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 special offers.
Washing costs: if your baby uses a lot of nappies you'll wash more frequently.
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 options.
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 outlay?
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are based on recomended nappy changing frequency (many people will change less often), and are now a little out of date, having been calculated over 3 years ago, but give a good indication!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 here
. CALCULATION OF HOW MUCH SAVEDTO SUMMARISE DISPOSABLE NAPPY COSTS: For 2 ½ years
A) Cost Of Own Brand Value Nappy @ 10.5p x 7000 per baby: £ 735
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 nappies
Total cost of most expensive nappy options + daily washing + tumble drying £802 SAVING £409
against premium disposable nappies
Total cost of most expensive nappy option, daily washing, but line dried £638. SAVING £570
against premium disposable nappies
I've 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.