How to Cloth Diaper on a Budget: (For $100 bucks or less!)

MYTH: 'The start up cost of cloth diapering is expensive!' It doesn't have to be! Here's how to cloth diaper for CHEAP! (less than $100 bucks!) | Cloth diaper on a budget | How to cloth diaper | How to start cloth diapering #clothdiapers #clothdiapering #clothdiaper101 #howtoclothdiapercheap #howtosaveonhouseholdexpenses
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When I first decided I wanted to cloth diaper it was when I was pregnant with my first kid.  

I started Googling because I was completely clueless about where to even start. My only idea of cloth diapering was the old school “wrap some sort of cloth around the baby’s bum and pin it with a big ol’ safety pin on each side.”

I soon found out via Google and speaking to a couple moms who cloth diaper that there are soooo many more options to cloth diapering nowadays.  

There are pocket diapers, flats and/or flour sack towels and covers, fitted diapers, all in ones, all in twos, prefolds….

Ugh!… Huh???  What does all that even mean?!   

So many options.  I was so overwhelmed.

Most importantly, some (most) are expensive!  Some diapers were $15-30 bucks PER DIAPER.

What.  The.  Heck?! 

Let’s just get real for a second…

Here’s something you should know – newborns are poop and pee machines.  That’s all they do. Cry, sleep, poop, and pee. So you will be going through diapers like a madwoman in the first few months of baby’s life.

I didn’t know much about newborns yet being it was my first pregnancy and all, but I at least knew that much about them!

What I did know was that I needed to build a stash of cloth diapers that would be enough for me to at LEAST make it through an entire day before I had to do laundry.

And I don’t know about you, but $30 freaking bucks PER DIAPER was completely out of our budget.  

Let’s estimate you’d need 12-15 diapers for ONE DAY for a newborn (yes, that is a realistic number – poop machines!).  Even if we went on the low end and did the bare minimum (which I do not recommend!) 12 diapers x $25 per diaper = $300 bucks for ONE day worth of diapers!

 Pfftt… No.

Hell to the … NO.

Ps… those who can afford to drop a grand or more on a cloth diaper stash – I’m happy for you.  That’s actually awesome!

But, I sure ain’t one of those people.  

Not even close.


The overwhelming amount of information on how to cloth diaper, and all the different ways to do it, and all the costs I saw – knowing that I had to be able to do this cloth diapering business ON A BUDGET, etc. just made my brain virtually blow up.

Mind blow emoji

So after a couple of months of research, I gave up on that whole cloth diapering idea.

Fast forward to when my kiddo was about a year and a half old.  

I decided to look into it again.

I wanted to cloth diaper because I wanted to save money by not using expensive disposable diapers.  We were on a tight budget as it was, and any way that I can figure out how to cut back on our household expenses I’m all for it!

Speaking of cutting back on household expenses, check out my post “How To Save Money With Kids”

I needed to figure out how to enter the cloth diapering world while on a budget.

Side note… Since June 2018, I’ve been using this new budgeting app called YNAB (short for You Need A Budget) and it is a game changer! I have never felt so in control of my money and so excited about the future (being debt free, that is). I totally geek out at the end of each month as I see how much “left over” money we have in my YNAB app. I use all extra money to pay off our debt! It’s the best feeling when you make a double payment and/or pay off one of your debt accounts!

Click HERE and you’ll get your first month using YNAB for FREE!

What was I missing here?  Who can afford that madness?  There’s gotta be a cheaper, easier way!

And I found it. (Yay!)

So, I started my cloth diapering journey when my first kid was about a year and half old.

And I did it for CHEAP!

I only wish I had discovered this from the very beginning!  A year and a half of disposables – man, that’s a lot of money thrown out the window!

P.S. I started cloth diapering my second kid since he was a newborn. 😉

MYTH: "The start up cost of cloth diapering is expensive!" It doesn't have to be! Here's how to cloth diaper for CHEAP! (less than $100 bucks!) | Cloth diaper on a budget | How to cloth diaper | How to start cloth diapering #clothdiapers #clothdiapering #clothdiaper101 #howtoclothdiapercheap #howtosaveonhouseholdexpenses

Heres how I cloth diaper on a budget (for $100 bucks or less)

Drum roll, please…..

Flour sack towels and waterproof diaper covers!

Yep.  I’m talking about the cheap flour sack towels you can get from Walmart or Target for around $1 a piece!  

(They’re typically in the kitchen section because they’re normally used for drying dishes and such!)

Flour Sack Towels - How To Cloth Diaper On A Budget
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How many flour sack towels will you need?

This will depend on your baby and on YOU.

#1 – Depends on the age of the baby.

#2 – Depends on how heavy a wetter they are.  

Some kids soil through diapers like nobody’s business (my 1st kid!) and other babies you can get away with fewer diaper changes.

#3 – And, it depends on how often you want to do laundry!  

If you are ok with doing it every day then you can get away with purchasing a smaller amount of diapers.  (This is ideal if you are on a really tight budget. And keep in mind, you can always occasionally buy more flour sack towels as time goes on.)  

If you would like to do laundry, say, every other day or every few days, obviously you will need to have more diapers in your stash.

I would suggest 12-15 towels for a newborn for 1 day.  

And I would even go as far as to say I’m leaning more towards the 15-18 end.  You don’t want to get an exact amount for each day because newborns (and all kids, lol) are unpredictable!  I can’t tell you how many times I literally JUST buttoned up the new, clean diaper and before I can even pick up the baby from the changing pad, he’s pooped again!  Burned through 2 diapers for 1 diaper change. Sometimes 3!

Point is, have a few extras.  You don’t want to run out!

The older your baby gets, the fewer diaper changes they’ll need.

So, for slightly older babies (3 months to about 8 or 9 months), I’d have about 10-12 diapers on hand each day.

10 months and up you can expect about 5-7 diaper changes a day (again, depending on how heavy a wetter your kid is).

 To give you an idea, my 20-month-old has about 5-6 diaper changes a day.  And he has been that way since about 12 months old.

Check out Youtube on the different ways you actually fold and use the flour sack towels on your baby. There are a ton of tutorials on there!

Pro tip:  Flannel receiving blankets can be used as cloth diapers, too!  They can be used the exact same way you would use the flour sack towels I have been talking about.  Make sure to put receiving blankets and flour sack towels (and even the waterproof diaper covers that I explain below) on your Baby Registry!  
Also, people are always practically giving these away on Craigslist or local buy/sell/trade Facebook groups, and even at thrift stores and consignment stores!  

Waterproof Diaper Covers

So now that you have your absorber (the flour sack towel) you will need something to cover it so that when baby soils it, it won’t get all the clothes, bedding, and YOU wet.  

That’s where the waterproof diaper covers come in.

There are a ton of different kinds of diaper covers you can choose from.  Different brands, shapes, some with 1 or 2 gussets, some with snaps, others with velcro (also called hook and loop), the list goes on.  

I settled on Thirsties Diaper Covers. I liked that they had double gussets to help contain all that goes on inside a diaper (lol).  No leaks!  And they simply just fit my kids really well compared to the numerous other (sometimes more expensive) brands I tried.

Thirsties Water Proof Diaper Covers

Thirsties has two different styles of covers:

#1 – The “Original” diaper cover.  These are sized covers that you would buy depending on your baby’s size and weight.  

Here is their sizing chart taken directly from the Thirsties website:

Newborn-Preemie4-10 lbs (2-4.5 kg)0-1 month
x-small6-12 lbs (3-5.5 kg)0-3 months
small12-18 lbs (5.5-8 kg)3-9 months
medium18-28 lbs (8-12.5 kg)9-30 months
large28-40 lbs (12.5-18 kg)30-42 months

#2 – The “Duo Wrap.”  These are the same covers as above but they have adjustable snaps that allow you to adjust what’s called the “rise” of the cover depending on your baby’s size and weight.  

In other words, instead of buying sized covers that I mentioned above and every time your kid grows out of it, you then have to buy the next size up, with the Duo you can buy one cover that will adjust and last you much longer!

From the Thirsties website:

“With the adjustable rise you will only need two sizes from birth to average potty training age/weight. For those who need a larger option for continued diapering, our size three is available to fit 40-60+ lbs.”

Here is the size chart for the Thirsties Duo Wraps (from their website):

one6-18 lbs (3-8 kg)0-9 months
two18-40 lbs (8-18 kg)9-36 months
three40-60+ lbs (18-30 kg)36-84 months

When my second was newborn, I used the sized x-small “Original” Thirsties cover. (He was 7 lbs 11 oz when born.) For him, they fit a tad better than the adjustable Duo. However once out of the newborn stage, around 3’ish months, I switched to the Thirsties Duos.

 How many waterproof covers do you need?

The thing about the waterproof diaper covers is you do not need to switch out the cover after every diaper change.  They’re reusable between diaper changes, which means you can have fewer in your rotation!

Just remove your soiled absorber (the flour sack towel), quickly wipe off the Thirsties cover with your wipe, put on or in a new flour sack towel, and button baby back up! 

Obviously, if there is fecal matter on the cover, I would chuck it in your diaper bin and get a new cover. But if it’s just urine, just wipe it out and put in a new flour sack towel!

My 20-month-old is currently in cloth diapers and I use 2-3 covers per day with him.  I change out the cover about after 3 or so diaper changes. And definitely change it out after a poop.

However, again, keep in mind, newborns go through way more diapers than, say, a 20-month-old.  Little poop and pee machines! So you will probably need to swap out your cover about 4-6 times a day.  

Conclusion: Cloth Diaper Total Costs

Flour Sack Towels:

Let’s say you start out with 20 flour sack towels for your newborn (just to be on the safe side!).  

I use these Made By Design brand flour sack towels from Target and right now they are $4 for a pack of 4.

20 flour sack towels = 5 packs x $4 per pack = $20

Thirsties covers:

Let’s say for your newborn you start out with 5 Thirsties Duo diaper covers (remember, these will last you longer because of the adjustable rise that can be made larger as your baby grows!)

As I am typing this they are around $66 on Amazon.

So, you can estimate about $66 for 5.

Total cost for your cloth diapers: $86 bucks!

A Quick Note: Wipes

Disposable wipes are expensive, too!  

Solution: use cloth wipes!

I use these cheapest, mostly cotton baby washcloths I could find at Walmart.  (I learned the hard way that 100% polyester baby washcloths are worthless – zero absorbancy and they basically just spread around the yuck you’re wiping off!)

cheap walmart baby washcloths - How to cloth diaper on a budget
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I have them sitting on my diaper changing station and next to them is a plain old spray bottle that I have filled with regular water.  I spray the wipe to dampen as I use them. When done, they go right in my dirty diaper bin.

These cheap baby washcloths are about $7 for 12.  

Get a ton of wipes!  Trust me!

But, if you are trying to stick to a tight budget for now and are planning to do diaper laundry daily to start, start out with 2 or 3 packs of these cheap baby washcloths.  You can always save up another $7 and get more if you need them.

So, $7 x 2 packs (24 washcloths) = $14

For a GRAND TOTAL OF: $100 bucks to start cloth diapering your baby!

That’s so cheap when you think about how much you would be spending on disposable diapers AND disposable wipes!

Seriously, next time you are at the store, just casually walk down the diaper aisle and check out how much a box of wipes and newborn diapers are.  Keeping in mind the number of diapers they go through in just ONE DAY.

If you are on a tight budget and want to start cloth diapering, you CAN do this!  

It IS affordable.  

You can do it for $100 bucks or less!

Comment below with your cloth diapering questions! (I know I had a TON when I first started out!)

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November 30, 2018



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