Are cloth nappies cheap to use?
Have you ever wondered about the ongoing costs of using modern cloth nappies? I mean, most of us have surely used it as a selling point when it comes to explaining to our loved ones why reusable cloth nappies are such a great tool in our parenting belts; Going cloth is environmentally friendly! It’s SO much easier and more straightforward than when our parents used those old terry flats, AND you can save so much money!
But have you ever stopped to work out exactly how much it costs (and you can you save!) by choosing cloth over disposables? For anyone whose maths grades were constantly the black hole of their report card (It's me. Hi. I’m the problem; it’s me.); Don’t panic. We’ve got you. This week we put the team’s calculators at Cloth Bums to the test to put an exact dollar value on how much it costs to use cloth over the nappy lifespan of a child from birth to toilet training. And the results were pleasantly surprising!
What are the costs involved?
Let’s break it down.
The ongoing costs of reusable cloth nappies will account for the water, electricity and detergent costs of laundering a full-time stash of cloth over the 2.5 years it takes for a newborn to grow out of infancy, become toilet trained and be nappy free. A Cloth Bums set of 24 One Size Fits Most Pixie nappies comes to just under $550.00. With a fit range from 3-18kg, they’ll fit most babies from birth to potty with enough changes to work with a wash routine that includes a daily pre-wash and a bi-weekly main wash (and then be used for subsequent siblings. Winning!).
Laundering your stash will involve water, electrical, and detergent costs with a standard wash routine entailing an average of a daily pre-wash and a bi-weekly main wash. We’ve crunched our numbers based on this wash routine and our in-house standards; a 9kg front-loading washing machine with a 5 star energy rating, the cost of water per litre and electricity per kWh in our region, and a mainstream detergent. And yep, we’ll give you links to all the places where you can go ahead and sort out the exact figure for your machine, cost of consumables, and the detergent you like best 😉
Soap and suds
Detergent is a deeply personal choice when it comes to laundering your cloth stash. We’ve all got our faves and reviled brands that smell the best, are the most effective, work with our exact water hardness, budget or environmental priorities. Suffice to say; there’s a world of choice out there. Thankfully, the crew at Clean Cloth Nappies have taken all of the guess work out of the process of choosing a detergent. They’ve tirelessly tested and rated detergents to find the best practice in making every stash fluffy and clean as a whistle! At the Clean Cloth site, you can see exactly how much of your favourite detergent you’ll need for your pre-wash and main wash. You can always head to our site for more info on setting up your own bulletproof wash routine.
We were able to take a good look at the detergent’s packaging to work out exactly how much each scoop of detergent costs for each pre- and main-wash each week and over the 2.5 years. Most detergents will state how many washes each package of the product contains, or you can head to Choice to find out the cost per wash at recommended retail prices. Keep in mind that this cost will pertain to a single dose of detergent- most detergents will require a larger dosage for a main wash when cleaning heavily soiled garments like nappies, and larger machines may require an increase in dosage to accommodate the larger load. Let’s also be realistic; a lot of us in the cloth world are thrifty. I mean, we’re talking right now about the costs of laundering cloth nappies! We’re a thoughtfully economical bunch at heart. So for the Cloth Bums cost experiment, we’re basing our calculations on $0.40c per scoop of detergent. That’s a mainstream detergent purchased at $6 per kg- half the recommended retail price, as well as an on-special price and bulk option that is consistently offered by major grocery retailers.
At $0.40c per dose, detergent works out at $0.30c per pre-wash, $0.50c per main wash and therefore $3.10 a week, $161.20 a year, and $403.00 total over the 2.5 year span of requiring nappies. Not bad!
Water and electricity
When it comes to calculating the cost of water and electricity that you’ll use when laundering your cloth stash over time, you’ll need a couple of tools in your pocket. If you head to Canstar Blue, you’ll be able to find your make and model of washing machine and work out exactly how much water and electricity is required to wash nappies according to the capacity and energy efficiency of your specific set-up. Once you’ve got your specs, you can pair them with the cost of electricity per KwH and water per kilolitre in your local government area. You can find your electricity tariff on your electricity bill, and use Can Star Blue or other places like Reduction Revolution and waterrating.gov.au to then calculate the ongoing costs of maintaining your cloth nappies.
Our cost per wash works out at $0.25c for water, and $0.19c of electricity, $120.22 for water and $50.54 in electricity annually. Over 2.5 years? That’s a combined cost of $426.90. When you add in the cost of detergent over those years, that comes to $829.90.
For the truly mathematically inclined, we’ll go the whole distance and add in the price of a Cloth Bums full-time stash of One-Size-Fits-Most nappies that will fit most babies from Day 1 to Big-Kid-Undies Time for $549.78. Including a full fluff stash, the grand total for acquiring and laundering your reusable cloth nappies over 2.5 years from birth to toilet training is, drumroll, please…$1,379.68. That means it works out to about $550.00 per year to buy and use cloth nappies, even without the in-built savings inherent to re-using nappies for subsequent babies and other ways to save even more. Even though it’s something most of us have low-key known all along, It is still WILD to see just how low the cost of choosing to use cloth really is. So for those of us who’ve been on the bandwagon for a baby or two, and to those who are still considering using cloth for their growing bump; Cloth is such a win, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it!
But how does that compare to disposable?
Well, good question, we have calculated that the total cost of disposables from birth to toilet training is approximately 6,360 nappies which come in at a total of $3,332.40 across 2.5 years (even more if you have more than 1 child!). So with the cost of the nappies and washing by choosing cloth nappies you would be saving $2,000 for 2 years of use, and even more for subsequent children.