So if you ended up here, you’re probably considering using cloth diapers.  Great!  You’ve also likely heard a lot of talk suggesting it’s too difficult, you won’t last a month without a laundry service, and so and so knows so and so who used cloth but didn’t stick with it, or back in the day everything smelled like poo for ten miles.  Most of that is misleading or myths, but one thing people don’t really mention is that the start-up cost is high.  For people who are looking at cloth diapers predominantly for the savings, this can be a bit daunting.

The start-up cost is too expensive for my family’s budget.  Period.

This is a legitimate problem.  Cloth diapering, unless you’re a crazy lady like me who wants all the pretties, is incredibly economical…over time.  But for a lot of people who would benefit from the economical advantages of it the most, the start-up cost is just too high to get started without setting aside a baby budget way before pregnancy is even in the horizon.  Fortunately, there are a number of great cloth diapering charities out there to address this exact issue, and if you don’t qualify for charity support, there are economical and budget-friendly ways to cloth diaper.

Cloth Diaper Charities for Families Enrolled in WIC

A few of these require you to pay the cost of shipping (~$40, about 2 boxes of disposable diapers) to participate and prove a need through WIC enrollment and pregnancy confirmation.  Some of these charities have a lot of paperwork required, and others, such as Grovia Gives, require very little.

Giving Diapers Giving Hope

Cotton Babies Love

The Rebecca Foundation

Grovia Gives

Cloth Diapering on a Budget Options

Buying cloth diapers new is almost always the most expensive option.  There are a few very rare exceptions to this rule, such as Lighthouse Kids Company  recently becoming incredibly popular which resulted in people selling diapers they just purchased for 2-3xs as much as they bought them for, or when a company has a seconds sale such as Softbums at the time of writing this where diapers are around half their normal cost.  Some retailers will have sales for up to 35% off, or if it’s the off-season for a season-specific print and they had extra they will go on discount fairly substantially.  Other prints that just aren’t popular can also be on sale cheap.  A great time of year to catch amazing cloth diaper sales in general is Earth Day, but regrettably the next one isn’t until April 22nd, 2019.  Of course, brands irregularly have sales throughout the year and will retire prints which makes them cheaper as well.

Second Quality Diaper Sales

Finding a seconds sale usually takes following a brand for a while and picking them up when they become available, but most brands have them.  First quality is the diapers companies sell new at whole price, and seconds quality is usually diapers with a flaw that doesn’t impact functionality and is generally cosmetic.  These diapers are also new, but had a flaw that caused quality control to pull them out.    A few seconds I’ve seen included a patch of mismatched thread, missed stitches, or an insert that wasn’t sewn together completely so one layer just flops around on the top.  I’ve also seen some seconds that I would argue the company had advertised the diapers incorrectly as fully functional including having the waterproof layer, PUL, on the outside of the diaper (short term it would work, but the external wear on the PUL would significantly shorten their lifespan) or elastics becoming disconnected from the diaper and not holding at all.  Definitely check with people who frequent the brand to figure out more what category the diapers tend to be.  Reputable companies won’t put the latter into their seconds sales because they don’t want customer complaints impacting the perception of their brand.

Gently Used Diapers

Remember those people your friends were telling you about who used cloth but didn’t stick with it?  Time for you to capitalize on the error of their ways!  These are people who may have gone through their diaper stash for a month tops, leaving some diapers in great shape.  Most diaper brands, not all, drop in value significantly as soon as they’re used as long as you aren’t looking to buy hard-to-find (HTF) diapers.  If you’re willing to buy a lot of diapers, where the owner is able to sell a number of their diapers at once, the deal is usually even better.

A few places to check if you’re on the hunt for gently used diapers are OfferUp, Craigslist, B(uy)/S(ell)/T(rade) groups including on Facebook and Baby Center, and Cloth Diaper Trader.  A quick search on Craigslist and a couple Facebook BSTs helped me find diapers selling for as little as 1/5th their retail cost depending on the brand and condition.  Certain brands retain their value significantly better than others.  Sometimes this is because the diapers are better quality, the fan following, or because they more frequently release limited edition prints that people find appealing but couldn’t necessarily buy.  If the PUL or TPU (waterproof layers depending on the brand) is torn or de-laminating at all, don’t purchase those diapers.  They won’t last long before they need to be replaced.  If the elastics are stretched, it depends on your level of craftiness for repair.  I personally failed the sewing portion of home economics in middle school, so I need those in good shape too, but they can be replaced for a reasonable price most of the time.  Unfortunately, none of these things can be verified online.

Your best bet for buying used diapers is to get someone to take very good photos, and typically the B/S/T groups for a specific brand or buying diapers in person are your best bet for accurate listings.  These groups tend to be sellers who also participate in the fan pages of the same retailers, so they tend to be more accurate in their listings due to potentially selling to their internet friends and a community they are involved in.  Similarly, people you meet in person tend to be more accurate because you will see the items before purchase, and you’re a member of their community.

Piling is another issue with used diapers.  Usually this is just cosmetic wear on the outside of shells, but it can also be from velcro losing its stickiness and no longer adhering to itself in the washing machine.  Velcro that falls off easy is a recipe for a poopy baby bum sliding all over your floor, much like a number of my nightmares when I was pregnant.

Please let me know if you have any other ways you have saved buying cloth diapers or any particular questions about buying used diapers!  If anyone knows of any additional diapering charities, please let me know and I will happily link them as well.