What’s holding you back from using cloth diapers? If it’s money, then let me show you some ways that you can get cloth diapers without spending a fortune. In fact, I got all of my diapers very cheap and even free!
When we started cloth diapering with our third child, I spent $100 to get everything I needed. How long would $100 last for your normal diaper budget? You’ll be saving money in no time at all!
1- Buy used
When washed and sanitized there’s nothing gross about buying used cloth diapers. They are meant to be re-usable! Just be sure to look them over thoroughly and ask any pertinent questions. Do a little research to know what prices to aim for.
Some great places to buy used cloth diapers are:
- Facebook– search local buy/sell/trade groups or cloth diaper groups
- Thrift stores– I’ve found great steals on new and used cloth diapers
- Consignment stores and sales
- Online cloth diaper forums like DiaperSwappers.com
If you are responsible and promise to take good care of their diaper stash, you might have a generous friend who would let you borrow theirs. Be sure to learn and follow all their washing instructions so you can return them in great condition. Don’t be offended if they say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
The people I knew who cloth diapered when I started were using their diapers at the time, so I didn’t borrow any. However, when my son outgrew some of his diapers, I was happy to pass them along to my sister-in-law who had two in diapers at the time.
3-Ask for them
If you are doing a shower registry, be sure to put cloth diapers and cloth diapering supplies on your list. Even some Target stores carry cloth diapers! You can also create an Amazon baby registry. Let your friends and relatives know that you plan to cloth diaper and you might get a great surprise!
Just for the record, I started cloth diapering with my third child, so I did not receive any cloth diapers as gifts.
4- Contact companies
We got quite a few cloth diapers free by contacting cloth diaper companies. I offered suggestions on their websites, improved product descriptions, and gave feedback. If you have a blog, you could offer to promote their diapers in exchange for free diapers. Get creative and don’t be afraid to ask!
5- Make your own
If you are crafty and have sewing skills, you can try making your own diapers. Joann Fabrics has a line of PUL (the fabric used for the waterproof shell) called Babyville. Wait for a 40% or 50% off coupon and grab some PUL! Hancock Fabrics also carries Babyville PUL that is prepackaged.
There are free diaper patterns online, or you can use a diaper that you already have and fits well to create your own pattern. Babyville also has a step-by-step book for sewing cloth diapers with patterns included.
If you are already washing diapers, you may as well use cloth baby wipes as well! If you sew, you probably have some flannel or fleece that would work just fine. They are simple to make and save so much money!
6- Repurpose things you already have
When I realized that you could stuff a pocket diaper* with things besides the microfiber inserts they come with, my insert stash doubled and it didn’t cost me a penny. All those white gerber “burp cloths” that you used with your newborns are called “prefolds” in the cloth diapering world. You can use them with just a waterproof cover, or you can stuff a pocket diaper with them.
*For those who are new to cloth diapering, a “pocket diaper” is a popular style of cloth diaper that has an outer waterproof shell and microfleece inner layer to wick away moisture from baby’s skin. The pocket between the inner and outer layers is filled with an absorbent insert.
Receiving blankets work great as inserts too. They fit well in a cover or into a pocket diaper.
Hang onto those old wool sweaters. Wool has amazing properties that make it perfect for a diaper cover (“wool soaker”), especially for heavy wetters at night. When you take the cover off in the morning it will smell like pee, but once you air dry it, the pee smell is completely neutralized. No joke. I didn’t believe it myself until I tried it. You only have to wash them every 3-4 weeks or so. Amazing.
7- Buy from overseas
While some might shudder at the thought of buying diapers made in China, the reality is that most cloth diapers are made overseas, even if an American company later slaps their branded label on them. My first personal experience with cloth diapers was with cheap diapers from China that I bought on ebay. Some worked well, some didn’t.
We actually used primarily Chinese-made diapers. The brands we liked were Alva, Sunbaby, Baby Frog (Ikawa) and Kawaii. Beware that some “Chinese cheapies” are just that. I wouldn’t order Baby City or Sunny Baby again, as they quickly delaminated.
8- Use Amazon gift cards
If you use Swagbucks, chances are you have access to some Amazon gift cards. Amazon has lots of cloth diapers and cloth diapering products. Some of the best bang for your buck are:
- Econobum Cover/Prefolds– Covers and prefolds are one of the most economical cloth diaper styles and Econobum is a great price. I had 5 Econobum covers that I bought used and they are still going strong! I used them with pre-folds and with the re-purposed receiving blankets I talked about in #6 above.
- Kissaluvs Pail Liner-After reading reviews, this was the pail liner that we chose and have liked. We also have a zipper-bottom one from Alva, but I prefer the Kissaluvs.
- Alva Baby cloth diapers– You can get Alva diapers (and some re-branded Alvas) on Amazon (and Ebay). If you have Amazon gift cards, they are some of the best bang for your buck.
9- Online deals
As cloth diapering becomes more trendy and popular, there are an increasing number of deals and special offers. Here are a few:
- Diaper Junction has a 30-day “test drive” of the many brands they offer. They also have a customer rewards program.
- Cottonbabies has a 30-day money back guarantee and free shipping with every order.
Also keep your eyes peeled for giveaways.
10- Sell your used diapers back (or save them for your next kiddo)
You can re-sell your cloth diapers when you are finished with them and recoup a nice chunk of your cost. If you used some of the above tips to get your cloth diapers cheap or free, you could break even or profit. Cloth diapers hold their value well and there is a real market for them!
Even though I don’t have anyone in diapers right now, I still always check for cloth diapers at the thrift store. I’ve even found new-in-package diapers at the thrift store (an unwanted shower gift, I imagine).
Look up at #1 in this list. The places to buy used cloth diapers are the places to sell your used cloth diapers! Also, some sites like cottonbabies.com have buyback programs for store credit.
You can do it!
Like just about anything else, cloth diapering can be as expensive or as frugal as you make it. If you want to save money, you’ll have to control yourself when you see adorable new prints and styles. Just like shoe shopping, cloth diapers can become an addiction.
The $100 that I spent on cloth diapers not only finished off my son’s diapering career, but now I have all the supplies for cloth diapering the next baby! You really can get a cloth diaper stash together very inexpensively if you put your mind to it. In the long run (or even after a couple of months), you will save so much money over disposable diapers.
If you’re new to cloth diapers, Erin can help you learn the ropes and troubleshoot any problems. She has tons to experience with all kinds of cloth diapers and has helped many couples make cloth diapers work for them (it was her job!). She wrote a comprehensive e-book (over 200 pages!), Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, that will answer all your questions!
Some of the links in this post are referral or affiliate links. All opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for details.