Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cloth Diapers - What I Use

I mentioned in the last post that one way to save money is to use cloth diapers.  Now I realize that if you are working full time, and your child is in daycare, this may not be practical for you.  But for me, it's been a great way to save money.

When many people first think of cloth diapers, they think of having to fold the diapers, and pin them on, then cover them with the clear plastic pants.  That's what my mother did for most of her children.  Let me tell you, it has changed.  Now there are so many options out there that don't require pins or ugly plastic pants.

What I started out with was the Flip Diaper System.  I purchased a kit that comes with 2 diaper covers and 6 inserts.  The cover is a One-Size cover with snaps to adjust it for a small, medium, or large fit.  The inserts have fold marks for each of the three sizes.  I like them, but they didn't quite work the way I wanted them too.  At the time, my baby would have a dirty diaper every 2-3 days, and every time, I would have to toss the cover in the wash because it got dirty.  The system is supposed to allow you to use the cover multiple times, but it didn't always work that way. 

I have a friend who used pocket diapers... not any particular brand, just the cheap ones off of Ebay.  So I thought I'd pick up a couple of those and see how I like them.  The ones I purchased were also one-size diapers with snaps to make them adjustable.  They aren't as absorbent as I would like them to be, but I remedied that by taking a couple of flat diapers that were worn out and turning them into extra inserts for the pocket diapers.  They sometimes have a tendency to leak around the legs, and I haven't figured out whether that is something that I am doing, or whether that's just the way they are.  They are nice, and I still use them, but there is no way to use the cover more than once. 

So I came up with my own system using what I already had.  My mother had given me a bunch of used flat diapers, and I had also received some prefolds as shower gifts.  So I spent just a little more money to buy a Snappi (as apposed to using diaper pins) and started folding the flats, fastening them on with the Snappi, and using the Flip diaper covers to cover them.  I like this method.  Folding the diaper and fastening it on gives it more of a fitted feel which usually keeps everything on the cloth diaper and not the cover.  The cover does get a bit damp, so I alternate covers so that they can air out in between uses.  I rinse them in cold water with baking soda, then wash them in hot water with a small amount of ALL Free and Clear while using vinegar as a softener.  After they are washed, I hang them all out of the line (as often as the weather allows anyway).  I haven't had any trouble with staining.

So cost wise, I spent about $45 on the Flip system and about $10 more on the pocket diapers and Snappi.  That's a total of $55 for the cloth diapering system that we have been using almost exclusively for the past 3 months.  I realize that I had an advantage of having flats and prefolds given to me for free, so for the sake of argument, let's say I bought a pack of 12 prefolds from Walmart for $10.  That makes the total $65.

Now, if I were not using cloth diapers, I would most likely be getting my disposable ones off of Amazon Mom because I like their subscribe and save discount of 30% and their free shipping.  I can go there and get a 84 pack of Size 2 Huggies Little Snugglers for $15 ($0.18 per diaper) if I use the subscribe and save option.    That means that I would need to buy 5 boxes in order to pass up my cloth diaper total of $65.   Let's say, for the sake of calculation, that my baby goes through 5 diapers a day.  That means that the box will last almost 17 days (let's say 16).  5 Boxes will last 84 days or almost 3 months. 

365 days a year times 5 diapers a day is 1,825 diapers.  If you are paying $0.18 per diaper, that's $328.50 for diapers.  So if I use my cloth diapers for 1 year, I'll be saving approximately $263.

So, having used cloth diapers almost exclusively for 3 months, I am probably at the break even point.  There are a lot of factors that this doesn't include.  For instance, there is the detergent, water, electricity, and time that it takes to wash the diapers. 

Now I'm not saying that disposable diapers are bad, I'm just saying that if you have the time and desire to do so, a lot of money can be saved through using cloth diapers.  My son still wears disposable diapers from time to time when his cloth ones are being washed, or when we are away from home.  But, I have never paid full price for a package of diapers.  I have either purchased them using sales and coupons, or purchased them off of Amazon Mom. 

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