The cost of washing

After purchasing (or hiring) cloth nappies you need to factor in the cost of washing them. Are they really cheaper than disposables?

Article written May 2022. Energy and water rates correct at time of writing but may have increased / decreased over time. Rates can also vary significantly by region. Standing charges are not factored in. Figures provided are indicative only. Energy and water costs for running washing machines are also dependant on the exact programme options selected, and the weight of the laundry.

The Ofgem electricity price cap is currently 28p per kWh. Energy costs are based on this rate. If you’re lucky enough to have a fixed tariff then your costs may be lower.

Water rates calculated by taking an average of three randomly selected water companies (Thames Water, Severn Trent, United Utilities) using April 2022 rates. If you are not on metered water you can discount these costs.

machineProgrammeEnergy usage (kwh)Energy cost (pence)Water usage (Litres)Water cost (pence)
Indesit (F-rated) 6kgsRinse cycle (36 minutes)
Cottons (heavy soiling) 60c
0.1
1.04
3
29
33
48
9
13
Zanussi (D-rated) 7kgsUnable to find data for rinse cycle
Cottons 60c
0.1
1.10
3
31
56
80
15
22
Samsung Ecobubble (B-rated) 8kgs‘Quick 15’ (with 5 rinses, energy usage does not include the final two rinses which need to be manually selected).
‘Mixed load’ is also a popular prewash option but I am unable to find energy and water usage figures for this.
Cottons 60c plus Bubblesoak
0.015





2.192
0.42





61
43





127
12





35
Miele (A-rated) 9kgsSeparate rinse cycle (28 minutes)
Cottons 60c with Stains and Water+
0.1
1.3
3
36
45
91
12
25
Figures in italics have been estimated as full data was not always available.

Detergent costs

Costs correct as of May 2022. Assumes you’re purchasing large pack sizes, but without special offers. Doses are for heavy soiling. For larger drum sizes you may need more detergent than is recommended below.

Using detergent in your prewash, which I don’t recommend as it is unnecessary, will increase your detergent costs.

Soft waterMedium waterHard water
Detergent /
recommended dose for drum size
Fairy
6kgs
37p37p43p
Persil
6-8kgs
25p29p34p
Tesco non-bio
6kgs
8p10p11p
Bambino Mio Miocare
4.5kgs (full wash according to packaging)
40p48p72p
Detergent costs, indicative only.

Your costs

To find your approximate cost of washing – select the washing machine closest to your model machine, take the energy number (and the water if applicable and add together), select your detergent and add that. Divide by the average number of nappies you wash.

So for me, my machine is the Miele (39p for both cycles), I have unmetered water (0p), and use Tesco non-bio (11p). A nappy wash costs me approximately 50 pence. I use around 6 nappies per day and wash every other day, so the cost of washing is 4p per nappy. (50p divided by 12). If I had metered water this cost would rise to 7p per nappy.

The cost of disposables

If you use an average of 6 nappies per day (so 12 over a 48 hour period) you would expect to pay anywhere between 72p to £3.72 depending on brand etc.

Prices correct as of June 2022. Tesco nappies (size 4) 6p each. Pampers Active Fit (size 4) 27p each. Kit and Kin eco disposables (size 4) 24p each. Naty eco disposables (size 4) 31p each.

Add another 28p to these numbers to account for one budget nappy sack per change, plus 8 budget disposable wipes (one per change plus a couple of extra for a dirty nappy each day).

So using disposable nappies and wipes would cost around 8p per nappy if you used the cheapest brands available in Tesco.

Summary

Even with the rises in energy costs, the day to day usage of cloth nappies is still cheaper than using the lower priced disposable alternatives.