Author Topic: Cloth versus disposable diapers  (Read 9100 times)

brandino29

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Cloth versus disposable diapers
« on: July 08, 2013, 11:42:27 AM »
My wife and I have a 4 month old baby girl.  We've already made our stake in this decision but I was interested to see what other thoughts there were out there in MMM world and if anyone had done the math on the true cost of disposable versus cloth diapers.

For our part, we've decided to use reusable cloth diapers.  We started when she was about 2 months old (they were way too big for her before that and we had tons of disposable diapers we'd received as gifts).  We've got about 10 of the fancy cloth diapers like BumGenius which run around $25 per diaper.  By all accounts, they should last for the full time she's in diapers and even for future children.  Considering "they" estimate that you'll spend upwards of $2,500 in disposable diapers until your child is potty trained, even the fancy expensive cloth diapers seem like a great deal considering we're spending only 10%.  Plus, you're not generating all of that additional waste, which is important to us.  We usually have a only a small bag of trash each week but had two full ones when we were using the disposable diapers.  On the other hand, we have to do a small load of laundry every night now to wash the cloth diapers, plus a long cycle in the dryer because of how thick the material is.  So we're using a lot more water and electricity. 

I've not taken the time to estimate how much we'll spend in extra electricity and water with the cloth, my hunch is that over the 2-3 years she's in diapers it will end up offsetting the upfront cost-savings.  With plans for future children though, we should get some additional return on that investment though, even if we have to replace a few diapers over time. 

Just interested to see what other people had considered when weighing their decision.

bogart

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2013, 12:18:16 PM »
Congratulations on your new arrival.

I wanted to use cloth diapers because they seemed so much more sensible and environmentally friendly.  We got hand-me-down and gifts of FuzziBunz plus Nurtured Family liners; we probably owned 20 that fit at any given time (we went through 2 sizes).  We threw them in with the regular laundry, line-dried them, and really didn't find that they affected our laundry levels much at all. 

As DS got older and would sleep through the night, we used disposables at night because I found they stayed dry overnight (i.e. soaked up all the moisture) while the cloth ones we had did not.  We also had to use disposables for commercial daycare, which we relied on for about 16 hours/week until DS was toilet trained (not that the latter drove the former but that was our arrangement for that era).  We used cheap disposables for day care and typically either Huggies or Pampers for overnight.

I had hoped for another child but we have ended up with just the one.  I did lend the diapers to a friend (and got them back), so that's one person helped out, and may now sell them, or hang on to them in hopes that my stepkids will be having kids and want them.  Haven't decided.

TLV

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 12:52:52 PM »
I would say that estimate for disposables is possibly high, depending on whether you buy in bulk. Buying from Costco runs about $500/year for our 1-year old, so the total cost will probably be between $1500 and $2000.

Cloth diapers are definitely cheaper if you own a clothes washer (or are willing to wash in bath tub or something) and either a dryer or have enough diapers (or dry enough climate) to line dry as quickly as needed.

If you have coin-op laundry and live in a humid climate, the numbers start tilting. For us, running a wash cycle costs $1, and dryer is 25-75 cents depending on load size. The costs are relatively low for coin-op because it's in a condo - I've seen coin-ops as high as $2.50 for a wash cycle and $2 to dry. With 10 cloth diapers we would need to do a load of laundry (and use the dryer) at least 2 of every 3 days (compared to 2 loads once a week that we normally do). With 15-20 we could line dry some or wash less often. With our laundry costs, cloth diapers would still come out ahead, but not by very much (not enough for my wife to consider it worth it, since she does the majority of the diapering and laundry). If we had to use a laundromat, the even higher costs would put disposables ahead financially, as well as being enormously inconvenient.

We're planning to rent a house before our 2nd child is born later this year, with washer/dryer hookups, so we'll reconsider cloth diapers.

N

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 01:30:33 PM »
We did so many things with our kids.
Started out with cloth. I used infant prefolds with a cover until my first was about 6 mos and grew out of them.
Then we used a combo of larger prefolds with a cover, and some fuzzi bunz.
Kid A essentially refused to wear diapers after she was 14 months old, so I had some cloth training pants and tiny tiny underwear, and by 19 months she was completely diaper free. I carried a baby bjorn potty in a water proof bag since she was so small and didnt like big toilets.

Kid B, we mostly did Elimination Communication with, alongside infant prefolds usually without a cover. By the time he was a year, he was using the potty 100%. We did have a strange setback when, sometime after he was two, he started to refuse the potty for #2 (tmi?, sorry) but it was once a day, so we used one disposable a day until he grew out of that.

Cloth makes a lot of sense if one or more of these is true:

you can get them used
you plan to use them on more than one kid
you can resell them when you are done
you have your own washer/dryer
a parent is home with the baby or the caregiver is comfortable with cloth

some cities have diaper services that pick up your dirties and deliver cleans, but they may use bleach and or other chemicals you would prefer not to have on your babies delicate nethers :)



burly

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2013, 03:58:26 PM »
I like the idea of cloth diapers to limit waste but I find them completely unpractical for two working parents.

Here's what we do and I feel that we are getting the best bang for our buck..

1. Sign up for Amazon Mom - 20% off diapers & wipes

2. We're currently on size 1 diapers and these are $0.10 per diaper.   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012M8XPE/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. If you count your free time as $25/hr then BY FAR disposable is the way to go... Who wants to get a hose to clean off the poop and wash them twice?  For us, after a long day of work, the last thing I want to worry about is washing poopy diapers...

All in all, we're about ~$350/yr on diapers, but that will change as soon as we go to size 2, then size 3... However, the time saved is so worth it.

brandino29

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 06:28:57 PM »
Thanks for the comments, very interesting to hear others' stories. 

We did get a few of ours hand me down which made it a lot cheaper initially and we bought most of the rest with gift cards we received from baby showers.  My wife just ordered a couple more the other day, ideally we'd like to have 15 or 16, because some days can cut it close with only 10.  We have had to resort to disposables on a few occasions when we've run out of clean cloth diapers.  We also have used disposable anytime we have to go somewhere overnight---much more convenient tossing disposables than carrying around poopy wet diapers for a couple of days. 

They've been surprisingly easy to deal with---granted my wife is almost always the one washing them.  She did mention to me just the other day how much she likes them and how much easier they are than everyone said they would be.  Most people just scoffed at us and said "Yeah, that'll last" when we told them we were going to use cloth.  I do expect it to get a little tougher though when she starts eating solid foods and her stools are more....stool-y. 

Fortunately our daycare is fine with cloth diapers as long as we provide them with a leak free bag to store them in and wash them ourselves. 

Kid B, we mostly did Elimination Communication with, alongside infant prefolds usually without a cover. By the time he was a year, he was using the potty 100%. We did have a strange setback when, sometime after he was two, he started to refuse the potty for #2 (tmi?, sorry) but it was once a day, so we used one disposable a day until he grew out of that.


I've heard about elimination communication before but only briefly looked into it and was a little doubtful of how possible it was.  But it  sounds like it was a success (mostly) for you all! 

Ryan Dagg

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 07:39:36 PM »
Yes, cloth is cheaper, but not as much as people think. You will run your washer and dryer so much that you should include the cost of a replacement of each in your calculations. My dryer never, ever, ever stops.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 07:58:22 PM »
We love using cloth diapers, and our daycare was open to using them because the Bum Genius ones are just like disposables except we take them home at night. I don't recommend them for families without a washer/dryer in their home.

Yes, they are more work than disposables. But I managed it while working FT because I love the feel of cloth against DS's skin instead of plastic/paper. That's what cinched the deal for me.

Now that DS is 3 and still not potty trained, I think that they have paid for themselves and more. Unfortunately, they're not absorbent enough for my little guy, who now uses his diaper only 3 times a day, so they have to hold a lot all at once. We switched to Target brand diapers, and our costs are so high now! I realize how spoiled I was before. We rent, so we don't pay for water. We also strung up a clothesline in the hot months to line dry, and always line dried our covers. But the inserts seemed to constantly be in the dryer.

I have already tried stripping the CD's and it didn't work, but I think I will try them again soon because I do NOT want to buy another $20 box of diapers.

ghatko

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2013, 08:45:16 AM »
On the other hand, we have to do a small load of laundry every night now to wash the cloth diapers, plus a long cycle in the dryer because of how thick the material is.  So we're using a lot more water and electricity. 

I think you need to get a few more diapers. I found prefolds & covers worked well if you want something inexpensive. I think it sounds much more expensive and wastes a lot of time to wash every single night. I definitely preferred washing every other night, which would cut your electricity/water costs essentially in half.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 09:40:12 AM »
On the other hand, we have to do a small load of laundry every night now to wash the cloth diapers, plus a long cycle in the dryer because of how thick the material is.  So we're using a lot more water and electricity. 

I think you need to get a few more diapers. I found prefolds & covers worked well if you want something inexpensive. I think it sounds much more expensive and wastes a lot of time to wash every single night. I definitely preferred washing every other night, which would cut your electricity/water costs essentially in half.

This is what we did too. They won't stink if you do it every other night.

ghatko

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 11:01:16 AM »
I even went as far as every three nights while we were potty training and only using diapers at night, and they were fine. When we were using more diapers when she was younger, every other night worked for us.

ace1224

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 11:10:27 AM »
i was going to use them but state regulations say that daycare can't use them bc it isn't "sanitary". and i just didn't want to put the time into it to do after work and on the weekends.
i'm pretty sure its cheaper to cloth over disposable but a lot of people do them for environmental reasons and wanting to keep chemicals off babies' butts. 
if i were to have another child i'd probably use amazon mom or if i was feeling spendy, order them from the honest company

Christiana

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 11:30:22 AM »
For disposables, remember that it takes time to go to the store and buy them, and then to bag them up and dispose of them.  Much of the money that we save with cloth diapers comes from keeping my husband out of Target, away from the temptation to make impulse purchases.

Even when we had only coin laundry, cloth was slightly cheaper than disposables for us.

I think it's worthwhile to have enough cloth diapers around for three days of diapering.  Then the wear is more distributed, you're more likely to end up with diapers that can be used again for the next child or sold, and you don't have to wash as often.  We wash diapers two or three times a week.


wearfannypacks

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2013, 06:59:50 PM »
We just moved to a place with our own washer dryer. Since electricity usage is highest for the dryer, I figure using the drying rack will save on cleaning costs making the switch to cloth.  So Sunbabydiapers are some of the cheapest pocket cloth diapers I've found. They are also adjustable to your kids size as they grow.  I'm seriously considering getting a stash of 12 for $78. It's done by a momprenuer from China so shipping takes a while. Perhaps we will work through our stash of disposibles while we are waiting.

I like the idea of using disposables at night and cloth during the day. Not sure if I should do 12 or 24 diapers. It's 144 for 24 with 48 inserts. My 4 month old is already in size 3 diapers...chunker.  He's also the 1st, with another sibling or two in the future.

George_PA

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2013, 08:48:07 PM »
We just converted over and are currently using a cloth diaper called "G diapers"; they work good, no leaks; the cloth absorbing part inside comes out and can be washed separate from the outer part of the diaper; they don't leak;

we wash them in bunches, i.e. when at least 6 of them are dirty in the clothes washer; the only thing I still don't quite understand is what you are supposed to do with the soiled diapers before they go into the wash; I have heard that some people put them into a bag, some people hand them up to dry out, and some people soak them in a bucket of water until they are ready to wash them in the clothes washer


A440

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2013, 09:23:52 PM »
We use cloth diapers except for one disposable overnight, as this seems to help the little one sleep through the night.  We started with some bum genius and fuzzibunz off eBay.  They were a little used but very good shape and added some larger sizes as we went along.

We both work outside the home.  We are fortunate that our daycare was willing to use the cloth diapers, as that really helps. 

We line dry the outer shell and are still putting the inserts in the drier, but I would like to start drying the inserts outside. 




N

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2013, 09:31:20 PM »
@george-pa, I kept dirty covers and diapers in a waterproof bag. you dont have to keep them in a bucket of water (that is olden days method!)
sometimes for the covers, I just washed/rinsed them in the sink and let them dry.

we tried gDiapers, but my son developed a contact rash around the waist. weird. but neat concept.

@marilynsmiles, imo, 12 diapers is not nearly enough. with cloth you do change them way more often than with paper/dispoable. you would never be caught up with laundry. I would go with 24 or 36.

for any others: hooking up one of those sprayers to the toilet is great, you can use them to hose out "solids". that is once the baby is eating solids. if baby is just on breastmilk, then you may want to do a rinse cycle first and then wash in the washer.

cerberusss

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2013, 03:47:24 AM »
We have the Bum Genius reusable ones. We have about 18 of them, got them second hand. There's regular leakage if your baby is still tiny. Our daughter is 1 month old, so at night we use disposables.

For the first year, she won't go to daycare yet so that's not relevant for now.

I'm mixed on the topic. The leakage is really, really irritating because you have to change all her clothes. That's why we moved to disposables at night.

golden1

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2013, 05:00:13 AM »
I used cloth.  I had Fuzzi-bunz for my first child that I bought new and resold for about half of what I bought them for.  When I had two in diapers I bought something called Wonderoos which were like Fuzzi-bunz but with adjustable sizing so I could use the same dipes for both kids. 

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2013, 01:15:27 PM »
the only thing I still don't quite understand is what you are supposed to do with the soiled diapers before they go into the wash; I have heard that some people put them into a bag, some people hand them up to dry out, and some people soak them in a bucket of water until they are ready to wash them in the clothes washer

We put them in a Planet Wise "wet bag," which is cloth on the outside and waterproof on the inside. If there are solids, we do our best to dump them in the toilet first but if it's not possible, we wait until laundry time to spray them with the diaper sprayer.

The Dutchman

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2013, 02:56:02 PM »
Was trolling and came across this one. 

I agree with all said above: cloth is cheaper than disposable, many working parents will not be able to do this because of day care / state regulations, it can be a pain some time (traveling) but it is not bad. 

Couple of Tips for Those Interested
1 - Wife and I use liners for the diapers.  This is different than the insert; the liner it goes against the skin and is basically a dryer sheet.  It works great for when they take a steamy one in there you can just pull out the liner sheet.  It does not catch everything but does a good job of getting the big stuff.  Also, you can re-use them if they just peed through them; throw them in the wash with the diapers.  You can find these in a roll at "the little seedling" and cost like 2 cents a diaper. 
2 - You don't need to pre soak them in a bowl prior to putting them in the diaper pale.  Shimmy the poop out and put them in the diaper pale with the insert removed.  Once you are ready to wash you wash twice once on cold and directly after once on hot.  The net water usage between this and soaking is negligible if you ask me.  That way you don't have a bowl of poo diapers on your counter. 
3 - If you get a funk in your diapers that can be easily remedied by drying them outside in the sun.  You can do this with any clothes really.  The power of the sun is quite amazing.  It can also take care of stains that may build up in your white inserts. 

The Dutchman

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2013, 02:58:59 PM »
Forgot.  If you are looking for cheap diapers take a look at "Alva Baby" cloth diapers.  They come from China which sucks so wash them good.  However, they are Bum Genius diapers with a better design if you ask me.  Trust me try them out very cheap but well made.  Only one dud with bad elastic. 

WD

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2013, 11:32:55 PM »
We used cloth diapers and found that it was way cheaper than disposables. However, we also practiced elimination communication with our DS, thus there were less diapers total. After about 6 months, we had maybe 1 poop diaper every 2 weeks and by 8 months, 1 every month or so. This made the whole cloth diaper experience really easy. We primarily had only pee diapers to deal thus we only had 1 additional load of laundry every week.

As for the diapers, we had tried several different brands/types including, thirsties, bumgenius, fuzzibunz, flip and many others. We found that we liked the flip diapers the most and with prefolds, it came out to be way cheaper than the other types of diapers we tried.'

The other thing about cloth that really makes it cheaper than disposables is the resale value of the brand-named diapers. For example, I wasn't sure which ones to buy initially so I purchased a bunch of different types of diapers on ebay first. Once I figured out which ones I liked the best, I resold all of the diapers for a profit on eBay.

waitetr

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Re: Cloth versus disposable diapers
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2013, 12:30:16 PM »
Yes, cloth is cheaper, but not as much as people think. You will run your washer and dryer so much that you should include the cost of a replacement of each in your calculations. My dryer never, ever, ever stops.

Don't think replacement cost valid here...at least not from my experience.  We just replaced our 13 y/o dryer and have been using cloth for the past 5 years.  Our washer is still going strong.  From my understanding most have to be replaced every 10-15 years.   Take good care of your stuff, don't overload and you'll be fine.