Make your own free website on Tripod.com
The math...

It is near impossible to give accurate costs for either cloth or disposable nappies - there are just too many variables. What I have presented below is as close to an average as I can figure. The numbers below are not slanted in any way - I have tried to be fair and honest in my calculations for both cloth and disposable. You will notice that it is possible to spend more on cloth, or less on disposables - but this is not typical. I have even factored in the cost of your time spent washing cloth - because we pay for the convenience of disposables.

Average cloth costs:

2 dozen nappies - roughly between $60 - $840 (new)
12 covers - roughly between $60 - $420 (new)
Sundries - up to $50 (Snappis, bin for storage, extra washing basket, liners, etc)
Total - between $170 - $1310

Divided by 2.5 years = $68 -  $524 per year

Purchase costs for the second and subsequent child start at zero.

Cost of washing per year - between $60 -  $200

Your time spent washing per year - between $ 519 - $1034 (30.45 - 60.7 hours @ $17.10 per hour. Higher figure includes time spent hanging and removing from the line, lower figure includes time to load and unload a dryer)

Total cost including washing and your time per year - between $647 - $1758

Total cost including washing and your time per year for second child - between $579 - $1234

Of course, it is possible (but extravagant) to spend a lot more than this - it is also very possible to spend less. I have a large (way more than 2 dozen) and extravagant nappy collection and I estimate the purchase cost has been less than $300.


Average disposable costs:

Assuming one month is 30.5 days (365 divided by 12) and one year is 12 months (which actually = 366 days)


Average of $0.45 per nappy*
x average 6.5 changes per day** = $2.92 a day
= $89.06 per month
= $1068.72 per year

x 2.5 years = $2671.8

Total cost for second child = an additional $2671.8

Babies in disposables usually wear them for 6 months longer - but that's getting into training pants territory, so I have not included this in my calculations.
I also have not included disposable baby wipes which run about $200 + per year. Nor have I included nappy disposal bags or nappy disposal units and their refill cartridges.

* Average cost of one disposable nappy
$0.45 to $0.50 is generally accepted as the average cost of one disposable nappy. You can of course choose more or less expensive brands. Smaller sizes are generally cheaper per nappy, larger sizes more expensive. It is practically impossible to calculate the true average price as everyone will choose a different brand, change brands, buy cheaply on special or pay more in emergencies, buy varying numbers of different sizes, etc etc etc.
The range of $0.28 - $0.62  per nappy can be viewed here: http://www.thenappystore.co.nz/Results.cfm?Category=Nappies
Huggies nappy prices: http://www.nappies.co.nz/browse_catalog_nappies_1.asp
I have found supermarket prices of up to $0.89 per nappy  (Treasures ultra adventure extra large 16 from Woolworths) and service station prices of up to $1.40 per nappy (Treasures Ultra Care 16 X-Large).

**6.5 changes per day
Assuming one month is 30.5 days (365 divided by 12) and one year is 12 months (which actually = 366 days)
First year  = 2928 (First 3 months @ 12 x per day, next 3 months @ 8 x per day, remaining 6 months @ 6 per day)
Second year = 2196 (6 per day)
last 6 months = 1098 (6 per day)
Total = 6222
Divided by 2.5 years (2488.8), divided by 12 months (207.4), divided by 30.5 day = 6.8 changes per day


Table of figures - Cloth Vs disposable costs


Cloth (range)
Disposable (average)
@ $0.45 per nappy
Disposable (range)
$0.28 - $0.89 per nappy
Purchase cost per year
$68 -  $524
$1068.72  
$666.12 - $2117.31
Purchase cost over 2.5 years
$170 - $1310
$2671.8  
$1665.3 - $5293.27
Total costs (inc washing) per year
$128 - $724
$1068.72
$666.12 - $2117.31
Total costs (inc washing and time) per year
$647 - $1758
$1068.72
$666.12 - $2117.31
Total costs (inc washing) over 2.5 years
$320 - $1810
$2671.8
$1665.3 - $5293.27
Total costs (inc washing and time) over 2.5 years
$1617.5 - $4395*
$2671.8
$1665.3 - $5293.27
Purchase cost per year for second child
$0 - $524
$1068.72
$666.12 - $2117.31
Purchase cost over 2.5 years for second child
$0 - $1310
$2671.8
$1665.3 - $5293.27
Total cost (inc washing) per year for second child
$60 - $724
$1068.72
$666.12 - $2117.31
Total cost (inc washing and time) per year for second child
$579 - $1758
$1068.72
$666.12 - $2117.31
Total cost (inc washing) over 2.5 years for second child
$150 - $1810
$2671.8
$1665.3 - $5293.27
Total cost (inc washing and time) over 2.5 years for second child
$1447.5 - $4395**
$2671.8 - $8326.5***
$1665.3 - $5293.27

* This figure is extravagant (and wrong) and is based on buying 2 dozen of the most expensive cloth nappies available and 12 of the most expensive covers available + power costs for exclusive use of the dryer + time costs for hanging that same washing on the line and removing it - a glitch in my calculations!

** this figure is based on the one above (including glitch) but includes buying a whole new set of the most expensive cloth nappies for the second child. It also does not take into account any re-sale value from the first set of nappies.

*** It is theoretically possible to spend this amount on disposable nappies, buying the most expensive option from the most expensive outlet. I have only included it as a comparison to the theoretical most expensive cloth option - I doubt anyone would ever spend this amount, just as I doubt anyone would ever spend the maximum possible amount in the cloth column.




Last updated 06/06/04
Page design and content © S.Sutherland 2004

All websites listed here are the sole property of  their authors
and I am not responsible for their content.


While all facts stated on this page have been well investigated,
 I am only human and some errors may occur.

I am not a mathematician or a professional researcher.

Email