Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposable Diapers – 5 Comparisons

Cloth diapers vs diapers.  Many parents seem to initially consider the choice but invariably (and with a heavy heart) choose disposable diapers. We always hear how cloth diapers are better for the environment. And that disposables are more convenient. But is that really the case?

Cloth Diapers Vs. Disposable Diapers – 5 Key Comparisons

To help you make the big decision, we’ve compared some key considerations you might not have thought of.  We looked at the effect on health, comfort, convenience, absorbency and price.

What we found was quite surprising.  There are some key differences between the two and even some similarities!

1. Health for Baby

We have not found any significant differences between the two which can directly affect your baby’s overall health. That is, as long as you are changing soiled diapers when they need changing.

For either type, leaving on a soiled diaper for too long can result in diaper rash.  And a soiled diaper is extremely uncomfortable for your baby.

A key point to note here is most disposable diapers contain a chemical which aids in the absorption of urine. Of course, the chemicals used in disposable diapers are tested to be non-irritable to babies and “certified safe”. If you read the mothering forums and product reviews – it doesn’t stop a few kids having adverse reactions to them.

2. Comfort for Baby

Disposable Diapers are more breathable compared to cloth diapers.  They can also be adjusted easier than cloth diapers, which need to be pinned or buttoned into place. An adjustable, disposable diaper may also be more comfortable for baby because of its adjustability and flexibility.

Also, disposable diapers usually have an elastic waistband and leg bands. These aid in mobility and comfort for baby, as well as stopping leaks. But there’s a trade-off.

Sometimes the bands can irritate a baby’s skin, especially in warm weather when your baby perspires.

Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are much softer for baby’s skin. They also don’t have the absorbency chemicals that disposable diapers have. Even though the chemicals are deemed safe for babies, some could have an allergic reaction to them.

Here’s a video outlining some of the chemicals inside (I would have liked to see some scientific references, though!).
To sum-up, cloth diapers are all natural, soft, comfortable and they don’t have elastic. That seems to give them the edge here.

3. Convenience for Mom & Dad

If you are deciding between the two based on convenience, both have a lot to offer.

As for cloth diapers, forget about the pins! Did you know that you can now purchase them with snaps or velcro straps? Be warned – things get caught in the velcro, though! Of course, they come at a higher price which you’ll have to factor in. There are also clips for sale that replace pins.

What about washing, you might ask?

Cloth diapers need to be continually rinsed out and washed. Since you can throw away a disposable diaper and be done with it, there’s a lot less effort required.

Disposables are also easier to size as your baby grows compared to cloth diapers. When you’re shopping for a new pack of disposable diapers, simply choose your baby’s current size.

Once you buy a cloth diaper, you are stuck with that size until you purchase the next size up. A lot of them are also “One size only” and you have to adjust them to your baby.

4. Absorbency

Cloth diapers are not as absorbent as disposable diapers are. Therefore, you need to keep a constant eye on them. Once they are full, there is nothing to stop urine from leaking through them onto baby’s clothes, the bed, or the furniture.

Disposable diapers are made to be super absorbent, leak-proof, and even are waterproof, so they clearly win here. There’s also bio-degradable bamboo ones which are kinder for the environment.

5. Price

As for pricing, both types of diapers are costly.

Plan on spending between $2,000 and $3,000 per year, per baby on disposable diapers. This number can increase if you continue to use disposable underpants such as Pull-Ups during potty training.
Cloth diapers and accessories range from $800 to $1,000 per year, per baby. That is if you wash them yourself!

If you use a cleaning service to wash your cloth diapers, expect to pay about $2,500 to $2,800 per year. However, remember that you might be able to reuse the cloth diapers with the next baby, which might save you money the next time around.

In the case of cloth vs. disposable in price, cloth only wins if you are self-washing.

For both types of diapers, the sooner you potty train your young one, the sooner you can stop spending money on diapers.

Final Thoughts

Both cloth diapers disposable diapers have pros and cons with some differences and similarities. It’s really going to come down to your personal preferences and most importantly of all – those of your baby!

You can always give cloth diapers a try and switch over to disposables if it doesn’t work out. If you decided to do this, there are a few online support groups like and on Facebook, “Cloth Diaper Geek“.

Better yet, the “Great Cloth Diaper Change” is happening across American and Canada on April 22nd at 11am. You can go along and chat with many parents and quite literally see what it’s all about! Find your nearest location here.

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