I feel that it is appropriate for my first blog back from maternity leave to be on a subject I am now extremely well acquainted with: diapers! Based on some rudimentary calculations, it seems with my time away I have changed approximately 2,825 diapers. Something to add to the ol’ resume!

Questions around cloth diapering come up all the time. Many wonder:

My cloth diaper model

My cloth diaper bum getting ready to crawl!

  • Is the up front cost worth it? 
  • Is it complicated? 
  • How to use them when you leave the house?
  • Does the laundry cut into my sleeping time? 
  • Will I have to touch poop? 

I chose to use cloth diapers for from this potty training guide, they are; environmental, convenience, health, and financial reasons. In a nutshell, I love them, it’s so easy, and I would never turn back! I will post answers to some of these other cloth diapering questions in the future, but to start I thought it would be interesting to actually do a cost breakdown specifically for Manitobans.

For the purposes of this blog I am going to compare the purchase of new cloth diapers vs disposable diapers (the cheapest ones) over a two year period. While many of us may wish that we were done with diapers after two years, this isn’t usually the case! Also this does not show the savings for a second (or third) child, which is where the use of cloth diapers really benefits you financially.

Just because I am looking at the financial piece, I don’t want it to be lost how much of an environmental impact you are making when you choose how to diaper your child. One disposable diaper takes 450 years to degrade in the landfill, so if you think about the 3000-4000 diapers you are contributing per child, it really adds up. Choosing biodegradable disposables means the diapers will usually not have fragrances, use chlorine bleach or petroleum based lotions. However most still use sodium polyacrylate, a moisture absorbing gel which was removed from tampons to reduce the incidence of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Biodegradable diapers are also said to degrade within 1-2 years in the landfill. Watch the blog for a more detailed post on the environmental impacts of diapers, and if you have any questions, please comment below.

Financial Analysis

Let’s get right into it then. I have made some assumptions in order to do the calculations, which can all be found below. I have posted the results up top for those that just want the quick and dirty answers.

Overall, cloth diapering provides a financial savings of $330 over two years, if you purchase everything new.

A few ways to increase your savings include:

  • Not buying everything new. One of my friends bought the majority of her diapers on Kijiji and has just purchased supplemental items (additional inserts, wipes) for a grand total of $250, and a two year savings of $796!
  • Have more kids! You can dramatically increase your savings by having more kids. Using cloth diapers for 2 kids, 2 years each means a savings of $1371.20.
  • Get people to buy your diapers for you. Instead of getting 30 newborn outfits you will never use, or an overload of toys, you can actually register to receive cloth diapers for your baby shower. This is a great way to get items you really need from people who really want to support you. Savings up to as much as $720!
  • Buy less. If you opt to leave out the additional items I purchased (listed below), you can save $230.

Cloth Diapers – Purchasing New

Year 1 Year 2
Diaper Materials $720.88
Electricity $30.23 $30.23
Water $36.01 $36.01
Detergent $65.24 $65.24
Totals: $852.36 $131.48

Disposable Diapers – Purchasing in Bulk (Kirkland – Costco)

Year 1 Year 2
Diapers $769 $400
Wipes $80 $60
Totals: $849 $460
Nola in the laundry bin

My little laundry helper taking a break to play peek-a-boo!

It is pretty clear that cloth diapering offers great financial savings, which is compounded by additional years of use and additional children. If you already had a little one who is currently using disposable diapers, the benefit is still there financially to make the switch today if you are planning on having another child.


I will be upfront that the information on disposable diapers was quite difficult to find, so if you have any additional information please send it my way. The cloth diaper numbers are based on my own personal experience and items I have in my collection that I feel are sufficient to last 2-3 days between laundry loads. 

Cloth Diaper Calculations

New Reusable Diaper Costs = $720.88

  • Hemp One Size Diaper Package = $407.95
    – 10 One size Covers
    – 24 Hemp Inserts
    – 24 Hemp Wipes
    – 1 Zippered Wet Bag
    – 1 Pail Liner
    – 1 Roll Flushable Liners
    – 2 – 2 layer hemp boosters
    – 2 – 3 layer hemp boosters

Add ons (personal choice) = $230.00

  • 5 additional covers: $20*5 = $100
  • 6 additional hemp inserts: $8*6 = $48
  • 1 zippered wet bag: $14
  • 1 pail liner: $18
  • Diaper sprayer toilet attachment: $50

$407.95+ 230 = 637.95 + tax = $720.88

Based on:

  1. AMP Made in Manitoba Diapers
  2. AMP Hemp One-Size Duo Package
  3. Items I personally felt were necessary to add on:
  • I found I needed additional covers and inserts, otherwise I would be doing more laundry than every 2.5 days.
  • I bought additional pail liner and zippered wet bag because life and diapers still continue when you are doing laundry.
  • Diaper sprayer attachment, because…well, poop! 

Electricity = $30.23/year

  • Washing Machine = 0.6377 kWh per load
  • Dryer = 2.168 kWh per load
  • Current Electricity Rate in Manitoba = $0.07381/kWh
  • 1 diaper load every 2.5 days

Calculation: 365/2.5*(.6377+2.168)*0.07381=$30.23

Based on:

  1. Current Manitoba Hydro Electricity Rates
  2. NRCAN Energy Cost Calculator
  3. Clothes Washer – Mid-Range High Efficiency
  4. Clothes Dryer – Mid-Range High Efficiency
  5. Washing/Drying one load of diapers every 2-3 days (2.5).

Water = $36.01/year

  • Washing Machine full load = 67.945L of water
  • Current water and sewage rate in Winnipeg = $3.63/m3
  • Conversion Rate for 1m3 (1 cubic metre)=1000L (1000 litres)
  • 1 diaper load every 2.5 days

Calculation: 365 days/2.5*67.945*3.63/1000=$36.01

Based on:

  1. Current City of Winnipeg Water + Sewage Rates
  2. Clothes Washer – Mid-Range High Efficiency (Assumed a full load, even though water for diapers is probably half of a load).
  3. Clothes Dryer – Mid-Range High Efficiency
  4. Washing/Drying one load of diapers every 2-3 days (2.5).

Detergent = $65.24

  • 365/2.5 = 146 loads
  • 3 Bottles of 50 load Method Laundry Detergent @ $16.99 + tax = $65.24

Based on:

  1. Washing/Drying one load of diapers every 2-3 days (2.5).
  2. Method Detergent – 50 Loads @ 16.99 per bottle.
Year 1 Year 2
Diaper Materials $720.88
Electricity $30.23 $30.23
Water $36.01 $36.01
Detergent $65.24 $65.24
Totals: $852.36 $131.48

Disposable Diaper Calculations

I had to calculate these costs a bit differently due to lack of information. What I have done is taken three examples from reliable sources and taken the average.

Diaper + Wipes costs based on:

  1. Estimated costs provided by a Manitoban friend who purchases diapers and wipes from Costco. Year one $60/month for 300 diapers from Costco. $20 for 3 months of wipes*4 = $800. Year 2 $30/month for 300 diapers. $20 for 5 months wipes. = $420
  2. Estimated cost from The Simple Dollar Canadian blog analysis = Year one = $858.83 Year 2 = $495.42
  3. Estimated cost from Baby Centre Canada for year one $72/month on diapers, $2/month on wipes = $888. No information for year 2.
  4. Note – this analysis does not include any other items you may need for disposables, like a diaper genie. So be sure to add those if you plan on using them.

Diaper use estimates range from 50-70 diapers per week in year one and 30-50 per week in year 2. This depends on your child and how often you change them too. For the purposes of a simple analysis I have taken the average of three examples and costs of diaper use. Not included is the third year of diapers, which depending on when your child is potty trained would probably come in between $200-$400.

Disposable diapers come in different sizes and quantities. I have used an assumption that frugal Manitobans are going to purchase the largest quantity for the lowest price through Costco. If you are not doing this and are buying environmentally conscious disposable diapers, please share your costs in the comments below as I would LOVE to incorporate those.

Year 1 Year 2
Diapers $769 $400
Wipes $80 $60
Totals: $849 $460