Cloth diapering is a choice many families make out of necessity. Simply put, disposable diapers are a huge budget breaker and a waste of money.
I’ve struggled severely financially before. I know the gut punch it is to buy groceries and then spend a fifth of your budget on diapers only to throw it in the trash after one use.
I clearly remember how responsible it felt to purchase my first set of prefolds and covers. I was saving my family money! This meant more groceries!
The following post was written by my dear friend Mindy. Mindy has 6 children and used cloth diapers off and on throughout the diapering years to save her family money. I always appreciated how she fully used each cloth diaper she had, using it to till it fell apart or passing them on to other moms in need. (I helped her sell some cloth diapers that had to be more than a decade old!)
Benefits of Cloth Diapers:
Freeing up the Budget for More than One Home in More Than One Way
The financial benefit to using cloth diapers is more than meets the eye and affect more than just the original cloth diaper purchaser. You might be surprised to learn the amazing ways cloth diapers save money.
For the original purchaser
Most children wear diapers for two to three years. If a parent is buying a new diaper for every single diaper change, which is what happens with disposable diapers, the cost adds up. Cloth diapers offer some financial wiggle room in the budget as compared to disposables since there is a onetime purchase for a smaller number of diapers.
Many naysayers refuse to look at the bottom line, financially, when considering cloth diapers. The ten-thirty-six cents per disposable diaper seems not that big of deal to them and the upfront cost for a stash of cloth is uncomfortable. When presented with the financial facts, though, those naysayers are left speechless.
There are many different numbers out there, but one paper cites: “total cost for reusable diapers would be $400 to $725, compared to $1,600 to $2,500 for disposables. The savings would be $1,200 to $2,100 for three years, or $400 to $700 per year.” 1
A consumer can save $400-700 a year! Several cite even more of a savings. Cloth diapering can free up a budget that is already tight, or offer some extra spending in a budget that isn’t. Either way, it’s a win.
It cannot be argued that disposable diapers are cheaper short term, of course. The start up for stocking a cloth diaper collection is definitely higher than one bag of disposable diapers, but when the disposables are gone, the cloth keeps diapering, hence the savings.
For the next purchaser
Helping free up some money in the original budget is a terrific reason to use cloth diapers, but since cloth diapers can be passed down to others or sold once the first child no longer needs them, a second family’s budget could reap the benefit of cloth diaper savings.
When a consumer sells her cloth diapers to another parent, she, in essence, gets some of her money back. Just for using cloth diapers! This means her budget is affected again!
Secondly, the mom who bought the used diapers has her budget affected by having to spend even less than the already money saving cost of cloth diapers. That means, in a way, that her budget is doubly affected.
Now, two budgets have saved due to cloth diapers. If the diapers are resold more than one time, even more budgets are affected!
For the cloth diaper user at the end of the line
Eventually, even the best cloth diaper meets the end of the road as far as taking care of diaper needs. That does not mean the diaper meets its demise, though.
Almost all kinds of cloth diapers can be repurposed once no longer effective on baby bottoms. Prefolds are the easiest to covert since they are easily used as dust, polishing, or car care/washing cloths. Other considerations are the following: batting for quilts or oven mitts, doll diapers, menstrual pads, and even compost, when worn out beyond all other use. All-in-one diapers are not to be left out of the repurpose game though. A few snips with a pair of scissors could change it into any of the above uses or into a swim diaper.
This repurposing creates more room in the budget for each item replaced with a retired cloth diaper. No longer is money spent on those products. That means a budget saves money again!
For the tax payer
Believe it or not, cloth diaper users actually save the government money too, therefore affecting the tax payer! Every disposable diaper ends up in a landfill eventually, and this costs money.
“In their study, Brown and Pham found that cloth diapers also saved local governments money because less waste is contributed to landfills. A baby can produce up to 1 ton of trash from disposable diapers per year, they found. That equates to a municipal savings of $100 to $180 per ton to dispose of them.”1
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, end up being used until the cloth itself disintegrates. That’s a long time and it doesn’t cost tax payers anything.
A single budget can be affected many times! Once, by saving money on using cloth diapers instead of disposable. Twice, by selling these diapers used. Thrice, by repurposing the diapers into other household items. Fourthly, by affecting the tax environment.
Using cloth diapers saves money, that’s clear. It’s also beautiful that it can save so many people money in so many different ways.
Other posts written on cloth diapering to save money: