Everyone knows that there is a bit of an upfront investment with cloth prefold diapers, but that it’s still a lot cheaper than going with disposables. So what kinds of costs are you looking at, and what are the variations between different kinds of prefolds?
The main place where you’re going to see variations in cost is in the material. Not all diapers are made from the same kinds of fabrics, and some are definitely cheaper than others.
So at the inexpensive end of the range, you will have cotton. A typical dozen prefolds can cost you between $20 and $30, with the cheaper ones tending to be a little thinner. You may pay a little extra if you choose the unbleached ones. They are light brown and work just as well as the bleached ones.
The less conventional materials will cost you more but they do have other benefits. Hemp and bamboo are the usual options. Both grow faster and require less resources to grow than cotton, so they re considered much more environmental options. Hemp prefold diapers are more absorbent than cotton also. For comparing costs, a dozen of them will set you back at least $100.
If you’re going to compare cotton diapers to bamboo, you’ll find the bamboo fabric to be softer to the touch. It’s cheaper than hemp, with a dozen going for about $50. Pure bamboo isn’t common, so expect to get a bamboo/cotton blend for that price.
Organic or Not
So far, we haven’t mentioned the additional costs of getting organic fabrics for your diapers yet. The fact is, the costs given for hemp and bamboo are already for organics because that’s just how the crops are naturally raised. Cotton is really the only one that is grown in either organic or non-organic ways. And for organic cotton prefolds, the cost goes up to $30 to $40 for a dozen though some brands will offer organic fabrics at the same cost as conventional. So with a little research, you may be able to get organic cotton diapers without spending anything extra.
So overall, plain cotton diapers are the cheapest with organic cotton coming in second (or even at an equal cost). The bamboo/cotton diapers aren’t much more expensive than that, and the hemp ones will require a bigger investment by far.
And you usually aren’t restricted to buying an entire dozen at a time. Many places offer 3 or 6 packs, so you can maybe mix up your supply and get a few of the higher-end diapers and then some in plain cotton.