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First, I want to note that this article is not about judgment. Yes, I've chosen cloth for my family, but I can definitely see reasons why someone else wouldn't.  There are also parents who forego diapers all together and, instead, choose to potty train their babies from Day One.  That sounded too overwhelming for this first-time mom.  So, this article is solely for the purpose of providing an explanation of how I came about choosing cloth diapers over disposables...with the intent of helping anyone else out there who might also be interested or is curious.

NOTE:  we decided to use the newborn-size disposables until the umbilical cord fell off.  We received enough packages for free from the hospital that we never even had to buy any!  The reasons we did this were: 1) the meconium from the first few days is very dark and very sticky and I just didn't want to mess with cleaning it off the cloth diapers, 2) the disposables were small and thin and had a cutout specifically for umbilical cords, so I didn't have to worry about them interfering (peace of mind with a newborn = priceless).  Also, if we ever go on a vacation longer than 3 days (other than to the in-laws whose washer/dryer we can use), then we will likely buy a pack of disposables for convenience.

Now, down to business....

As I see it, the comparison comes down to the 3 Cs:  Cost, Convenience, and Comfort.


{This is not an exact science and will include a lot of estimates because everyone's situation is a little different.}

There are countless options when it comes to cloth diapering.  After hours and hours of research, I decided on the all-in-one cloth diapers by BumGenius. I also opted for the organic line since cotton is the top crop most heavily doused with pesticides, and I didn't want any of those chemicals on my baby.  Based on an average of 6 diaper changes a day, I decided that we would need 18 cloth diapers.  Many people buy 24 which would allow you to go a little longer between washes (every 2-3 days instead of every 1-2 days).

The diapers use a snap system which allows you to adjust the diaper's size to fit your baby - they should work from birth all the way to potty training!

But if you want to cut costs, you could easily buy used (no, they're not gross) and save a ton!  There are also dozens of brands and configurations, some cheaper than others - definitely do your research before diving in; join some Facebook cloth diaper groups and swap pages.

18 Organic BumGenius Cloth Diapers = $435 (free shipping on Amazon)

We also bought 24 cloths to use as wipes.  You could easily make your own, but I'm not crafty like that.

24 Under The Nile Organic Sherpa Wash Cloths = $28

If you're using your own wipes, you also need your own cleaning solution.  Some people just use water, but I wanted something with a little more oomph.  I found a concentrated solution - I use 1tsp per cup of water which I'm estimating will last me 6 months per bottle.  The average potty training age is 2yrs, so that would mean I'll need 4 bottles.

4 Lusa Organics Baby Wipe Juice = $54

You will also need wet bags to store the dirty diapers in.  I found that we needed two for at home (for use when the other is in the wash), and one travel bag for day trips.  The diapers don't smell bad (although I hear that formula-fed babies have smellier diapers), so don't worry about carrying them around with you.  Once your baby starts eating solid food and making solid poops, you can always use a disposable liner while away from home (which allows you to just flush the poop).  Again, there are countless options out there but based on reading tons of reviews, here are the ones I picked...

2 Kanga Care Wet Bags = $38
1 Planet Wise Wet Bag (medium) = $17

Then, there is the cost of laundering.  To date, this has been the most challenging part of cloth diapering.  It took us many months to find the right combination of products.  There are too many variables to list, but a great resource that I desperately wish I'd found sooner is:  We ended up using All Free & Clear (powder NOT liquid).  We also all use Borax as a water softener because our area has hard water.  Poop stains have been minimal - just dry them in the sun and it will bleach them clean.  I have a front-loading HE washer; here is our wash routine:  cold short wash with 2T detergent + 2T Borax, hottest longest wash with 1/4C detergent + 1/4C Borax, dry on low for 45mins, hang to finish drying.  You don't use dryer sheets with cloth diapers, so there's no extra cost there.  Assuming 500 extra loads of laundry over two years:

All Free & Clear + Borax = $200

There's also the cost of the extra electricity and water.  I couldn't figure this out exactly, but based on other articles I've read about cloth diapering, you can assume about $100 per year (if you have a non-HE top-loader, this may double).  I wash them every 1.5 days and, honestly, coming from someone who HATES doing laundry - I haven't found it to be a big deal.  The worst part of laundry is sorting/folding/hanging everything - but you don't have to deal with any of that - just clip them up to finish drying (takes literally 1 minute).

Laundering cost (water + electricity) = $200

Once the baby starts eating solid food and making "solid" poops, you might want a diaper sprayer to spray the poop into the toilet before putting the diaper in your wet bag.  Some people just turn it inside out and swish the diaper in clean toilet water - but I know that grosses a lot of people out.

BumGenius Diaper Sprayer = $69.99

Finally, you'll want a drying rack (to extend the life of the diapers, get them mostly dry in the dryer on low and finish them on a rack).  I already had a drying rack for clothes but decided to get a smaller hanging one dedicated to the diapers.

PRESSA Hanging Dryer with 16 Clips (from IKEA) = $5


Just like with cloth diapers, there are hundreds of disposable diaper choices. For us, we liked the Honest brand.  We thought they had the most effective diapers and wipes of all the kinds we tested.  Sure, there are cheaper diapers - but they also come with more leaks & blowouts, which means using tons of extra diapers and doing lots more laundry (clothes, sheets, etc).


NB – 120 changes = $41.85

Sz 1 – 132 changes =$41.85

Sz 2 – 400 changes = $139.50

Sz 3 – 2006 changes = $823.05

6500 Disposable Wipes = $446.98

Diaper Genie 2 = $29.96

15 Diaper Genie refills = $89.10


Sz 3 – 952 changes = $390.60

Sz 4 – 957 changes = $460.35

4680 Disposable Wipes = $321.75

11 Diaper Genie refills = $65.34

CLOTH TOTAL = $950-$1000


Obviously, one of the best parts of cloth diapering is saving our landfills from thousands upon thousands of disposable diapers every year.  Someone much smarter than me would need to figure out the exact environmental cost difference between the extra laundry you do with cloth diapers vs adding 5,000 diapers + 10,000 wipes + hundreds of trash bags per child to a landfill near you.  There's also the cost of producing the disposable diapers and wipes in the first place (factory emissions, mining, chemical waste), shipping and distribution costs, etc.

Diapers never decompose.


The only thing I will say about this is, whenever we have used the disposable diapers - I am always thinking about the "per diaper" cost.  In other words, if I change my baby and then 5 minutes later she has a huge bowel movement and I have to change her again, I'm like - that just cost me $.50, darn it!

On the other hand, if she does that in a cloth diaper, I'm like - whatever, no biggie, I'll just toss it in the wet bag and wash it with the others.


There are two ways that disposables are slightly more convenient:

1) they are smaller than cloth diapers, which means that you can carry more of them in your diaper bag.  However, I haven't yet found this to be a problem since we are easily able to fit enough cloth diapers in our bag for a full day/overnight.  If we will be somewhere longer than that and need to take all 18, we just pack them in with our luggage.

2) obviously, disposables can be thrown away instead of washed, which means that you don't need a washer/dryer.  Again, this hasn't yet been a problem.  We stayed at my in-laws for a week and just used their washer/dryer.  If we go somewhere for longer than 3 days that won't have a washer/dryer, then we will probably just buy 1 pack of disposables for the convenience of it.

• On a day-to-day basis, once you have your supplies and understand the flow, I find using cloth vs disposables about the same as far as convenience goes.


This is actually a big deal.  In my experience so far (and in reading articles online), it seems like babies have almost no instances of diaper rash when wearing cloth diapers.  On the other hand, diaper rash is very common for babies wearing disposable diapers.  The cloth lets their skin breathe, whereas most disposable diapers use plastic which is not breathable.

The cloth diapers are also looser in the right places which makes them at least "appear" more comfortable (she has less red marks on her skin during changes than when using disposables).

Finally, I like knowing that there are no chemicals, plastics, or toxins being placed right against her most sensitive areas.


Most daycares will accomodate cloth diapers/wipes if you just give them a diaper bag (including a wet bag) with your name on it.

If you have more than 1 child, the savings of cloth vs disposable increase exponentially!!!


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