thread: Cost of disposable nappies

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Mar 2005
    Bunbury, WA

    Cost of disposable nappies

    I was doing some sums just then and I worked out something really interesting.

    Based on Huggies bulk nappy recommended retail prices, and on a usage of 8 nappies a day (and the differences in ranges, ie. newborn, crawler, toddler etc) at Target (from the target website).

    The cost of using disposable nappies (financially) for a two and a half year period, is:

    AUS $3780

    Despite the variables, this is an indication of the financial cost anyway...
    (not including the environmental cost.. )

    This also doesnt include the cost of wipes, nappy disposal bags or pull ups for toilet training.

    $3780 would be some mega holiday wouldn't it?


  2. #2

    Well you can save on wipes by making your own, nappy bags = shopping bags, and pull ups imo are a waste of money anyway


  3. #3
    Registered User

    Jan 2005
    Country NSW

    you bet Kirby. I went on a 10 South pacific cruise and with spending money it did not come to that!!

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Nov 2004
    Giving the gift of life to a friend..

    I love my cloth ones anyways & agree Pull Ups... Waste of money..

  5. #5
    Registered User

    May 2004

    I'm sure I used more than 8 nappies a day when jack was a newborn :-k

  6. #6
    katanya Guest

    see..even though I have spent what some might consider a fortune on cloth..I'm not even half way there! Plus I get to resell them all when he's done..
    I saw a fuzzibunz on Ebay (an old one) selling for $20.50 ..that is great resale! \/

  7. #7
    Melinda Guest

    I remember seeing something in a Choice Magazine a while back about the cost of disposable nappies in comparison to cloth nappies and it's about the same when you weight up the costs of washing/drying the cloth nappies apparently (and that's by doing it yourself or by using a nappy service which is a bit more expensive).

  8. #8
    katanya Guest

    Okay I think the important thing to note here is that there are many ways to do both systems (and alot of people use a combination of both cloth and disposables)
    Some ways of using disposables are more expensive than others(expensive brands, buying on special etc..) just as some ways of washing and using cloth are more expensive than others..

    If you used terry flats and folded them yourself and drypailed (using no chemical soakers, vinegar and no water soaking, warm water and always line dried then the cost would be SOO minimal) However being that we live in a society where we have our resources at our hands the cost of cloth has gone up (nappy services, napisan soakers, driers, fitted cloth nappies etc)

    I found a few resources on the net from a cloth point of view to demonstrate the costs further

    First article taken from Clothnappy site (australian site, if anyone wants the link I will PM it to you) The tables haven't copied so you have to try to work it out..
    On 22 February 2003 I went down to a local large supermarket and recorded the price of every size and brand of disposable nappies, baby wipes and Nappy Sacks on the shelf. These figures are based on the average price for 40 different brands or package sizes of disposables, 16 different brands or package sizes of baby wipes and two different brands/sizes of Nappy Sacks (little deodorised plastic bags with ties that fit one disposable nappy per bag).

    If you were to use the most expensive name brand nappies and/or only purchase the smaller package sizes you can expect to pay significantly more than these average figures.

    The average price for disposable nappies works out at $0.47 per nappy.
    The average price for disposable baby wipes works at $0.06 per wipe.
    The average price for disposable nappy sacks works out at $0.05 per sack.

    The average price for the 12 most expensive disposable nappies was $0.60 cents each, excluding the over 18kg and pull up night-time nappies which range from $1.00 - $1.30 each.

    The following calculations are based on seven nappy changes per day for the period of time babies normally wear nappies (listed in years)- your baby will require more changes during the first year, if you use the cheaper brands and during periods of illness/nappy rash. I have based these calaculations on seven changes per day to average the variation that occurs between newborns (10-16 changes per day) and toddlers (around six per day). Older babies may not need changing as frequently, however, if you look at changing your baby's nappy every three hours during the day and only use one nappy at night that will be five nappies in a 24 hour period - but please keep in mind that only five changes per day could be unhealthy for your baby. Another point to remember is that these figures are based on February 2003 prices which will increase over the period of time before your baby toilet trains.

    No. of Nappies
    Average Cost






    The average cost of the twelve most expensive brands/package sizes will add approximately $323.96 per year.

    Average cost






    Baby Wipes.

    I have used the figure of 1.5 wipes per change to take into account the times you need three or four, particularly of the smaller cheaper ones. The average price was $0.06 per wipe ($0.09 for 1.5 wipes) multiplied by the number of changes per year.

    Baby Wipe Cost






    Nappy Sacks work out at $0.05 each - I don't have any prices for the bags that go in the nappy storage containers that are called Diaper Genies in America, but I assume they would probably cost more. This calculation has been worked out one sack per disposable nappy.

    Nappy Sack cost






    Total Costs for using Disposable Nappies based on the average average price of disposable nappies

    Nappies & Wipes
    Nappies, Wipes & Sacks






    Wow! Its no wonder disposable nappy companies have millions of dollars to spend on advertising!

    You should probably also figure in the cost of some petrol for when you forget to get your disposables with your other shopping and need to make a special trip to the shop
    and here is and article on cloth
    The following information will hopefully give you an idea of the water and energy costs related to washing cloth nappies. The costs are an average guide only because washing machines vary greatly in their energy and water consumption depending on whether they are top or front loading, the type and size of motor, whether they are belt driven, the size of the bowl and the age of the machine. Front loading machines use 1/3 less water which is why the Government is currently offering a $150.00 rebate on the most water efficient models of front loaders. If you want to calculate the exact cost of using your own machine, contact the manufacturer with the make, model and size and they will be able to tell you the information.

    The energy and water usage figures and how to calculate them were obtained from four different retail washing machine stores in Perth (Feb 2003). Washing estimates are based on using 7 nappies per day and washing a maximum of 24 nappies per load, therefore washing every third day - or 121 times per year.

    The short answer to how much does it cost (including electricity, water and detergent costs) to wash cloth nappies is around $86.12 if you line dry and $114.12 if you tumble dry PER YEAR. I don't know about you, but I think that is quite amazing. I have to admit that I did believe the disposable nappy companies advertising about it being expensive to wash cloth nappies because I would not have been surprised if it had worked out to cost three or four times that amount.

    The following three tables show Water Usage and Costs, Energy Usage and Costs and Total costs per year of washing cloth nappies. The remainder of this article explains how I arrived at these figures so that you can work them out yourself if you want to.

    Water Usage Table
    for 121 washes for nappies and 121 washes for covers at approximately half the water usage as nappies per wash.

    Machine Type
    Water/ year - nappies (litres)
    Water/ year - covers (litres)
    Total water/ year (litres)
    Cost/ year - nappies
    Cost/ year - covers
    Total Water Cost

    5-5.5kg Top Loader

    6.5kg Top Loader

    7.5kg Top Loader

    Av. front Loader

    Average Water Cost per year: $20.80

    Total water costs for washing cloth nappies per year ranges from around $9.60 for a water efficient front loader to around $28.78 for a large top loading machine. The average cost per year is around $20.80.

    Energy Usage Table for 121 washes for nappies and 121 washes for covers.

    Machine Type
    Cost per wash
    Cost per year - nappies
    Cost per year - covers
    Total Cost per year

    560KW Top Loader

    644KW Top Loader

    198KW Front Loader

    330KW Front Loader

    Average Energy Cost per Year: $26.00

    Average Total costs of washing cloth nappies per # of years

    # washing years
    Washing Detergent
    Total Cost - Line Dried
    Total Cost - Tumble Dried







    *Most babies who wear cloth nappies toilet train between six months and a year earlier than babies who wear disposables. The average age is between 2 and 3 years which means the average cost of washing cloth nappies for the period of time your baby is in nappies will range from $172.24 to $286.36.

    Water Usage

    Top Loading Machines (average usage based on a high or full load)

    65 litres fill
    65 litres rinse
    130 litres total per load

    75-90 litre fill
    75-90 litre rinse
    150-180 litres total per load

    130L x 121 washes per year for 5-5.5kg machines is 15,730 litres (15.73KL) per year
    150L x 121 washes per year for 6.5kg machines is 18,150 litres (18.15KL) per year
    180 L x 121 washes per year for 7.5kg machines is 21,780 litres (21.78KL) per year

    Front Loading Machines

    (These type of machines automatically adjust the water level according to the weight of the load. The average water consumption is 60 litres per load)

    60L x 121 washes per year is 7,260 litres (7.26KL) per year

    To calculate the cost of water consumption, I contacted the Water Corporation (WA) and was given the following residential tariff rates (effective July 2002) per kilolitre which are calculated for use per 12 month period:

    First 150 KL

    Next 200KL

    Next 200KL

    Next 200KL

    Next 400KL

    Next 800KL

    This means that if you use 350KL per 12 month period, you will be charged at the following rate:

    150KL x $0.403 =

    200KL x $0.652 =


    The Water Authority advised me that the average residential usage was 350KL per 12 month period for a family of four, a family of six would use around 540KL for the same period.

    If you are seriously concerned about the water usage in either regards to the financial or environmental costs, I think its reasonable to say that your water usage would be close to or under the residential average of 350KL, but I am going to calculate the water useage costs at the next tariff level of $0.881 (if you are frugal with your water use it will obviously cost you less).

    7.26 kilolitres x $0.881 = $6.39
    Front Loading machine

    15.730 kilolitres x $0.881 = $13.85
    Top loading machine

    18.150 kilolitres x $0.881 = $15.99
    Top loading machine

    21.780 kilolitres x $0.881 = $19.18
    Top loading machine

    Machine washing nappy covers at the same rate (using four covers per day and washing every 3rd day) would cost you around half these figures as you do not need to fill the washing machine as high for 12 covers as with 24 nappies.

    Washing Detergent

    Based on using half the recommended amount per load (half a scoop), a one kilogram box of concentrated laundry detergent will wash 27.7 loads of nappies. At an average price of $4.50 per box, this equates to $0.1625 per load or $19.66 per year for 121 nappy washes ($39.32 for nappies and covers).

    Energy Consumption

    Energy consumption for washing machines is calculated in kilowatts per year based on one wash per day and is only calculated for hot washes. For some reason the Government doesn't include the energy for cold water washing in the energy consumption ratings, and the ratings are only based on electricity useage, so I am assuming, (and will try to confirm this) that energy consumption would be less if you have a gas or solar hot system. In addition, the energy rating for washing machines apparently also includes the water used (as water is also an energy source), so the cost of electricity is probably a bit less than my calculations.

    According to the retail stores I contacted, the average top loading washing machine uses 560-644 kilowatts based on one wash per day over a year, for a dollar value of $56-64 per year or $0.153-$0.175 per wash. Based on these estimates, a top loading washing machine would cost you between $18.88 and $21.18 per year to wash cloth nappies 121 times. Washing cloth nappy covers the same number of times would cost you slightly less as a shorter wash cycle should be used for covers, so I have estimated that it would cost about $3.00 less per year, therefore between $15.88 and $18.18 per year.

    Front loading machines range from 198KW per year to around 330KW per year, which equates to approximately $19.80 to $33.00 per year or $0.05 to $0.09 per wash. Based on these estimates, a front loading washing machine would cost you between $6.05 and $10.89 per year to wash cloth nappies 121 times. Washing cloth nappy covers the same number of times would cost you slightly less as a shorter wash cycle should be used for covers, so I have estimated that it would cost about $2.00 less per year, therefore between $4.05 and $8.89 per year.

    Line or Air Drying Nappies and Covers

    The only cost associated with this is your time.

    Tumble Drying

    Tumble drying will add to your energy consumption costs for cloth nappies, and may shorten their life expectancy. This is an expense that you could avoid, or at least minimise by only tumble drying in winter. Nappy covers should be line/air dried only - if you do one quickly, ten minutes in the drier on warm is sufficient for most types of covers.

    As with washing machines, the energy consumption of driers will vary according to make and model, however my understanding is that the energy rating of clothes driers is not as accurate as for washing machines as driers are used seasonally while washing machines are used all year round. To try and clarify the energy useage for tumble dryers I contacted one of the large manufacturing companies who confirmed this information and advised that clothes driers ranged from 198KW useage per year for a 3kg drier to 228KW for a large 5kg drier, although I was also told that other brands may go up to 280KW. The manufacturers work on $0.10 per kilowatt to determine that on average using a dryer will cost you $19.80 to $28.00 per year. Due to the normal seasonal use of clothes driers it is impossible to work out a per use cost, therefore to keep this from getting even more complicated, I have taken the higher figure of $28.00 as the cost of tumble drying cloth nappies per year.

    An interesting point that one salesman I spoke to made was that many appliances in the home may use more electricity over the year than a tumble drier because they are on 24 hours a day - items such as alarm clocks, microwaves and ovens that have timers and tv's and stereo's that are left on standby

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Feb 2004

    What is the environmental cost? I heard/read somewhere that it takes 500 years to break down one nappy.

  10. #10
    Registered User

    Jan 2005
    Down by the ocean

    Is that 500 years based on the older style nappies with plastic in them. The ones I use don't have any plastic in them so I can't imagine them taking that long.

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Feb 2004
    Adelaide SA

    I could take the family back to the uk for a holiday on the amount i'm spending on disposables! ](*,)
    I will deffinitley be using cloth next time

  12. #12
    Registered User

    Feb 2005

    I've heard there is a recycling service available if you are using disposables. Apparently you need to check with your council to see if the service is available in your area???? Maybe someone who has used it or heard more about it could enlighten me ....

  13. #13
    Registered User

    May 2004


    I'm pretty sure that Tam with twins is using this service.

  14. #14
    Registered User

    Feb 2004

    I have no idea Sam where it come from!

  15. #15
    katanya Guest

    I wil try to find a good article on the environmental impact Nell..

  16. #16
    Registered User

    Nov 2004
    Giving the gift of life to a friend..

    Apparently that service is only in Melb at the moment...
    cant recall the name tho..

  17. #17
    katanya Guest

    It's called myplanet and the webpage is myplanet -(with the www thing and the dot com and dot au thing added)..if anyone needs the link PM or email me

  18. #18
    katanya Guest

    oh and as far as I'm aware it's only in Melb so far, with plans to expand everywhere..fantastic idea! You can send pooeyones tho [-X

    Oh and Nell have posted an article in the forum about the environmental impact of cloth versus disposables