How To Start Cloth Diapering on a Budget

August 15, 2008

Budget, Why Choose Cloth Diapers

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Many families choose to cloth diaper for financial reasons. Budgets can be so tight that startup costs are often overwhelming. However, there are ways to begin cloth diapering today on less than $125.

The least expensive route are prefolds and covers. My favorite prefolds have been the very first ones I purchased in 2005. I bought 2 dozen DSQ newborn/infant 4x8x4 Indian cotton prefolds from the Granitesmith ebay store. 1 dozen prefolds costs $18.99. If you buy 2 or more dozen you get free shipping on covers. Shipping for 2 dozen prefolds is $11.50. So far the total is up to $49.48.

For covers I purchased the proraps covers in size L. At the time my son was 15 months old. I have used proraps on a newborn and loved them. For a 4 pack of prorap covers it is $27.90. I started out with only 4 and washed them when 2 got wet or soiled. I never had a problem running out of covers. However, for a newborn or infant the chances are a lot higher that the cover will become soiled. In that case, I would order 8 covers.

I prefer proraps covers for children that can undo diapers because of the clasp. I’m sure there are some crafty kids out there that can undo it but I found it to be the only one my son kept on. The clasps are not on size Newborn and Small.

Okay, so with 2 dozen prefolds (+shipping) and covers (free ship) the total is $105.28. Granitesmith ships FedEx so you get them fast.

Now you need to purchase a diaper pail system. I use a Sterilite 20-Quart Touch-Top Wastebasket from Walmart for $4.97. For a pail liner I went to the camping section of Walmart and bought a waterproof bag. I paid $5.00 for mine. I have also used the $1 laundry bags from the Dollar Tree. They don’t last as long but they’re cheap.

Add $10.00 to our diaper total of $105.28 and you can start cloth diapering for $115.28. Keep in mind this is for NEW items. I always recommend for those on a very restrictive budget to buy used. This can knock your cost down to under $100.

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

46 Responses to “How To Start Cloth Diapering on a Budget”

  1. Ashley D Says:

    Do you have an updated list for on a budget? I tried clicking the things you listed and I come up with an expired page or can’t find what you suggested. Help :/ Thanks!

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Ashley, I don’t have one. But I am working my way down the New to Cloth Diapers page, so it should be done soon. If you sign up for the newletter, you get emails when a new post is live. Thanks for the feedback! I agree it needs to be updated.

      Reply

  2. Fleur Says:

    Thank you for the tips !

    Reply

  3. Kendreia Says:

    Great suggestions. This is where I am now. New to cloth diapering and on a budget.

    Reply

  4. Jenni Says:

    I spent around $100 on making my diapers. I ordered snaps, pliers, braided elastic, zorb and pre-cut pul diaper blanks all from wazoodle.com I made the covers (little green bear tuckables, like Flip), sewed inserts with zorb and receiving blankets.I also ordered some micro fleece inserts from eBay for a few $’s and some joey bunz premium hemp inserts from Amazon (with a gift card I had). I am really happy with my system, and only wish I had done it sooner!

    Reply

  5. Laura Says:

    We are expecting our first in Dec, and I have always wanted to cloth diaper. However, we are currently living in married student housing, and will be here until the baby is a year old. I’m not sure if it would be worth it to cloth diaper (I would register for mainly cloth diaper things, so I don’t *plan* to buy it all myself) since we have to do our laundry at the laundromat. Any tips/suggestions, or should I request rolls of quarters as a gift;)

    Reply

  6. Mikayla Fex Says:

    I’ve been reading your cloth diaper blogs! With all the info provided, I don’t see why anyone would choose not to cloth diaper!

    Reply

  7. Stephanie Says:

    Nofia have you checked out The Cloth Diaper Foundation? They are an organization that helps lower income families cloth diaper. If you qualify they will give you a cloth diaper loan of 12 diapers. You do have to pay for the shipping and return them when you are done using them. They have been closed from taking applications but will re-open for apps on Monday Feb 14th! http://www.clothdiaperfoundation.org/application/

    Reply

  8. Nofia Says:

    I am a single mom and I need more cloth diapers and have no $$ to buy them. I have been using cloth but have to wash every day because I don’t have a good supply. I’m exhausted from doing laundry. I’ve had to buy sposies because it’s just too hard with only 6.

    Reply

  9. Briana Says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for all of the helpful information, I am due in February and interested in cloth diapering but still can not make a definite decision. I would like to invest in cloth diapers that I can use throughout the whole time my baby will be in diapers which seems more cost effective than having to buy 20 cloth diapers in a newborn size and then having to purchase more as she grows out of those. So in this case I would need to buy the one-size diapers correct? And these diapers will most likely not fit her very well until she is roughly 3mos (I know babies range in all diff. shapes and sizes but in genereal just to get an idea!).? So it seems it would be better for me to use disposables until she is big enough to fit the one-size diapers, is this right? I was looking at the 2-in-1 Charlie Bananas which you can use as Hybrids which I really liked being able to just use the same diaper and merely change the liner (disposable or washable option). Guidance or advice? Thank you in advance, it is so nice to have someone to ask who has been there!

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      If you absolutely are solid on buying a one-sized diaper I’d go with Rumparooz or Softbums.

      Reply

    • Jessica P. Says:

      What a lot of people who choose the one size route do for newborn diapering is just buy 2 dozen newborn sized prefolds and a couple covers. This will still be cheaper than disposables over the time you would likely use them, and then you have the added bonus of being able to use to prefolds for inserts for your pocket diapers (if your one size dipes are pockets) or as burp rags, etc. There are a million uses for them!

      Reply

  10. Spring Says:

    I am expecting triplets in May or June, My due date is July 10th, but with triplets my Drs expect them to come mid May to early June…
    Anyways, my aunt suggested cloth diapering because of the cost of diapering 3 babies at once. I am curious about it, I don’t know anyone personally that is cloth diapering or who has in recent years. I like the idea of an AIO, but think it will be too pricey for me. I also wanted to know how extensive the upkeep on cloth diapers is, because I will have 3 babies to keep up with. I definitely see the financial benefit, but will i be able to keep up with cloth diapering 3 infants at once?!?!
    Thanks so much for your time and insight,
    Spring

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Congratulations!! The only extra step in using cloth diapers is a load of laundry. Much easier than taking out a whole trash bag full of stinky disposable diapers to the trash EVERY day and knowing that 1) you’re throwing away a lot of money and 2) adding a lot of garbage to landfills. I’m no environmentalist but I’d probably become one if I went through 36 or more disposable diapers in a day! You’ll have your hands full just trying to feed 3 babies so I understand the concern about extra work. Will you have help? I imagine you’ll be doing a load of cloth diapers every night. I’d go with a simple stash that can be used on all the babies. Prefolds may be the most affordable option for you. If you go that route I’d buy Proraps covers. They’re easy, have gussets to hold in poo and they’re affordable. If you want a more reliable system and can pay more money I would look into Softbums or Rumparooz. Triplets will probably be itty bitty for a few months so I would look into a huge premie/xs stash of an affordable aio like Nana’s Bottoms. They won’t have the best containment but they are easy and cute :)

      I have just updated my ebook on cloth diapering with new sections and links. Check it out at http://ultimateguidetoclothdiapers.com

      Reply

    • Roxanna Says:

      Congrats on your triplets! I think you can definitely cloth diaper three :) I had 2 in diapers for one year using disposables. We would have to make 2x monthly trips to the superstore to spend $125 on diapers. The amount of stink and garbage we had was unbelievable. I can only imagine how much more you will have with 3. Switching to cloth was such a relief, we paid less in garbage disposal, no more bi monthly trips to spend all of our spare money, and the one extra load of laundry every day was barely noticeable. We are expecting our third next summer and I will be CDing that one from newborn, and possibly still CDing our 2 year old as well as CDing our 3 year old for night. 3 is possible!

      Reply

      • Spring Says:

        Thank you both, we are definitely checking them out & adding them to our registry… Having trouble finding a store that carries them, besides the basic cloth diapers at Wal-mart… I just wanted to see, touch, & feel them before we decided on what we want to use.
        Thanks again and Congrats to you too Roxanna!

        Reply

  11. Rachel Says:

    We started cloth diapering about a 1 1/2 years ago. My son was 8 months and my daughter 19 months. I started out with prefolds and a variety of covers. However, I’ve found that flats are my favorite. And at just over a $1 for indian cotton flats you can start out really cheap. Another favorite of mine are pull-on wool soakers that I’ve made from old wool sweaters which I got off freecycle. Four wool covers would work since you simply air those out when they are wet, so you’re not washing as often. Throw in wipes made from one of my husband’s old flannel shirts, and a WalMart trash can and waterproof camping bag ($5) for a pail and liner and I’m set. With some sewing skills you could easily have stash for less than $50. The flats would last through potty training, and if you keep making covers out of recycled sweaters, you won’t have to put out much for those. Simple and cheap.

    Reply

  12. Nicole Betts Says:

    I love this website! Stumbled on it today while web surfing. I am 27 wks pregnant with my first child. I am also a 10 yr exp labor and delivery nurse on the Big Iland of Hawaii. I never thought I’d consider CD, but here in Hawaii it is even more critical that we are enviornmentally friendly as well as economically due to high shipping/import prices. I do see more people here using CD than I did on the mainland, however for those who are hesitant, price is the main factor. Myself being on a buget recently purchased SunBaby One size diapers from ebay at the wonderful price of $40 for 10 diapers pluse 20 inserts. Have you tried this brand? (I know they are USA but I cant afford $15-30per diaper ) My only concern is the use of the pocket, I’d rather put the insert directly against baby and be able to reuse the cover more that once per diaper change. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      You can’t put microfiber directly next to baby’s skin. But you can sew a fleece or flannel sleeve for the inserts.

      Reply

      • Rochelle Says:

        I am new to CDing and am purchasing Thirsties Duo wrap and some of their hemp prefolds as well as their microfiber terry/hemp inserts. Their product website indicates that you can lay the microfiber insert into the Duo wrap and put it on the baby. (http://www.thirstiesbaby.com/duo_insert.php)
        Unless I am missing something, that would mean the microfiber would be directly against the baby’s skin. Is this bad? Should I just stick with the hemp prefolds? I really appreciate your site!!

        Reply

  13. Julie Says:

    My only question is the pros and cons of twill vs birdseye? I’ve looked and looked on different sites, and all I can ever find is something to the effect of “different weaves absorb better” Okay, well which one has the better absorption?! LOL Thanks for the help. You’ve totally got me set on the right path, once I figure out which one of these types to get.

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Julie, I wish I could help! Hop on over to my FB fan page and ask. Maybe some of the flats users can add their opinion.

      Reply

  14. Nofia Says:

    Hi all,
    I live in Israel and was thinking of importing cloth diapers of a Peruvian system. Any advice? Here we have Robyna’s, locally made pocket diapers, and someone who imports Mother-ease and some others. I have been using some contour by Impse Dimpse and some Fuzzy Buns covers but the Fuzzy Buns size small are already too small and snug it seems on my 14 lb. almost 4 month old baby. They seem to be made for less chunky type kids. Since I live overseas and all this shipping is expensive I hesitate to mess around with covers. If you have a chunky infant please recommend a cover for that type of body.

    Reply

  15. Neva Says:

    Diaper Pin.com has a great calculator for those of you who get sticker shocked over the price of cloth diapers… It really shows how much you save in the long run!
    http://www.diaperpin.com/calculator/calculator.asp
    Here are a couple other things I did to save money:

    1) Get old t-shirts and cut them up to use for wipes
    2) You can easily sew wool diaper covers from an old wool sweater
    3) Children’s consignment shops often have used prefolds and you don’t have to worry about washing them 10 times before use!
    4) There are many shops on Etsy that sell diapers for cheaper than name brands

    Good Luck!

    Reply

  16. Alli Says:

    When I had my baby I asked my mother-in-law to buy us cloth diapers instead of other baby stuff. We bought the Basic Diaper Package from ClothDiaper.com for $146.95.

    It included:
    3 dozen infant 4x8x4 prefolds,
    2 dozen premium 4x8x4 prefolds
    8 Bummi Super Whisper Wraps (4 small, 4 medium).
    a roll of Bioflush Disposable Liners

    I sold the Whisper Wraps on Diaperswappers and bought Thirsties Covers. If I were to do it again now, I would buy Blueberry Coveralls. Three is enough covers at first, I just handwashed them in between loads and hung to dry in the shower. And I bought the same trash can you recommend, a Swaddlebees Pail Liner, and four Snappi fasteners. I use cotton receiving blankets cut into roughly 5″ squares for wipes.

    Grand Total: under $200 for EVERYTHING I need to diaper my kid so far. She’s currently 14 months old, and 23 lbs and 30 inches tall, and still hasn’t outgrown the premium diapers. I’ve since added another pail liner, and a yard of fleece cut into 5×13″ strips as diaper liners and we use the occasional washcloth as a diaper doubler.

    Reply

  17. Cloth Diaper Mom Says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say that the prices I quoted are in my store Little for Now http://www.littlefornow.com.

    Reply

  18. Cloth Diaper Mom Says:

    You can get 24 Indian infant prefolds, 4 Thirsties covers, and flat rate shipping for only $92.95. Chinese prefolds and 4 Thirsties covers are only $86.95 with shipping.

    Reply

  19. emmer Says:

    have you considered making flannel shaped diapers or inserts? quilters’ flannel or outing flannel works well and turns out cheaper than diaper flannel. you also get colors, if you like. i did mine in a sort of hourglass shape and used the scraps along with old towels and other absorbent clothes as padding between the layers. as baby grew, i could use the old, smaller diapers as the insides of a larger one. i used a lot of remnants for the first diapers and put out the word to friends that i could use their sewing project leftovers. you can ease into cloths diapers bit by bit this way at almost no cost.

    Reply

  20. Autumn Beck Says:

    I always throw my pail liners into the washer. No bleeding but after about 20 washes the Dollar Tree ones start to disintegrate!

    Reply

  21. Katie Says:

    Just wondering if you threw your Walmart pailliner or Dollar Tree laundry bags in the wash with your diapers? Did they bleed at all? I’ve been looking for a cheaper alternative for a pail liner.

    Reply

  22. Autumn Beck Says:

    Yes I love snappis. But I actually trifolded the prefolds in a cover with my son. With Paisley I have occassionally used a snappi and prefold and really loved the trimness.

    Reply

  23. Stephanie Says:

    Hey! I have a used/gifted stash & I have more than enough diapers for Med-Large & quite an impressive newborn stash too (I’ve never diapered a newborn!) and my only ammendment to your post, would be to go ahead and invest in at least 1 Snappi. They are only $2.50 & I couldn’t get into prefolds until I got one! Now I LOVE prefolds. They are all we use around the house!

    Reply

  24. LesLee Says:

    Don’t forget people that can prove need can get diapers from companies like Miracle Diapers for just the cost of shipping. I have a friend who did this and is expecting her diapers from them in about a week! Also, on Diaper Swappers watch the FFS stuff. I have gotten a few used diapers for just the cost of shipping! I love http://www.momandbabynaturally.com for my big brand diapers, they have great prices and free shipping over $50.

    Reply

  25. Amy Says:

    Bernice, I just started looking into cloth diapers about 5 months ago. I decided to go with the BumGenius one-size for ease. I LOVE THEM! I work full time and my sitter even uses them. I don’t have any problems with them. My husband even uses them. I bought a few at a time and now I haven’t used a disposible for almost 3 months. I have a 10 month old and another one on the way and I plan to start buying some more for the new little one.

    Reply

  26. Heidi Says:

    One of the reasons I started cloth diapering was to save money. I purchased a dozen bumgenius to start, but knew I was going to have to find something less expensive to have enough diapers. After reading your post about flats I decided to give prefolds and covers a try. I bought ALL of my 3 dozen prefolds used and almost all of my covers used. The only ones I bought new are my Dappi nylon covers which I LOVE. Its so old school, but they work great!

    I saved so much money by buying used diapers, but that doesn’t even take into consideration the money I will get back when I sell my stash to someone else.

    Reply

  27. Elizabeth Albrecht Says:

    Keen Bambino ( http://www.keenbambino.com ) has layaway!!!!
    Great to work with, Mandi is great, SAHM with own business!

    Reply

  28. burnice Says:

    I’ve been wanting to cloth diaper since before my son was born 9 months ago. But I never have been able to decide what I want and I’ve been hesitant to spend all that money up front, since you just don’t notice it as much when it comes out little by little with disposables. I think I’ve finally decided to get some BumGenius one size, but still can’t talk myself into spending the money.

    I like your blog. Thanks for it.

    Reply

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