How I stretch my diaper budget

I’m one of those people who use both CLOTH and DISPOSABLE diapers.

We use organic cotton disposables when our daughter sleeps and when we are away from home.  They tend to keep her skin drier than the cloth, which get cold quickly when wet.  When we are home, we use cloth.

From a financial perspective, cloth diapers help stretch the diaper budget.  When our daughter was first born, she went through 15-20 diapers a day.  At 29 cents per diaper, that’s $6 per day, roughly $2100 per year.  By using cloth, a bag of 70 diapers will last us 2-3 weeks, only $1200 a year.

I once bought 210 diapers for under $40 from Costco, thinking it was a great deal.  But it was not worth the savings because our daughter’s skin was getting irritated from the non-organic cotton diapers.

Whether you use organic or conventional diapers, another reason to use cloth is that every hour, 3.2 million disposable diapers enter U.S. landfills.  Currently, it is a well known fact that diapers take over 500 years to decompose.

Fortunately, there is hope for the health of our planet.  According to my awesome insurance broker Jeff, yeast and manure can break down plastic diapers (supposedly within 10 days), which gives me great hope that we can heal landfills!

In the meantime, if you want to stretch your dollar and reduce waste, here’s how to get started:

All you need to start are 4 diapers covers and 12 cloth inserts.  Each diaper cover is $16.95 (available at Kelly’s Closet) and a dozen prefolded cotton cloth inserts are $16.99 (available at Babies R Us).   This initial investment of about $85 + tax can save you approximately $900 for every year your child is in diapers.


Choosing a diaper cover:  I tried one diaper each from bumGenius, Happy Heinys, FuzziBunz, Hiney Lineys, Blueberry, G Diapers, and Best Bottom.  While the fleece lined diapers are great at keeping skin dryer, I find that you can only use them once, otherwise they smell bad.

My favorite diaper covers are the Best Bottom one-size diaper covers.  The adjustable snaps fit from birth to 35+ lbs.  I prefer the snap enclosures rather than the velcro ones, which wear out and scratch the skin.  It’s awesome that these diaper covers can be used multiple times before needing to be washed again.

Cleaning diapers:  Now for the fun part!  Rinse off dirty diapers as soon as possible because it is easier to clean when the stains haven’t set in.  My husband usually dumps the content of the diapers into the toilet, and I prewash the diapers by hand with Ivory soap before putting them in the washer.

Just remember, if you have running hot water and access to washing machines and dryers, washing diapers is so much easier than for the moms (like mine) who have to wash by hand, boil hot water manually, hang outside to dry, bring everything inside if it rains and then iron to help dry.