Cloth Diapers: Overrated Savings and Just Plain Gross?

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This is the first post in a series on cloth diapering. Even if you are not currently diapering anyone, the moral of the story still applies: make educated decisions instead of knee-jerk reactions.

ll of us have hills we are willing to die on–subjects we are passionate and/or knowledgeable enough about to engage in friendly debate over.

For moms, these hills tend to be things like how/what to feed babies, birthing preferences, sleep training, safety, discipline, schooling, and diapering.  To varying degrees of both education and passion, I have opinions on all of these. But until recently, I’d not given much thought to diapering.

It’s still not a subject of great passion for me and I’m certainly no expert. But  I am a fan of making educated decisions and my initial diaper decision was not so much.  So, after reconsidering a couple of times, I am now a cloth diaper convert–who still uses disposables on occasion.

My goal is not to convert you (or condemn anyone who chooses differently), but to simply share one cloth diaper newbie’s story in hopes of helping you make an informed decision of your own.

Overrated Savings and Yucky?

For almost 3 years, we had been a disposable diap family.  When Bun was born, I didn’t know anyone doing cloth, was mildly grossed out by the idea, and didn’t believe that it would save as much money as some said.

The Hubs was more repulsed than I. When I tentative broached it with him at one point, he made his feelings clear and as I couldn’t fathom going totally solo on diaper duty, I considered the subject closed.

In terms of the cost, I found most disposable cost estimates inaccurate for our family. Often, they would use Pampers as the brand of choice; we bought ours at Sam’s or Costco for much cheaper.  And the babies in those estimates must have been some crazy poopers. Even in her early months, my sweet daughter only used 6ish diapers a day.

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After getting pregnant with #2 a year after #1 was born, I reopened the subject. I read Simple Mom’s crazy helpful cloth diaper posts and she made it seem less weird.

Then, I crunched some numbers. I got waaay detailed.  Hubs the Spreadsheet King was proud.  I took into consideration the number and cost  of disposable diapers used per day by each child in each stage of growth (smaller diapers being cheaper than larger ones). I also factored in estimated potty-training completion dates for each child, trying to be generous and not expect potty super stars.

I then compared those numbers to the cost of cloth diapering two kids (Hubs’s preferred number of children at that point), including things like wet bags, a diaper sprayer, and possibly buying disposables for travel, church, etc.

While I don’t recall the style of cloth diaper I use in my calculations, my bottom line savings for cloth ended up being about $250.  With a husband still opposed, a huge belly, and a cross-country move on the horizon, $250 sounded like a small price to pay for convenience.

(Which, to amend this, is NOT CORRECT. My numbers were way off–it’s actually more like $900 and that’s a very conservative estimate–and I’ll share why next time! Not to leave you hanging, the post was just getting a bit long :)).

Stick around for the rest of this series and I’ll share what key info I missed about cloth and give you the most realistic diaper cost-comparison I’ve found.

To be clear, the savings is not overrated and “just plain gross” is what you’ll encounter regardless of your diaper choice.

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • Catherine

    Love that you are sharing about your experiences here! We do cloth (for the most part) and love it. I will say not in the newborn stage though – we started #1 around 2.5 months and plan to do the same with the next one. There are just too many other adjustments with having a new one around…at least for us!

    • Girl, anyone who cloth diapers their newborn gets a gigantic high five from me. If we have a #3, I imagine we’ll take a brief break from cloth too.

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  • Jennifer

    Jenn, I hear disposable-diapering moms always say, “what does a day in the life look like of a cloth-diapering mom?” I know I imagine plastic bags of stinky urine-soaked rags. How does laundry work? What do you do with the diaper after its used? How does rinsing a poopy diaper in the toilet work? I just imagine dripping poopy toilet water all over my house while I bring the diaper to the correct receptacle. Are you doing daily laundry? And laundering them apparently requires special soaps and settings. Could you write a post of practical how to’s? Kind of a “Cloth Diapering for Dummies,” post?

    • All great questions, Jennifer! And all ones I had, too. There are some great resources out there already, but I’ll definitely consider doing a “how-to” post. For now, check out:
      And see her links to other posts on the subject. She de-weirded it and demystified it for me :).