Are Cloth Nappies Cheaper Than Disposables?

reusable nappies

YES! Yes, yes a huge big resounding yes. If we compare the cheapest, the mid range priced nappies and even the high end nappies, they will always come in cheaper than using disposables when used on one child. If the cloth nappies are well maintained, they may last many more children and there is often a healthy resale market for second hand nappies where you may recoup your initial investment, if they are in good condition.

On average, we estimate that using reusable nappies will save you over £1000 compared to using premium disposable nappies. However, there are always caveats to those figures. A lot depends on you, your choice of nappies, how many pretty nappies you buy and how you wash and dry your cloth nappies. Also, how many children you use those nappies on and even if you go on to sell and recoup some of your initial investment once you have used your cloth nappies.

We will run through some costs below, so you can see what the savings on using nappies might be financially. But, we will also discuss other factors to consider when looking at ‘cost’. Whilst for some, the debate might purely be financial, there are a lot more costs to using disposables which, perhaps, should be included. For example, the cost of sending plastic to landfill, which does not decompose for up to 500 years. The cost of running landfill, the carbon cost of shipping disposable nappies to shops each week, then to landfill. The cost of putting 1 cup of crude oil in each nappy. The cost of using non sustainable resources to make disposable nappies. When you consider the ‘wider’ costs associated with disposables, it's very clear that just focusing on pure financial costs is perhaps misguided, however we do appreciate that for many families, just looking at the cost comparisons will be the major deciding factor.

For the sake of ease, we have not included the accessories needed with either disposable nappies (like nappy sacks) or reusable nappies (like wetbags).

The ‘average’ child will be potty trained by 2.5 years old, or 30 months or 912 days. This is average, many train early, many later. For the first 6 months you will use a lot more nappies per day, then less and less but on average over those 30 months it's about 7 a day overall.

The average cost of a disposable nappy (17p) x the quantity of disposable nappies used per day (7) x 912 days = £1085. This cost is higher if you use premium, lower if you use budget nappies.


A medium priced cloth nappy system:

20 flip stay dry inserts (£4 x 20 = £80)
6 flip covers (£11 x 6 = £66)
Total cost from birth to potty training £144

Washing Costs

Over the 912 days, we estimate washing every 2.5 days, so 365 washes. This equates to about £145 over the 2.5 years.

Total cost of nappies = £144 cost and £145 to wash (assuming no tumble drying). So £290.

Cost of disposable £1085 - cost of cloth + washing = £290 = £795 saving for ONE CHILD. Remember these nappies may last for a 2nd child or can be sold once used.

This does not take into account any council subsidies which may be available to help you reduce waste. Look at your local council, many offer up to £100 for using cloth nappies because of the huge burden on landfill.

So is cloth cheaper? Yes! So go and enjoy using real nappies and saving the planet!