Cloth Diaper for Cheap or Free
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How to Cloth Diaper for Cheap or Free

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Would you love to cloth diaper your baby or toddler, but it just seems too expensive?

You’ve probably heard by now that cloth diapers can save you money in the long run. But what if you don’t have money to purchase them all new right now or you want to save money to use elsewhere?

My son is a year old now. I could have bought diapers new and they’d still have paid themselves back by now. However, using these tips, I was able to save even more money on cloth diapers.

Today I’m going to share with you how I got pretty much all the cloth diapers and supplies that I’ve used either free or for cheap.

Buy Used if You Can

Just like shopping at thrift stores can help your budget, buying “pre-loved” cloth diapers can save you tons of money.

Depending on how many kids a family has, they may be done with their cloth diapering journey long before the diapers themselves have reached the end of their usefulness.

Lots of times people will want to get some of their investment back by selling their diaper “stash” (as many like to call their collections), especially if they bought some of the nicer brands of diapers. Buying used can mean you can get a steal on brands and types of cloth diapers you’d otherwise have to pay a premium for.

Is that sanitary?

Worried that buying used diapers isn’t sanitary? Have no fear! If you don’t know the person you’re buying them from and aren’t sure if they’ve been fully sanitized, it’s really easy to do at home.

Fluff Love University has a wealth of information about cloth diapers and washing routines for them. They also have guidelines for how to do a bleach soak (to sanitize) and a mineral strip (to get mineral buildup out).

If you, like me, don’t want to use bleach, or you live on well water and can’t use it, they also have a list of ways to sanitize your diapers without bleach.


Join a Cloth Diaper “Swap” Group

While you might be able score some cloth diapers on Facebook Marketplace or if someone you know is selling them, they’re not common enough for you to have many choices unless you live in a larger city.

If you can find what you’re looking for on those, great!

If you’re having trouble finding anyone who is selling their collection, search Facebook for cloth diaper swap groups. I was able to find one for my area (Central Iowa), but if you live in a less rural area, you might even find one for your city.

If you want a specific style of cloth diaper, you might have to watch the group for awhile, but if it’s an active and large enough group, you shouldn’t have to wait too long.

I’ve been able to get all my diapers through people I know, so I haven’t had to use this option, but they can be a great resource!

Buying a Collection Saves You Time

Another benefit of buying a cloth diaper “collection” from someone is that since it’s already been used, you should have most or all of the pieces you need (pending something being worn out). If you don’t have the time to research all the different components, this can be an awesome way to quickly and easily complete your stash.

Look for Some that Need a Little Love

Lots of times, elements of diapers will wear out and they only need a little work to get them back to new. If you’re willing to put in some effort, you can get diapers someone else no long wants for little to nothing!

Most of the time, all it takes is a couple dollars worth of supplies and some of your time and the diapers will be good as new.

This is how I got the set of cloth diapers we currently use. Another mom in my town learned I was cloth diapering, thought I might be somewhat crafty, and asked if I’d be interested in some diapers that needed the elastics replaced. She used and loved them, but no longer used them because the stretched elastic rendered them useless.

I already had elastic and thread, so all it took was a seam ripper, a sewing machine, and some time, and I was able to have a complete set of diapers for free that weren’t otherwise being used.

Common Problems with Cloth Diapers

Crunchy or Stretched Elastic

If you’re at least somewhat crafty and can sew a semi-straight line on a sewing machine, you can replace elastic in your cloth diapers.

Depending on the brand(s) you have, you might even be able to find a video or tutorial just by searching “[insert brand name] cloth diaper replacing elastic”. This can save you the headache of deconstructing the diapers and figuring it out yourself.

Tip: Make sure you use a polyester based thread instead of cotton, as moisture can travel on the cotton thread to the outside of the diaper and make it seem like the diaper is leaking.

No longer absorbent

If your inserts appear to be clean but start leaking with even a small amount of liquid, you probably need to strip them. This is caused by mineral or detergent build up do to your washing routine or water hardness. These instructions are the same as if you strip them when you buy them used (see the links above).

Depending on how much buildup you need to get off, you might have to do multiple strips. The good news, however, is that the materials you need for the strip are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

No longer waterproof

If this is because the diaper covers were repaired with cotton thread (see note above), you might have to redo any stitching on the outside of the waterproof layer so it doesn’t wick anymore.

If this is because the cover fabric has lost its “plasticy” layer, you probably won’t be able to save it. But hey, you can always use them as swim diapers.


Make Your Own

If you have old towels, blankets, or even sheets, in your house, all you need is some scissors and some thread to make your own diapers.

This tip works best for making your own inserts. However, if you really want to make your own covers from things you already own, you can research how to make and waterproof diaper covers using wool sweaters.

If you don’t want to go as far as making wool covers, you can buy waterproof covers and make the inserts yourself.

For inserts, simply cut rectangles or ovals out of the fabric, layer it together, and stitch the layers together.

Fabrics that work well for this include:

  • Cotton flannel
  • Terry
  • Microfiber (just make sure this layer won’t be touching your baby’s skin)
  • Microfleece

You can also use regular cotton for diaper inserts, but if you have enough, it can work better as a flat or a prefold.

A flat, like the name implies, is a single layer of fabric. You can fold it in a variety of ways depending on where you want the most absorbency.

A prefold is like a flat that has already been partially folded and sewn into place so you don’t have to re-fold it every time you use it.

There are lots of tutorials and fabric combination ideas for inserts on Pinterest if you need any more help!

See if You Can Borrow Some

This is actually how I got the first set of diapers we used. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had a whole collection of diapers from his parents they’d used for his younger brother. Since we were expecting our son and they didn’t have any children yet, they let us use the diapers.

Once they got pregnant with their son, we needed a replacement for the diapers we were using. That’s what led to the diapers I replaced the elastic in (that I mentioned above).

Maybe someone you know has some diapers that they aren’t currently using? If they are in a gap between children, maybe they’d be willing to lend or rent them to you. This can save you (and possibly them) money at the same time!

Just make sure you sanitize them between children, especially when they’re going back and forth between families.

This tip works best if you only need diapers for one child or only for a short time. If you’re looking on building a stash you know you can use for years or for multiple children, I’d recommend following the above tips.

Well, that’s what I have for how to save money on cloth diapers and grow your collection on a budget.

If you’re looking for more ways to save on everything you’ll need for your baby, check out this post!


What are you favorite ways to save money on cloth diapers? Have you made any of your own?

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