Cloth Diapering on a Budget Part 1

Is there anything cuter? I think not.

“I can’t afford cloth diapers!” Is surprisingly the most common reason I am given when people tell me why they don’t use cloth. For those who haven’t looked into it, cloth diapers have a high start up cost, but the savings over the life of your cloth diapers ranges anywhere from $3000-$10,000. (Yes, people really do spend that much money on disposables, which are then thrown in the trash, to biodegrade in a landfill for years. Talk about throwing money away.)

Over the year and a half that we’ve been cloth diapering, I have come to conclusion that it’s good to have a variety of different cloth diaper styles. Every style has its benefits, and you will find yourself in need of different styles at different times. This works out great for buying cloth diapers on a budget.

Let’s say you’re already spending $60 per month on disposable diapers. From what I remember of using disposables, this was a pretty common amount to spend on disposable diapers. I, also, remember spending as much as $100 some months, so if you want to get your cloth diapers even faster, you could start with that amount. But for the sake of saving money, let’s start with $60.

Now, since we’re using the entire diaper budget, we have to get enough diapers to last a month. Thankfully with cloth, you have to wash every 2-3 days, otherwise your diapers will start to grow mildew. Just for the first month, plan to wash every 1 – 1 ½ days, or whenever you run out of diapers.

The Econobum Diaper package comes with 3 covers, 12 prefolds, and 1 wetbag. This is barely enough to get by, but if your goal is to save money using cloth, then this is a sacrifice that will only last for one month. You will, also, need some cloth diaper friendly laundry detergent. I am currently using Country Save.

First Month
Econobum Diaper package                          $48.95 – $49.95
Country Save Laundry Detergent              $11.95 – $15.95*

Totals                                                              $60.90 – $65.90

So, I went just slightly over the budget, but you have what it takes to successfully cloth diaper for one month. It will be hard, because it really is not enough, but it will get the job done. Don’t give up this first month, and don’t stop buying, otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy and head straight back for the disposables. Also, if you decide to spend a little more, I would get 1-3 more covers, 3-6 more prefolds, and 1 more wetbag, or a second Econobum Diaper package.

For the second month, go for the Econobum Diaper package again, that is if you didn’t buy two right from the start. This will give you all the diapers you need, plus some, so that you can relax a little, and go a few days between washes. Also, buy more laundry detergent if you need it.

Second Month
Econobum Diaper package                          $48.95 – $49.95
Country Save Laundry Detergent              $11.95 – $15.95

Totals                                                              $60.90 – $65.90

On to the third month! Now that we’ve got the basics, it’s time to start really enjoying cloth diapers. I highly suggest trying out some pockets. They’re perfect for dads and other caregivers, or even the stressed out mom. Bumgenius 4.0s (I’d get the ones with snaps.), Fuzzibunz, Happy Heinys, Diaper Rite, Blueberry, Kawaii, Rumparooz, Tots Bots, Thirsties, etc. Each diaper usually comes with a diaper and two inserts. Sometimes the inserts are different sizes, like a newborn and a baby size.  If you buy in packages, you’ll save some money, or you can buy one of each kind to decide what you like.

Third Month
One Pocket diaper                                          $9.95 – $23.50
X 4

Totals                                                                $39.80 – $94.00

By the fourth month, you might have realized that nighttime is a beast. You’ve either been doubling up on inserts and prefolds, or you’re waking up to change the diaper in the middle of the night before everything is soaked. It’s time to invest in some hemp flats or inserts. It’s probably time to buy more laundry detergent as well.

Fourth Month
Hemp Insert                                                      $5.50 – $6.50
Hemp Prefold                                                    $6.75 – $7.95
Hemp Flat                                                          $5.95 – $7.95
Country Save Laundry Detergent                  $11.95 – $15.95

Totals                                                                  $30.15 – $38.35

By the fifth month, you can probably stop spending if you’re happy with what you’ve got, but there is one last thing that some people love and others think is totally unnecessary. A diaper sprayer allows you to stop dunking and swishing, though some of them create a spray all over the toilet, which you then have to clean up, so it really depends on how terrified you are of sticking your hand in a toilet.

Fifth Month
Diaper Sprayer                                                  $44.95 – $54.95

Totals                                                                  $44.95 – $54.95

Get any more diapers you might want, and experiment with all the different kinds there are: one size, fitted, all in one, all in two, pocket, contour, prefolds, hybrid, wool, etc. Just a warning, if you really are into cloth diapers to save money, stop buying them once you’ve found what works for your family. It is so tempting to buy the newest brand or the cutest cover, but just stop.

Different diapers work differently on different kids. If you buy a bunch that you don’t like, while you’re searching for the kind that you do like, don’t fret. You can sell them as used, gift them to friends, or save them for kids to come, because really even in the same family, certain diapers work better for certain kids.

Adorable and affordable!

Have fun cloth diapering! It really is worth it.

*The star! I buy my Country Save at Whole Foods Market at the higher price, but I get twice as much detergent.

Cloth Wipes

I have recently discovered cloth wipes that are worth using, and I didn’t even have to buy them.  I took one of the many flannel receiving blankets that we have and don’t use, because they are way too tiny to actually wrap around a baby, cut it into 16 squares, and instantly had 16 wipes to use.  The edges have frayed in the wash, and eventually I will stitch some kind of edge on them to prevent that, but they get the job done, and can be tossed in with the rest of the diapers.

For the solution, I mix 1 quart of water, 2 squirts of baby body wash, and 3 drops of lavender oil.  Then I just dip the wipe in the solution, squeeze the excess out, and wipe my little ones’ bums.  To avoid contaminating the solution, we don’t double dip.  The lavender oil is to help soothe little bums when they have a rash, so if you don’t have any you can just use the water and baby body wash.

If you don’t want to make your wipes, Walmart has some cheap, but nice, baby wash cloths that are soft and already have a nice edge on them.  Or, if you do want to make them, but don’t want to chop up your receiving blankets, I suggest buying cotton flannel or some other soft material made out of cotton.


Covers were the kind of cloth diaper that I never wanted to try.  I was avoiding them as much as I could.  I thought they would be hard, since they originate from the old school diapers people used to use.  But, since my attempt at making newborn pockets failed, I had to come up with a cheap option fast.  I gave in.  We bought four Thirsties Duo Wraps, size small.  They are just a piece of PUL with some elastic around the edge, and snaps as closures.

It turns out they’re not as hard as I thought they would be.  We use microfiber inserts for them, and I am in the process of making some 100% cotton inserts for them.  Flats and prefolds can, also, be used in them.  Basically anything that is absorbent will work when using a cover.

To use the cover, I lay an insert flat on the cover, and then slide the diaper in place.  I snap it closed on the sides, and then check to make sure the insert is completely covered by the cover.  For a wet diaper, I simply take the diaper off, put the soiled insert in a wet bag, wipe the cover with a wipe, and lay it out to dry.  For a dirty diaper, I toss the whole diaper in a wet bag.  (There’s no need to rinse, since it’s just breast milk poop.)

You don’t need as many covers as you have inserts, since you can reuse the ones that are only wet.  The covers are cheaper than other, fancier diapers, and the inserts are super affordable.  Plus, making a cover is just about the easiest thing ever and you’ll get about six for the price of one you have to buy.  Inserts are a little more challenging, but they are cheaper than buying.

There will be more to come on sewing diapers later.