Reusable baby wipes vs. disposable baby wipes – how much will you save?

It’s been a while since we’ve tried to save any money around this blog. Too bad since we’ve got a lot to save if we’re going to save $50,000 just by going green.

Today, baby wipes. How much can you save if you make safe, non-toxic baby wipes vs. buying disposable baby wipes? Let’s find out.

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HOW MANY DISPOSABLE DIAPER WIPES WILL YOU NEED?

First of all, we’re just going to look at 2.5 years not 5. On average, folks like to assume that babies are out of diapers by two and a half years (many aren’t) but for the sake of this post, we’ll say 2.5 sounds fine.

The average newborn can speed through 12 diapers a day. Older babies and toddlers typically use about 6-10 diapers a day. If your baby is out of diapers entirely by the time she’s two and a half years old that’s still about 7,500-8,000 diaper changes over those 2.5 years.

If we’re being VERY prudent, the typical diaper change requires two cloth baby wipes or two or three disposable wipes. I’ve used both reusable and disposable wipes and for large messes, you can end up using a ton of disposable wipes. BUT we’ll say oh, two wipes per change.

So, 7,500-8,000 times two wipes per change is about 15,500 disposable wipes in 2.5 years. Imagine that pile!

HOW MANY CLOTH BABY WIPES WILL YOU NEED?

If you’re making a reusable baby wipe kit, here’s what you’ll need at bare minimum.

  1. 20-30 baby sized washcloths and 20-40 regular sized washcloths – this is literally all the cloth wipes I needed the entire time Cedar was a baby.
  2. A cloth wipe bucket – small, with an easy to remove lid.
  3. A couple reusable wipe bags for when you’re out and about. Alternatively, you can use disposable wipes when out, but let’s pretend you want to go totally reusable.

Natural soap and organic essential oils are nice additions but not necessary, so I won’t be adding in these costs.

HOW MUCH WILL DISPOSABLE WIPES COST?


For disposable baby wipes I picked an eco-friendly brand, because I personally cannot, and will not recommend that you buy conventional baby wipes. You might save more buying conventional vs. less toxic baby wipes, but since they’re not safe for kids, and since this is a green space, there’s no way I’m using them for a comparison.

Personally I’ve tested, liked and can recommend the following eco-friendly baby wipes:

For this calculation, we’ll use my favorite, and likely the cheapest eco-wipes first – TushiesWipes. You’ll need 15,500 wipes, or about 16 cases in bulk. That’s $560 over 2.5 years.

We’ll also use what I most commonly see – what I usually see among friends, and when I’m sneaking peeks at carts at the store are those Seventh Generation baby wipe tubs. Many people do not buy in bulk. Those tubs and single refill packs are about $4.50 – $5.50 for 70 wipes or around $1,107 over 2.5 years. If you shop this way, a reusable baby wipe kit will save you around $1,107 per child.

If you split the difference between buying in bulk and not, you’ll pay around $835 for 2.5 years of disposable wipes.

HOW MUCH WILL REUSABLE WIPES COST?

You’ll need 20-30 baby sized washcloths and 20-40 regular sized washcloths. We bought on the low end; maybe 25 baby sized and 25 big ones. It’ll depend on how often you do laundry. I suggest you buy organic cotton, bamboo, or some other sustainable fabric. Some ideas…

You’ll also need a BPA-free container to hold your wipes. I like the $16.99 – Oxo Good Grips POP Big Square 4-Quart Storage Container, but any container will do, just make sure the lid is easy to get off with one hand.

Lastly, you’ll need an on-the-go solution like $10.99 – Kushies on-the-go wet bag (set of 2); also available in girl prints or in different sizes.

That’s a total of about $100. If you went with thrift store goods you’d make a killing though and could likely build a kit for less than half of this. Used washcloths aren’t as good as organic IMO, but still a greener choice. Also, you’ll have to pay to wash your wipes. However, as noted in the cloth napkin costs post, it’s only about $8 per year to wash a ton of napkins. When compared to gas costs to get disposables, it pretty much evens out.

Money saved over 2.5 years if you use reusable vs. disposable baby wipes…

$835.00 on average – Now, if you use wipes longer you’ll save more. One reusable baby wipes kit will last forever. For sure it would see you through two or three babies. For example, I’m STILL using old washcloths from Cedar’s reusable baby wipe kit now, to clean with. It’s been almost ten years and the wipes are just now starting to die off. Cloth lasts forever.

IF you have two kids you’d save almost $1,700. A nice college fund starter or a ton of organic apples. Plus, let’s not forget all those resources you’ll save due to NOT buying over-packaged toss-away baby wipes.

Learn exactly how to make your own reusable baby wipe kit.

END RESULT: We’re trying to save $50,000 and so far we’ve saved…

So far a total savings of $9,369. That leaves $40,631.00 left to save. Saving $9,000+ isn’t bad but we’re going to have to break out the big guns of green living to save $50,000.

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Comments

  1. Kamber says

    I found for 2 kids in diapers at one time, about 20-30 wipes is a good number. Kissaluvs are also great wipes and nice and big and usually only need one per change unless it’s a REALLY big mess. And we use a wipe warmer we found at a consignment store. It’s not plugged in, but we were using a wipe container box and someone mistook it for empty and threw it away.

    Thanks for this post Jennifer. You were the reason we switched. I cloth diaper and using cloth wipes never even occurred to me! They are really simple!

  2. Jennifer says

    That’s awesome to hear you can use the same amount of wipes for 2 kids. I only had the one, so it’s cool to hear from a mama of two. I like that wipe warmer idea – can you put water in them?

    I’m really glad you switched to cloth wipes. I thought they rocked the whole time Cedar was a baby. The few times I had to use disposable, I felt like you had to use so many to get a clean baby. Cloth is just much better and cheaper.

  3. says

    My kids are grown, but I think that would be a tough one to convince people about. My sister in law used up half a roll of paper towels, wiping dishes, and fruit off, it’s almost crazy. I think convincing people of using cloth would be a lot harder to do.

  4. Jennifer says

    @Diana – you look way too young to have all grown up kids. Geez. Impressive. About the cloth though, you’re not wrong. It’s very hard to get people to try.

    Some of my family and friends use paper goods for everything. Honestly, when I first quit using paper towels, I had all these urges like, “I just need to grab a paper towel.. wait.. I don’t buy them anymore… WHAT do I do!?”

    I think disposable is so ingrained in our society that we find it an easy go-to. However, once you start lowering the disposables it’s easier. I had never ever in my life used paper napkins, for example, and I think that made it easier to quit paper towels. I switched to organic foods slowly. I think the key is not to overdo it and thus get overwhelmed. I always used cloth wipes – right from the start, but to save money. I had no idea back then how green it was.

    But yeah, some people won’t even try. It’s nice to see success stories (like Kamber) above. Anyhow, from my POV, it’s a success if just one family quits using paper towels or baby wipes because they’re so wasteful.

  5. says

    Don’t forget to remind people that the cloth wipes, if still in good shape, can be used in lieu of TP later when potty training! We are doing that w/one of our little girls right now. She was so used to the cloth wipes that she tells Gramma ‘no paper’ when she babysits =) I was leery of going no TP myself, but started w/the kids. Once I realized how easy it was, I took the plunge too. Flannel squares work really well for both the wet wipes and dry wipes. Trust me, I never thought I’d be chiming in on something like this, but Diana, even those who are hard to convert are not lost causes =) Thanks for the post!

  6. says

    It’s great to see someone talking about the benefits of cloth wipes. This is a great option to be more eco-friendly and save money even if you can’t part with your disposable diapers. We buy disposable wipes for traveling and I hate it. (I don’t feel comfortable washing diapers and wipes in my Mother-in-law’s washer when we visit.) We use 2 or 3 per dirty diaper as opposed to 1 or 2 of my cloth wipes. One thing you didn’t mention is that you don’t necessarily need a wipe warmer. I keep a 4 oz bpa free spray bottle on my changing table. I fill it with water and a squirt of Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion. I refill it about once a week. The bottle of Diaper Lotion Potion as lasted me over a year, since I only use a squirt. I just spray the wipes before I use them. It works great and then I can just stack my dry wipes in the drawer of the dresser on in a basket on the changing table. I got my wipes from Cottonbabies.com. They are flannel bumGenius wipes, less than $12 per dozen. I started with two dozen but every now and then Cotton Babies throws some in for free with an order. They aren’t organic, but they are unbleached cotton. Not everyone likes them, but for the money, I’ve found that they hold up well and work great double duty as reusable tissues in a pinch.

  7. tonya d says

    I have a baby on the way next month and my sister made me washable wipes for one of my shower gifts. She had a set of king sized organic flannel sheets that she wasn’t using because they were too hot and was able to make 60 baby wipes from them. They are super soft, organic and recycled! I plan on storing them dry then spraying with plain water in the first weeks, then later with a diaper spray either home made, Kissaluvs or California Baby. I will be using a diaper service for the first few months until baby grows into the one size CD’s we are using so the only challenge will be not throwing our cloth wipes in with the services diapers.

  8. Viola says

    To “break out the big guns” you can factor in turning off/unplugging the lights, computer, radio, toaster, can-opener, drier (some keep spinning even after the cycle to keep them fluffy) and a mess ton of other things. Or using a rain catcher for a garden filling. Or instead of lifting weights at a gym and using paper cups and germ-x, lifting rocks at home, using glasses and soap.

  9. Christina says

    I have used Bum Boosa baby wipes. Bum Boosa Bamboo Baby Wipes are a unique, 100% bio-friendly product that was developed with both the planet and infants’ sensitive skin in mind. Their mission is to provide a new option for a widespread consumer product that, through its use, trees and water are saved. They are able to do this by drawing on the benefits of a bountiful, regenerative and sustainable plant for our alternative nonwoven fiber: bamboo.
    Bum Boosa aims to consciously care for consumers and the planet by making eco-friendly baby wipes with the promise of high quality natural ingredients, honesty and integrity. To that end, for each package sold, Bum Boosa plants a tree with Trees for the Future.
    This is the Bum Boosa website: http://www.bumboosa.com
    Hope to help you ~

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