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Healthy Finances

Are you $1,500 or $3,000?

So how much money can using cloth actually save a family? We can answer that! Bill has done the math for you, creating a handy-dandy Cloth vs. Disposables Cost Comparison.

First, before you begin, it’s important that we point out a few things about why our calculator is different from other websites:

  1. We compare using the lowest price you can get on disposable diapers and wipes.
  2. We calculate energy costs and the price of detergent associated with laundering cloth diapers into the cost of cloth diapering.
  3. We use a lower than average age for a potty-trained child. The national average is 3.5 years. (The longer your child stays in diapers the higher your estimated savings will be by switching to cloth)
  4. We use a lower daily diaper change average. (The more changes you have, the higher your estimated savings will be by switching to cloth)

Why did we do all these things? Well, we know that many parents clip coupons or only buy diapers at warehouse stores or when they are on sale. Second, energy costs and laundry are an important aspect to cloth. We are also very aware that every family is different. Some parents change diapers more or less than other parents. Finally, every child potty-trains differently. Some are done at 2 years, while others finish much later. In short, we want to be as fair and honest about your personal savings as possible. Keep these items in mind, when perusing our calculator.

Some of you may wonder what our personal savings has been. To answer that, I would have to include our doctor bills that resulted from disposable diapers. For more information on this please visit the link to healthy skin. In short, our savings is substantially higher than $3,000. Can I sue a disposable diaper manufacturer for emotional damages?

Cloth Vs. Disposables Cost Comparison

a Average Years in Diapers 3          
b Diapers per Day 6          
c Disposable Diapers Count price per Box price per Diaper Diapers per Day Cost/Day per Child Total Cost
  Box of Costco Diapers (Size 3) 208 $49.99 $0.24 6 $1.44 $1,579.01
  Box of Costco Diapers (Size 4) 186 $49.99 $0.27 6 $1.61 $1,765.78
  Box of Costco Diapers (Size 5) 168 $49.99 $0.30 6 $1.79 $1,954.97
d Average Cost of Disposable Diapers         $1.61 $1,766.58
e Disposable Wipes Count price per Box price per Wipe Wipes per Day Cost/Day per Child Total Cost
  Costco Disposable Wipes 704 $15.49 $0.02 18 $0.40 $433.68
  Huggies Disposable wipes 832 $29.99 $0.04 18 $0.65 $710.46
  Average Cost of Disposable Wipes         $0.52 $572.07
f Diaper Cream Count in Ounces price per Tube price per Use Uses per Day Cost/Day per Child Total Cost
  Costco Diaper Cream 8 $9.59 $0.06 6 $0.34 $375.04
  Desitin Diaper Cream 9.6 $7.99 $0.05 6 $0.29 $312.47
  Average Cost of Diaper Cream         $0.31 $343.75
  Total Average Cost of Using Disposable Diapers         $2.45 $2,682.40
    Count price for Set price per  Diaper Diapers per Day Cost/Day per Child Total Cost
g Average Cost of Cloth Diapers 24 $600.00 $25.00 6 $0.55 $600.00
  Average Cost of Cloth Wipes 48 $96.00 $2.00 6 $0.09 $96.00
    Loads price per Box price per Load Diapers per Day Cost/Day per Child Total Cost
h Cost of planet Laundry Detergent 32 $11.00 $0.34 6 $0.09 $94.10
i Energy & Water Cost of Washing     $0.78 6 $0.20 $213.53
j Energy Cost of Drying     $0.67 6 $0.17 $183.41
  Total Average Cost of Using Cloth Diapers         $1.08 $1,187.04
  Total Average Savings of Using Cloth Over Disposables           $1,495.37

Calculating the Details

     The table above compares the complete cost of disposable diapers with the complete cost of cloth diapering.  The cost of cloth diapering detailed below even includes  the estimated water and energy costs associated with laundering.   When all is tallied, the lowest average savings from using cloth diapers instead of disposables from birth to potty training is approximately $1,495 per child!   Please note that this is the lowest amount of savings possible by using cloth instead of disposables and that most families will save even more. Please read further to see why.  

     In the preceding table, the cost of disposable diapers assumes the utilization of the cheapest means of purchasing disposable diapers (i.e. buying in bulk from a warehouse store and using a modest 6 diapers per day) while the costs associated with cloth diapering have been estimated using above average prices and assumptions.  The table has been formatted in this way to demonstrate the financial advantages of cloth diapering without using opportunistic figures.  

     That being said, it should be noted that when using disposable diapers we don’t always make it to Costco or Sams Club before we run out, and that we often end up buying from grocery stores or convenience stores, greatly increasing the average cost of disposable diapers and wipes.  With this in mind, the savings estimate in the table below is most likely understated.  We have composed the table this way on purpose to demonstrate savings even if you are the most responsible “never leave my house without my coupon book” kind of person.   The average family will likely experience savings on a much larger scale and could save as much as $3,000 per child depending on circumstances.  For families like ours, with multiple children, the savings can more than double with each child, as cloth diapers and wipes can be used for younger brothers and sisters!






a) In an effort to be conservative the average years in diapers has been underestimated at 3 years..  The average years in diapers for most children in the US is 3.5 years.

b) The average number of diapers used per day has been conservatively estimated at 6.  This number can vary quite substantially for parents and the needs of their babies.  The more diapers a parent uses the bigger their savings will be by switching to cloth.

c) The price of disposable diapers assumes diapers purchased in bulk from Costco.

d)  The average cost of disposable diapers utilizes the average cost of sizes 3,4, and 5.  The smaller sizes were not considered due to the relative short duration that babies remain in these small sizes.

e) The price of disposable wipes assumes wipes purchased in bulk from Costco.  The average between Costco brand wipes and Huggies wipes was used to calculate the total cost of using disposables.  It was further assumed that disposable wipes would be used at an average rate of 3 per diaper change..  Only 1 cloth wipe was assumed to be needed for every diaper change due to their larger size and greater absorbencies.

f) The price of diaper cream assumes diaper cream purchased in bulk from Costco.  The average between Costco brand cream and Desitin cream  was used to calculate the total cost of using disposables.  It was further assumed that diaper cream is used at rate of an 8 ounce tube every 168 diaper changes.  It should be noted that the cost of cream is not included in the total cost of cloth diapering as diaper cream is seldom needed in conjunction with cloth diapers.

g) The average cost of cloth diapers also includes the cost of inserts.

h) The cost of Planet Laundry detergent was utilized as it is the recommended brand of many cloth diapering manufacturers  because of its ability to clean natural fibers as well as its environmentally friendly chemical makeup.

I)The energy and water cost of washing cloth diapers assumes 24 diapers to a load plus the resulting cloth wipes.  This cost further assumes the use of an electric top loading washer with 2 cold rinses and a hot/cold wash cycle as well as the use of an electric water heater.  It should be noted that these expenses can be lowered with  the use of an energy efficient side loaded washer and a gas powered water heater.

j) The energy cost of drying assumes the use of an electric dryer run on high heat for 80 minutes per load.  It should be noted the this expense can be lowered with the use of a gas powered dryer.