The Real Cost Breakdown of Cloth Diapering

Do you truly save money with cloth diapers?
Cloth diapering is a fantastic choice for parents. However, you might wonder if you will truly save money. The answer is in the numbers.

When I tell anyone that I’ve cloth diapered, their first response is typically “does it save you money?” I resist telling them that I wouldn’t continue to do so for seven years unless it did. At the same time, I usually repress the need to break out a pie chart and show them the true numbers.

Cloth diapering does save money. However, many people wonder if that is the truth because of the utility costs, detergent costs and how much the diapers cost themselves. Remember, these costs vary on your location!

Related: After 7 Years of Using Cloth Diapers, Are They Worth It?

The Cost of Washing Diapers

Currently, my cost per KWH is 6.09 cents. The amount of kWh that your washer uses per cycle will vary, but the average is 0.20 kWh. If we round it up to a single kilowatt for the rinses and drying, we can estimate that it costs the 6.09 cents per load.

If I wash my diapers ten to 15 times per month, it’s only going to cost between $.60 and $1 for an entire month of washing diapers. The cost of washing diapers will depend on your type of washer and dryer. Those without an HE washer and dryer may spend a bit more. Also, if you line dry your diapers, you will spend even less.

Cost of Laundry Detergent

Let’s take a look at laundry detergent. Some people use the promoted cloth diaper laundry detergent. For the past seven years, I’ve used Tide and have perfect success. A small bottle of Tide costs $5.25, without any sales and coupons. The small bottle is good for 25 loads, which means one bottle can last for two months. Per load, that cost of detergent equals 21 cents.

With these numbers, it’s safe to assume each time I wash my diapers, I pay $1.10, estimated. If I can get my detergent on sale or can line dry the diapers, my numbers are even lower.

Related: Haven’t Switched to Cloth Diapers? Here’s Some Motivation

Costs of the Actual Diapers

The last thing to think about is the cost of the actual diapers. Diapers vary hugely in price, so it’s hard to pin down. Let’s take a general look.

A dozen prefolds cost around $25 per dozen. Each prefold costs $2.08, roughly. If you use that prefold 12 times in one month for a year, that means it costs you  $0.017 per use. You can’t find disposables that cheap!

Let’s take a look at the more expensive all-in-one diapers. They can cost upwards of $25 per diaper. If we assume that this diaper is used 12 times per month for an entire year, the cost is $.20 per use, which is still cheaper than most disposables.

Each month, the real cost of my cloth diapering is $2, totaling $24 per year. The costs of the actual diapers will vary, but remember you can sell them after you are done diapering, or use them for other kids!


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