Monday, April 9, 2012

Bet you didn't think it was possible to go more in-depth with these calculations

I know you were all dying for MORE information about my cloth diaper savings. You’re in luck! Here’s more stuff I left out or learned from comments.

Child #3: I deliberately left this out, as we’re not sure if we’ll have a third child, but if we do that’s when the real savings will come, as we’ll have “paid them off” just by using them for Paul.

Resale: Jen brought up the good point I forgot to think about the resale value of the diapers when considering when I’d break even. That makes me feel better! I’m not sure if they will have much resale value – I’ll use them until Paul is potty trained, then probably for a kid #3 – but even when it seems they’re worth almost nothing, cloth diapers have more resale value than you’d think. I’m sure I’ll be able to get something for them.

Laundry: Someone with a site about cloth diapering found my post through Google and mentioned my laundry cost seemed high. I checked her site and found we used the same laundry cost calculator (the site I linked to in my first post summarized calculations from that site). We put in all the same variables, except her price of 41 cents/load was based on an incoming water temperature of 77 degrees – the highest the calculator allows, and per the map the calculator links to, only reasonable in the very tip of Florida. This saves a lot in the hot water heater portion of the calcuations. I used 55 degrees, the default setting, to get my price of 53 cents/load. Unfortunately, by looking at the map, it seems the average temp here in Iowa is only 47 degrees. Which adds 4 cents a load.

But since I was looking at my calculations more in depth anyway, I finally decided to go drag out our utility bills (I was too lazy before). The default setting for power cost is 15 cents per kwh. Ours is only 8.2 cents. Yay! The default water cost was $5.50/1000 gallons. Ours is $4.50.

So, with the new information, the cost per hot wash/cold rinse load comes to 45.6 cents. In my original calculations, I left off the cost of the cold-water rinse I do first, since it’s really cheap and, believe it or not, I was trying to keep it simple (ha!). I calculated it and it turns out it wasn’t as cheap as I thought: 10 cents a load. (Obviously it sounds cheap, but if the original load was 50 cents, this adds 20%.)

So, after all that, my actual cost per load should be 55.6 cents, not 53. Not so helpful. That makes it 63 weeks until we break even instead of 61.

Of course, because I’m a strange (cheap) person, since I started working on that post I’ve taken it as some sort of weird challenge to try and break even faster. We’re using cloth at night now, I’m bringing them on our trip this weekend, and I never ever dry the inserts (If I need to dry a few I do a regular load of wash and throw the inserts in the dryer with it so the dryer is free. Did I mention I’m nuts?). So far we've saved $4.08 in 3 weeks. (It's not as much as it could be, since Thomas took the kids to his mom's for a day last weekend and I sent disposables with them.)

I'm going to have to buy more stuff, too. For now, I throw the used ones in an open laundry basket, since they don't smell much. I assume someday I'll have to get a large wet bag (I have two small ones that hold 3-4 diapers each). Also, I bought two more diapers, since we're using them at night now, each of which takes about a month to break even on. I'll also have to buy more coconut oil (at $10/jar!) when we run out (it will be awhile, though.) I don't think we'll do much more than break even by the time Paul is potty trained. After that it's up to resale value or baby number 3 to make them a good deal!


  1. If it helps your cost calculations, when I mailed your diapers, I put in a free set of cloth wipes (adorable ones! with frogs!) because it took me SO long to mail them. (Sorry, fridge/company/pregnant/etc.)

    I suspect that as long as you are careful to keep your diapers in pretty good shape (not in the dryer! no diaper rash cream! but you know this already!), you will be able to resell them for about what you've paid for them. They hold their value super well. A friend of mine just did that- sold hers that she bought used for the same price that she bought them at.

  2. 1) I bet you could guess I love these posts. Yay for nerds!
    2) I suspect your 8.2 cents is just the generation portion of the bill (did they call it something like the price to compare?) - is that really what you get when you divide the total bill by the kWh usage that month???
    3) Did I just out which industry I work for? Yep, the wonderful world of electricity.