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Saving Money with Washable Nappies

The Which? guide to nappies (www.which.co.uk) says that disposable nappies can cost up to £438 a year, while the Money Advice Service (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) calculates the average cost at £395 for the first year alone.  Bearing in mind that children typically potty train at around 2.5 years old, the total cost of using disposable nappies is likely to be in the region of £1,000 per baby. 

Using washable nappies rather than disposables can save you money, even taking into account the costs of using your washing machine and tumble drier. The amount of money you save will depend on the type of reusable cloth nappies you buy, and how often you wash them.  Any savings you make will be even greater if you use the same set of washable cloth nappies for subsequent children.

How much you will save will depend on many factors, but these are some of the things that might influence the final amount saved:

  • How many cloth nappies your baby needs – a newborn will need more than an older baby.
  • The cost of the disposables you would use - the majority of parents use main brand disposables, which have an average cost per nappy of around 16p.  Own brand nappies will be cheaper, while pull-on styles are more expensive.
  • How often you wash your cloth nappies. If you wash daily, this will cost more than if you wash only a couple of times a week.
  • How you dry your reusuable nappies. Line drying is free, but a tumble drier will increase the costs.
  • The cost of the washable nappy system you buy.  All in Ones are the most expensive up front cost, two part systems are less expensive (though if sized, may work out more expensive than all in ones), while prefolds or terry nappies are arguably the cheapest and most versatile options.


Re-using your cloth nappies for your next baby will save even more money, as you will not have to buy a fresh set. On the other hand, selling your real cloth nappies once your baby is potty-trained will allow you to get back some of the money you have spent.

How much money are you going to save with washable cloth nappies?

At current (2014) prices**, you can nappy your baby from birth to potty training in the following ways:

  • terry nappies - £100 or less, including wraps
  • one size pocket nappies - £200
  • all in one nappies - £250-£300
  • fitted, sized nappies - £350, including wraps
  • disposable nappies - £1,000
 
How much you spend will vary depending on how often you want to be washing, and the brand of nappy you choose, but this gives a rough guide.  We have not included laundry costs for the washable nappies, or bin bags/nappy sacks for the disposable nappies.  

Washing costs could be as little as £40 per year if you wash every third day and line dry. If you wash every day and use a tumble drier then washing costs could be as high as £150 per year. Your own laundry costs will probably fall somewhere between these two figures.

So, based on the figures I've already quoted, you would expect to save between £250 and £800 from birth to potty.*** Then, if you pass the reusable nappies on to your next child, the savings are even greater still.

Cost comparison of using different types of nappies on two babies (assuming child 1 has toilet trained before child 2 is born):

  • terry nappies - £100
  • one size pocket nappies - £200
  • all in one nappies - £250-£300
  • fitted, sized nappies - £350 - note this system can be used on two different age siblings who are in nappies at the same time
  • disposable nappies - £2,000

 

So the savings add up massively here - even allowing for the laundry costs.

You can save even more money by using washable nappy liners and wipes. Disposable wipes cost between 2-4p each - you can buy washable baby wipes (we stock a variety listed under Nappy Essentials above) or make your own by cutting a muslin into six or eight pieces, and roughly hemming it. 


**£100 is based on 24 terries, 3 nippas, 20 fleece liners, 4 one size wraps and 4 newborn wraps; £200 is based on a Wonderoos full time PUL nappy kit, which includes reusable wipes; £250-£300 is a typical cost of an all-in-one nappy birth to potty kit; £350 is based on 18 each of Nature Babies Diddy Diaper with aplix in size 1 and size 2, plus 4 one size wraps and 4 newborn wraps.

***£250 saving based on using the most expensive cloth nappies, with highest laundry costs. £800 saving based on using terry nappies, with lowest laundry costs. Your own savings will probably fall somewhere between the two.