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Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers – What’s Best?

By Guest Blogger, April from Mama on a Green Mission

What’s Better – Cloth Diapers or Disposable Ones?

One of the most exciting times in one’s life is finding out you’re expecting a baby. My husband and I found out in November of 2009 that we were pregnant, and I spent a lot of time researching everything under the sun about pregnancy, baby, baby products, etc. I kept very busy during those nine months and at times it was overwhelming because there was so much information. There were lots of things to read about, to learn and to decide on.

The thing I did the most research and reading about was using cloth diapers versus disposable diapers.

Disposable Diapers Take Between 250 to 500 Years to Decompose

At first, I was disgusted about the thought of using cloth diapers. But the more I read about it, the more these thoughts changed. I think the one thing that made me seriously consider using cloth diapers was the one fact that a disposable diaper can take up to 250 to 500 years to decompose in the landfill.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how many diapers are still sitting in the landfills; every disposable diaper since the day they were created is still sitting somewhere taking up space in a landfill. The Real Diaper Association estimates that 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used every year in the United States, and over 92 percent of these diapers end up in the landfill.

That was too much for me and I knew I had to do something different because I didn’t want to contribute to that. I continued reading about the environmental impact of disposable diapers, and I was more disgusted by disposables than my original thoughts of using cloth!

The Impact of Disposable Diapers on the Environment

Toddler Boys' Swimwear by Kushies at ShopStyle

Did you know that disposable diaper packages actually advise all fecal matter be disposed of in the toilet before discarding? As you know, very few people actually do this.

Disposable diapers are on the list of top three single consumer items in the landfills. They represent 4 percent of solid waste in landfills today. And disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste, and they use 20 times more raw materials – such as crude oil and wood pulp.

To produce one year’s supply of disposable diapers for one baby, more than 300 pounds of wood, 20 pounds of chlorine, and 50 pounds of petroleum woodstocks are used.

The facts are numerous and shocking when it comes to disposable diapers and the waste they create.  As I kept researching cloth diapers, I found so many more reasons that reassured me that cloth diapers are the better choice for our family.

Disposable Diapers Contain Carcinogens and Harmful Chemicals

Did you know that disposable diapers contain chemicals? Yes, the very thing that is closest to your baby’s sensitive skin contains chemicals!

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, which is a toxic by-product from the paper-bleaching process. Dioxin is considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical), and the EPA considers it one of the most toxic of all carcinogens. It has been banned for use in most countries, except for the USA.

Disposables also contain sodium polyacrylate, which is a super absorbent polymer that turns into a gel-like substance when wet. This is very similar to the substance that was used in tampons until it was discovered that it increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome in the early 80’s.

Another harmful chemical contained in disposable diapers is Tributyl-tin, which is a toxic pollutant that has been linked to causing hormonal problems in humans and animals.

After reading about all these harmful chemicals in disposable diapers, I was even more convinced that I wanted to use cloth diapers for my baby. Not only are cloth diapers chemical free, they are much more economical in the long run!

Cloth Diapers are Chemical-Free and Save You Money in Long Run

Toddler Girls' Swimwear by Kushies at ShopStyle

Disposable diapers can be a huge cost burden on new parents. Some of the biggest costs for baby are daycare, formula (if you do not breastfeed) and diapers. The average price I’ve found for a disposable diaper is approximately 0.25 centers per diaper.

At 8 months old, my son is changed approximately 7 times per day. Newborns are, of course, changed more frequently. At my son’s age now, using disposable diapers would cost about $50 per month or $1200 for two years of diapering a child.

Most families have at least two children so this brings your disposable total to a minimum of $2400. This is not taking into account the more frequent newborn diaper changes, and it is calculated based on your children being potty trained by two years of age. (As many parents know, not all children are potty trained by age two.)

Cloth diapers vary in price depending on the type of diaper you chose and how often you want to do laundry.

In our house, we chose to do diaper laundry every 2 to 3 days. The diapers we use range in price between $15 and $20 each, so for the figuring, I will use the average of $17.50. If we do laundry every two days, we would need 14 diapers, costing us $245. If we do laundry every three days, we would spend $367.50.

You can already see the huge cost savings between disposables costing $1200 for two years compared to $367!

When we have another baby, we will be using the same cloth diapers that we have now, so our savings at that time will be the full $1200! This frugal mama loves the idea of saving this much money!

Cloth Diapering is Addictive

Finally, I must warn you that cloth diapering can become addictive! You may laugh now, but I am serious!

I absolutely love cloth diapers and how cute they are. They come in so many different colors and prints and are so adorable! It’s fun to match baby’s diaper to his clothes for the day, and it’s fun trying new brands and seeing all of the new diapers being introduced in the cloth diapering world.

The support that can be found online from other cloth diapering mamas is out of this world. These are some of the sweetest mamas I have found online! Won’t you consider cloth? Stand up with us cloth diapering mamas and make a statement that you do not want to contribute to the landfills anymore and that you want a chemical free, affordable and even fun solution to diapering!


Special Thanks to my Guest Blogger!


April is the wife to an amazing teacher and mom to two boys, 14 years old and 8 months old. When she was pregnant with her youngest son, she realized she needed to make lots of green changes in her house and she recently started blogging about making those changes. You can follow her on her mission on her blog, Mama on a Green Mission.


Thank you for this informative and wonderful post. Be sure to check out April’s blog. She writes a lot about cloth diapers, and her experiences with them.


Because cloth diapers are such an interesting topic, I will be sure to discuss the “How to Use Cloth Diapers” in future posts.

You May Also Enjoy Reading…

Baby Poop Decoder: Guide to Baby Stools
How to Get Started with Cloth Diapers
Diaper Baby Essentials: What Do You Really Need?
Ear Piercing in Babies: Should You Pierce Her Ears?

About the author: This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Cash Lab August 21, 2016, 8:07 pm

    We didn’t save much by using cloth diapers for one child. For two children we definitely did save money. Besides the cost savings, I’m glad we used cloth diapers because they are chemical free and for the environmental impact. Both of these reason have value far and above the money that we saved on cloth diapering for two children!

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  • Marina December 27, 2012, 6:22 pm

    I cloth diaper my 3 month old and at first it was hard because it’s a little more work but I’m so in love with it, and people think it’s so much more money but when i decided on doing cloth diapers I made a promise to myself that I was going to save as much as I can and spend as little as possible lol, first cloth diapers only get expensive when you decide to do something like buy the all in one diapers that are like 15 to 30 a diaper, which is outrageous, second you spend a lot when you buy diaper covers that are expensive just because of the name like ones that are like 15 to 30 a cover, yes I have seen it, now on Ebay (new diapers) you can buy ones as low as 3.99 a diaper cover, and they are so cute, the ones that are 3.99 are only solid colors but too cute, but the ones I’m buying are different prints such as Spongebob Squarepants in yellow blue and pink, bear prints in blue and pink, little cute goats in this beautiful off white, and camouflage in brown and grey! and they’re only 4 dollars with no shipping coasts. Also there are cloth diapers like Osocozy, which is a very great brand and best seller in diapering, check Amazon (which I know is a great go to place for mommies like me), it’s top rated, the first 92 ratings are 5 through 3 star, 63 being 5 star ratings. And Osocozy cloth Prefolds are only 12 to 19 dollars for every 6 diapers plus super free shipping on Amazon. And last but not least, the least talked about cloth diapers, because you have to do some folding then usual people don’t always go for them, Flat Diapers or Flats, they are the most coast friendly diaper on the market, they are what your grandmothers used basically, they are just as absorbent despite how they look, and they only coast 19 dollars for 12 on Amazon, with a rating of 4 1/2 stars and 11 of those ratings being 5 stars you can’t go wrong (again Osocozy-but not the only brand though, I just trust them). They’re fun to fold also, because there are so many types of folds and they come in different sizes, but the best thing about them is because of all the different ways to fold them you can simply get the largest size for a baby even for your newborn and fold them to fit. They’re long lasting and still just as good as any diaper out there!!! I’ll post links below for everything I just spoke about

    Osocozy cloth Prefolds size 1 and 2 http://www.amazon.com/OsoCozy-Prefolds-Unbleached-Cloth-Diapers/dp/B003AJHDQW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356651805&sr=8-1&keywords=osocozy

    Cheap diaper covers with print one size fits all http://www.ebay.com/itm/Promothion-New-Baby-One-Size-Print-Cloth-Diaper-Nappy-insert-liner-/180892431758?_trksid=p5197.m1992&_trkparms=aid%3D111000%26algo%3DREC.CURRENT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D14%26meid%3D4308879043438687280%26pid%3D100015%26prg%3D1006%26rk%3D1%26sd%3D180892431758%26

    Cheap diaper covers without print http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Lot-Baby-Infant-Cloth-Diaper-One-Size-Reusable-Nappy-Covers-Inserts-U-PICK-/140853255537?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&var=&hash=item20cb821d71

    Flat diapers made by Osocozy http://www.amazon.com/OsoCozy-Birdseye-Flat-Cloth-Diapers/dp/B0018L146Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1356652468&sr=1-2&keywords=osocozy+flats

    Hope this helps, hated seeing people not liking and bashing cloth diapers, they’re so cheap and great I hope you can see that as much as I do!! Thanks 😀

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  • Samm November 20, 2012, 7:55 pm

    I am expecting my first child in April and I was trying to do research on this particular topic. I understand that you have your own opinions and everything but it’s hard to learn about something when being so biased against or towards one thing or another. Especially when the title reads “Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers – What’s Best” You should rethink the title and be more along the lines of “Why I THINK Cloth Diapers are Better Then Disposable”. Especially so that people like me who are trying to get pros and cons of EACH instead of just the cons of one and pros of the other can get all the information they need, and don’t waste their time thinking that you aren’t one of those biased people.

  • Lea October 10, 2012, 9:26 pm

    Hi – thank you so much for your great article!! FYI – your title “Cloth Diapers Take Between 250 to 500 Years to Decompose” says ‘cloth diapers’ instead of ‘disposable diapers.

  • grace August 3, 2012, 2:45 am

    The advantage of disposable diapers:

    (l) Provide a dry environment. The SAP can absorb the urine quickly.
    High absorbing speed and capacity faster urine acquisition and distribution speed, immediate surface dry feature, zero re-wet and comfortable top-sheet.

    (2) Avoid diaper rash.
    The alkalic diapers can react with acid of urine and reduce the acid of urine, decreasing the harm of urine acid for baby and preventing baby from getting red buttocks effectively.

    (3) Good sleep quality.
    Exclusive breathable and heat insulated layer can quickly lead out wet and hot air which is between skin and diaper. And make babies feel comfortable everyday.

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  • mel May 29, 2012, 2:46 am

    great article thanks! 🙂 dont you just love how CUTE babies look with cloth diapers!! like the good old days, my mother worked full time and raised us on these diapers and I will be doing the same for my children!!! i really think that people have become a bit more lazy now…

  • Jennifer Tippett May 3, 2012, 11:55 am

    Anyone interested in cloth diapers should visit the site, http://www.allaboutclothdiapers.com. it had TONS of great info.

  • Wendy James June 28, 2011, 9:15 pm

    One of the best article I have read regarding cloth diapers!

  • J May 30, 2011, 1:58 pm

    You should really fix the header saying that “Cloth diapers take 250-500 years to decompose” when it should say disposable diapers.

  • LittleStar April 4, 2011, 9:59 pm

    Cloth diapers are not for everyone, but with so many options out there, most people can find a style that works for them. There are waterproof ones with a PUL lined cover or covers made of all natural wool. You can use disposable inserts or cloth. My SIL uses G diapers, while I’m planning on making them more user-friendly by using All-In-Ones. I’m lucky enough to know how to sew and have a sewing machine, so the cost to cloth diaper will drop significantly for me if I make my own, but I can understand a parent not having the time, energy, or desire to sew a few dozen cloth diapers. I really enjoyed hearing about the statistics involved, though.


  • Bridget Moore March 25, 2011, 4:30 am

    I agree! I am luckily not one of the ‘addicted’ cloth diapering parents, but it’s fun to look at all the new prints and colors out there. My husband was convinced to use cloth for the money saving aspect, so buying a ton of diapers when I already have a good stash isn’t going to go over well.

    In reply to the other comment: My utility bills have not increased dramatically and I have paid $10 for detergent, and because you need to use only a fraction of the recommended amount, you won’t buy it as much as you would think. It also costs money to go out and buy disposable diapers, and with rising gas prices, it’s not worth the trip. Lastly, with many diapers, you only need to wash them once before using them on the baby, just like you would wash new clothes from the store. When buying special fibers, you need to wash them more to prep them. I use Fuzzibunz One Size pockets-just FYI:)

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Bridget from http://www.bumluxury.blogspot.com

    • DP March 25, 2011, 5:44 pm

      Thanks Bridget! There are also different types of cloth diapers, too, and each has their own cleaning requirements. Some disposable diapers have a liner that you just flush down the toilet – no need for spraying and scrubbing. It just depends.

      But like anything else, cloth isn’t for everyone. I like it because it’s better for the environment.

  • Mjkeith99 March 19, 2011, 3:02 pm

    as a mom of 2 and 3 on the way cloth did NOT save us money or time n the long run. With my first we did disposable and my second cloth. We ended up paying more in all with cloth – washing, drying, prepping, rinsing, special detergent, and diapers.. All that actually added up to be MORE expensive than paying $40 a month for disposables.
    I love coming across these articles because they are so biased. No one tells you that you need to wash and dry your diapers 6-9 times to have them fully prepped and reach maximum absorbency. Also they don’t ever mention how utility costs go up. We are a very green family (aside from sposies) and our energy bills when up 40 a month for first month and then stayed 30 above our normal until we stopped using sposies.
    The only plus to cloth is the environmental aspect, and even then you are using way more water- with every wash load and ever poopy diaper you need to spray off. Truly they are not any better.

    • DP March 20, 2011, 1:29 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Cloth diapers are not for everyone. Some moms who use them find them quite addictive, but like anything else, everyone has a unique opinion on them.

    • Marina December 28, 2012, 11:02 am

      well if prepping is the problem you can prep diapers flats or prefolds by simply boiling them for about 15 20 minutes and then rinse or wash them out once and bam you’re done 😀

    • Scout December 14, 2016, 11:48 pm

      Keep these artlcies coming as they’ve opened many new doors for me.

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