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Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposable Diapers

Most parents of newborns have similar shopping lists. Food (to keep them energized during long, sleepless nights), emergency pacifiers, wipes, and many packs of disposable diapers are essential.

When exhausted dads walk down the baby care aisle on autopilot at 3 AM, there’s no question that diapers are needed. However, most don’t consider there is an alternative…cloth diapers!

Gone are the days when cloth diapers were considered unclean, difficult to close, and the only option. Today, many mothers rely on cloth diapers.

Baby care is a personal decision; on the surface, cloth diapers may seem outdated, complicated, and just plain gross. However, there are always unseen benefits to every option. Let’s carefully weigh the pros and cons to help make the best decision for YOUR family!


A family should expect to spend $3,000 per child on diapers. That is a HUGE financial burden…especially when you add in the cost of wipes as well.

Have three children? That’s nearly $10,000 on DIAPERS. A baby’s diaper must be changed approximately every two hours…crushing their way through a $45 box of 200 diapers very quickly.

Of course, buying cheaper, off-brand diapers will lower the cost, but can it compare to the cost-effective cloth? Probably not…

Cloth diapers are much cheaper in the long run than disposable diapers.

Cloth will cost you $300- $600 upfront, plus replacement inserts occasionally and the extra burden on your water bill from washing so frequently.

The upfront cost may seem daunting to some parents. It feels easier to part with $45 for a box of diapers at a time versus $600 at once. 

Remember, cloth diapers can also be saved for future children. You will only have to pay a hefty up-front cost once (excluding a few replacements if needed).

Who wins this round? Cloth!

2. Health

Most studies have found no difference between the health benefits of cloth or disposable diapers. A soiled diaper is a soiled diaper and will increase the risk of rash regardless.

Disposable diapers are often lined with moisturizing chemicals (which can irritate some), whereas cloth may feel softer for them. Super health-conscious parents may choose cloth simply because they know exactly what materials are in it.

Many assume that cloth diapers are also less sanitary than disposable, but that’s not the case. Don’t picture an outdated piece of cloth being held together by two pins.

Today, cloth diapers significantly resemble disposable diapers and have Velcro straps on the sides as WELL as tight-fitting elastic material to go around a child’s thighs. Cloth diapers are just as sanitary as disposable diapers.

Who wins this round? It’s a tie!

3. Convenience

Cloth and disposable diapers are both straightforward to put on, but clean-up varies. Cloth diapers are not quite as absorbent as disposable and must be changed more frequently than the typical twice an hour.

If you are changing your child’s cloth diaper three times a day…that’s 36 dirty cloth diapers to be washed daily! Add that on top of other baby clothes, towels, your clothes, your other children’s clothes…you might as well never leave the washing room!

Of course, you could send your laundry to a service, but that cost adds up quickly. You will reach the $3,000 worth of disposable much sooner than you think if you frivolously spend on a washing service.

Disposable diapers also go right into the trash, whereas cloth requires a trip to the washing machine. However, using disposable diapers also means you must invest in a high-quality diaper bin or deal with the, uh, stench.

Most homes’ trash is collected twice a week. That’s a LOT of diapers to accumulate during that time. Cloth diapers will allow you to clean them at your own pace and when needed.

Who wins this round? Disposable!

4. Environment

This is a tricky one! At first thought, disposable are tossed into the trash and collect in landfills. However, washing cloth diapers uses tons of water (creating dirty water) and energy. Washing dirty cloth diapers is not a typical load of laundry.

First, you must use hot water to attack germs and clean the cloth. You also must pre-rinse them at least once (so they aren’t washed in their own filth!). Washing a load of dirty cloth diapers takes around three times as much water as a typical load of laundry does.

Many disposable diapers also use biodegradable and recyclable materials.

Who wins this round? Neither! If only there was a magical 100% environmentally friendly option…

5. Comfort

 Though a cloth diaper may feel a bit softer to your baby, both cloth and disposable diapers are cozy for your child (as long as they are used correctly).

The most crucial factor in using diapers is that they are put on securely and changed as frequently as necessary.

A soiled diaper is a soiled diaper…regardless of the material used.

Who wins this final round? Both!

And now, after weighing the pros and cons…it’s time to reveal the final winner! Drum roll please….




 Who is the overall winner? Neither! And here’s why…

Regardless of the pros and cons, choosing a diaper that works best for you and your baby’s specific needs and priorities is best. What works well for your best friend, sister-in-law or neighbor may not work well for you.

Experiment and figure out what works best for YOUR family and your priorities and specific needs.

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