• Sarah from Cloth Tots

How much do reusable nappies cost?

This seems to be a question we get frequently. In general the initial set up of your nappy stash will be between $500- $1000, depending on your choice of brands and if you buy second-hand or brand new.

But we’ve taken it one step further, and tried to break down the initial and ongoing costs one by one to give you an idea.

** A little side note though - most of these are initial and one-time costs, as opposed to the ongoing costs associated with buying and disposing of disposable nappies. Additionally, the washing will include your little ones clothes, wipes/cloths, tea towels etc.


  • Hiring - approx. $25/week or less

Obviously we believe this is the best way forward for a few key reasons.

  1. Try before you buy. Work out which brands and styles suit you and your family before you commit to buying.

  2. Hire for short newborn period. These are our busiest packs because newborns nappies will only last 8-10 weeks on your little one due to the rapid growth. Save your money for the OSFM which will last from 4.5kg - 16kg+

  • Second hand - approx. $5- $20/ nappy

This is a great option to get your preferred brands and styles at a fraction of the cost, and further reduce your environmental impact. There are some awesome groups on Facebook that allow second hand selling. We even sell off our older stock too. Plus some popular brands and prints can actually go up in price second hand, which can make them an investment.

You will have to do a sanitise/deep clean on the nappies you purchase though prior to use. You can either subscribe to Clean Cloth Nappies to review their suggested process, or we offer this as a service here.

Check out these groups:

MCN Buy Sell Swap Give Away Australia (Modern Cloth Nappies)

Buy and sell your Modern Cloth Nappies (MCN) Australia

Designer Cloth Nappies MCN: User Friendly Buy/Sell/Swap

Or visit the brands VIP and Buy/Sell/Swap (BSS) groups on facebook

  • Buying brand new - between $16.95 - $49.95/nappy

There is quite a bit of variation between costs here and that comes down to brands and styles. There are certainly some brands which offer amazing value for money (check out our value pack for more details) and then there are your more premium options (pack here) and it really just depends on which ones you like.


There are a considerable amount of variables, depending on size of machine, front loader vs. top loader and energy rating. But let's assume its an 8.5kg machine (which seems to be standard among our customers), and you're using hot water (highly recommended for heavily soiled washing - and let's be honest, does it get more soiled?).

  • Detergent - approx. $4.50- $11/Litre

When we work with a customer we suggest the right detergent for their machine and usage. There are a number of brands suggested by Clean Cloth Nappies and they range between the more affordable to the premium brands. But generally you can find something within your budget, and use it for all your other washing too.

  • Water - approx. 0.16c- 0.25c/ wash

So based on current Sydney water at $2.38/Kilolitre I've split this out between the two types of washing machines and an average water saving rating.

  • Front Loader - water saving rating of 4.5 stars, 68L/load = 0.16/ wash

  • Top Loader - water saving rating of 3.5 stars, 110L/load = 0.26/wash


  • Electricity - approx. 0.86c - $1.32/ week

The below calculations have been done based on 6 loads a week. I have assumed a machine with an average energy rating, using hot wash and an 8.5kg capacity.

  • Top Loader, 4 stars, Annual energy cost = $45

  • Front Loader, 3 stars, Annual energy cost = $69

  • Front Loader, 5 stars, Annual energy cost = $30

source: https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency-and-reducing-emissions/save-energy-in-the-home/reduce-washing-machine-costs-at-home

  • Drying - between $0- $2.20/load

  • Air dry/Washing line - $0

  • Tumble dryer - Another one with a lot of variables, as it depends on the type of dryer and energy rating. For a rough estimate, see below from Energyrating.gov.au

** remember to only tumble dry on a low heat setting to avoid delaminating the waterproof seal on your nappies. Or better yet, consider only using the dryer for inserts and line drying the shells.

Clothes dryer running cost per cycle by energy efficiency star rating

Source: http://www.energyrating.gov.au


And there are a few additional costs to consider in your setup and throughout the 2-3 years you will be using cloth nappies. Not all of these are necessary, however our experience is you will need to touch on a few of these over the years:

  • Dry pails (2), wet bags (2) - approx. $60

  • Moving to pull ups for toilet training - approx. $100 for 5 new and 10 second-hand nappies

  • Requiring extra boosters - approx. $40-$50 for 5 new and 10 second hand boosters

  • Night nappies for longer sleeps - approx. $300 for 5 new plus covers. OR hire for 4 weeks for $95

I've tried to capture the common costs around starting out and using reusable nappies. The intention is really to show that although there are some costs, it still remains relatively low when compared to purchasing weekly box of disposables.

Are there any more you can think of? What's been your biggest cost, or even savings when using reusable nappies?

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