How to Pay Less for Cloth Diapers [How-To Tuesday]

Cloth diapers run you $18 to $20 dollars new, and it’s pretty rare to find them on sale for more than 15% off at retail stores. That doesn’t mean you can’t cut the cost of cloth diapers by more than that, though. Far from it. Here are some ways to save big:

Watch for limited-time only deals.

Watch for vouchers to stores that sell cloth diapers (Ecomom or Abe’s market for example) at sites like Groupon and Living Social. You can save up to 50%.

Daily deal sites like BabySteals and Eco Baby Buys offer them sometimes, too.

Flash sale sites like Zulily.com and The Mini Social.com occasionally run cloth diaper sales for brands like Fuzzibunz and Kushies. Be sure to factor the cost of shipping into the equation to ensure that you’re getting the deal you think you are.

Consider gently used diapers.

Parent-to-parent swapping and selling sites like Spot’s Corner at Hyena Cart, Re-Diaper, Diaper Swappers, the Diaper Pin forums, Baby Center’s Cloth Diaper Swap group and even Craigslist and ebay (if you get lucky). Diaper Swappers and Spot’s Corner are reader faves. Expect to pay about $10 to $13 per diaper. That’s 35% to 45% off the cost of new diapers.

Look for sellers with plenty of good feedback and listings with photos. There should also be a description of any stains, pilling, damage or wear to the diaper. I’m sure it goes without saying, but wash and strip the diapers before using.

Scout clearance sections for gently used, closeout and seconds (irregular diapers).

Cloth diaper retailers often sell their “seconds” or slightly irregular diapers as well as gently used diapers that have been part of their trial program (and thus used very few times). Some diapers may only be a dollar or two off, but look for reductions of 25% or more. Note: sales are usually final, so order carefully.

The list below links to clearance sections at the various retailers. If you don’t see any offerings there right now, try following the site on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for emails to find out when the clearance sections are restocked.

And finally, if they’re in good shape when you’ve finished with them, you can resell your cloth diapers to recoup part of the cost.

What are your best tips for saving on cloth diapers?

See more posts about cloth diapering

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image of diapers courtesy of supafly on flickr

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BC’s Big List of Cloth Diaper Resources

This list of cloth diapering resources is one of our “BC Essentials” posts.

At Baby Cheapskate:

Elsewhere:

Recommended Reading for Beginners:

Resources:

You’ll find links to this and other BC Essential posts on the right sidebar of this blog.

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Make a Splash, Save Cash with Reusable Swim Diapers

There’s a newer, updated version of this article here.

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Guest Post: Cloth Diapering on a Budget

Today’s guest post is from BC reader Kristie from Atlanta:

It was upon learning our first child was on its way that the cheapskate in me reared her head. I knew that I wanted to be at home with our child as much as possible, and the only way I could do that was to spend less money. I crunched the numbers on everything from crib bedding to car seats, and when I added up just how much money we’d be spending on disposable diapers I was shocked. This cost can vary widely depending on which brand you buy and how many diapers you use each day, but a safe estimate is about $1500-2000 for a child potty trained between 2.5-3 years old. That’s not even accounting for disposable training pants! Those figures led me to research cloth diapering.

I’d seen some “modern” cloth diapers that a friend was using, and they didn’t look scary at all. They closed with Velcro instead of pins, had soft fleece lining on the inside, and didn’t need a cover. She told me I could buy these new-age cloth diapers on the internet, so I went searching for the best deals. There was a lot to choose from in many price ranges, but since my mind was on our budget we bought many of our diapers in gently-used condition on Diaper Swappers.

Cloth diapers are made to withstand heavy use and vigorous washing, so by the time one baby has grown out of them there is still a lot of use left. We built up our “stash” of diapers with less than a $350 investment by buying them this way. If the idea of used diapers just doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of diapers that can be bought new on a budget as well. Our daughter is 7 months old now, and we have been in the “green” on our diaper investment for a while now. Once she outgrows a diaper, I sell it on diaperswappers.com or trade it there for the next size I need. Diapers hold their value very well, and can often be sold for 75-85% of their original price. So far I have not had to invest any extra money to get bigger sizes. I just use the money I made from my re-sales!

Another way we cloth diaper on a budget is by using a clothesline. Clothes dryers are only second to refrigerators in how much energy they use in your house, so cutting back on dryer use can save you money! My husband installed a simple clothesline in our backyard made from 4×4 posts and wire specifically made for clotheslines that he bought at our local home improvement store. By hanging the diapers out to dry, we not only save money on electricity, but we also keep the diapers in better shape so that their re-sale value will remain high.

I’m sure you’re thinking “who wants to wear a crunchy diaper that was dried on a line?” Well, they don’t have to be crunchy! All you need to do is add a small amount of an all-natural fabric softener to your diaper laundry (Ecover and Simplicity are great all-natural brands), and fluff them in your dryer for 5 minutes BEFORE you hang them on the line. Your diapers will come off the line soft as can be and smelling like sunshine. If your homeowners association frowns upon clotheslines, there are many collapsible indoor drying racks available that can be purchased inexpensively as well.

On top of all the money cloth diapers have saved us, we have only had TWO diaper “blowouts” in 7 months of diapering, even throughout the exclusively breastfed days. The real elastic on diapers (or on covers if you’re using that style of diapering system) holds everything in perfectly. Our daughter has never had a single diaper rash, either. I am so glad that the cheapskate in my pushed me to try cloth diapers, because now that I’ve used them you couldn’t PAY me to use disposables! I never have to run out and buy diapers when we’re low…I just do a load of laundry.

This guest post was originally published in July 2008. Kristie’s gotten extra value out of her cloth diapers since then. She says, “I now have a brand new baby at home who is using our cloth diapers from the first, so our investment has REALLY paid off big time!”

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Sew Your Own (Wipes and Covers, too!)

Patterns and guidance for the truly thrifty:
Frugal Baby Tips
Diaper Jungle: Sewing Cloth Diapers
DiaperSewing.com
Very Baby Blog: Diaper Sewing Tutorials

From what I’ve read it’s quite easy to sew a cloth diaper for under $10. Have any of you tried making your own diapers?

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Cloth Diaper Laundry: Not so scary after all!

This guest post is from SlackerMama‘s Marilyn, who also blogs at Cloth Diaper Mamas.

One of the big issues that prevented me from cloth diapering for my older children was the whole laundry issue. What do you do with the dirty diapers? How do you store them? How do you wash them? Do they stain? What detergent do you use? What detergent should you NOT use? The questions are quite literally ENDLESS.

For the longest time, I thought you had to have a wet pail to keep the dirty diapers in and that just sounded extremely complicated (not to mention GROSS). When I first seriously thought about cloth diapering, I did a lot of research online. And I found out that virtually no one uses a wet pail any longer. In fact, most people use a standard garbage pail with a lid and a washable liner of sorts. That way, all they have to do is pick up the pail liner and toss it’s contents and then the liner itself into the wash. You literally NEVER have to touch a dirty diaper if you don’t want to.

Then I worried about stains. You can’t just put a poopy cloth diaper in the pail and leave it, right? Well actually, yes you can. In fact, with breastfed poops, that’s what most people do. As you transition your child onto solids though, their output gets a little more… interesting. I had heard horror stories about having to dunk filthy diapers in the toilet. Yuck!! Never fear, there is a solution! You can easily set up a diaper sprayer on your toilet and use that to “hose down” filthy diapers. While I mainly cloth diaper my four month old, I have used them on my two year old as well and he has some pretty… interesting diapers sometimes. Yet, the diaper sprayer works like a charm and I have yet to have a single stain.

Now, the wash routine itself: There is a LOT of information out there about washing cloth diapers. And it seems every website says something different. “DO use Tide, stay away from ‘free and clear’ detergents!” “DO NOT use Tide! Use ‘free and clear’ detergents!” Ultimately, I think it’s best to read all the information that you can and make an informed decision based on your routine and what kind of water you have. If you have hard water where you are, the same detergent that I use with my soft water might not work for you! This chart is a great start for figuring out what you should try. For the record, I use Purex Free and Clear and haven’t had a single issue so far. But I also have soft water and very hot water to boot. Plus, your washer might yield different results! When in doubt, ask on a forum what other ladies find works for them. Diaper Swappers has been a great resource for me.

What I do is run a cold wash and/or rinse first. Sometimes I add just the barest bit of detergent and sometimes I don’t. It depends on how long the diapers had to sit before I washed. And I wash every other day or so. Every two days at the most. Partially becuase I don’t have that many diapers and I’ll run out if I don’t wash and partly because I don’t want the diapers to lay around dirty too long. And let’s make it clear: I am not a fan of laundry. But diaper laundry is strangely satisfying for me. After the cold wash, I run a hot wash with about 1/2 to 3/4 of the detergent I might normally use. You don’t want to use too much so that it builds up on the diapers, but then, you don’t want to use so little that it doesn’t get the diapers clean. Sometimes I’ll add a squirt of regular blue Dawn dish detergent to help fight greasy stains and buildup. But only just a tiny squirt because that stuff causes MAD suds!

I usually run an extra rinse after the hot wash, sometimes an entire wash but without detergent. Just to make sure the soap is all out of the diapers. This is usually either warm or cold. After everything has spun out, I go through the wash and if I see any stains on anything (generally the pocket inserts, as the microfiber that goes in my bumGenius diapers seems to just attract the stains!), I’ll set them aside. If I’m not pressed for time (or necessesity!), I leave the pocket diapers out of the dryer too and just hang them to dry in my laundry room. Generally, anything with PUL in it I try to hang to dry, except for the pail liner which is larger and seems to dry far better in the dryer. I make sure the dryer is set to medium heat (you don’t want it too hot, but too cool and it’ll take the diapers forever to dry!). I toss in some dryer balls which help keep the diapers fluffy and help speed drying time as well.

Now, conventional wisdom with cloth diapers is NO FABRIC SOFTENER. Your average fabric softener contains ingredients which will buildup on your diapers and cause them to lose effectiveness over time. However, that said, I have heard from various sources that vegetable based softeners are okay (especially if you aren’t using them on PUL or pocket diapers). Some good examples are ecover (which you can find easily at Whole Foods) and Simplicity (which you can easily find at Walmart). I use Simplicity dryer sheets every other load or so and it has kept my diapers wonderfully soft while not affecting their usability.

Remember I mentioned setting aside stained diapers or inserts? I take these outside and let them sit in the sun. Ideally, one would put them on a clothesline, but I don’t have one (yet) so I lay them on a flat surface. It generally only takes a couple hours in the sun to completely remove any stain. I didn’t believe it the first time I tried it, but I’m a believer now! The sun is an amazing stain removal tool! Just remember it’s harder to sun out stains after they’ve been through the dryer as the heat from the dryer tends to “set” them in the fabric.

And there you have it. Laundering cloth diapers doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Yes, I’m doing more laundry than I was before, but as I mentioned before, I don’t seem to mind it very much. It’s a very fulfilling activity for me and you’ll find a lot of other cloth diaperers agree. The most important thing to remember is that you need to do what works for you and your diapers. If that means adjusting your wash routine, then so be it. Happy cloth diapering!

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Ten Tiny Cloth Diaper Tips

Today’s guest post is from BC reader Dare, who’s launching her blog Give Them Roots this week and celebrating with a gDiaper coupon giveaway.

“Cloth diapers? Are you kidding me?” I vividly remember the days when I would turn my nose up to the idea of cloth diapering, thinking anyone who used cloth diapers was stuck in the stone ages. Pins, prefolds, and swishing poop in the potty… umm, no thank you. Guess what girls? Cloth diapering isn’t like that anymore. Not even close. Sure you can still buy the “old school” diapers with pins but you can also buy diapers that put disposables to shame! No folding, pinning, or stuffing required. Just Velcro and go!

On my cloth diapering journey I’ve learned a few secrets and tricks of the trade. I hope these tips will help ease the transition into cloth diapering for anyone just starting out!

Ten Tiny Cloth Diaper Tips

Use Cloth Wipes
And don’t buy them! Some of the best cloth wipes are old flannel receiving blankets. Cut them into squares and voila, you have cloth wipes for a fraction of the price of buying them. Not only do cloth wipes save money but they are more convenient to use than disposable wipes. Just toss them straight into the pail to be washed along with your diapers. Save even more by making your own wipe solution and storing it in a spray bottle. Then just spray each wipe as you need it.

48 hours, don’t let them sour!
To help reduce any chance of “stink” residue in your diapers, wash the diapers within 48 hours of soiling. If you forget or don’t have time, don’t worry! Just run your diapers through an extra rinse cycle before the wash cycle. This will help rid any ammonia smell in your diapers. Still have a hard to beat odor? Be sure you are following the manufacturer’s directions precisely. Soap build-up is usually the culprit of a stinky situation. Do not try “online suggestions” such as, vinegar, baking soda, etc. without calling the manufacturer first. Some of these suggestions will void your diaper warranty and ruin your investment.

Shower Power
Invest in a diaper sprayer! It’s 2008 ladies, don’t be caught “swishing” diapers in the toilet bowl. A diaper sprayer attaches directly to your toilet and can be used for spraying stubborn solid waste into the potty. Most sprayers install in less than 5 minutes and many have a money-back guarantee if they leak!

I heart Bumkins!
If you haven’t already fallen in love, here’s a new reason to love Bumkins products! Fabulous waterproof totes for outings with your cloth wearing cutie. Bumkins bags are the perfect size to toss in your diaper bag. They easily hold 3-4 toddler size dirty diapers and the bags are waterproof! You can even use them for wet swimsuits, soiled clothing, pool toys, the list is endless! Did I mention how adorable these bags are?

If at first you don’t succeed…
TRY, TRY AGAIN! This rule applies to everything in life, even cloth diapering. There are so many brands to choose from that the chances are you’ll find one that works perfectly for your family. If one brand leaks, try another. If the diaper is too bulky, try a slimmer fitting style of diaper. Don’t invest in multiple diapers of just one brand until you’ve tested it on your child. Each brand is unique in fit, style, comfort, and absorbency. Test the waters before you dive in.

Twice as nice.
Eager to go green with your baby? Check out some of the cloth diaper consigning and swapping websites. You can buy gently used cloth diapers and sale any that your baby has outgrown. Not only are you being “green” by using cloth diapers but now you are following the three R’s: reuse, reduce, and recycle! Here’s a few site suggestions, Diaper Swappers , Diaper Jungle , Baby Cotton Bottoms .

Butt Paste
If you currently use disposables, I’m sure you’ve invested in a few tubes of handy dandy diaper ointment. Check your labels. Diaper ointments containing petroleum cannot be used directly on a cloth diaper. These ointments create a barrier to repel moisture. If you repel moisture in your cloth diaper, you’re sure to get leaks and lots of them. The good news, most babies have fewer diaper rashes when using cloth diapers! But, if your angel’s bottom is not so soft, try a petroleum-free cream; Burt’s Bees makes a fantastic one. For extra precaution use a diaper liner such as, Stay Dry Liners .

Go Speed Go!
Do you travel frequently? Try gDiapers , a flushable diaper. gDiapers are great alternative to buying disposables when you are on the go, without your washer! These eco-friendly diapers are adorable and easy to use. gDiapers are available online and at many natural food stores such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare, etc. You can also use these diapers with cloth prefolds when you’re not cruising the countryside!

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
The detergent you use is vital in cloth diapering success. To avoid problems with your diapers it is recommended to use detergents free of fillers, perfumes and dyes. A few detergents that are free of those ingredients are Allens Naturally, Charlie’s Soap (my personal favorite), Ecover, and 7th Generation . A quick personal experience, I have mischievous twin boys, a 7 month old baby and a husband who is restoring a 31 year old car. Charlie’s Soap is gentle enough for my sensitive skinned 7 month old, tough enough for the twins’ grass stains, and a miracle worker on my husband’s grease covered clothing! I have been amazed time and again with this soap.

Knowledge is Power
Getting started can be overwhelming. There are oodles of websites containing enough information to receive a PhD in cloth diapering. This website is a great one to break down the basics and give the low down on what all that diaper lingo means, it explains CDing, AIOs, PFs and so much more! Short, sweet and to the point! Welcome to Cloth Diapering 101 . Once you learn the basics, let Google be your guide.

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Q&A: Cloth Diapering and Daycare

An anonymous asked the following question in the comments. I have a feeling a lot of others are wondering the same thing:

“Assuming not all of us here are stay-at-home moms, how do you work cloth diapering around Daycare? I know that alot of them don’t allow cloth for sanitary reasons.”

Readers?

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Cloth Diapering on a Budget

Today’s guest post is from BC reader Kristie from Atlanta:

It was upon learning our first child was on its way that the cheapskate in me reared her head. I knew that I wanted to be at home with our child as much as possible, and the only way I could do that was to spend less money. I crunched the numbers on everything from crib bedding to car seats, and when I added up just how much money we’d be spending on disposable diapers I was shocked. This cost can vary widely depending on which brand you buy and how many diapers you use each day, but a safe estimate is about $1500-2000 for a child potty trained between 2.5-3 years old. That’s not even accounting for disposable training pants! Those figures led me to research cloth diapering.

I’d seen some “modern” cloth diapers that a friend was using, and they didn’t look scary at all. They closed with Velcro instead of pins, had soft fleece lining on the inside, and didn’t need a cover. She told me I could buy these new-age cloth diapers on the internet, so I went searching for the best deals. There was a lot to choose from in many price ranges, but since my mind was on our budget we bought many of our diapers in gently-used condition on Diaper Swappers.

Cloth diapers are made to withstand heavy use and vigorous washing, so by the time one baby has grown out of them there is still a lot of use left. We built up our “stash” of diapers with less than a $350 investment by buying them this way. If the idea of used diapers just doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of diapers that can be bought new on a budget as well. A great resource is AffordableDiapers.com. Our daughter is 7 months old now, and we have been in the “green” on our diaper investment for a while now. Once she outgrows a diaper, I sell it on diaperswappers.com or trade it there for the next size I need. Diapers hold their value very well, and can often be sold for 75-85% of their original price. So far I have not had to invest any extra money to get bigger sizes. I just use the money I made from my re-sales!

Another way we cloth diaper on a budget is by using a clothesline. Clothes dryers are only second to refrigerators in how much energy they use in your house, so cutting back on dryer use can save you money! My husband installed a simple clothesline in our backyard made from 4×4 posts and wire specifically made for clotheslines that he bought at our local home improvement store. By hanging the diapers out to dry, we not only save money on electricity, but we also keep the diapers in better shape so that their re-sale value will remain high.

I’m sure you’re thinking “who wants to wear a crunchy diaper that was dried on a line?” Well, they don’t have to be crunchy! All you need to do is add a small amount of an all-natural fabric softener to your diaper laundry (Ecover and Simplicity are great all-natural brands), and fluff them in your dryer for 5 minutes BEFORE you hang them on the line. Your diapers will come off the line soft as can be and smelling like sunshine. If your homeowners association frowns upon clotheslines, there are many collapsible indoor drying racks available that can be purchased inexpensively as well.

On top of all the money cloth diapers have saved us, we have only had TWO diaper “blowouts” in 7 months of diapering, even throughout the exclusively breastfed days. The real elastic on diapers (or on covers if you’re using that style of diapering system) holds everything in perfectly. Our daughter has never had a single diaper rash, either. I am so glad that the cheapskate in my pushed me to try cloth diapers, because now that I’ve used them you couldn’t PAY me to use disposables! I never have to run out and buy diapers when we’re low…I just do a load of laundry.

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Videos! How to use bumGenius and Others

More cloth diapering how-to videos (you’ll find more at YouTube).
Fuzzi Bunz
Kushies
Prefolds

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.