Often we tend to focus on the less pleasant parts of menstruating and forget to take care of our bodies that are hard at work. As women and moms, we’re often too busy putting the needs of others above our own.
But your period can be a monthly reminder to take extra care of yourself. And one of the best ways to care for your body is to choose safer menstrual products.
Cloth pads are good for your body
Conventional disposable products can contain plastics, artificial fragrances, adhesives, and chemical gels – things you don’t want next to one of the most sensitive parts of your body! Cloth pads are free from irritating materials, so you can avoid unnecessary exposure to the synthetic ingredients in disposable pads and tampons.
One of the lesser-known benefits of switching to reusable menstrual pads is the period positivity that comes along with it. The menstrual cycle is a natural – even sacred process. Many of us grow up believing that it’s a messy inconvenience or, worse, a disgusting disease-like condition. The embarrassment or shame we feel about our periods is often a result of negative cultural conditioning. Many women have experience profound positive transformations in our feelings toward our menstrual cycles after ditching the disposables!
Cloth pads are good for the planet
The average woman will use 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, party-liners, and tampons in her lifetime.
That’s a lot of waste!
Plus, think of the manufacturing, shipping, and packaging impact over the years. Cloth pads last for years, helping you keep your environmental footprint small and saving you from monthly trips to the store. Make sure to choose a brand that’s plastic and nylon free, and uses only natural fibers.
Cloth pads are good for your budget
Once you build your full set of cloth pads, you’ll have reliable menstrual protection for years to come. Most are made to last for five years, but many women report that their pads have lasted much longer! Washable cloth pads are much more economical when compared to the cost of disposable products over your lifetime.
Remember those 12,000 to 16,000 disposables the average woman will use? If she’s a buying box of 20 tampons or pads at $5 per box, she’ll throw away upwards of $3,000.
It’s kind of like equipping your kitchen with ceramic plates: it would be tremendously expensive (not to mention wasteful!) to continuously purchase disposable paper plates, so we buy plates that we can use indefinitely.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cloth Pads
How many pads will I need?
The short answer: it depends. How long is your cycle? How heavy is your flow? How often do you plan to wash your pads? These are all questions you can consider when thinking about how many cloth pads you’ll need. In general, six to twelve day pads and a few night pads and party-liners are sufficient for most women. You can always start with just a few and add to your stash as you learn more about what works best for you!
How do I choose the right style / size?
While there are endless styles of cloth pads on the market, they can be broken down into three main groups: party-liners, day pads, and night pads. Remember, you’ll probably want a variety of styles for different days of your cycle!
Choose party-liners if…
• you want back-up for a menstrual cup or tampon
• you have very light flow, including at the very beginning or end of your cycle
• you want to wear everyday protection
Choose day pads if…
• you typically use standard disposable day pads
• you sometimes leak urine when you sneeze or laugh (happens to the best of us!)
• you have moderate flow
Choose night pads if…
• you have just given birth and need postpartum protection
• you tend to leak over the front of back of your pads
• you have heavy flow
How do I use them on the go or traveling?
When you remove your pad, you can put it in a waterproof bag in your purse or backpack until it’s time to wash. Then follow the washing instructions below.
How do I wash cloth pads?
There are two main washing techniques: the dry method or the soaking method.
You may choose to keep a zippered wet bag next to the toilet for used pads. At the end of your cycle, fill a tub or container with cold water and let the pads soak for about 30 minutes. Adding a presoak cleaner helps reduce staining. Drain the water and toss the now wet pads into the washing machine with the rest of the load. You can also just put your used pads directly in the washing machine if you want to skip the tub soak.
Some women prefer to use the soaking method, and keep a small container in the bathroom in which to soak their pads before washing. If you do this, adding a presoak cleaner and changing the water every day will keep your soaking container free from mildew and odor.
Whatever you choose, make sure to use a mild detergent free from harsh chemicals, fabric softener, or bleach, as these will reduce the lifespan of your pads. Click here to find more tips for making your cloth pads last longer.
Youʼll want to store your cloth pad collection somewhere free of moisture, and only put them away when they are fully dry. You might find, as many women do, that the monthly ritual of caring for your pads gives you feelings of satisfaction — because taking good care of your body feels good!
Quick Tips for washing cloth pads
• Cold water helps keep stains at bay
• Change soaking water daily, or wait to soak
• Avoid bleach, fragrance, and fabric softener
• Dry on lowest setting
What about leakage?
Leakage is the #1 worry of women thinking about using cloth pads — and for good reason. No one wants to be the girl with a stain on the seat of her pants! Fortunately, lots of women find that cloth actually works better for them than disposables. Cloth pads won’t bunch or twist like adhesive pads can, and most pads have an absorbent core to keep you leak-free.
To stay comfortable and leak-free, just make sure you change your pad frequently enough (about as often as you would a disposable) and choose the right absorbency for your flow.
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- Making the Switch: The benefits of cloth menstrual pads - July 20, 2015