Last Updated on February 26, 2023 by Melissa S.
Today I’m thrilled to have a guest post from Hayley at Miss Manypennies asking the question, can you save money using cloth nappies? This is a topic close to my heart as we used cloth nappies with my daughter who has recently potty trained, but we still seem to be very much in the minority of users in the UK.
Cloth nappies – How much money can you save?
The average child is estimated to use around 4000 nappies! This means that for each baby who wears nappies for 2 years (and that’s being conservative – my little girl potty trained at 3) the average amount spent on disposable nappies is about £800.
When you first hear the term ‘reusable nappies’ you might get images of scrubbing poo and boiling up nappies in buckets with disinfectant. Maybe you’re thinking ‘thanks but NO WAY IN HELL am I doing that.’
I totally get that. And if it’s not for you, that is completely fine. BUT, cloth nappies have evolved a LOT since then. They are much easier to use and clean, plus they look lovely and come in all kinds of colours and designs. If you really like to save money, using cloth nappies could potentially save you hundreds of pounds.
And if you use the same nappies for subsequent children you can save the entire amount you would have spent on nappies for the second child onwards!
How much do cloth nappies cost?
Cloth nappies are not cheap. It’s easy to look at the expense of the initial outlay to buy them and be put off. But we are looking at the long term saving here.
Sure, it might seem cheaper to stick a £10 pack of Pampers in the trolley than to spend £200 on a cloth nappy kit, but in the long run, you could end up spending much more. If you buy reusable nappies, it should take less than a year to make back in savings what you spend initially, so it’s a great investment.
How much money can you save using cloth nappies?
For this we’ll go with a baby being in nappies until around 2 and a half years old. Obviously, they don’t all potty train at the same age, but that’s a pretty normal age to start thinking about potty training. My first daughter was just over 3 when we stopped needing nappies. My second is 2 and a half and I think we’ll probably start giving potty training a go soon.
Let’s say you only ever use supermarket own brand nappies, at an average cost (it varies with the size of nappy) of 7p per nappy. Assuming you get through 7 nappies a day (probably slightly more for a new-born, but less for a toddler) these will set you back £445.
Say you don’t get on with own brand nappies and you want to use a more expensive brand such as Pampers. Taking an average cost of 18p per nappy, with the same conditions as before – 7 per day for 2.5 years – this is now going to cost you £1146. Ouch.
A full set of cloth nappies for full time use will probably cost you around £250, although you could spend more or much less depending on which types you go for.
As an example, this Bambino Mio cloth nappy bundle contains all you should need from birth to potty and is a steal if you find it under £250.
How much do cloth nappies cost?
If you prefer to buy different brands and styles individually rather than get a bungle, the costs can be higher, as the price of individual brands can vary.
You’ll need about 20-30 nappies and a nappy bucket or wet bags to store once used. You also need to factor in a cost of about £1 a week for washing. So, let’s assume a total cost of around £380 for 2.5 years of reusable nappies.
Comparing this first to the cost of supermarket own brand nappies, the saving is only £65 – which, while still a saving, is not actually a huge amount over the course of 2 and half years.
However, compared to the cost of buying branded nappies such as Pampers, the saving is £766 – a much more significant saving! In both cases the saving will be much higher if you reuse the nappies for any further children.
How do cloth nappies work?
Cloth nappies are made from absorbent materials such as bamboo or microfibre.
Most are now shaped the same way as disposable nappies with either Velcro fastenings or poppers. You can either use all in one or a two-part system involving cloth nappies with a waterproof wrap to cover it.
I’ve used both kinds; I prefer all in ones especially for ease of use in the day time, but I did use bamboo lollipop nappies with wraps at night time when my little girl was very young. You also use liners inside the nappy, which draw the wee away from baby’s bum to keep it dry.
How do you clean cloth nappies?
You use a nappy bucket or wet bag to keep used nappies in until you have enough to wash. For new born nappies, you don’t need to do anything, you can just pop the nappies straight in the washing machine and run the wash. Don’t use a fabric softener as this could affect the absorbency. When babies start having solid poos, you just need to tip these off the nappy into the toilet to flush. (I think you’re supposed to do this with disposable nappies too!)
Some nappies are okay to be tumble dried but hanging out in the sun is great for getting rid of any stains.
Where can you buy cloth nappies?
You can often buy reusable nappies in the supermarkets now, as well as places like Boots and Mothercare. There are also loads of online retailers and it’s always worth shopping around or waiting for a sale/special event to grab a bargain.
Here are a few cloth nappy sellers:
Can you resell cloth nappies?
Aside from saving your pennies and the environment (well a little bit of landfill at least) another great bonus to using cloth nappies is that you can sell them on after. You can’t say that for disposables!
2022 Edit by Melissa: eBay no longer allow the sale of used cloth nappies for hygiene reasons. I had my listing of used cloth nappies taken down for this reason.
However, there are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling cloth nappies, and other sites too such as Used Nappies UK. Some people even like to collect specific designs! I’d estimate that you’re likely to be able to recoup at least a third of your costs if not more if you keep them in good condition.
Can you save money using cloth nappies?
Even compared to cheaper brand nappies, you save money using cloth nappies. If you would have used premium nappies, it’s significantly less expensive to use cloth.
If you keep your cloth nappies and use them again for subsequent children, your saving increases to nearer £1000.
You can sell resuable nappies on afterwards and regain some of your initial investment.
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Where to find Hayley
Find Hayley over at the Miss Manypennies blog