Low Income Is Not a Barrier to Cloth Diapering

I’ve been on a lot of cloth diapering groups as of late.  A lot.  Sometimes I’m more vocal than others.  I realized today, though, that I can never leave cloth diapering groups.  Not because of the brilliant conversation, the opportunity to engage in “spirited debate” over the virtues horrors virtues of bleach, or the opportunity to find more blog fodder… I can’t leave because I don’t want people to find that being low income is a barrier to cloth diapering.

Low Income Is Not a Barrier to Cloth Diapering (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

At least twice a week, I find a post where someone really and truly wants to use cloth diapers… but she only has a budget of like $40 or something.  Sure, she could try to buy used cloth diapers.  Or she could take a chance on China Cheapies.  Or there’s prefolds.  (As much as I love prefolds, though, they stopped being fun for me when babies got to wriggly.)

But, really, whenever someone tells me that she has less that $75 to start cloth diapering, I have the same suggestion.  I don’t ask if she’s in a low income situation or not because, quite frankly, it’s none of my business.

“I’m not sure what your financial situation is like or where you are, but there are some groups that can help you.  If you’re in Canada, there’s Cloth for a Cause.  If you’re in the States, you can apply with Cloth for Everybum, Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, or The Rebecca Foundation.”

Being low income is not a reason to avoid cloth diapering.  If anything, being of low income is a reason to embrace cloth diapering.  Sure, there are crazy people like me who would have spent significantly less on disposables… but reasonable, sane people who aren’t addicted to cloth?  Well, the cost savings alone is enough to pay at least one utility bill for a typical family.  And those families will not be struggling over diaper need.

With that in mind, I can’t be on every cloth diapering group out there.  I just don’t have that kind of time on my hands.  This is where you come in.  When someone says that they want to use cloth diapers but they just plain can’t afford to buy enough to start, remember this post and remember these organizations.  If you’re feeling energetic and ambitious, maybe contact one of them and see what you can do to help.

Have you ever worked with a cloth diaper lending group?  (Whether as a donor, recipient, or volunteer?)  What was your experience like?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I was one of those people who had no other choice but to embrace cloth diapering when my husband was laid off of work for a year.

    Yes, I was a stay at home mom (because I often hear “cloth diapering is just too time consuming” from those who believed that had all of the time in the world)…but there were even times when I had to wash by hand, which only took around 30 minutes per night, which meant I just missed out on my favorite tv show.

    Given my experience in cloth diapering and belief that it can relieve financial burden, I decided to lead a local cloth diapering lending program that serves low income families in my hometown. Volunteering takes up only an hour or two of my time per week and is extremely rewarding 🙂
    AlannaB recently posted…Flax Meal Bread RecipeMy Profile

  2. Love it! Totally agree! I actually wrote a post awhile ago with several ways to save on cloth diapering because I think it’s important that people who are new to (and overwhelmed by) cloth diapering at first know that it doesn’t have to be as expensive as it first may seem!
    Alicia Owen recently posted…Baby Food Revisited-Part 1My Profile

  3. Janella Stronczek says:

    Thank you SO much! I had no idea that programs like these existed! This will definitely be beneficial to our family!

  4. Leslie bush says:

    I have had money, owned a biz, opened an orphanage (diapered those rears to). Married for 20 years and then have also been homeless as a single mom of five. 2 bedwetters, on SN son just turned 7 who will always b in diapers and a just turned 3 yo still in diapers. While homeless and almost no income I still cloth diapered. Just knowing I could use the last dollar which could be for beans and rice for a week, I could buy a item to throw away? Makes no sense. It was it me consuming, didn’t get as clean, but felt like I actually had a purpose at this moment of m life. It’s hard to explain. But knowing I could feed my kids and diaper them so the older ones were not in wet clothes the next day did give me a small sense of purpose. At this point of my life I do not get that feeling often. I lived in our old van in a camp ground with a make shift rope to hang them. I did find pockets were the best because the inserts never did get ver clean but the pocket would. So I know that the fabric touching all 3 of my kids skin was clean. Plus they fit them all. I am still struggling, finally in a place with the same basic tech
    Inquest. You do get over the FAD WANTS, ESP WHEN YOU MAKE A SPECIAL DIAPER YOURSELF OR COVER OR FIND A NEAT PRINT IN A TRADE (trades can be for anything most of the time). A fad is a fad, come and go. But that 25$ diaper would feed my kids for 3 days… Healthy foods to.nand gas to keep. The car warm as temps drop to the negatives. I would love to be a source for low income moms or dads etc or ones that want to be frugal. I co owned a CD biz for years and would happily work wi th families on a cheap, functional, grow with, stash fo r your family.

  5. Cassie Clipston says:

    Hi my name is Cassie and I am interested in getting involved in teaching people to use clothe diapers. I have a 2nd hand children store and do a lot for young moms and for low income families. I have added new and used cloth diapers to the store to help families save money.

  6. we had my aunt who is a quilter makes us piles of cloth diapers. they worked out great. there is def more options out there than just paying big bucks

  7. I started using cloth diapers because I was low income. We bought a few every time we could and just washed very often. It is doable but it takes commitment.
    Nancy Bobbert recently posted…A Visit to the CircusMy Profile

  8. My sister has a bunch of cloth diapers, so instead of me buying new ones, I told her to save them for when we have future kids! She has a tendency to sell what she doesn’t use anymore, but these can get expensive rebuying them all.
    Jenny recently posted…Get Affordable Prom Dresses at DressFirst!My Profile

  9. Very Thoughtful Of You To Post For Others, Thanks For Sharing!!
    Lisa Jones recently posted…Checkout 50 /New Way To Save & Coupon!My Profile

  10. Oh yes, most mothers I know when I talk about cloth diapers, they will say it’s expensive and that they don’t want the laundry part. Sometimes, it’s so hard to explain that cloth diapering will help them save a lot. Maybe they think that they can’t afford the initial investment of building their stash.
    Maye Domencil recently posted…Lazada launches mobile shopping app for iPhone and iPadMy Profile

  11. I have never tried cloth diapers with my children. But the point you make, makes me think of all the money I could have saved.
    Colleen Busch recently posted…Alexa’s Angels Valentine’s Day Positivity Bracelet set of three Jewerly Giveaway / ReviewMy Profile

  12. The only time that I can think that cloth diapering would have a true barrier to entry, specifically income based, would be when a family does not have access to affordable laundry facilities. It can take quite a few washes to get them clean. I’ve hand washed a lot of diapers and read the flats challenges as well, and while it’s doable, it really does a number on your hands. Perhaps add to the post about how cloth diaper charities and lending banks exist in the US, because even though I love reading your blog, I’m in the US. <3
    Elizabeth Copeland recently posted…iPad Mini Giveaway – Open WorldwideMy Profile

    • I did mention the two that I’m most familiar with: Giving Diapers, Giving Hope and The Rebecca Foundation. 🙂 They are both American charities. Thanks, Elizabeth!

  13. I was not aware of programs like this. I wish that I had donated my son’s retired diapers to an organization like these. Cloth diapering was part of what allowed me to remain a SAHM.
    Tonya Bangart recently posted…New Word Search Word List!My Profile

  14. THis is such valuable info that I wasn’t aware of. Thank you.

  15. Though my diapering days are looong over, I applaud all of you who use them. Not only for the cost savings, but for the good it does for the environment. We have become such a throw away society, and using cloth diapers is an awesome way to stem some of that nonsense.
    Denise Gabbard recently posted…Major AWWW– Budweiser has Another Hit on Their Hands!My Profile

  16. Hi Alanna– Did you start the cloth diaper lending group yourself? If so, could you give me some pointers– love the idea and it sounds like something great to be part of.
    Denise Gabbard recently posted…Major AWWW– Budweiser has Another Hit on Their Hands!My Profile

    • Hi Denise,

      Alanna is part of the Cotton Babies Share the Love program. There are also other lending programs with chapters in the United States, including The Rebecca Foundation. 🙂

  17. I would think that people with a lower income would enjoy cloth diapering. I know there is a larger upfront cost, but in the long run or even monthly it’s way cheaper.
    Tara @ Tara, Dan & Clan recently posted…Stupid Things People Say To Pregnant WomenMy Profile

  18. I can see where folks would be confused about cloth diapering costs. There’s lots of info out there…and definitely some misleading stuff! Thanks for the clarification
    Christie recently posted…Transformers Prime: Ultimate Bumblebee DVD ReviewMy Profile

  19. We registered for cloth sets. We knew that we wanted to CD, and even though we knew they might be an investment up front, it was well worth it! I plan to do the same thing the second time around.
    Ondria Witt recently posted…Mickey Mouse ClubHouse: Minnie-Rella on Disney DVD February 11th! +Our Review!My Profile

  20. Kristina Hartwell says:

    The great thing is many municipalities have cloth diaper subsidies to help fund the cost of acquiring your cloth diaper stash! I am taking advantage of the $100 offer from my city of Longueuil, QC! It’s definitely worth looking into to see if your city offers one of these subsidies!

    • I don’t think any of the municipalities in BC offer it as of yet, but I’d love to see it become something that happens Canada-wide!

  21. Cloth diapering saved me a ton overall. Yes the start up was a lot but I saved it over time.
    Kathy recently posted…Homemade Meatball RecipeMy Profile

  22. I Heard Great Things About Cloth Diapers & Thank You For All The Benefits I Never Used But Wish I Did!
    Lisa Jones recently posted…The Choir Boy By Eric Schneider!My Profile

  23. I have heard amazing things about cloth diapers!! SO many of my friends use them, i am seriously considering switching!!
    Danielle recently posted…Six Months To Success In The Blogging WorldMy Profile

    • Do it! Do it! If you’re not sold on the environmental factors or the potential cost savings, then take a tour through the Daily Cute Fluffy Bum tag on my blog. That’ll convince ANYONE! 😉

  24. Jenna Barraclough says:

    It’s strange for me because as much of an advocate as I am my biggest issue is not that it’s proven cheaper, not that it’s easier, and not that it’s cuter but the laundry factor. Even for extremely poor families in my area it’s a pride factor of unwillingness to try flats without a washing machine. It takes “too much time” it’s “too gross”. They would rather go into debt buying sposies than wash. Of course that won’t stop me from offering, you never know when SHTF they might be interested.

    • I think it’s because they’re still stuck in the stigma that “only poor people cloth diaper.” Even though cloth diapering is now something that people of all classes do. (Heck, the person who got me into using cloth in the first place is a lawyer who went to an ivy league law school.) It’s just like breastfeeding: some people who choose formula are still stuck in the mindset of breastfeeding being something that only poor people do… even though the tide is turning on that.

  25. Very great post! I think sometimes people only see the initial cost of something verses what they would be able to save LONG term..

  26. I’ve never worked with a cloth diaper lending group, but I’ve donated diapers to a local organization that works with moms in need.

  27. Judith Martinez says:

    I would have a hard time making my budget work without cloth diapers. I’ve been in serious diaper need in the past. My dream is to put together frugal cloth diaper packages for families that utilize our church food bank. I plan on using the printable guides that dirty diaper laundry put together. I want to put together kits for families without laundry facilities and other kits for families with laundry facilities.

  28. Leilani Y says:

    I have not, but I am considering it. I am just worried about getting diapers that are not in good condition or something. I am not expecting brand new, and I am sure they would not send me bad diapers and I should be grateful for it, but then I would just worry about that.

  29. Kylie M. says:

    Going down to one income when baby gets here. Worried about all cost. We don’t want to have to worry about diapers too

  30. Rachel N says:

    I actually really like using flour sack towels and covers and I have an expensive stash of quality AIO and pocket diapers too. They are so easy to use and so cheap.

  31. For future moms that decide they want to use cloth while they are pregnant, saving the amount that they’d be spending on disposables each month can buy a bunch of cloth diapers!

  32. Vicki Hall says:

    I think OS diaper covers and prefolds and flats along with AI2s are very economical Even very low income families can save using cloth diapers.

  33. Heather Miles says:

    I have worked with a couple of cloth diaper lending groups. I’ve been out of babies for 4 years now and still make them and send them off. I don’t think you are truly an addict until you start making them yourself. I’ve sewn 6 birth-to-potty-training stashes and only had two children. I did everything from a completely recycled stash that cost me $20: two wool sweaters, 4 queen-size flannel sheets and a set of pins I didn’t count. I made flats, 2 bum sweaters, 2 pairs of longies to my dream stash (which I made for my best friend this past year) 24 each size diaper from preemie to large All-in-2 bullet proof pul and suedecloth covers with multiple snap-in inserts each a dozen of which were custom embroidered. Every time I make diapers for my friends or family it’s with the caveat that they return them to me when they are done so that I can donate them to a family in need. It’s my passion and my pleasure to make something that will be used and loved by so many families

    • It’s fabulous that you are helping! But I’ve got to disagree that making diapers is a requirement to being an addict. I just can’t sew worth a darn and am too much of a perfectionist for a substandard product.

  34. I am so lucky to have received 5 Thirsties duo size 1 covers from Giving Diapers Giving Hope that I use with Gerber prefolds, I know they get a bad rap but they were baby shower gifts and work fine trifolded for us. I also earn Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks (anywhere from $5-30 a month depending on how much time I put in and what offers they have at the time) that I just used to order my first bumGenius for Christmas

  35. Thank you for writing this post! It is still sending folks to us (Cloth for Everybum) to this day! We love helping those who want to cloth diaper but do not have the means to invest in it. Follow us on Facebook, instagram, and pinterest!


  1. […] You can try using flats, flour sack towels, or prefolds with covers.  And there are even organizations out there that can help you with a starter stash so that you can build your […]

  2. […] in ones) to choose from, and then within those different styles are a plethora of brands.  And the start up cost to building a cloth diaper stash doesn’t help.  It can be super overwhelming with an […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge