I’m considering using cloth diapers for our baby. I’m concerned about the expense of disposable diapers, chemicals in disposable diapers and wipes, the possibility of more diaper rash/infections with disposable, and of course, adding tons of waste to landfills.
I’m well aware the cloth diapers simply don’t work for everyone. Some babies have crazy blowouts that simply can’t be contained by cloth, no matter whatcha do. I’d hate to invest all that money in cloth diapers, to only have them not work for us.
The other thing that makes me hesitate? We don’t have a washing machine or dryer in our apartment.
Is cloth diapering too insane for me to even think about? I might be getting in a bit over my head, so I need you moms out there to tell me if I’m nuts.
Most cloth diapering sites have suggested running diapers through at least two washes. I don’t have the option of doing an extra rinse, so it’s an additional load or nothing.
I don’t have access to an outdoor clothes line, and most sites that I’ve read encourage line drying in the sun or drying the diapers in the hot dryer to further kill bacteria.
Cost break-down of exclusive cloth diaper use in the first two years
There is a W/D unit in our building’s basement. It costs $1.25 per wash and $1.25 per dry.
So assuming the prices don’t go up, it will cost $3.75 per load (two washes and a dry).
Is it a fair assessment to say one load can fit about two dozen diapers? Would that include cloth wipes tossed in as well? If that’s the case, then in the early stages, I could be washing diapers every two days or so, depending on how many I have.
That’s about 3.5 loads of diapers per week. $3.75/load X 3.5 loads = $13.13 ish per week to use the machines.
Say I keep up with that wash pace for six months or 26 weeks. That’s $341, or about $56 per month in washing, and that’s not including detergent costs.
The next six to 12 months of Baby’s life, let’s say I can get away with washing twice per week. That’s $7.50 per week, and for 26 weeks that’s $195.
Tallying up the first year’s totals of estimated washing costs, and that’s $536 in washer and dryer use. Only uh, 2,144 quarters for the machines! Heh.
For Baby’s second year, I’d expect we’d have fewer diaper changes, so that would give me even more time between washings. But, let’s say I wash a load of diapers twice per week anyway. For 52 weeks, that’s $390. Not bad.
If we tried cloth and decided it works well for us, I’d probably want three dozen diapers on hand at least. A quick look at Diapers.com shows that Fuzzi Bunz cost $20 each, and bumGenius cost $18 each. These are the all-in-one style diapers, so no rubber pants covers are needed. Ok. An average of that cost would be $19 each X 36 diapers, so $684 in diaper costs.
Grand total for two years of cloth diapering one baby? $1,610. If you look at it per year, it averages out to $805 annually.
We hopefully will have more than one child, and if we make the initial investment on those cloth diapers, they should last for several more children. So after that first baby, we’ll just have washing costs to consider. Assuming we’re still paying per wash (I hope not!), two years of washes and drys would cost $926, or an average of $463 per year. Definitely cheaper than disposables.
If we do decide to go the cloth diaper route, we probably won’t use cloth exclusively. We’d use disposables in the first few weeks of Baby’s life, when we’re traveling or out all day, and possibly at night. So, we would need a few packs here and there of disposables. I’m just guessing a number, but I’d doubt it would be more than $100 per year.
If we exclusively used disposable diapers, my best guess (from sites I’ve been able to find) is we would be spending at least $1,500 per year, if not more.
The bottom line (lol):
If y’all don’t convince me that I’m nuts for considering trying cloth without my own washer/dryer, than I think I’ll pick up a few (say, six?) different types of cloth diapers to give it a trial run. If it goes well, then I’ll buy more of the kinds we like. If it doesn’t, well whatever. We wouldn’t be out a ton of money, and could hang on to those diapers and try them on baby #2.
After looking at my cost estimates (I realize these numbers could be way off. Feel free to help me out), it looks like cloth will still be a lot cheaper for us.
But, I know that I’m going to be exhausted. I can only imagine the kind of attention and energy I’ll need to expend trying to figure out how to raise a baby. Instead of trudging up and down two flights of stairs with diapers every few days, maybe my time would be better spent doing other things. I’m not completely sure.
So, let’s hear it! What have been your experiences with cloth diapers? What advice do you have for me?