Our initial investment of 24 sleeve diapers cost $322 (including shipping). Since then I have purchased some additional inserts (we have a heavy wetter!)and just recently purchased a set of hybrid diapers preparing for travel. I would say for diapers/stuffings alone I have still spent under $500. I have spent additional funds on cloth wipes and solution and a couple of wetbags - but those are items that should either be broken down separately (comparing wipes to wipes) or I would have needed anyway. (I would have a wetbag or two to contain disposables, and/or wet clothing when out and about.)
Many people do bring up the cost of laundering as another thing to consider when comparing costs of cloth vs. disposable. I will say, while I don't break down the cost/load of laundry - our water bills have gone up $10/month since our family has grown. Now - anyone who has had a baby realizes that diapers aren't the only increase in laundry with a baby =). Also, I am now at home, rather than spending half of my waking day out - so that increases our use as well. Also, Lucas' arrival happened to coincide with a rate increase for our water/sewage bill, so for the sake of figuring we'll say half of that increase is going for diaper laundry, or about $8 to more than cover some of the energy costs as well.
Before he was born, the cheapest I was able to find disposable diapers was $.18 each. (bulk, store brand at discount club, or name brand with a great coupon) I am going to say the average number of disposable diapers used is about 50/week, which I think is pretty low - yes, you change less often than in cloth - but infants are changed more - and there are going to be times you use more. That figures to $9.00/week, $468/year, or $1170 for the 2 1/2 years that baby will probably be in diapers.
Cloth diapers - I have spent less than $500 on diapers/stuffins and figuring the water/utilities at $8/month for the same 2 1/2 years ($240) or $740.
So, we are looking at a bare minimum savings of $430 for using cloth diapers. Why bare minimum? Once I purchase my cloth diapers - the actual diaper cost is done - it cannot increase. Disposables could go up in price, my figuring was also based on having a warehouse membership (which we do not at this time) and/or ALWAYS using coupons/big sales. Also, this is on ONE child, if we have more kids - the initial diaper investment on cloth is DONE - so it would only be the $240 for additional utilities - SWEET.
Since making this investment - I have also learned that there is a great re-sale market for cloth as well. These are also my figures - I did not by any means choose the cheapest options in cloth diapering - I spent a bit more to have a system that would be easy enough for sitters/friends/family to use, would be easy to care for and launder. Using pre-folds and covers I know I could have spent no more than half of my initial investment.
One thing I know scares parents away from using cloth is the initial investment. I wish I had the money to do no interest loans to parents wanting to use cloth, and let them pay me back the $40/month they would spend on disposables. However, what I would challenge them to do to cover this initial investment is to:
- As soon as you know you are expecting, start putting aside the $ you would be spending on diapers each week, by the time baby arrives, you could have enough for a basic stash.
- Register for them, or ask for gift cards for your preferred diaper retailer for any showers and let people know you would like to use cloth.