So, I know that using cloth diapers is cheaper than disposables, but by how much? I thought I’d do a bit of calculating of how much setting up the newborn stash is going to cost us.
My plan is using hand-me-downs and flats. One of Hubby’s cousins has passed along quite a stash of diapers, but I don’t know what size they are (not seen them yet) or exactly how many, so my count will be about creating a stash from scratch. I will also need a slew of fitted diapers for Hubby and other non-folders to use, and I will try to account for that. I’m going simple and cheap.
I figure I’ll do laundry every other to every third day, so that makes for 24 to 36 diapers. We need soakers/covers (the outside layer) and I’ll be able to make some, but I’ll count purchasing 10 or so (they can be reused a certain number of times). In all, I’m planning to purchase so that we have: (I plan to purchase cheap, and make cheap, but I’m using generous prices based on amazon searches)
36 flat diapers @ $2 each = $72
10 soakers/covers @ $10 each = $100
10 fitted diapers @ $15 each = $150
For a total of…. drum roll please! $322
I acknowledge this is for the newborn stage only, though the flats will fit for a while. As baby grows, bigger covers and fitteds will need to purchased which will up the cost.
Compared to disposables:
A quick amazon search gave me the price of 12 diapers for $13. To make it simple, lets call it $1/diaper. If the baby uses 12 diapers a day, it would take 27 days to reach 322 diapers used and thus $322 spent on disposable diapers (not counting sales tax, shipping, or travel to the store). I break even on cost of diapers at just short 1 month. Hmmmm…. A friend pointed out that $1/diaper is a bit much and she gets an off-brand at $6 for 42 diapers, or $0.14 a diaper. Doing the appropriate math, which Hubby did while we were chatting on this topic, it would take 184 days (just over 6 months) to “break even”. By then, however, baby most assuredly will have outgrown at least some covers (if using flats for diapers, as you can fold them to fit several sizes) and there is a good chance you will need some larger sized fitteds. All this adds to the cost, and extends the “break even” time — which is purely monetary at this point. I think Hubby is right that with baby #1, you don’t save all that much using cloth instead of disposables; its with baby #2 and #3 that you start to save the $$. If I’m not too overwhelmed by having a new baby, I’d like to keep track of what we spend and compare the two methods.
In accounting for cost, one must also consider the cost to wash and dry the cloth diapers, the trash cost for diapers, and the gross-cost of cleaning poopy diapers. There is also the less-measurable cost of diapers in a landfill, but that is not one I pay out-of-pocket, so I will neglect that aspect for now. We are, after all, tightwads before environmentalists.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how much a load of laundry costs us, and no idea how to figure it out. I am planning on hanging laundry out in the summer and fall, we have no shortage of sun and warm weather 3/4 of the year. Come winter, though, I have nowhere to hang any thing to dry inside and no dry place outside. If you know how I can figure out the cost of a load of laundry (wash and dry), let me know.
I suspect, though, the cost of laundering the diapers will extend my break even time to just about a month or just over. With looking at about a 6 month “break even”, I don’t even have an intuitive idea of how laundry cost will affect the cost. I’d love to know, though!
The time-cost of doing the laundry is another aspect to consider. Laundry is one of those chores that can be done around other things and a chore that will increase whether I use cloth or not. So the time cost is minimal. Also, I’m a biologist, changing poopy diapers and washing them doesn’t seem to bother me too much. Can’t be worse than dissection, right? So the gross-cost is minimal for me. These aspects will most assuredly vary person to person.
As for trash cost, right now its a flat rate no matter the number of cans, so adding a can of merely disposables each week will make no difference for us.
Even with the long “break even” (which isn’t even all that valid), writing this post, and editing it, has made me even more confident that cloth is the way to go. I’d love to hear what others think. Am I off on my estimates? Am I being to stingy with how much we will spend to create a stash for a newborn? Will baby likely out grow the newborn size in less than a month, so the month to break even is just unrealistic? Is there some aspect of the cost that I’m overlooking?