How much does it cost to cloth diaper for three years?
The most beautiful thing about cloth diapering is that it can cost as little or as much as you want it to, for the most part. You can spend $4 on a diaper, or you can spend $40. The cheapest option is the most complicated to get on your baby, so I'm actually going to run with what it seemingly the most popular brand of diapers. It's user friendly, and middle-of-the-road in cost. Please meet Mr. BumGenius.
They come in a variety of pretty colors, you can get Velcro or Snaps, and one-sized of fitted sizes. I'm gonna go with one sized for this blog post, because it's obviously the most versatile.
Average Cost of one OS BG (it varies, of course): $23.
How many do you need? Well, that depends on how often you want to wash them and how much your kiddo does his/her business. On average, people like to have a stash that's about 24 diapers big, and find this lasts them 2-3 days. Some people like to have more, some even like to have WAY more, and some get by with less. But we're working with averages here so..
Total cost of 24 OS BGs: $552
OS diapers fit best between 10-30 pounds, but can fit up to 35+ pounds if your munchkin is the right size and shape. But let's say they start fitting at 10 pounds. This means that, prior to 10 pounds, you're gonna have to use something else. You can use disposable diapers, but if you're goal is to be eco-friendly while saving money, then you should go with newborn sized cloth.
Average Cost of one Newborn BG: $13
How many do you need? Again, this varies. Many people will say, again, to have 24 of these. But most people don't use strictly one size diapers for the newborn phase, and won't buy a full stash of these. So let's say you go for 10 BGs, and then you get some prefolds (12) with covers (3).
Average Cost of Prefold: $1.25
Average Cost of Cover: $11
Total Cost of 12 prefolds and 3 covers: $15 + $33 = $48
Total Cost of 10 NB BGs: $130
Total Cost of NB Stash: $178
When you're kiddo is potty training, you'll most likely want some cloth trainers.
Average Cost of one BG Trainer: $11
How many do you need? Let's go with 5 a day. If we're sticking with laundry every 2 days that's a total of 10.
Total Cost of Cloth Potty Training: $110
Along with the diapers you need some cloth wipes as well. You can use the cheapy wash cloths from Walmart that are like $1.20 for 5 or something like that. You'll need about 12 a day, just like the diapers, so you can buy 6 5-packs to have some extra for the face, etc.
Total cost of wipes: $7.20
And that's pretty much it. You can use special, expensive laundry detergent, but you don't have to. Special detergent may be needed depending on what you normally use, but it's not that much more expensive than normal stuff. You can use a wipes solution, but you don't have to. You can buy a toilet sprayer, extra inserts, Baby legs, disposable liners... but none of that is necessary, just useful and/or fun. Let's assume you want none of these things, and your costs are done.
Total Newborn Stash: $178
Total Regular Stash: $552
Total Potty Training Stash: $110
Total Wipes Stash: $7
If you haven't yet, you can check out my detailed costs of disposable diapering here: Cloth Saves Moolha, Part 1. If you already have or you don't want to, the final conclusion was that the total cost of disposable diapering for one year is: $1256.
Total cost to Disposable Diaper for 3 years: $1256
Total Cost to Cloth Diaper for 3 years: $847
Total Savings by using Cloth: $409
But wait! What happened to "I'll save thousands of dollars using cloth! $400 =/= Thousands! It's not even half of one thousand! Boooo! You lie!" If this was your reaction, then you're forgetting one important factor - cloth diapers can be reused for future children, or resold to something like 30%-60% of what you paid for them originally, IF you take care of them. You may need to repair to replace the Velcro, or the leg elastic, or the snaps to get more good use out of them, but that's not particularly expensive to have done, and even less expensive if you know how to do it yourself.
If you spend another $100 to repair all the BG diapers that you used on your first kid, then the cost of cloth diapering your second child is exactly $100. The cost is disposable diapering your second child? $1256. So after two children, you've saved $1565.
You should be able to easily get 60% cost back by selling your newborn BG stash - that's $78. If you have to spend $100 to repair your OS diapers and then sell them, you should be able to get at least 50% back - a total of $276 (or $176 after repairs). And you should be able to get 60% of the cost of the trainers back easily enough, totaling $66. So you could sell off your entire stash and receive roughly $320. Add that to what you saved originally, and you save $729 by cloth diapering, even if you only ever use them for one kid.
And as I mentioned before, I picked a middle of the road diaper and filled my hypothetical stash with it. You can save a ton of money by purchasing pre-loved (used) diapers, or using a totally different kind of diaper (like pockets, prefolds and flats, etc). And if you really want brand new AIOs, there are brands that cost less than $23 per diaper.
So really, if it's your GOAL to save money but not completely lose the convenience factor, then your savings will be about $400 minimum, and you can go up and down from there depending on the decisions you make and how hard you try. Cloth diapering definitely saves money if you want it to.