Advice & Info Articles:

Money saved using cloth nappies

In using Cloth Nappies (home laundered) you could save over a 2½ year period of keeping a baby in nappies.


Adapted to South African costs from a UK conducted study


It is generally accepted (in Baby care literature – locally and internationally) that a baby has on average 6 nappy changes per day.
Average spent on disposable nappies: R13 687.5
Average price per nappy is R2.50 (taken on Branded nappies), making the average cost per week is R105

Assuming the ‘6 a day nappies’, it is understood that a baby uses on average over a 2½ year period 5475 nappies  (6 nappies x 365 days x 2½ years) = R2.50 x 5475 = 13 687.5 [Some children only potty train at 3+ so this would be an additional 1095 nappies = R2737.50].


Cost of Cloth Nappies

(these calculations are on an average)

Cloth nappies vary widely in their cost depending on the style chosen. You can buy all the nappies, waterproof covers and fastenings required for around R

Glodina Terry Squares

20 x terry nappies at R59.99 for a pack of 4 = R299.95
Pk of 3 Pull-on plastic waterproofs @ R29.95 (1pk per size – S,M,L) = 3 x 29.95 = R89.85
Nappy liners @17.99 / 100 (for 6 a day, 365 days, 2½years) = 984.95
8 nappy pins @ R9 /4 pk = R18.00 (Snappi’s cost R8.99/1 & R20.99/3)
Total cost = R377.85
Source: BabyCity, Baby&Co, Woolworths

Earth Babies Cloth Shaped Nappies – based on the Basic Sized version:

40 x shaped nappies @ ave. R80.00 each = R3200.00 (20 each of 2 sizes)
10 waterproofs @ ave. R80.00 = R800.00
2 x 5pks staydry liners @ ave R40.00 each = R80.00

Total cost = R4080.00

Mother Nature Cloth Shaped Nappies – based on the One-Size-Fits-All version (birth till potty)

20 x OSFA nappies @ R105.00 each = R2100.00
10 waterproofs @ ave. R90.00 = R900.00
2 x 5pks staydry booster @ ave R90.00 each = R180.00

Total cost = R3180.00

NOTE: the general amount of nappies required is 20 (so that is not necessary to wash daily). The Basic-sized range cater for birth to 9kg and 9kg to 18kg, this means you would need to get 2 sets of 20 to cover your child’s growth over a 2½ year period. The rest of this comparison is worked on this the most expensive option.


Washing Machine

The average life span of a washing machine is 9 years. Source: Tim Cooper, Sheffield Hallam University 28th Jan 2003
An average price of a washing machine (front loader) is R3500.00
Depreciation based on 30% use of a machine over 2.5 years, where the machine has a life expectancy of 9 years.

R3500 / 9 x 2.5 = R972.222

Depreciation = 30% of 972.22 = R291.67


Washing Detergent

Average cost per wash = R0.61 (cost worked on well-known SA washing powder)
Average number of washes for cloth nappy in a week is 2.8 times, over 130 weeks or 364 washes. Source: UK Cleaning Products Industry Association

364 x R0.61 = R222.04 over 2½ years



Weekly wash for a family of four people uses 8-9 kWhs (A 'unit' is a kWh)
Source: Guide to Running Costs, Electricity and You, published by the Electricity Association, 20 Millbank, Londson SW1P 4RD

A wash at 90°C uses +- 2 units of power & one at 50°C uses under 1 unit. Therefore a load of washing at 60°C uses approximately half that of a load washed at 90°C.
Source: Preventing Nappy Waste, Ann Link 1994, p12, Local Energy

'The Real Nappy Association recommends a 60°C wash as sufficient. Even nappy laundries are required to wash at only 71°C. The National Energy Foundation estimates that reducing the temperature from 90°C to 60°C halves the energy consumption for a machine wash (21).'
(we have found that if washing the nappies daily there is not the same need for sterilizations so you can cold wash with an occasional hot washfurther cutting this energy cost)

Therefore a 4kg load of nappies washed at 60°C uses approximately 1 unit of energy. If you have on average 20 nappies and use about 6 a day, you would need to wash them every 2½ - 3 days, using a maximum of 2.8 units of energy per week on nappies alone. This is assuming that no nappies are laundered with the family's other laundry (whereas in reality the washes are often mixed).

2009 average price of electricity (voltage surcharge) is R0.4063 / kWh (unit).
Source: Eskom Electricity Tariif 2008-2009,

2.8 x 130 weeks x R0.4063= R147.8932 rounded to R147.90


Overall laundry costs

Washing machine depreciation + detergent + energy
R291.67 + R222.04 + R147.90 = R661.61ver 2½ years
which equates to R264.64 per year.

Overall cost of home laundered nappies over 2½ years
Shaped nappy cost + laundry costs
R4080.00 + R661.61 = R4741.61


Cloth/Disposable Cost Comparison

Cost of disposable nappies - Overall cost of home laundered nappies = Saving
R13687.50 – R4741.61 = R8945.89

Home laundered nappies could save you about R9000 on the cost of keeping a baby in nappies – needless to say even if you chose tumble drying over line drying nappies, you would still be making a considerable saving!

Re-use cloth nappies and save even more

If you re-use the cloth nappies for subsequent children you would obviously save even more!!

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