As far as cost goes, there are a few up front expenses: the outer, cute cloth panties, and the inner, snap-in liners. You will invest in these (like children's clothing) and then be done with it. The outer panties cost $15 to $19 a pair, depending on pattern, and I am getting by just fine with 4 panties. (You don't need to wash these very often, but when you do they go right in the washer and dryer, no prob.) Each cloth panty comes with a snap-in, coated-nylon liner, but if you want a few extra they only cost $2.50 a piece. I have 7 and that is plenty. The liners also don't need washing at every change, but when they do, they, too, can just go straight into the washer and dryer, no fuss.
The recurring cost comes from the flushable inserts. These cost more than disposable diapers. You'd think they would cost less, since there isn't anything fancy going on (it's like a big, rectangular maxi pad, that you stuff into the liner), but alas this is not the case. I tell myself that they ain't cheap because the contents need to be extra special in order to be both absorbent and dissolvable/biodegradable… (You can read all about the contents at the gDiapers website.)
If you really care about a cost comparison, this is the paragraph for you. I took notes over here at the grocery store for Americans. Here are the prices per diaper (rounded to the nearest penny) on the disposable brands offered here, in Maddie's size.
0.14 Pure & Gentle
0.23 Natural Choice
0.26 Huggies Supreme
0.28 Pampers Swaddlers
By comparison, the cheapest online source I have found for purchasing the inserts comes out to be about 0.35 per insert, shipping to my wacko address not included. YIKES. I am told that if you live in the States, you can buy the inserts for less at various stores there, but I have no idea on prices. I can update you in a few months.
There are only two ways I can think of that gDipes could save you a bit of moolah, but I have no idea how to calculate how much. The first is this: if you use cloth diapers, then you are used to doing extra laundry. You will not need to do any special laundry with gDiapers, so you can save some $$$ on your water and energy bills there. I just toss the little liners and panties in, on occasion, when I am doing laundry anyway. The second savings area is this: if you use a diaper pail which requires the purchase of special bags, you will not need to buy these special bags very often anymore. The only time a diaper will end up in the pail is when you don't (or, more likely, your husband doesn't) want to deal with handling a poopy insert.
Which leads me to...
The functional analysis. Now that we have the cost stuff out of the way, let's get to the cool part. gDIAPERS CAN HOLD A BLOW-OUT LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS. And that, my friends, is worth 0.35 a shot to me. The liner is really key to holding it in. Rarely does poop end up on the cloth panty, and, therefore, almost NEVER does poop (or poop soup as my hubby calls it) end up on the baby's clothing. YEEHAW.
Changing the dipe is easy, but not quick. We keep all 4 cloth panties loaded with liners and inserts at all times (or at least I load ‘em up every morning), so that we are always ready to go when we need to change. Changing the dipe goes like this: un-velcro the cloth panty and remove the whole kit and caboodle from the baby’s body. Pull the soiled insert out and dangle it over your toilet. Tear the insert down both sides so that the innards of the insert fall into the toilet. Swish them around (with a plastic stir-stick, provided) so that they start to dissolve, and then flush. Load a new insert into the liner/panty contraption (or grab a pre-loaded one from the stack) and put it back on your babe. And you're good to go.
It's a bit more complicated with the poop situation. The insert doesn't always catch all the poo, so it gets on the liner. In this case, you also need to unsnap the liner (rinse it in the sink if you are so inclined) and then drop it off in the laundry room. Snap in a clean liner and proceed as above.
PLEASE NOTE: The Gutsy Dad does not like to do the tear and swish thing in the toilet, so he just throws the soiled insert away. And this is fine. It will still biodegrade in about 60 days. (Unless it is sealed in a plastic bag.) It will even benefit the soil it ends up in. And that's really cool.
So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about gDipes. I think the cost is worth it—I feel all green and self-righteous and I have fewer poop-stained baby clothes. Hooray.