Fun New Calculation

I had a person email me asking about the cost of “all that laundry” with cloth diapering. I’ve never actually analyzed it, but I did today. I’ll be putting this up on my soon to be revamped website, but am putting it here for now….

A reasonably efficient top loader uses about 30 gallons of water per load. At Des Moines current water rates, that’s .07 per load for the water used.

According to the clean air partnership, it takes 4.3 kwh to heat water for a hot wash, which at Des Moines current electricity rates, means 37 cents to heat the water.

Using the US Dept of Energy’s website helps me figure out that the washer uses .1 kwh per cycle, which comes to almost 1 cent.

So, per load, to wash, we’re spending 45 cents. Per week, about 90 cents. Let’s round up to a dollar. 52 weeks in a year, $52. Three years in diapers, just over $150.

If you want to dry in an electric dryer, the Multi-Housing Laundry Association (who are they? I don’t know.) says that the average dryer uses 3.3 kwh per cycle. That’s 28 cents using my electric rates. Two loads a week, about 60 cents. 52 weeks a year, $31.20 per year. Three years in diapers, about $90.

Total over three years, energy and water cost = less than $250.

Mid American residential electric rate is currently 8.551 cents per kwh. City of Des Moines water is $2.21 per 1000 gallons.
Any questions/issues with my math or sources, PLEASE post. Also, I didn’t look at a bill for my rates, I used the companies’ websites, so if my energy costs are off, that’d be good to know, too.


Author: sarahtar

Hi, I am Sarah, owner of Wallypop ( and Boulevard Designs ( I homeschool, work from home, and, along with my husband, raise 3 kids, one of whom has special and medical needs. Turn ons are people who are polite, honesty, and really good root beer. Turn offs are mean people and people who make my life more difficult.

One thought on “Fun New Calculation”

  1. Holy cow – that’s impressive numbers. I mean, I never really thought of it like that, but it really IS that simple. I’m spending ridiculous amounts of money on pampers and huggies, and for what? I think I’m going to take a closer look at the cloth diapering… Thanks for the insights.

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