diaper our little one and love it.  A great place to look for cloth diaper coupons is Kelly’s Closet, I’ve paid just $12 per new diaper that way!

  9. Anonymous says:

    A little disappointed by this article to say the least. I think there is much more to tell. Flats are without a doubt the most economical way to go. You can’t debate .50 cents per each. Prefolds are more then double the price. Prefolds and Flats DO NOT REQUIRE A SNAPPI. I’ve been using them for 18 months now by just folding and using a cover. I didn’t like the idea of how sharp the Snappi looked and never had an issue not using it. I think it is important to mention as someone did below you can’t use any ‘brand name’ like the article says. Using a detergent for cloth diapers and your regular wash will save you money which the article didn’t even mention. Charlie’s Soap is about .16 cents per load, very economical. Many recommended detergents for cloth diapers run .16-.27 cents per load. Much cheaper then mainstream Dreft or a Free and Clear which you cannot use on cloth diapers. Kawaii Baby pockets are only 7.75 on their website, quite a bit cheaper then Kelly’s or other sites if you are interested in economical pockets.

  10. Anonymous says:

    As a mother of 10 (with having used cloth diapers with 7 of them and 2 of them still in diapers) I can vouch for the savings of using cloth diapers.  One thing I’d like to add is that you can save even more money with buying the old fashioned Gerber-style diapers.  I don’t like the newer Gerber diapers however as they are so much thinner then they used to be so I would suggest buying them used off of craigslist or garage sales.  I also used the old fashioned rubber pants.  I still find these at some Wal-marts and Toys ‘r Us as well as at craigslist, garage sales and second hand stores.  You do have to use diaper pins with these but in the last 17 years of using them I’ve pricked myself twice and a baby once (only lightly fortunately). 

    Also, the way I’ve learned to wash the diapers is I keep 2 four gallon buckets in the garage (my laundry room).  All wet diapers get thrown directly into them.  Dirty diapers get washed in the toilet (I love the sprayer idea!  I’ve never thought of that!), transferred to a plastic bag and then dumped into the bucket in the garage.  We wash diapers once the two buckets get full, usually twice a week.  We don’t put anything in the buckets to soak the diapers in as this makes them very heavy to dump.  When I wash them I do a pre-wash and then I wash as a heavy-soiled load with extra soap and bleach.  Occasionally I’ll wash them twice but not always.

    One added bonus (as if saving money wasn’t enough) is I never run out of diapers.  I’ll always have some on hand and never have to run to the store at the last minute!

  11. Sara Marney says:

    i’d like to note that you shouldn’t use “regular” detergent with cloth diapers. research washing & find what works best for you. but you’re definitely going to want to make sure you’re not using too much or using a detergent that is going to make your diapers repel “water”.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much,  loved your article!  Maybe the coupon lady could tell us about where and when to buy some of those cheap diapers.  I’m a nana and a schoolteacher I think some of these would make a great baby shower gift idea and I could even sponsor a “diaper derby” type shower that would get the mom off to a supply of cloth diapers.  Thanks again, Great Ideas and Info.  

  13. It’s also good to note that it’s not necessarily needed to use a diaper sprayer depending on your baby when they start solids.  If your kid doesn’t have really messy dirty diapers you could probably get by without the sprayer. 

  14. Clarissa Smith says:

    Our (relatively) new favorite dipe is the BumGenius’ Flip Diapers.  It works for our 4 month old and toddler.  It is similar to the prefold option, but is just an insert that lays in a waterproof cover.  The best thing about it is that you can reuse the cover if it is only a wet diaper.  The cover also makes a great extra layer to catch stuff that oozes out of the disposable diapers when we use them!  It has saved many outfits, both mine and my daughters’!  Many people that we run into are afraid of cloth diapers, but when we show them how easy it is, they relax a lot.  

    We like Abby’s Lane to buy our diapers.  www.abbyslane.com  She also has some info about what detergents are best to keep the diapers absorbent and what options there are.  We also have a local store that sells them and she is also very helpful at answering questions from her own personal experience.  
    It’s definitely much easier than many people think!!!

  15. This is not very comprehensive of the options for frugal mothers. Amazon sells FuzziBunz and Charlie Banana, my favorite brands, in bundles at discounted rates–about $12-15 a diaper. Also, if you subscribe to Buy, Buy Baby’s mailing list, you get $5 off $15 coupons all the time…that makes the $17 BumGenious diapers just $12 each. Finally, you can find them on Totsy all the time for under $12 each–I’ve bought them for as low as $9 ea using coupon codes. 

  16. Ashley Black says:

    thanks for the article! I was considering doing cloth diapering. I didn’t know you could get a trial for a few weeks. That will definately help with the decision!