Saturday, December 13, 2008

Savings calculations for cloth diapering

Using cloth diapers is one excellent way a family with babies can save money. They are very easy to use and not any more trouble than using disposable diapers.

Here are my family's calculations as far as spending/saving on diapers goes. This is not a very precise or scientific calculation, given that my math skills aren't the greatest, but it gives a good idea of what we've been doing and shows that we have saved money with it, even though we didn't start it until very late in the game.

Okay, here goes:


$36 for a few things from FSOT (For Sale or Trade at
$10 for materials to make diapers (two flannel sheets from Goodwill and a few really big men's t-shirts from yard sales)
$10 for sewing notions (scissors, thread, pins, measuring tape, etc.)
$35 for used sewing machine at Goodwill
$20 for a new bobbin case for the machine

TOTAL: $111


$2 for more materials (new t-shirts at yard sales and some flannel at Goodwill)

$22 for 3.5 dozen Gerber diapers

$6.50 for 1 dozen Gerber diapers

= 30.50

SOLD ...

$5 (1 prefold diaper)

$5 (1 pocket diaper)

$15 (3 prefold diapers)

= 25.00


2 AIOs (all-in-one diapers) for a pair of sneakers

4 covers for 11 prefold diapers (this was an excellent trade BTW!)

I am going to say the “sold” and the “traded” cancels out at least the original $36 on FSOT.

I am going to take out the $10 for sewing notions since they can be/are being used for other things than sewing diapers.

I am going to take out the $35 for the machine /$20 for the new bobbin since the machine can be/is being used for other things.

That leaves my original cost of $10 for materials plus the new $30.50 for materials and diapers.

I didn't calculate in shipping costs for mailing diapers sold/traded.

I'm not putting in the cost of extra water and detergent since it is minimal (2 loads a week).

Nor am I counting the cost of my time/gas to go to my mom's to get free materials or my time to make the diapers.

That leaves me with a GRAND TOTAL of $40.50 actual cost for the diapers I'm now using! That would buy less than a month's worth of disposable diapers using a big $10 Fred's brand (our favorite brand) each week. We've been doing this for three months.

If I LEAVE IN the $10 for sewing notions plus $35/$20 for the sewing machine that gives me an actual cost increase of $65 which brings the total to $105.50, which would buy about 10 weeks worth of disposable diapers. That would bring us to about breaking even on diapers right now. We are now using probably one small $5 pack of disposable diapers every four to six weeks.

So either way we have saved/will save money! WHOOHOO!!

I expect him to be in diapers for four to six more months, and I'd also like to have another child that we would cloth diaper starting at a few months of age. If we had another one I could diaper that child pretty much for free, since I already have a size large stash and enough materials to make size small and size medium stash and plenty of Gerber diapers to supplement it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to wash and care for cloth diapers

Washing and caring for cloth diapers is very easy although many people think it is difficult and time consuming. I keep my routine as simple and natural as possible. I use vinegar and homemade laundry detergent.

Here is what I do:

First, I rinse wet diapers in the sink or dispose of solid waste in the toilet and then rinse off in the sink. (A shower sprayer would work better; I have this on my list of things to get since it would get double use.)

I place rinsed diapers in a pail with water and a splash of vinegar. I use plastic one-gallon ice cream buckets (great use for all those buckets we accumulate) but a larger pail would work just fine. The diapers stay in these buckets until I get ready to wash, which is every 2-4 days.

When I get ready to wash, I dump the buckets into the washing machine and do a cold rinse. Then I add detergent, fill the washer with hot water by starting the wash cycle and let the diapers soak for a while. If I need to whiten and further disinfect my diapers I add a little hydrogen peroxide, about half a cup or so. I use a few drops of tea tree oil on occasion.

My detergent recipe is one bar of grated up Ivory soap, 2 cups borax, and 2 cups washing soda. Store in an airtight container and use one teaspoon to one tablespoon depending on load size. You don't need a lot of detergent to wash your diapers especially if you have rinsed the diapers off as soon as they come off the baby.

When the regular wash and rinse finishes I rerinse with about a half a cup of vinegar and then dry in the dryer without a dryer sheet. You don't use a dryer sheet on your diapers because dryer sheets coat your clothing and reduce absorbency.

Here is another slightly different method of caring for cloth diapers, from the book "Organic Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. (My method is very similar to hers, I was delighted to discover.)

Managing the Messy End of the Diaper Cycle

1. Half fill the diaper pail with warm water and add half a cup of borax. The borax will help reduce odors and staining. Or if your baby is having trouble with diaper rash, soak the diapers in water with a couple cups white vinegar instead of the borax and water. The vinegar will help kill the bacteria that can cause diaper rash.

2. Rinse out the urine and scrape the solid waste into the toilet before putting diapers into the diaper pail.

3. When the diaper pail is full, drain as much of the water as possible into the toilet, and lug the pail to the laundry room.

4. Put the diapers into the washing machine, and set the dial to the heaviest wash cycle and the hottest water setting. If your machine has a separate setting for the spin cycle you may want to use it to spin the excess liquid out of the diapers before starting the wash cycle.

5. Soap can leave a residue that may irritate baby's skin. Use a gentle unscented detergent. For the sake of the baby's future, try to choose a detergent that is biodegradable and phosphate free. For the sake of the baby's skin, try to choose a detergent that is free of fragrances, dyes, bleaches, and brighteners.

6. Add one cup vinegar to the final rinse cycle.

7. Dry the diapers using the cotton setting of the dryer.

8. If your baby is having problems with diaper rash, try drying the diapers outdoors in the sun. Sunlight is a very strong disinfectant.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How to sew a diaper cover

Sometimes you like to cover your cloth diapers with something that will keep your baby's clothing from getting wet, if he is wearing any over his diaper.

A very easy way to make a diaper cover is to get an old fleece blanket and use the Rita's Rump Pocket diaper pattern like I did with the covers in the photo. I just sewed up the part that you would leave open if it were a diaper. I put elastic in that spot before I sewed it up.

These covers could have velcro on them but I left them without closures and I use pins to close them. That way I can get a custom fit every time.

Here is another pattern for a fleece cover:

How to sew a pull-on fleece cover

I have not used this pattern but it looks very easy. You could find more by searching "fleece diaper covers" or something like that.