Posted by Tim Stobbs on January 30, 2008
Well I’m surprised by the amount of debate that came up yesterday about which diapers to use. It has got so bad it’s leaked over to MoneyGardener’s blog. Yet I noticed expect for Lise, no one wanted to know about why we are leaving cloth diapers at all when it is a more environmentally friendly choice. So I present a little summary of life with cloth diapers and some costs.
- Realize at that cloth diapers now are not what your parents used. See Kushies Ultra Cloth diaper (which is what we have used). It’s got layers of cotton for absorption and a built in water proof outer shell with Velcro tabs. Generally speaking it is just as easy to use to put on and take off as a disposable. There is a large up front cost around $50/5 diapers. We typically had at least 15 diapers, so cost to start is about $150 plus tax or more if you want to do laundry loads less frequently.
- I don’t suggest getting the newborn size as you child will out grow them too quickly to save you much money.
- When actually using the cloth diaper we also bought the Kushies diaper liners (you can pick them up at Walmart). There are strong when wet and allow you to remove solid wastes to the trash. Yet if there are some leaks over the liner so we just put the entire diaper in the toilet to soak.
- Wet diapers or ones which have been soaked and then shake to get off solids then get transfered to a pail of water with baking soda mixed in to absorber odours. Do not use bleach as it wrecks the cotton fibers and shortens the life of the diaper.
- After the all the diapers are used we put the kid in a disposable and take the pail down the washing machine. With a top load washer this part is easy. You just pour it all in and do a spin cycle to remove the water and other bits. Then you may need to use a stain remover on some of the diapers which held solids and then add detergent and wash it all with an extra rinse to ensure it’s all clean. (For a front load you have to manually load it with wet diapers and to spin out and manually pour the left over waste into the toilet and flush. Now do we understand why my wife wants to stop doing this with our front load?)
- Then you move the diapers to the dryer and don’t use fabric softener. It coats the cotton fibers. Then take the pail to your tub and wash out with hot water and vinegar. Refill the pail with water and baking soda.
- After that you are ready to start the process all over again. Note we always used disposables for overnight because they can hold a lot more liquid in them when your child is sleeping for most of the night.
So as you can see using cloth diapers are labour intensive and you do a lot more laundry because of them. Yet after you initial cost you are only spending money on the water for the washing machine and power for the washer and dryer. As long as you have energy star appliances it won’t cost you much. The diaper liners again are fairly cheap and vinegar and baking soda in large sizes is dirt cheap as well. I can’t give you an exact cost because I don’t have any data of our before using cloth diapers on my power and water bills. I would guess we spend around $10/month on everything for the cloth diapers, but I’ll ask my wife if that sounds about right, she has a better feel for the costs around the diapers.
I hope that helps everyone about how it all works. Let me know if you have questions for me or my wife and we will try to answer them.