Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers
It seems like just about all first-time parents experience a moment of terror when they first do the math, realizing how many diapers they are using per day and how much each diaper costs. Fortunately, older babies don't use nearly as many diapers as newborns, but the bottom line is that diapers are expensive, no matter which type you choose.
If you consider just the cost for purchasing the diapers, typically cloth diapers will be much less expensive than disposables, although there are many different types of cloth diapers, some of which are much more expensive than others. In addition, there is a greater up-front cost with cloth. But don't forget to add in the cost of doing laundry, both in terms of energy usage and water usage, as well as detergent and other additives needed to keep cloth diapers fresh and clean, and wear and tear on your washer and dryer. Or, if you choose a diaper service, don't forget to consider that cost as well.
Last, but definitely not least, consider the value of the time and effort the extra laundry will take. This may be a very important factor for some families, but might be unimportant in others.
Because there are so many variables, there is no clear winner in the cost-effectiveness debate either. How you launder, which diapers you buy, whether you watch for sales and use coupons, and many other factors will determine your costs.
Do you have your own washer or dryer, or do you use a laundromat? Does your city have a diaper service? Will you buy the bare minimum number of cloth diapers, which may require you to do a load of diapers every single day? Do you insist on having the latest and most expensive version of a premium diaper brand? All of these factors affect cost.
Be wary of Web sites that don't consider all the costs, as well as those that use the least expensive of one option versus the most expensive of the other option (for instance, the cheapest cloth versus the most expensive premium disposables, or vice versa). Like so many other things in life, there isn't one clear answer for all people and all situations.