There are a lot of articles online that claim to “analyze the cost of cloth diapering”, but what these analyst don’t take into consideration is how much parents LOVE cloth diapers, how fun it is to try new types of cloth, and how hard it is to resist buying that new limited-edition print from your favorite brand!
I’ve tried a lot of different styles of cloth, from the cheapest flats and prefolds, to the most expensive All-In-Ones, so I know firsthand that the cost of using cloth diapers varies drastically depending on which type you buy. Instead of giving you an unrealistic average price of using cloth, I decided to simply ask REAL moms the cringeworthy question, “How much money did you actually spend on your cloth diapering stash?”
These brave families were kind enough to share with us the details of how much they really spent and what type of diapers they choose to use.
I also reached out to all of the top cloth diaper retailers and asked them what families spend on average on a complete cloth diaper setup. They gave me specific examples ranging from the most economical options to the more expensive All-In-One type diaper systems.
Cloth diapers on average, including all the needed accessories, cost a total of $483. The least expensive type of cloth diapers will run around $320 for a complete setup, and the higher end options can cost $706 or more. Expect to recoup at least 25% of your money if you resell your stash.
What Cloth Diapers Cost On Average
|Type Of Cloth Diaper||Average Price Per Diaper||Cost Of Full-Time Setup (30 Diapers)|
You will need a few accessories in order to use cloth diapers, such as diaper covers and fasteners (for flats, prefolds, and fitteds), wet bags, and pail liners. The average cost of necessary cloth diaper accessories is $106.08.
Most cloth diaper retailers stock all kinds of different cloth diapering systems, from the least expensive Flats & Covers, to the most expensive All-In-Ones. I asked several companies “What does it really cost to cloth diaper?”. Here are a few of their responses.
These examples of cloth diaper setups include enough diapers to use cloth full-time plus the cost of wet bags and pail liners, so everything you will need to get started.
“A basic stash is about $250-$300 for flats/covers.
A basic AIO stash is about $500-$600. All of this is depending on brand/sales that we have. Both of those are about 20-25 diaper changes with a pail liner and one wet bag.”
(Nicki’s is one of my favorite retailers, here’s my affiliate link to their store)
Green Mountain Diapers:
“Roughly you’d have:
Covers 12 x $13 = $156
48 Flats = $105
Wipes = $55
Wet Bag & Pail Liner = 30
TOTAL: $346 for birth to potty with flats, plus washing costs.
Prefolds instead of flats would cost more. Fitteds even more. Cotton AIOS are very expensive, perhaps $1500, maybe more depending on how many you need/want. Synthetic pocket diapering isn’t our thing since our focus is cotton diapering so can’t speak to that. Most seem to mix it up with mostly prefolds and just a few fancy aios or a few Workhorse for fun. I think most spend between $400-800.”
“Here are two basic pricing scenarios
12 Thirsties Duo Wraps @ 13.50 each = $162
4 6-packs of Buttons Flats @ $14 each = $56
Applecheeks Boosters 6-pack = $23
Planet Wise Pail Liner = $18.50
2 Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bags @ 21.95 each = $44
24 One-Size Thirsties All-In-One @ 19.25 each = $462
Applecheeks Boosters 6-pack = $23
Planet Wise Pail Liner = 18.50
2 Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bags @ 21.95 each = $44
Of course Flats/Covers and All-In-Ones are not the only types of cloth diaper systems to choose from. If you opt for another type of diaper such as prefolds, fitteds, pockets, or hybrids you can expect the cost to land somewhere in between the average price ranges outlined above.
For example, Kanga Care sells a popular type of pocket diaper called Rumparooz. Their full-time bundle package includes 24 pockets, 3 wet bags, 1 pail liner and a changing pad for $534.
How To Track The Cost Of Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapering moms are serious about their stash spending. I heard from several families who keep spreadsheets of everything they purchase. Keeping a spreadsheet of your cloth diaper expenses is an incredibly useful way to stay on budget, and it will also help immensely when you go to resell your diapers.
Here’s what Kelly had to say “My intention was to track everything to make it easier to sell in the end. I wanted to know/remember the names of the prints, too, so my descriptions were as accurate as possible.
I have different diapers for daytime use, nighttime use, and daycare use. So, it seems like a lot, but I do use a lot of it! Of course one can get away with MUCH less. I also prefer to wash 2x a week since we live off-the-grid and rely on solar power. There’s a number of brands I didn’t end up liking (some purchased new, some purchases through BST to try), so those are just sitting while I wait to destash.”
Here is a snippet of Kelly’s spreadsheet just to give you an idea of how you can organize your own:
|Diaper Description||Color/Print||Price Per Item||Quantity||Total Cost||New||Pre-owned|
|Green Mountain Diapers Hemp Doublers Long||3.75||7||26.25||x|
|Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1||Happy Camper||10.84||1||10.84||x|
|Thirties Duo Wrap Size 2||Birdie||10.84||1||10.84||x|
|Cloth-eez Workhorse Small No-Closure||8.05||4||32.20||x|
|Cloth-eez Birdseye Flats 6-Pack||15.95||2||31.90||x|
|Cloth-eez Wipes 12-pack||11.95||3||35.85||x|
|Thirsties Pail Liner||Celery||17.85||1||17.85||x|
|Thirsties Wet Bag||Due North||15.75||1||15.75||x|
The True Cost Of Cloth Diapering: From REAL Moms
When I asked families “How much did you really spend on cloth diapers and what did you buy?”, here’s what they had to say:
Probably like $500-$600, I have a good amount of duo wraps with a few NAIO and AIO mixed in. We’re ex-pampers people and that was costing about $50 a month.
$650 and I have not gone crazy. I have exactly what I need and no extra.
I’ve maybe spent $200-$300 max on cloth and they are going to be used on kid number 3 come February. Totally worth it.
I’m probably one of the few people who has only ever bought what we needed. A few sizes of prefolds and a handful of duo wraps in each size. Cloth can definitely be waaaay cheaper than disposables, which was our main reason for starting! I’ve spent about $452. That’s for 3 dozen small Prefolds, 2 dozen each M, L, & XL. 5 duo covers in size 1 & size 2. I’m needing size 3 but I didn’t include that. And this amount lasted for 2 kids.
Cloth is worth it, but… if cost is a big factor for you, then consider the type of diaper you’ll use. I use duos and flats and I’ve spent about $200 on a stash that lasts 3-4 days. A full stash of Pockets or AIOs will be more expensive, but also has benefits!
I mostly use duos and flats, but I have some NAIO for ease of changing when out and about!
I went birth to potty training with my first with 4 dozen flats and 12 duos in each size. I did have a spendy period trying to figure out an overnight system. I only had two colors of each. I de-stashed during severe PPA and PPD with my second child.
Our financial situation has improved so with kiddo 3 I have splurged on using prefolds and fitteds and having to buy multiple sizes. I’m maybe $400 deep. But in the 5 weeks before he grew into cloth we had already spent $100 on disposable diapers. Even with only doing disposable diapers overnight. I spent $15-25 bucks a month on disposables for my older two for the past two years.
Uff… a lot. I COULD do it a lot cheaper but money is on the lower priority of why we cloth so oh well. About a quarter of my stash is from baby shower gifts but after I got going and realized how many cute prints come out… I kept/keep buying when my kiddo was born I had spent almost $900 on my stash already and it’s only grown since then. I have lots of everything though. I have pockets, NAIOs, a couple AIOs, mainly prefolds and a bajillion covers. I have inserts of every type imaginable. I have flats. I have a wool cover and 4 Twinkie Tush for overnights…. I have a ton of wet bags (but somehow never enough). If I was trying to be thrifty, I think I could have done it easily under $500 but man, I love seeing cute prints.
3 – 6 packs of inexpensive pockets from Amazon: $120
6 better quality pockets purchased new and resale: $35
48 Prefolds – small sizes and large: $70
3 – 12 packs of cloth wipes: $30
6 hemp inserts: $30
2 swim covers: $30
11 duo covers sized 1 and 2: $156
*plus like 10 other duos I’ve found at yardsales and consignment not sure the cost*
Diaper liners: $30
But now I’m totally getting addicted to all the new releases… if I could ever get my hands on them!
Most of these diapers are Thirsties AIOs at $20 each, many were purchased at more than retail.
That pile of 7 natural Grovia AIOs top right cost me $140 and then edgewear. I hate edgewear so I won’t use them… but also don’t know if maybe they’ll be good for her later so I haven’t tried to sell them either.
Easily over $2,500!
We are on kid #3 with our stash that cost probably $700 total over the years. Kid 1 potty-trained at 33 months, kid 2 at 27 months, and kid 3 is currently 4 months so definitely saving money now.
Okay! I bought most of my stash used with the exception of some flats and prefolds and a couple covers from the outlet store. I have 10 newborn or size 1 covers from rumparooz or thirsties that I’m using now. I also bought 8 larger one size or size 2 covers to use in the future. I have 5 pockets and inserts to try later as they don’t fit yet. Overall, I spent $260 on my stash and we use disposables at night for now. I am in this to save money so I’ve tried to not get swept into the print game. I’m hoping with what I have I can make it through to potty-training and maybe only purchase a few more covers or inserts if needed! I have 24 flats, 6 short prefolds, and 6 size 1 prefolds.
There were also many families who did not appreciate my line of questioning in regards to their cloth diaper expenditures. See their comments below.
Are Cloth Diapers Worth It?
Cloth diapers are worth investing in because they are cheaper than disposable diapers in the long term. When you factor in the health and environmental benefits of using cloth diapers they become even more favorable. On average, families will save $994 by cloth diapering.
A lot of people wonder if cloth diapers are worth it. I created a Facebook poll and asked this question: “For those of you who have used both disposables and cloth diapers, are cloth diapers worth it? Factoring in cost, extra time changing and washing, learning curve?”
|Question: Are Cloth Diapers Worth It?||Total Votes|
|Totally Worth It||695|
|Worth It, But…||54|
|Not Worth It||2|
Now I’ll be the first to admit, my opinion on this is totally biased, and so is the group’s! The vast majority of us LOVE cloth, however there were tons of moms who commented about their reservations, the pros and cons of cloth vs disposables, and exactly why they think cloth diapers are worth it. Here are just a few of their thoughts:
Worth it alone for keeping nasty chemicals off my babies and not feeling the guilt of all that waste. Then you factor in how it contains blow outs way better and how cute and fun it is… worth it! Oh yeah and you save money.
Totally worth it! Especially when paired with elimination communication!
Worth it but by the time we got to diapering #3 I was really tired of rinsing poopy diapers.
We send disposables to daycare and if we are on a trip. We use cloth at home. I think it is still worth it cloth diapering part time. I am saving diapers from the landfill and will be able to resell diapers when I am finished which you can’t do with disposables.
We’re using exclusively cloth and I love it, but we are using a diaper service. This is our first baby and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself finding time to wash the diapers with a newborn. Even with the upfront cost of diaper covers and the service, we would have spent more on disposables.
For me it was not worth it, BUT
1: my babies needed sensitive detergent that couldn’t clean the diapers well, which was 99% of my frustration.
2: water here is crazy expensive… like up to $200/month, and the extra washes were painful.
I don’t cloth for savings and have probably spent about $2500 on my stash (I have over 200 diapers and only use high end brands/natural fibers). That said, I still think it’s worth it for the environmental factors and the cuteness of the diapers. Plus the benefit of less blowouts. The laundry doesn’t bother me.
I did disposable with my first and cloth with my second. So worth it. Even factoring out cost, my second is almost 2 and has NEVER had a blowout. Not one.
Yes. The extra work etc. is worth it if you buy only what you absolutely need and have the resources to maintain a regular wash routine. We use disposables at night because we all sleep better that way. We also use disposables in certain medical/ therapeutic settings. There are benefits to both and cloth diapering doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Give yourself grace! I’ve done all cloth, a combo, and now we are all disposable…there is a season for everything and I have accepted that it isn’t all or nothing…it’s about what works for you and your family in the moment.
Did disposable with my first, cloth this time around. DEFINITELY worth it. You get into a groove and it’s not a big deal.
As you can see, cloth diapering is going to look different for every family. It’s very common in the cloth diapering community for parents to use disposables at times, no shame. Whether you spend $200 on your stash or $2,000 you can make cloth work for your family. Keep it fun, keep it simple, and join a cloth diaper group to keep you motivated!