Using washable nappies rather than disposables will save you
money, even taking in to account the washing costs and wear and
tear on your washing machine. The actual amount saved can be
from a couple of hundred pounds up to about a thousand pounds,
and will be even more for subsequent children where the same
nappy system can be used again. As most parents have found, their
Little Star can soon dig a hole into savings and the weekly wage
packet, so any respite from this financial drain is very welcome.
So how much can I save?
Womens Environmental Network estimate the average savings to be around £500 per baby.
But how much would you actually save? There are very many (and variable) factors to take into account:
How many nappies your baby will need: a newborn uses more than
an older baby, a baby that notices the slightest drop of wee
demands very frequent changing!
Cost of disposable nappies: premium branded disposables are more
expensive than own brand, although you may obtain vouchers or
Washing costs: if your baby uses a lot of nappies you'll wash
Drying costs: line drying is free, if you use a tumble drier
this will cost more.
Cost of nappy system purchased: All-in-One nappies (where the
waterproof layer is an integral part of the nappy) are the most
expensive options; pouched nappy systems such as the Fuzzi Bunz
or Stuffable are a little cheaper as they dry quicker, two part
systems are usually cheaper than All-in-Ones; some nappies require
the purchase of two or more sizes, others adjust to fit from
newborn to potty; prefolds or terries are perhaps the cheapest
Re-use of nappies: will you be reusing your cloth nappies for
subsequent children, thereby saving more in the long term? Or
can you sell them on after use and recoup part of the initial
I spent some time researching this question a couple of years
ago, and I have endeavoured to show the true cost for the most
expensive and also the cheapest cloth nappies and washing scenarios.
I have based the washing costs on Which Online's (then) Best
Buy Bosch washing machine, costing £500, however there
are cheaper and more expensive machines available.
Washing costs can be as little as £40 per year, or with
tumble drying and washing every day as much as £150. Your
own cost of using washable nappies will fall somewhere between
these two extremes. I have compared the costs against the cost
of premium branded disposables and also own brand economy disposables.
Please note these calculations are based on recomended nappy
changing frequency (many people will change less often), and
are now a little out of date, having been calculated over 3 years
ago, but give a good indication! Products have also changed in
the intervening years, there are more and different cloth nappy
options, and the disposable brands now heavily promote expensive
pull-up style nappies for older toddlers. Full specific details
of my calculations, including sources, are available by clicking
CALCULATION OF HOW MUCH SAVED
TO SUMMARISE DISPOSABLE NAPPY COSTS: For 2 ½ years
A) Cost Of Own Brand Value Nappy @ 10.5p x 7000 per baby: £
B) Premium Nappy @ 17.3p x 7000 per baby £1211
TO SUMMARISE WASHABLE NAPPY COSTS For 2 ½ years
Total cost of least expensive nappy system, washing alternate
days, line dried £280 SAVING £930 against
premium nappies SAVING £455 against own brand disposable
Total cost of most expensive nappy options + daily washing +
tumble drying £802 SAVING £409 against premium
Total cost of most expensive nappy option, daily washing, but
line dried £638. SAVING £570 against premium
not included a comparisson of the cost of washable wipes vs
disposable, but, as you're washing nappies anyway, it seems
more logical to use a fabric wipe and water which you can throw
in with the nappies, than to spend typically between 2p and
4p PER WIPE (did that surprise you?) on cleaning your baby's
bottom. As your health professional will probably recommend using
warm water rather than purchased wipes for a newborn, may people
are discovering how simple, chemical free, and cost effective
washable wipes are for their new baby.
Note these prices quoted are pre the 2008 fuel increases.