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10 Ways to Cloth Diaper on a Budget

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


prefold diapersWhen it comes to deciding how to diaper your little one, there are lots of good reasons to choose cloth. Cloth diapers contain none of the harmful chemicals present in disposables, there is less waste going to the landfill and cloth diapering families often experience less diaper rash and skin irritations. Cloth can also be way cheaper in the long run than a couple of years of disposable diapers. Here are ten ways to save money by cloth diapering.

1. Ask for hand-me-downs

Whether you get a handful of prefolds from another mom who’s not quite done with diapers or you inherit a fully stocked stash, preloved cloth diapers are very easy on the budget and are so durable that they probably have a decent life left in them still.

2. If you need to buy new diapers, strongly consider prefolds

While you’re likely to save money over the course of diapering a child from newborn to fully toilet trained by choosing any style of cloth diapers, prefolds and waterproof covers are the most economical choice compared to more elaborate diaper systems. On top of all that, cotton prefolds also make excellent burp cloths, spill catchers or emergency bandages. You can even use them as cleaning rags when they’re too ratty for nappies.

3. Go for the basics

Hemp doublers, wool wraps and fancy inserts or liners usually fall into the ‘nice to have’ category and most of the time you can diaper a baby just fine without them. With prefolds, if you need extra absorbency just fold two prefolds together, doubling the pee-absorbing power without having to buy anything extra.

4. Use cloth wipes too

Cut up an old towel into small squares with pinking shears or sew a zig zag stitch around the edge if you’ve got a sewing machine. Even old cotton t-shirts, sweatpants, flannel sheets and other old linens make great cloth wipes. I did usually have a package of commercial wipes for going out, but we always used cloth wipes at home.
toddler wearing big shoes

5. Consider making your own diapers and/or covers

If you’re so inclined, sewing up cloth diapers and covers isn’t too tricky, and the supplies you need are readily available online or even lying around your own home. Amanda Soule offers sewing instructions for prefold style diapers in her book, Handmade Home, while the Very Baby online shop carries patterns, fabrics and all the notions you might need for diaper making.

6. Line drying saves on electricity costs

Washing diapers doesn’t have to be any more expensive than washing a regular load of clothing. Prefolds often take more time in the tumble dryer to get fully dry since they’re so thick and absorbent, which can be more expensive if you have to run the dryer twice to get them dry all the way. An alternative is to hang them to dry, or if they’re too stiff and crunchy after being line dried, toss them in the tumble dryer when they’re almost dry to soften up.

7. Use less detergent

Almost all detergents tell you to use more than you really need to get your clothes clean, presumably so you’ll use it up faster and buy more. Excess soap not only wastes money, the residue can build up on cloth diapers and cause leakage. Soap reside can also promote bacteria growth in your washing machine’s drain, causing a funky smell on your clothes. High Efficiency detergents need only a tablespoon per load.

8. Practice EC while cloth diapering

Elimination Communication helps reduce the number of diapers you need to wash, reduces the number of poops you need to clean off bums and sometimes helps toddlers potty learn sooner, all of which save money. Well, except for cleaning fewer poops off bums, but the benefit of that is priceless.


9. Use plastic bags to carry wet diapers home

Again, pretty wet bags are nice to have, but the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag makes a perfectly acceptable substitute, and it’s totally free. In Vancouver soft plastics are not recyclable, so while I’d usually recommend recycling or avoiding plastic bags altogether, when I was diapering little ones I felt justified using plastic bags to carry wet diapers. The bags that inevitably made their way to our home would have otherwise just gone in the garbage if I didn’t find some use for them.

10. Avoid buying disposables “just in case”

Wash your diapers more frequently or buy a few more prefolds or covers if you need to stretch your supply out a little longer between washes, but if you have the disposables in the house it’s too easy to use them up. And then buy more, just in case. Not buying disposables is the best way to save money on diapering, although we did use them when going on long camping trips or holidays where it would be tricky to wash our cloth.

Did you save money using cloth diapers? Annie at Phd in Parenting estimates that she saved $4000 by cloth diapering and breastfeeding her two children. I know we certainly saved money by cloth diapering – by the time Claire came around it was practically free to diaper her.

What are your best thrifty cloth diapering tips?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Choosing to Breastfeed — From selfishness to self-giving, CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy lists reasons why breast is best for her and her family.
  • The Top 10 Ways to Succeed as an Working Attachment ParentThat Mama Gretchen shares tried and true ways to succeed with attachment parenting even when working away from home during the day.
  • Ten Ways Families Can Enjoy Nature (for free!) — Spring is nearly in the air, and Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction is dreaming of the fun and frugal ways that her family is going to get out and enjoy nature this summer.
  • Top 10 Nursing Positions / SituationsMomma Jorje uses her 5½ years of nursing experience to share her Top 10 Nursing Positions/Situations. She includes some adorable photos of her youngest daughter at the breast.
  • My Top Ten (plus two) Life Altering and Growth Inspiring Books — A top ten list of books from MJ at Wander Wonder Discover that changed her life as an individual, a parent, and an earth dweller.
  • Top Ten Ways to Be Present With Family — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares how to make the most of parenting and family life through being present.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Natural Parenting Dads Are So Attractive — Nada at miniMOMist sure digs her husband, but it’s not just his good looks — it’s his parenting!
  • Top Ten Natural Tools for the Work of Play — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree offers insight into 10 natural toys that will span the early years (and save you money).
  • Top Ten Ways To Have a Harmonious Home — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her natural parenting-inspired methods for maintaining a harmonious daily life with her toddler.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares her passion for birthing at home – the natural place for natural birth.
  • Top Ten Books for Natural Parenting — Pregnancy, herbs, cooking, and healthcare — the ten books Asha at Meta Mom the most.
  • Top 10 Slacker Ways to Natural ParentGuavalicious is happy to show you how to parent naturally the slacker way.
  • Top10 Ways to Spark Interest, Learn, and Have Fun With Everyday Tasks! — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon gives you her top 10 ways of incorporating fun and lessons into everyday tasks and chores.
  • Top 10 Tips on Authentic Grandparenting — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting offers a list of tips to make the grandparent-parent-child relationship flow smoothly.
  • Top 10 books for raising loving, spiritual children — In her ‘food for the soul’ post, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her favourite spiritual books. No matter what religion you practise, there’s something for everyone!
  • Top 10 Ways to Know You Are a Natural Parent — So what makes us “natural parents,” anyway? A lighthearted look at the Top 10 Ways to Know You Are a Natural Parent by the editors and readers of Natural Parents Network.
  • 10 Things That Helped Me Become a Natural MamaThe Accidental Natural Mama counts down ten things that helped her find her moderately crunchy inner mama self.
  • 10 Reasons We Unschool — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains why unschooling is the right choice for her family.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Toddler — Extended breast-feeder Kate Wicker of Momopoly makes her own top 10 list for why she loves nursing her 2-year-old.
  • 10 Lessons in 1 Year — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares 10 parenting lessons that she has learned throughout her first year of motherhood.
  • My Top Ten Parenting Tools — Amyables at Toddler In Tow names the top ten tools that have been helpful to her while learning to parent respectfully and successfully.
  • 10 Reasons to Choose Baby Led Weaning — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares ten reasons to choose Baby Led Weaning when it comes to solids.
  • Top 10 reasons to choose midwifery care — Lauren at Hobo Mama lists the features that drew her to midwives’ care for pregnancy and birth.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Co-Sleep — 10 practical, emotional, and completely selfish reasons to co-sleep and share a family bed from Lily, aka Witch Mom.
  • Top 10 Things No One Told Me About Natural Parenting — Adrienne at Mommying My Way explains that the best things about natural parenting are things she never expected.
  • Natural Parenting Benny & Bex Style — Pecky at Benny and Bex explains why Natural Parenting principles work best for her boys.
  • Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Time-Out — If you are uncomfortable using time-outs in an attempt to control your child’s behavior, try one of these gentler alternatives. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Time-Out.
  • Top 10 Breastfeeding Misconceptions — Sheila at A Gift Universe examines ten reasons women give for why they didn’t breastfeed as long as they wanted, and shows how these obstacles can be overcome.
  • Postpartum Gift Ideas — Alicia at I Found My Feet suggests a top 10 list of gifts for mother’s after giving birth.
  • Top Ten Mama Necessities Money Can’t Buy — Buying baby gear is fun, but Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama knows real parenting must-haves can’t be bought in stores (or even on Amazon).
  • The Pandas’ Top Five Crunch-osophies — Top five crunchy philosophies, as employed at the Panda Residence by Ana at Pandamoly.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Son Intact — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children has shared 10 reasons why you should leave your newborn son intact.
  • Top Ten New Mom Survival Tools — Wolfmother shares her most beloved motherhood survival tools at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • My Top 10 Parenting ScripturesDulce de leche is learning to integrate faith and parenting. Whether it is breastfeeding, babywearing, comforting her children, or gentle discipline, she finds that the Bible has beautiful passages to encourage her on her journey.
  • Ten Great Spring Activities To Do With Preschoolers — Kellie at Our Mindful Life and her family have come up with a great list of activities to do together this spring.
  • Attachment Parenting in the NICU — Erica at ChildOrganics shares some strategies to help you parent naturally in some unnatural circumstances.
  • Preparing for a Hospital VBAC: My Top 10 — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis shares 10 ways she’s preparing for her upcoming hospital VBAC.
  • 10 Ways to Reuse Yogurt Containers — Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes keeps the stacks of yogurt containers out of her recycling bin by reusing them in both practical and creative ways.
  • Top Ten Things Every Breastfeeding Mother Needs to Know — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood believes knowledge is power and wants all moms to be well informed.
  • Simply what it looks like — Andrea!!! from Ella-Bean & Co. offers a glimpse into natural parenting through the eyes of mama and babe.
  • Natural Cleaning Ideas – Top 10 — Laura at Laura’s Blog lists the ways she keeps her house clean and clear of chemicals.
  • My Top Ten Shows Worthy Of Screen Time — Tree at Mom Grooves shares her top ten list of shows that she believes are positive, educational, kind, joyful, and a nice way to share some downtime with your children.
  • 10 differences between pregnancy and parenting in Japan and the US — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry gives her impressions about differences in pregnancy and parenting in Japan and the US.
  • Top Ten “Dad” Things — Liam at In The Now talks about his favourite ways to spend time with his children.
  • 10 Most Popular Ways To Treat Cloth Diaper Stains — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey gives ten easy tips to make your diapers like new.
  • Top 10 reasons why cloth nappies are fun — Tat at Cloth Nappies Are Fun shows how using cloth nappies can brighten up your day.
  • Top 10 Books for a Natural Mum — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine talks about her Top 10 Books for a Natural Mum.
  • Top 10 Ways to Use Natural Parenting for Children with Special Needs — Danielle at Mommy Makes Cents feeds the needs of her family and special needs child through the use of Natural Parenting.
  • Ten things everyone should know about unassisted homebirth — Olivia at Write About Birth shares practical tips for women considering an unassisted homebirth and debunks some common myths
  • Ten Reasons it Felt Sew Good To Make My Own Play Food — Brittany at Mama’s Felt Cafe lists her 10 (OK, 11) favorite reasons to grab a needle and start sewing your own felt play toys.
  • Ten Reasons to Plan a Home Birth — Since a home birth can be an incredibly empowering experience, Leslie at Lights and Letters outlines ten reasons why you should plan to have your baby at home.
  • Top Ten Books for Birth, Breastfeeding and Parenting — Megan at Just Me(gan) writes about the ten books that have helped her the most in her natural parenting journey.
  • Step Away From the Amazon List — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine wishes she hadn’t bought so much useless stuff.
  • 10 Ways to Cloth Diaper on a Budget — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shares her best thrifty cloth diapering tips.
  • Top 10 Natural Strategies for Conception (aka How to Get Pregnant!) — Despite facing plenty of health issues, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama found her way to two first-try pregnancies thanks to these natural strategies.
  • Must Read: Natural Parenting Top Ten — Amy at Anktangle wants you to do a little reading! She shares her top ten favorite books to help parents prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
  • Top 10 ways I’m not very good at natural parenting (and why I keep trying anyway) — Jenny at Babyfingers shares the ways she is imperfect as a natural parent, and why she embraces natural parenting anyway.
  • Going Granola — Tashmica from The Mother Flippin’ Blog describes the 10 ways that natural parenting sneaked up on her. She never expected to go all granola on the world.
  • My Top Ten New Mommy Moments — Melissa at The New Mommy Files recounts the ten most memorable moments of her daughter’s first year.
  • A Top Ten Letter To Me… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes herself a letter of reflections and bits of wisdom she would have liked to know as a new mama.
  • 10 reasons why I chose breast over bottles — Becky at Old New Legacy writes a quick list of why she chose breast over bottles.
  • Top 10 Ways to Get Breastfeeding Off To a Good Start — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes shares 10 effective ways to ensure breastfeeding gets off to a good start.
  • Ten Fundamentals — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante gets philosophical with a list of the fundamentals that drive her natural parenting.
  • Top 10 Montessori Principles for Natural Learning — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives her top 10 list of Montessori principles parents can use to encourage their children’s natural learning.
  • Ten Top Ways to Connect Kids with Nature — Terri from Child at the Nature Isle offers 10 ways to immerse ourselves in the natural world and develop a love affair with the Earth.
  • 10 Natural Baby Items I Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares product ideas to support your natural parenting.
  • Top 10 Things In My Arsenal of Kitchen Witchy Mama Tricks. — Joni Rae at Tales of A Kitchen Witch shares with us the simple things she would never want to be missing from her cupboards.
  • Top 10 Flower Essences for Families — Kim of Nature Baby Bloggings lists her pick of the top ten flower essence which can help ease families through the ups and downs of life.
  • 10 Family Systems and Routines That Work for Us — See what routines, organizational systems, and parenting approaches work for Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings to help avoid conflict and maintain sanity in a family with three young children.
  • Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Before Little Man — In this reflective post, The ArstyMama discusses ten things she wishes she knew more about before the birth of her son, Little Man.
  • The Top 10 Things Every Natural Household (with children) Should Have — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a list of the most common natural products and remedies she uses for health and cleaning.
  • Comments on this entry are closed.

    • [email protected]'s Felt Cafe March 8, 2011, 10:57 am

      This is a great list! I’m glad you included EC, too, as it often seems left out in the cloth diaper world. I actually started with EC first and couldn’t stand throwing out half peed disposables so I bought cloth diapers to use between potty breaks. We never looked back and I bet we have saved hundreds of dollars!

      • michelle March 8, 2011, 5:36 pm

        That’s great! Part of the reason disposables seem so yucky to me is the tendency for parents (myself included, I will admit) to leave them on until they’re really full instead of changing them when they’re first wet. Cloth makes frequent changes easier and more economical.

        • stefanie March 9, 2011, 9:17 pm

          so true! the few times we’ve used disposables, i have to stop myself from trying to “get my money’s worth.” gross! we just had to get a new batch of diapers; george is basically too big for his bumgenius one sizes at 14 months (blerg), and i’m wondering why we didn’t just go with prefolds all along.

    • mamapoekie March 8, 2011, 1:09 pm

      We saved tons of money using cloth. I think we paid about 500 euro for everything, but with the cost of disposables in Africa, we would have been looking at 15 euro per week! That’s 1560 euro
      we first used soap nuts and then switched to eco wash balls. I’m a big fan of both, but the balls are the cheapest solution.

      • michelle March 8, 2011, 5:33 pm

        Interesting, I’ve never tried soap nuts or wash balls. I wonder if they’re available in North America? We buy detergent in bulk so it’s cheaper, but next time we need to stock up I’ll be checking out my options.

    • CatholicMommy March 8, 2011, 6:03 pm

      I’ve found that grocery bags can sometimes be leaky. We’ve had lots of success with bread bags, though!

      • michelle March 10, 2011, 10:32 pm

        Good point! After having a nice wetbag for a while (this zippered one from Bummis) I would say that it’s almost a necessity. It cost the same as a single cover but will undoubtably get more use – I pack home any muddy clothes, wet swimsuits or soggy socks in the wetbag along with any wet diapers and have never had it leak, unlike plastic bags.

    • Deb @ Living Montessori Now March 8, 2011, 8:56 pm

      Great ideas! I used cloth diapers with both my children (in the 80s and early 90s) and was always happy about using cloth instead of disposables. I don’t know of anyone using elimination communication back then, but that’s a fascinating concept!

    • Megan L March 9, 2011, 5:35 pm

      You wrote a great list! We got some small, fitted diapers used and we were able to use them until our daughter was almost 6 months old. When I started looking at new fitted diapers I was shocked at the price. Used diapers added to our savings!

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama March 9, 2011, 6:16 pm

      We have been pretty darn thrifty in our CD’ing – except for those “in case” disposables (which my mom always bought) ;) We always bought used or seconds, and only once was I not happy with our purchase. These are great tips – ty for sharing!