are reusable diapers worth it

Are Reusable Diapers Worth It?  Our Big Money Saving Secret

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This post is all about: are reusable diapers worth it?

Despite the myriad of messages out there – extreme political opinions, disagreements about the 2ndamendment or the student loan crisis, the debt ceiling, capitalism, wars, famines, borders, and crime, despite all of these things, all Americans – and dare I say, all people – can agree on one thing:

Raising children is expensive.

Let’s admit: it costs money to have kids.  You buy them food and clothes and pay for a larger shelter than you once did for you and/or you and your spouse.  Then, they have hobbies and education supplies and sports and piano lessons and then they eat even MORE food and before you know it, you’re filling out a FAFSA.  

But before those infinite joys amp up, raising kids begins with one singular crown jewel of new-parent hazing rituals:


To quote one of my favorite YouTube PhDs, Dr. John Delony: “What are they made of, gold?!”

How To Save Money On Diapers

Babies need few things in life (if you’d like our opinion on what they do and do not need, see our Minimalist Baby List).  Before 6 months of age (give or take), they need milk, clothes, a safe place to sleep, and diapers. 

Lots of diapers.

There is a way to save on diapers, and that is to employ reusable diapers.  

I know what you’re thinking.  What do you do with the poop?  (Answer: same as you do, put it in the potty).  Isn’t it more work?  (Only some).  Why discuss baby diapers on a home renovation and real estate blog? (Answer: you can’t do either without money.  Lots of money.). 

If you’re wondering, “Are reusable diapers worth it?” we are unashamed to report that the answer is yes.

There are indeed huge cost savings to using cloth diapers.  If you’re raising a young family on a middle-class salary, I’m sure you are interested in ways to save money at any corner.  After all, we real estate investors who are just getting started need to be savvy about how we spend.  

For our in-depth analysis of whether reusable diapers are worth it, read on.

Fun, Useless Fact About Cloth Diapers 

Cloth diapers bought the ticket that took my dad’s family to America.

With little to their name but four children and a sewing machine in 1950s Dublin, my dad’s parents managed to save enough money for a wee “cruise” to America.  My grandmother was an incredibly talented seamstress and worked with a wholesaler to make and sell – you guessed it – cloth diapers.  Plastic covers, specifically. Granddad would come home from work at night to cut out the patterns, and Grandmom would spend the next day sewing them together for the wholesaler each week.

And, little by little, they saved up their money to come to America.  

Granddad’s name shines proudly from the wall at Ellis Island to this day.  Not bad for sewing together some plastic.  

Anyway, back to the task at hand – other than an inspiring “work hard til you make it” story, what does it matter to you?  

Why We Chose Cloth Diapers

You might be thinking that our initial reason for using cloth diapers was to save money.  

Not quite.

It was more a matter of convenience.  

We found out we were expecting our first baby during the height of the pandemic in 2020.  And when I say the height of the pandemic, I mean New York City shut down in March of 2020, and we found out we were expecting in April of 2020.  

Along with the confusing guidance peppering the entire calendar year, our area of New Jersey also saw bizarre grocery store rules.  Lining up outside for capacity restrictions, shortened hours, special shopper hours, staffing issues… you name it.

On top of that, there were empty shelves, shipping delays, and worst of all – supply shortages.  

reusable diapers for babies
Remember these days? Spring 2020, grocery store, NJ.

There I sat in late April of 2020, thinking about welcoming a baby into that mess, and I had to honestly ask myself:

“What am I gonna do if I can’t go to the store?”

And, worse:

“What if the store doesn’t have diapers?”

Can you imagine?  You use the last diaper, you bundle up for a 10 pm winter Walmart run, and you can’t get in the store for another 30 minutes…


They don’t have any diapers in sizes 1, 2, or 4.

That visual alone was enough to inspire me to research cloth diapers.  

Better to have something on hand than to have nothing at all, right?

I figured I’d invest in a few reusable diapers to be on the safe side.  

And then… yes.  I read about the savings potential and was sold, hook, line, and sinker.  Tush over tea kettle, there I went, down the reusable nappies rabbit hole.  

Which Cloth Diapers Are Best?

Here are all of the products we use, and that we feel are the best.


Cloth diapers generally have two elements: 1, a layer(s) of material to absorb liquid, and 2, an outer shell to keep everything else dry.  Note that this outer shell isn’t necessarily waterproof, but water resistant.  

There are several “styles” that make all of this happen, but that’s the basic setup.

We mostly used “pocket-style” cloth diapers with our first baby.  This is a water-resistant shell with a little liner pocket, in which you stuff however much absorbency you need. We found BumGenius to be our go-to. There are comparable brands at slightly less like Nora’s Nursery or Mama Koala, too.

Pocket Style Diapers

With our second baby, we’re also appreciating the pre-fold + diaper cover approach.  This involves a little bit of cloth diaper origami, but we find it has longer absorbency than with pockets.  Check out Nicki’s Diapers tutorial for a how-to.

These are the exact ones we use:

Thirsties covers

Ozocozy prefolds



Other cloth diapering essential – I mean, this is IMPERATIVE, PEOPLE – you’re going to want a sprayer.  

Yes, to clean the poop into your toilet.

Fun fact: you’re also supposed to dump solid waste from a disposable diaper into the toilet.  Read the side of the box.  

Five bucks to you if you’ve ever seen someone do that.  

Anyway, this is HANDS DOWN the best sprayer, superior because it has a cone covering the dirty water.  Check out Diaper Dawgs Cone Sprayer. This prevents it from going all over your toilet, bathroom, and your face.  

Cloth Wipes

Think about it – water wipes. WATER WIPES.  They’re making a fortune over a piece of cloth and water!!  There’s nothing in it!  NOTHING!  

We bought ten bucks worth of flannel wipes and added our own stinkin’ water.  We’re doing the diaper laundry anyway, so we might as well. 

Thanks to this investment, we needed to purchase exactly one box of wipes until our firstborn was potty trained.  

We used Ozocozy cloth wipes..

…and a little pump dispenser on a mason jar of water:

Diaper Cream

If you deal with diaper rash, know that some creams aren’t compatible with cloth.  We use this one:

Diaper Pail Liner

Finally, you’ll need a diaper pail and liner. We use the following:

Dekor Diaper Pail

Planet Wise is no longer selling these on Amazon, but check out Nora’s Nursery Diaper Pail Liners:

How Do You Clean Cloth Diapers?

Go to Fluff Love University, look up your washer information, and do what it says.  

We spray off solids with the Diaper Dawg and wash according to Fluff Love’s instructions.  As a result, we have never had an issue with our diapers not getting clean.  

How often are you supposed to clean them? We wash ours every 2 or 2.5 days.  By the third day, the stank is a little much.  

How Reusable Diapers Can Save You Money

At the very cheapest, store brands run at about 15 cents per disposable diaper.  This was my calculation when they were on sale at Costco for a box of 222 diapers.  

You can pay as much as 30 or 40 cents per diaper with top brands or those aforementioned disposables made of gold. 

The average baby goes through 8 – 12 diapers per day (younger babies go through more, but smaller sizes cost a little less).  Let’s just say 8 diapers per day.  

At 15 cents per diaper…

Means $1.20 per day.

Multiply that by 365.  $438.  

For two years, you get $876.

Alright, so at best, let’s say it costs about $900 to use disposables on your baby until they are 2.

Quick question.

How many kids do you know in America that are toilet trained by age 2?

M-hmm.  Not very many?  That’s what I thought.  

Anyway, cloth diaper costs – well, here’s what we spent on our cloth diapers.  We purchased our entire stash on eBay and Mercari and found mostly new and barely used diapers.  


At first glance, this looks like cloth is hardly worth it compared to disposable. Keep reading, we’re not done!

prefold cloth diapers

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

We got 24 pocket diapers.  With covers and liners that we found on our Buy Nothing Group for free, we have about 15 pre-folds and 7 covers. 

Cloth Diapering Hidden Costs

You might be curious about the cost of cloth diapering outside of the diapers themselves. Namely – doesn’t it cost more for laundry?

Yes, I do laundry more often and that causes more utility usage.  Our water bill went up maybe about 15 bucks a quarter, or 5 bucks a month.  We also get a tax write-off on half our bill since we owner-occupy a two-family house (see also: House Hacking a Duplex, Pros and Cons).

Therefore, I consider the water costs to be negligible for this comparison.  

Since cloth diapers usually don’t go in the dryer, our energy bill did not change significantly.  We hang our diapers outdoors whenever possible to help them benefit from the sun’s all-natural disinfecting and stain-removing powers.  

are reusable diapers worth it

If it’s not warm or sunny enough to dry outside, we use a drying rack indoors.  

Does it take time?  Yes.  

Would I be billing that time out and otherwise coming up with more money instead of doing laundry?  No.  

Guys, laundry is not that hard and if it’s taking you so much time to do it that you need to calculate the time cost, you’re doing it wrong.  

Plus, how long does it take you to go to the store to buy more disposables?  Or shop the latest deals on Amazon?  You could turn over the laundry in that time, promise.  

The Ultimate Reusable Diaper Money-Saving Ace Card

But hold on.


I have two more mind-boggling factoids that might convince you to join the cloth cult.

First Money Saving Fact:

Are reusable diapers worth it if you have a second kid?

Well, we can assume you then spend at least $900 diapering kid #2 in disposables.

Or, you spend… whatever your minimal water bill is to clean the cloth diapers you already have.  

Plus maybe a box or two of disposables for travel or days out.  

Now you’re starting to feel pretty slick, right?

Our 2nd baby is a year old and we have spent $215.50 out of pocket on diapering her so far.  That includes a few extra diaper covers, disposables for trips, and a box of wipes. If we spend maybe another $40 on a box of diapers, we’ll be at $255.50.

Add that to her brother’s total, and we are at $974.41 for both kids’ diapers, top to bottom (Pun! You’re welcome.).  

Second Money Saving Fact, the Ace:


Here’s the crazy-craze about cloth diapers.

You can sell them when you’re finished.

Isn’t it terrifying?  There are plenty of people in the fine U.S. of A. willing to buy the cotton organic bamboo urine suckers that once dwelled underneath your baby’s bum.  Folks are bidding – BIDDING – on pre-loved, pre-peed, pre-pooped-on diapers.  

Good luck attempting that with a box of pre-loved, pre-peed, pre-pooped-on disposables.

How do I know?  

  1. I once bought them myself.
  2. I’ve sold a bunch already.  

Thanks to a generous Buy Nothing Group member in my area, I happened upon four contractor bags full of cloth diapers.  I couldn’t use them all. After a week of sorting and listing, I pocketed hundres of dollars selling top brands on Mercari.  

cloth diapers

You won’t have trouble selling good brands like BumGenius and Thirsties if you give it the ole college try.  

Related: Sell Used Stuff Online, How-To

So at $974.41 on diapers total, minus the ironic $666 earned selling so far….

…with a little effort, we have spent $308.41 (net) on diapering two kids.

Reusable Diapers Pros and Cons

Still not convinced if reusable diapers are worth it?

Here’s the disposable vs reusable short list:

Pros of Cloth Diapers

  • It saves money.
  • It saves the planet.  (Don’t come at me with what it takes to manufacture a cloth diaper.  Disposables go in landfills, and they take 500 years to decompose.  That can’t be environmentally friendly.)
  • No midnight runs to the store for more diapers.
  • Your kid will potty train faster.  At least, my kid did.  
    The theory here is that the child will be more aware of wetness in a cloth diaper than in a disposable, which wicks away moisture.  Toilet training will come easier if the kid is uncomfortable.  Our little guy got out of daytime diapers at 23 months old.  (How? Get yourself a copy of Oh Crap Potty Training, read it twice, and do everything it says.). We spent $0 on Pull-Ups and $0 on diapers after he turned 2.

Cons of Cloth Diapers

It’s not all gravy (though sometimes it resembles it, God help us!!!).  

  • Cloth diapers have a higher initial startup cost.
  • You have to get down and dirty with it.  I mean, don’t finger paint, but still, you must clean human waste from a diaper for this to work.  
    (“Gross!,” you may say, and I reply: if you’re going to have kids, you’ll be cleaning every kind of waste that comes out of every human orifice, so honestly… it’s not that big a deal.)  
    In other words, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH POOP ANYWAY so you may as well save some money while you’re at it.  
  • Some childcare providers might not be on board, whether it’s grandma or daycare.
  • With cloth, you will have diaper changes more often than disposables.  

So, Are Reusable Diapers Worth It?

Are reusable diapers worth it? We think so.

Instead of spending $2k-$4k on diapers for our children, we’ve been funding their college savings accounts while time and compounding interest are on our side.

If we invest an initial $1,000 when our kid is “0” years old, add $100 per month, and grow it at a humble 10%… this will produce over $66,000 in savings.

We plan to sell our stash of cloth diapers whenever we are done with them and therefore will have net spent approximately $0 – $150 on diapering our children.

Between the financial upside, the environmental benefits, and the easier potty training, we conclude reusable diapers are worth the effort.

Not bad for cleaning a few pieces of cloth!

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