I've been cloth diapering for over 6 years, but I still sometimes find myself surprised by the strange looks and the mistaken opinions that most people have when the topic arises.
I want to dispel some myths in what will be a short but hopefully clarifying series on cloth diapering.
In my experience I have found that using cloth dipes is simply not:
- More expensive
- More disgusting
- More time consuming
- More inconvenient
- For hippies only :)
Today I will begin by addressing two of the most common myths that I hear, next week I'll continue on with the following 3 myths, and then I will open it up for you to ask me all of your more specific questions that I will do my very best to answer.
Cloth diapering isn't more expensive
It baffles me to no end that people wonder this, although I suppose it might be because they gasp at the idea of the initial cost outset. Yes, cloth diapers do cost more upfront. No, they are not even a fraction of the cost long term.
Let's crunch some numbers.
The average baby goes through about 6 diapers per day. Many newborns go through twice that many, averaging 8-10 per day at least, while an older baby may get down to as little as 4 diapers per day, so we'll use 6 as the overall average.
6 diapers x 30 days= 180 diapers monthly
Case of Size 4 Pampers diapers at Amazon (with 192 diapers) = $33.14 (that's a very cheap price, actually- now you know where to buy disposables if my posts don't convince you to try cloth!)
Disposable wipes= About 200 monthly (this is very conservative- it's probably much higher)
Wipes cost (bought in bulk)= About $0.02 to $0.04 each.
Averaging that at $0.03 per wipe at 200 per month, that's another $6 monthly.
Total disposable diapering monthly cost: $39.14 approximately (higher for a baby under 3-4 months old)
(Not to mention the use of other products like a Diaper Genie and it's refills, etc.)
Image by trenttsd
Now let's crunch the numbers for cloth.
15 FuzziBunz One Size Diapers= $284.20 USD (includes shipping- this is from Nicki's Diapers)
Add $21.95 for a hanging, washable dirty-diaper bag, and another $25 for 24 unbleached cotton washable wipes.
A set of diapers like this will carry you from the time baby is about 8-10 lbs all the way through potty training. I use and adore these diapers myself, and they still fit my 4 year old who needs a diaper at night. 15 diapers will allow you to go 2-3 days between washes, depending how many diapers baby goes through. Note that there are much cheaper options (like cotton prefolds and fitted covers, but I'll stick with the pocket diaper example because of their popularity and ease of use).
Assuming baby fully potty-trains by 24 months old (idealistic, but not really likely):
Monthly cloth diapering cost= $13.80 per month
A few more things to note:
- If baby takes longer than 2 years to potty train (which many do), your monthly cost only goes down.
- You will also likely get to use each set of diapers and wipes for 2 children, not just 1, if you take good care of them (I will definitely get two kids out of my current pocket diaper stash). If so, you just cut your cost almost in half.
Now what about hot water costs and laundry detergent?
Yes, there is a slight cost increase, but it's very low. I wash 2-3 loads per week, and I do use hot water (keeping my water levels low). But, I air-dry my diapers, saving on electricity and preserving the life of the diapers, as many moms do. I would guess that the additional utilities costs are maximum $5-10 per month.
I buy my detergent in large boxes to keep the cost down. I use less detergent in my diaper washes than in my regular wash, to prevent build-up. I probably use the detergent equivalent of about 5-6 extra laundry loads, which doesn't cost more than $1 monthly (even with the use of a high-quality, natural detergent).
Even supposing we bump our $13.80 up to $22 to account for extra costs associated with washing, we are still at just over half the cost of disposables.
Final monthly cost comparison
Cloth diapering= $22
Disposable diapering = $39.14 (minimum)
Image by futurestreet
Cloth diapering isn't more disgusting
I know, I know. You don't believe me.
Let me ask you this... by using disposables, do you avoid having to wipe really dirty bums and avoid smelling nasty diapers? Do you avoid messy diaper blowouts on occasion? I didn't think so.
Additionally, did you know that even with the use of disposables, you are supposed to be dumping all solid waste into the toilet, rather than simply rolling the full diaper up and tossing it in the garbage can? (I know, hardly anyone does that, but it's true!)
When I take off a wet diaper, I get nothing more on my hands than I would with a disposable diaper, and I simply toss it in my diaper pail and close the lid. When I clean up a dirty diaper, I get no more on my hands than one might while cleaning up a disposable diaper with a disposable wipe (and then I go wash my hands, same as everyone else).
Dirty diapers go in a dry pail, so there is no dirty water sloshing around. Toss them in, close the lid, walk away. Spray air freshener if you like. When it's time to wash, open the washer, dump the entire contents of the pail in, turn it on and close the lid. I spray and rinse out my pail, dump the dirty water and only once in a while give it a true scrub when it needs it. And if you want to avoid needing to scrub out a pail, use a washable wet bag to store your diapers instead, which gets tossed straight into the washer with your diapers, and comes out smelling fresh.
The only time that cloth diapering is potentially less pleasant is when I need to rinse out a dirty diaper in the toilet before putting it in the pail. I grab the four clean ends of the diaper to hold, swirl it around a bit, flush the toilet, and toss the diaper in the pail. Short and simple, hold your breath if you like and I won't tell a soul.
Image by burstyriffic
What about dirty diapers in my purse or diaper bag while we're out?
Easy. Get a small, washable wet bag that fits your diaper bag (mine can even go in my regular purse). It keeps any wetness and stink inside, until I can get home to dump the contents and wash the wet bag so that it's fresh to take out with me once more.
Two cloth diapering myths dealt with, three to go next week, and then I'll open it up for any and every question you can throw my way... Until then, look forward to a cloth diapering store giveaway coming up this Thursday!