A lot of people overlook just how much buying and selling used cloth diapers can save money. So in this part of the Saving Money on Diapers series, I want to break down the overall costs of buying used.
Before you run away thinking, “YOU ARE DISGUSTING,” just humor me for one second. When you buy used diapers, you can put them through an extensive stripping process to make sure that you remove any bacteria from the diaper. So it’s not as gross as it initially sounds. So if that erases your concerns a bit, then let’s talk about buying and selling used diapers.
I asked my awesome group of Facebook followers about how much they pay for diapers, and they gave a lot of great tips:
* Most say they do not buy used diapers for less than 50% off of the price of the diaper if it were new. The big exception here are prefolds. They are generally pretty expensive to ship (one time I foolishly sold prefolds for too little and spent more on shipping them than what I got by selling them). But many people like buying these used because of the costs and time it takes to prep prefolds.
* A lot of people say they don’t spend more than $10 on a diaper. My general rule for me is usually no more than $9
Just be sure that when you buy the diapers, pay attention to notes on damage, staining, etc. If a diaper is going for 50% of the retail price, and the elastic is totally shot or has holes in it, it probably isn’t a good call.
Let’s Break Down the Costs
A few notes on the math…
Now, there are a billion corrections that many people would make to this. Anyone who gives you a spot on estimate on the costs of cloth diapering and claims it’s 100% accurate is inevitably off. There are just too many factors at hand. This is such a VERY rough estimate based on my personal experience, feedback from readers, and survey responses.
Let me quickly explain my cost estimate for washing. I pulled from various websites, including my local gas and electric company (SMUD and PG&E) in California (where rates are higher), as well as this website that many people use. The estimate does account for detergent costs. Sadly there isn’t what I would consider to be a reliable source that TRULY breaks things down, so I can only give you a rough estimate. These estimates are rough and depend entirely on your location, water temperature, method of drying, machine type, and much more. But I felt it very important to include that number.
The cost of selling a diaper: because most of the price reduction is because something was already pooped in by someone else’s kid, you really don’t have to reduce too much from your initial cost, unless the diaper has significant wear or damage. You should at least reduce the price some. Plus once you count into the fact that you pay for shipping and paypal fees (if you sell online), you can expect it to be roughly 25% of the retail value.
There are several places where you can buy diapers used:
* Retailers: I often recommend this because you know that at the end of the day, it is VERY important that the retailer be honest about the condition of the diaper, since their reputation is very important to them. You can type in “used diapers” in the Cloth Diaper Retailer Database and see all companies that buy/sell used diapers. Re-diaper.com is one great resource for that (in fact, I have bought and sold from them and it was a pain-free process). I have found that, in general, you do pay a few bucks more when you buy from these sites. But the likelihood of you having to return a diaper (or re-sell) because the condition was not what was originally stated is very low.
* Cloth Diaper Forums: The most popular online spaces for buying/selling cloth diapers is through Diaper Swappers, Cloth Diaper Trader, and Baby Center. People post what they want or what they want to sell, and you work out the details. Moderators try to stay on top of these sites to make sure you aren’t buying from shady people (for example, some sites have policies where you need to be a member for a certain amount of time in order to start selling). Just a little tip, a price will read “pp” after it, which means it includes the shipping costs. A lot of lingo will be used on these sites, so you can refer to my HUGE Cloth Diaper Dictionary to guide you through the process. And if something is missing, just let me know.
* Ebay and Craigslist: I don’t recommend these too much. Ebay isn’t so great because there is less moderation, plus people tend to spend more on those bidding websites. Craigslist is good, but it is often very difficult to find what you are looking for. The selection is much better on a cloth diaper specific website.
* Giving Diapers, Giving Hope: If your income is within a certain range, you are eligible to apply for Giving Diapers, Giving Hope. This company receives used diapers from generous donors and then provides them for people who fit a certain income range. You pay just $35 and that covers them shipping diapers to you and a whole stash of diapers. They ask for an optional donation of $10 a month.
Comments from Padded Tush Stats Readers
I bought them when I was building a stash. Then as I slowly added new diapers, I’ve sold off the older/used/outgrown ones (to buy MORE of course!).
My rule of thumb is that after you use something, its retail value drops by 50%.
I don’t typically pay more than $10 for any single used diaper … I don’t think I ever paid more than $7 for a used sized diaper. Another way I have gotten cheaper diapers is to buy second quality when they are available.
I sell them in eBay occasionally. I usually get about half of what I paid for them, but I have sold some barely-used newborn diapers for almost as much as I paid for them. I’ve also purchased a couple of diapers on eBay (used), not liked them and turned around and sold them for more than I originally paid – it just depends on what people are looking for at that time.
I think a lot of times people look to get 60-75% of their costs back selling “sized” diapers/supplies. I’ve bought used pefolds and covers. Covers show staining/wear more so I’ve paid 50% max. And velcro wears pretty fast. I’m willing to pay more for prefolds which show less wear and can be easily sanitized. Saves prep time too. One wash and/or boil and you’re good to go vs. 5+ washes to prep.
I don’t like paying more then $10 for a diaper new or used. I also feel that something used drops by 50% in value
I won’t pay more then 50% off the original for good/very good condition but typically closer to 60% off. This would be for used condition but no to barely any staining pulling etc.
When I buy used I will only spend 50% percent of the retail value. Although I do see people sell them for 60-75%. I think that age does play a part in determining how much a used diaper is worth. I think that a diaper that is used for only 6 months might be worth paying 60% , 1 year 50%, 18 months 40% and 2 years 30%. A diaper that was wasted and only used once or twice I would say might be worth 75% of the retail value. I have even purchased new diapers from people who changed their mind on cloth diapering and I won’t pay more than 80%. A diaper looses its value the minute it arrives in a customers home in my opinion because you have to assume it has been tried on. Besides why would you want to risk buying from someone at the same price when you could buy from an authorized retailer and have a warranty.
My best tip when buying used is to buy used in person, or from someone you trust if buying sight unseen. My “Gently Used condition” and your “GUC” might be very different.
I’ve bought used on diaperswappers – I usually look at all the options and just weight how much damage it looks like it has versus what I could get if I bought it full price. I only just started selling used, and I went through the listings to find items in a similar condition to what I have, and then I try to price competitively to that
I’m always looking for deals on used diapers, it’s a great way to try out a new brand before committing. I also sell quite a bit as well, always changing things up, most of my stash is used.
Do you already sell used diapers? Can you fill out this survey at change-diapers.com? She is working on a great Kelly Bluebook-like resource for selling diapers and needs your help! I can’t wait to see what she does.
These are some links I have found on selling diapers. If you know of more, please let me know!
How to sell Used Diapers – by the Cloth Diaper Connection
So You Want to Sell Your Diapers - by the Eco-Friendly Family Blog
Special thanks to my friends on Facebook who gave me a lot of feedback on this, especially Carolyn R. who helped look over the final draft.
Other Posts in this series:
Do you have any tips or questions on buying and selling used diapers?