Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going the Way of Cloth

Cloth diapering was, for millenia, the only way to diaper. Disposable diapers weren't 'born' until around the 40's or 50's (from the info I can find), but still didn't gain real popularity until the 70's. Nowadays, most parents use disposables for convenience, or so they think. So let's touch on this a second.

First, pee diapers - When you change a disposable, you throw it away; when you change a cloth, you throw it into a laundry basket or diaper pail. Either way, you have to throw it somewhere and it takes about the same amount of energy.

Second, poop diapers - when you change a disposable, you have 2 options: dump the bulk of the poop in the toilet and flush before you toss it in the trash or just toss it poop and all in the trash. when you change a cloth, you dump the poop in the toilet and toss it into the pail or basket. Not a whole lot of difference there, I mean we're talking 30 more seconds of work per poopy diaper which is usually only a couple of times a day.

Third, money (everyone like money to some degree) - average cost of a pack of size 5 diapers (30#) is 9.99 (unless you get a sale, then it's more like 7.99) - you know what, we'll go with the 7.99 figure for this since this is a money savers post and most of us are not paying full price anyway. So, the price per diaper at 7.99 is .28 per diaper (7.99 + 6.75% tax = 8.53). The average for a new package of Gerber 6-ply diapers (6#) is about $12 or 2.14 each (tax again). So the startup looks pretty high, especially since you really need about 2 dozen for a good startup other wise you're doing laundry daily. So, we'll use 102.72 for 2 dozen 6-ply cloth diapers. Pins are usually $1 for a pack of 4 - and you can only use 2 at the time so you don't need more - I mean you can't really lose something that's actually on the child all the time. Anyway in 1 year of disposables at .28each x 6 a day (a very conservative figure) = 1.68 a day x 365 days in a year = 613.20 per year. Okay now cloth: 102.72 +1 for pins= 103.72. Okay, if you only wash diapers together 3 days a week and you pay for water, the water use is about .04 per load (check your area), the electricity about .05 and the store purchased detergents are about .15 per load = .72 per week x 52 weeks = 37.44. If you homemake your laundry soap, that goes down to about .02 per load or .06 a week x 52 weeks = 3.12 per year. If you line dry - there is no additional cost, if you dryer dry, that's about .15 per load (again, check your dryer and your local rates)= .45 per week x 52 weeks = 23.40. So, let's compare:
  • disposables = 613.20 annually (for conservative diaper use)
  • cloth with line drying and commercial detergent = 141.16
  • cloth with line drying and homemade laundry soap = 106.84
  • cloth with dryer drying and commerical detergent = 164.56
  • cloth with dryer drying and homemade laundry soap = 130.24
  • cloth with line drying and homemade laundry soap (after 1st year, assuming you don't have to buy anymore diapers = 3.12 the second year (boy that's a lot better than 613.20)

Fourth, the environment. Do I really need to go over this?

A few things to consider:

  • If you add cloths to you collection, add an additional $2.14 per diaper added to your figure
  • If you use a more expensive brand of cloth, add for that too
  • If you homemake your cloth diapers from scrap material, just use the cost of the material instead of the 2.14 per diaper
  • If you buy from ebay or thrift store secondhand, use that cost

Under all of those circumstances, the cloths come out cheaper by far. Most moms today say cloth is too hard or too messy. I used to say those same things until I used them. The first couple of times were a little difficult, but after about my 3rd or 4th diaper change, it wasn't hard at all, and after about 1 1/2 weeks, it was like second nature.


P's mom said...

Great post! I wish we started cloth diapering sooner. We didn't start until our son was about 14 months old. But, now we have free diapers for our next child!

Mommy B said...

Almost like an investment. By for one child, use on the next child, and the next child, then they eventually become cleaning rags since they are virtually lint free and relatively indestructable. I couldn't fathom the savings by the time you got through 3 kids and cleaning.

Valerie said...

Another consideration - generally you're gonna want some sort of "wrapper" to keep the wet from coming in contact with furniture, clothes, etc. They range in price, but can also be made at home.

Even with this small additional expense, cloth are still WAY cheaper.

Unfortunately, many day care centers will not use cloth diapers. I guess for folks in that situation, they don't have much choice.