Cloth Nappies vs Disposables - Which Is Best?

15.11.19 / Everyday Life

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Your little bundle of joy will go through approximately 2,200 nappies in its first year of life alone. It’s easy to pick up a box of disposables at the supermarket,  but we’re here to let you know there are other options. We break it down it into bite-sized chunks so that you can confidently choose what nappies will be best your family. 

 

Cost

Price remains an important factor for families when it comes to choosing baby products. So what is the price difference of disposable nappies vs cloth nappies? And what kind of nappy is cheaper in the long run? 

From the research, let’s assume your baby will go through 700 nappies in their first three months, and 1500 in the nine months following. We’ve whipped out the calculator to do the math. 

Based on the price of the cheapest disposable nappies available in department stores & supermarkets, your nappies are going to cost around $434 in the first year alone. If your baby toilet trains by two and a half years old, you’re looking at spending at least $1085 on nappies for those first 2.5 years. 

What about cloth nappies? Most families who use cloth nappies full-time will have around 18-24 nappies in their stash. For the purpose of this value comparison, let’s assume you purchase 20 reusable cloth nappies, this will cost you $559 upfront with EcoNaps. If looked after correctly, these nappies can easily last more than one year. In fact, many families use them right through ‘til potty training is finished AND on more than one bub.

On the surface popping down to your local Kmart, Target or Big W for disposable nappies seems like the most convenient and cheapest option, it will actually cost you hundreds of dollars more over the entire nappy wearing life of your little one. 

 

Environment

The environment is another major consideration for families when choosing between disposable vs cloth nappies. This topic is close to our hearts. After having our first baby, we witnessed first hand the sheer volume of nappies being thrown into the rubbish. We learnt that it will take up to 500 years for a disposable nappy to decompose, and some parts NEVER disappear. This fact alone inspired us to start EcoNaps.  

Disposable nappies are constructed with up of an absorbent pad made up of synthetic polymers (aka micro-plastics) combined with fibrous material such as wood pulp. This is sandwiched between two sheets of non-woven fabric typically made from plastic resins such as nylon, polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene. These and are assembled by mechanically, chemically, or thermally interlocking the plastic fibres.

Modern cloth nappies are made of soft absorbent layers of fabric, like cotton, hemp, bamboo or a combination of these. A leak-proof cover holds the absorbent layers inside the nappy. While the materials in cloth nappies are kinder to the planet, they comprise synthetic fabrics too to make them durable and waterproof. 

Recently, there has been the introduction of biodegradable disposable nappies. These are made from different materials, like bamboo, fabrics and paper pulp. When thrown away, they decompose more quickly than ordinary disposable nappies. Even if you choose to cloth nappy in the day and use disposables at nights, these biodegradable disposable nappies options a great companion. 

For us, this choice is a no brainer. If looking after the environment is important to you, cloth nappies are the best way to significantly reduce plastic in landfill. By choosing cloth nappies over disposables, you are diverting over 2000 nappies from landfill and essentially reducing your single-use plastic consumption by 99%. 

 

Lifestyle

Let’s start with the topic on every potential cloth nappy parent’s mind, and that is laundry. Most people want to learn about the cost of washing cloth nappies and the time it will take. 

Straight up, having a baby means there will be a LOT more laundry. Disposable nappies won’t impact your everyday laundry habits, however, cloth nappies will. 

You can expect to wash a load of cloth nappies every 1-2 days. The cost depends on a few factors including the type of washing machine you use, the temperature of the washing load and whether you use a clothes dryer. The time it takes to wash cloth nappies can be streamlined and you’ll soon find washing your cloth nappies doesn’t add much time to your everyday routine. There is a lot to cover on this topic alone so click here to learn more about washing cloth nappies. 

Convenience is another consideration for new parents when choosing between disposables vs cloth nappies. While disposable nappies might be the obvious choice when it comes to ease, many families are surprised to learn that cloth nappies aren’t actually any more work. When out and about, cloth nappy users simply take a wet bag with them to store dirty nappies. This leak-resistant and odour-proof bag will keep your dirty nappy concealed until you get home to wash as normal. Seriously it’s that easy. 

Everyday functionality to the financial and environmental cost are just some of the things to consider when deciding between disposable nappies or cloth nappies for your baby. While disposable diapers might appear cheaper at face value, they come with a pretty hefty environmental cost and will add up financially over time. We encourage you to consider what’s important to you as a family and make a choice that aligns to your values and lifestyle. 

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