The savings

A baby will typically be toilet trained at about 30 months of age. Industry averages indicate that on average over these 30 months the baby will use 4.5 diapers per day (Wiert, 2008). Therefore, in its life a typical child will minimum use about 4100 disposable diapers.


Side note* all parents know that 4.5 nappy changes a day is minimum!


All information that follows were written by Marisa from Hippie Safari


They made the following assumptions:


– your baby will be in diapers for approximately 2.5 years or 30 months

– amounts are rounded to the nearest R5

– other assumptions are clearly noted under each category below

– pricing info used is correct at time of writing this (Jan 2016)




Cloth wipes: 36 cloth wipes will be enough to last you until potty training and you can continue to use it afterwards


4 packs of 10 baby face cloths @ R60 each


OR you could cut up old receiving blankets and overlock the edges and have wipes for free


Total cost of cloth = FREE – R240


Disposable wipes: newborn phase – a pack of 80 a week for first 12 weeks @ R20 each

after newborn phase 2 packs of 80 a month @ R20 each


Total cost of disposables = R1,320


Bum cream


Cloth safe cream: Oh Lief Bum balm – R86 a jar and you will go through max 3 jars in total. Or use coconut oil, you will use max one jar, say R100


Total cost of cloth = R100 – R260


Disposable diapers: Bennets 300g @ R59.95. One jar lasts roughly two months. On the lower end of the price range, Clicks brand @ R14.95. One jar lasts roughly a month.


Total cost of disposables = R450 – R900


Dealing with Poopy Diapers


For purposes of this comparison we will assume 1,000 poopy diapers during your child’s nappy wearing stage.


For cloth you will deal with poop in one of the following ways:


Use a diaper sprayer – once off cost of approx R250

Use disposable liners – R25 for a pack of 100 (Cherubs brand) – R250 total*

Dunk & swish – FREE


You will also need at least one wetbag for storing used nappies when out & about – R85 (you can also just use a regular plastic bag which is free)


* The assumption is that liners are used in every diaper, they can be washed & reused if no poop. So I am only accounting for the number of poops


Total cost of cloth = FREE – R335


For disposables, you will probably use fragranced nappy bags to bundle the poopy diapers.


Fragranced nappy bags – R26.95 for a pack of 150, you will need 7 packs in total


Total cost of disposables = R190



Diaper laundry




Washing cloth nappies uses electricity, water and detergent.


Electricity:  R1.59 per wash* x 2 loads a week x 30 months x 4.33 weeks = R415 total


Water: 53 – 170 l per wash x 9 loads per month = 0.5 kl to 1.5 kl pm x 30 months x R15 per kl = R225 to R675


Detergent: Sunlight gel – 1 bar soap per month = R12 x 30 months = R360


* actual cost calculation for a 2.5 hour wash cycle, as measured by a member of the South African Cloth Nappy Users using a electricity meter


** average cost per kl given sliding scale of cost and assuming a total consumption of 20kl per month. City of Cape Town rates used. Cost of water and the related sewage charge was combined to arrive at the average cost of R15 per kl.


TOTAL cost of cloth = R1,000 – R1,450


Disposables: No washing of diapers required, however poopsplosions (ie poop leakage) is quite common with disposables which will add some extra costs. Because this is difficult to quantify and probably negligent in terms of cost, I am leaving it out of this comparison.


Total cost of disposables = FREE








Total cost of cloth related extras = R1,090 – R2,285


Add the cost of the cloth diapers themselves and the GRAND TOTAL (average) cost of cloth amounts to R5,890*


Total cost of extras for disposables = R665 – R2,545


Add the cost of the disposable nappies themselves and the GRAND TOTAL (average) cost of disposables amounts to R13,605**



TOTAL CLOTH SAVINGS = R7,715 OR R257 per month. Not bad!


The savings increase further when using your cloth diaper stash on a second or third child and/or selling it for 50% of the purchase price once you’re done using them.


* 21 day nappies @ R150 each plus 3 night nappies (fitted & cover) @ R350 each = R4,200 total cost of cloth diaper stash + average cost of extras R1,690

** 30 months @ R400 per month = R12,000 + average cost of extras R1,605 (R400 per month is the average actual spend I could see looking at comments on various parenting articles and facebook pages)

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