Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers: Which Is Better In the Long Run?

Considering the financial impact between cloth diapers vs disposable diapers and if it can save you a lot of money if you choose the former?

Yes, I can tell you from the get-go that it can help you financially.

But at what cost?

In this article, you’ll get to read an extensive list of pros and cons between cloth diapers and disposable diapers, as well as factors that you need to consider before choosing between the two.

Let’s start with a quick comparison.

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Quick Comparison: Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers

Health and Comfort
Cloth diapers, being reusable and washable, are often considered gentler on sensitive baby skin when used properly. 

On the other hand, disposable diapers better pull moisture away from the baby, which studies suggest may reduce diaper rash compared to cloth diapers.

Winner: Tie

Disposable diapers are more absorbent than cloth diapers, making them suitable for longer stretches between changes. 

Cloth diapers may require more frequent changes, which can be messier.

Winner: Disposable diapers

Disposable diapers are easy to use and throw, making them convenient for busy parents, especially when traveling. 
Meanwhile, cloth diapers require a learning curve, more frequent changes, and extensive cleaning, making them less convenient for some.

Winner: Disposable diapers

Cloth diapers are adjustable, making them versatile and able to grow with your baby. 
In contrast, disposable diapers come in more sizing options, providing a better fit for babies of different shapes and sizes.

Winner: Tie

While cloth diapers are more expensive than disposables initially, they prove to be more economically friendly over time as they are reusable. 
On the flip side, disposable diapers can become costly over time due to the need for continuous repurchase.

Winner: Cloth diapers
Environmental Impact

While it’s a common belief that cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly, it’s essential to consider the water and electricity used for washing. Plus the resources and raw materials it takes to produce them!

On the other hand, disposable diapers generate vastly more landfill waste than cloth diapers, making them harsher on the environment.

Winner: None

Pros of Cloth Diapers:

  • Reusable
  • Lower cost
  • Can be sold to other parents
  • Gentler on sensitive skin (if used properly)
  • Provides ad adjustable fit
  • Less waste in landfills
  • Can be passed down to future siblings
  • No need to stock up on diapers
  • Has more fun designs

Cons of Cloth Diapers:

  • Not babysitter and daycare-friendly
  • Less absorbent
  • Learning curve for using and washing
  • Messier to change
  • Requires extensive, time-consuming cleaning
  • Increases frequency of laundry
  • More diaper changes
  • More diaper rashes (if not changed frequently)
  • Uses lots of water and electricity for washing
  • Uses lots of resources to produce

Pros of Disposable Diapers:

  • Daycare and babysitter-friendly
  • Easy to use and throw
  • Convenient to bring on travels
  • Readily available in stores
  • High absorbency for longer wear
  • Available in various sizes

Cons of Disposable Diapers:

  • Can become costly over time
  • Made of various chemicals
  • Can likely cause irritation
  • Doesn’t grow with baby
  • Need to stock up
  • Prone to product shortages
  • Contributes to landfill waste
  • Flimsy tabs

Things to Consider When Choosing Disposable vs Cloth Diapers

If you still can’t decide between the two, then consider these factors first:

Is your baby going to daycare? 

If yes, they’ll advise that you use disposable diapers instead.

Is your spouse or other caretaker on board with cloth diapers?

Not everyone likes cleaning up cloth diapers, so check first with your partner or another caretaker if they’re willing to do so.

Are you planning to have more babies?

If yes, cloth diapers can be passed down to your future little ones.

Will you have the time to wash and dry the cloth diapers?

This is the biggest question you need to answer, especially if you’re the primary caregiver and you also have a job. 

Do you think you’ll have the time and energy to maintain cloth diapers?

How many babies do you have that require diapers?

If you have twins or more, consider the added effort you need to wash and dry cloth diapers.

Are you willing to spend on water and electricity to clean cloth diapers?

Think about the number of times you have to change your baby’s diapers. Think about 3 am blowouts, the frequent leakages, when your baby pees or poops just right after changing their diapers.

Related Article: 27 Best Diaper Blowout Hacks Every Parent Should Know!

All those used cloth diapers can add to your pile of laundry!

How’s your diaper budget?

If you’re on a really tight budget, then cloth diapers can help you out in the long run. Plus your future or younger babies can also use them.

FAQ: Disposable vs Cloth Diapers

Are cloth diapers better than disposables?

Cloth diapers are better than disposable diapers when it comes to saving money upfront (no need to stock up, just buy a few pieces) and in the future (you can sell it or let your younger babies use it).
But consider the time and effort that comes with cleaning, and washing cloth diapers, and for some, it might not be worth it.
So it depends on one’s personal preferences and priorities.

What are the disadvantages of cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers may involve a learning curve to use and wash, require more frequent changes, and demand extensive cleaning. 
They may also be messier to change compared to disposables.

Do you really save money using cloth diapers?

Yes, you can save money using cloth diapers as their reusability can make them more economical in the long run.

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers: Final Thoughts

Choosing between cloth diapers vs disposable diapers ultimately comes down to your priorities and lifestyle. 

Consider the needs of your little one, your environmental concerns, and your budget. 

Personally, I’d choose disposable diapers any time of the day.

There are already some studies about how cloth diapers are not really environmentally friendly, so its only saving grace, at least in my book, is the savings you can get from reusing them.

But at what cost?

Imagine again multiple middle-of-the-night diaper blowouts, your baby pooping or peeing right after a diaper change, and frequent leakages.

Related Article: Best Diapers for Blowouts (Premium and Budget!)

Then do the laundry, on top of your regular load and wait for cloth diapers to dry (if you want to save on using a dryer).

I’m just thinking of all the time and effort to keep cloth diapers. 

And as a primary caregiver, with a part-time job, a side hustle, and the sole chores and errand-runner (my husband doesn’t help around the house) – I don’t think it’s worth it.

But again, it can save you money in the long run, so consider your priorities and I hope you find this “cloth diaper vs disposable diaper” guide helpful.

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