#1: What are Cloth Pads?
Cloth Menstrual Pads are similar to disposable menstrual pads except that they’re reusable! This means that instead of being made with plastic or paper, they’re made of cloth and other natural materials like bamboo and charcoal.
In terms of effectiveness, cloth sanitary pads are slightly less absorbent than their disposable counterparts. However, most people find that they work well enough and are very happy that they made the switch!
Reusable menstrual products? We’re ALL about that here at Reusable Menstrual Cups!
#2: Why use Cloth Sanitary Pads?
Cloth pads make a better choice than disposable menstrual pads for a few different reasons, including the following:
Cloth Menstrual Pads: Great for The Environment
The average person uses a whole box of pads or tampons during their monthly period. That is a significant amount of plastic waste going into the landfill each and every single day from feminine hygiene products.
Now imagine if even just 5% of people around the world used reusable cloth pads instead of the disposable ones. Reusable pads can last for 5-10 with proper care and cleaning. That’s a whole lot less waste overall! And the world would certainly be a better place.
Disposable pads are largely made from plastic, while reusable cloth pads are made from mostly natural materials. Plastic will still be hanging around the landfill in hundreds of years from now. Reusable cloth pads will biodegrade within a decade.
Reusable Cloth Pads: Great for your Body
Disposable menstrual pads often have lots of harmful chemicals from the pesticides used to grow cotton, as well as chemicals from the manufacturing process. You can get organic disposable pads but they’re quite expensive! Cloth pads, once washed are free of any of these harmful chemicals.
If you have allergies, or sensitive skin, consider making the switch to reusable pads. You’ll probably find that you have a much better period experience!
Cloth Menstrual Pads: Save Money
A box of disposable pads costs around $5. You can get a single cloth pad for around that same price and it can be reused, over and over again for 5 years or even longer.
In the long run, you’ll save money by using cloth pads. Over the course of a lifetime, it can reach into the thousands of dollars.
Frugal Living at its best! Reusable menstrual products including cloth sanitary pads, period panties and menstrual cups will save you a ton of money over the medium to long term. Start early in your teens for maximum savings potential!
#3: How Long do Cloth Pads Last?
Good news! Cloth menstrual pads will last for at least a few years.
Think about it this way. If you have 7-10 pads, you’ll probably wear each pad 2-3 times a month. Multiply this by 12 and that’s around 30 times a year. 30 x 2 years = 60 times.
You would most certainly wear your favourite t-shirt or jeans more than 60 times and you can do this with your cloth pads as well. 3-5 years is probably a reasonable estimate for how long you’ll be able to use a cloth pad.
#4: Are Cloth Menstraul Pads Expensive?
Cloth pads are around a few dollars per pad, depending on the size. Pantyliners will be at the low end of that range, while big overnight pads will be at the higher end. You can, however make your own cloth menstrual pads for cheaper.
Compared to disposable menstrual pads at around $0.20 per pad, they could be considered expensive. However, a cloth menstrual pad can last for at least two years and quite possibly double or triple that. Over the medium to long-term, cloth pads are certainly much cheaper than their disposable counterparts.
Check out some of the best economical options for washable cloth pads here:
Best Cloth Menstrual Pads
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#5: Is there a Variety of Reusable Cloth Pad Sizes?
The panty-liners are cheaper, while the thicker and longer ones are more expensive. You will definitely be able to find a cloth menstrual pad that will work for you.
#6: What do you do with the Dirty Cloth Pads?
If you’re at home, it’s quite easy to deal with dirty cloth sanitary pads. You can simply throw them in with a load of laundry (use warm or cold water only-hot water sets the stains). Or, if you don’t have a load of laundry, many people soak them in a bucket filled with a bit of laundry soap and water. Then throw them in with your next laundry load.
See: Cloth Pad Care FAQs for ALL the details.
How Do I Deal with Reusable Menstrual Pads When Not at Home?
One of the major reasons that people opt for disposable pads instead of reusable ones is because of dealing with them when not at home.
If you’re at home, you can just throw your cloth sanitary pads in with your regular laundry (if you don’t care about staining). If you do care, put them in a small bucket with some cold water to soak until you do laundry.
However, when you’re not at home, you obviously can’t just throw menstrual cloth pads in the trash like you would with disposables. To get around this, most people carry a small wet bag with them in their backpack or purse. It’s basically a waterproof bag to put wet or soiled things until you can get home.
Learn more here: Dutchess Wet Bag. Or, just check out this popular brand of wet bag for yourself over on Amazon:
What to do with Cloth Menstrual Pads Away from Home
#7: How many Cloth Menstrual Pads do I Need?
Most people find that 6-10 cloth menstrual pads work well. You can go for the lower end of that range if you have a very light flow and don’t need to change your pad as often.
As few as six reusable pads will also work well if you have a large family and are doing at least one load of laundry each day.
If you have a very heavy flow, or live alone and don’t do laundry that often, 10 pads are recommended. But, buy 5-6 to get started and see how that works for you.
You can always supplement them with some disposable pads until you figure out how many you need each month.
#8: Do Reusable Cloth Pads Stain?
Cloth menstrual pads usually stand up very well and don’t stain too easily. They are made with stain resistant materials. They also have dark-coloured designs on them, so even if they do stain, it won’t be that obvious.
In order to prevent staining, remember these tips:
- Always wash in cold or warm water, never hot. Cold water is best!
- Keep your pad moist after use. You can use a wet bag if you’re out and about, or a bucket with water and some laundry soap if you’re at home.
- You can also use some commercial stain remover before laundering.
For more details, see: Cloth Menstrual Pad Care and Cleaning.
How to Clean Cloth Menstrual Pads
#9: Cloth Pads vs Menstrual Cups: Which One do you Recommend?
Menstrual cups are bell-shaped cups made of medical-grade silicone that are designed to catch menstrual fluid. You have to empty them every 6-12 hours and they generally hold 3-4x the amount of fluid as the biggest jumbo tampon.
Whether or not you use a menstrual cup or a cloth menstrual pad is entirely up to you.
Menstrual cups are easier because you just rinse them out and use them again, without having to launder them. But, some people find it quite difficult to insert them, prevent leakage and then take them out.
If this is the case for you, consider cloth pads! They’re extremely easy to use, even for those who are very young.
Another option is to use both. You can use a menstrual cup as your main form of feminine hygiene and then get a thin panty-liner type cloth pad as a back-up in case of leaking.
This option is great for the environment and also easy on the laundry, as you can usually wear a panty-liner like this for 12 hours.
#10: What Cloth Menstrual Pad Brands do you Recommend?
There are a lot of different brands of reusable cloth menstrual pads. If you’re looking to save a bit of money, and are good at sewing, you might even consider making your own, Check on Pinterest for patterns, tips and ideas to get you started. It’s easier than you might think!
You can also buy cloth menstrual pads for around $5-10 each. A great place to start is on Amazon, which has a wide range of styles and sizes.
There are an actually an overwhelming number of choices for cloth menstrual pads, but some of the more popular ones include the following:
The Wegreeco Bamboo Pad is our #1 choice here at Reusable Menstrual Cups. You can easily get this popular cloth menstrual pad on Amazon:
#11: Can I Buy Cloth Pads in Stores?
You may want to know if you can find menstrual cloth pads in stores. In general, they are pretty difficult to find because they are not so popular.
However, if you’re going to find some cloth pads, the best place is a natural food or natural health store. There might not be a great selection (only 1-2 brands), and the prices will also likely be quite expensive. It’s for these reasons that we recommend shopping online instead.
#12: Should I Use Cloth Pads or Period Panties?
Cloth pads and period panties are both popular options for people looking for an affordable, eco-friendly alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products.
But, which one is best for your specific situation? We’ll give you the rundown on when you might want to use each one.
Period panties are ideal if you’re looking for some back-up to a tampon or menstrual cup. You could also consider using them for light incontinence, spotting, or vaginal discharge.
However, they’re not great for actual period protection because instead of just having a pad that you need to change out, you have a whole new pair of underwear!
When you consider that most period pantie brands are 2-5x more than a cloth pad, this can get expensive.
If you want to use something for period protection on your heavier flow days, go with cloth pads. They can absorb more, and are easy to change, both at home and on the go.
You can learn more here: Period Panties vs Cloth Menstrual Pads.
#13: Are Cloth Menstrual Pads only For Periods?
Although “period” and “menstrual” is often in the name, cloth pads are not just for periods. Many people use them for the following situations:
- Vaginal Discharge
- Light incontinence that doesn’t require something like Depends Undergarments
- Spotting between periods
People opt for cloth feminine pads instead of disposable products because they’re cheaper, contain fewer toxic chemicals and are also much better for the environment. These effects compound when you’re using them every day for something like incontinence or vaginal discharge.
#14: What about Interlabial Pads?
We’ve had a few questions lately from people wondering about interlabial pads and whether or not we recommend them.
Basically, interlabial pads are absorbent pads that are worn externally and are held in place by the labia. This is unlike regular cloth pads, or disposable sanitary napkins that are held in place by the underwear.
Because these cloth pads are closer to the vagina, they can help reduce the leakage and mess of regular pads, especially up the bum crack, as when you’re laying on your back with your knees up (have you had that experience before???).
Another reason why you might want to consider interlabial pads is if you have a very, very heavy flow. They could help you make it through the night without having to get up, in conjunction with a menstrual cup, and normal sanitary pad attached the the underwear.
In general, they have a kind of leaf shape on them, and they are kind of hard to find. We could only find one company offering Interlabial Pads on Amazon.
You can, of course, also sew your own inter-labial pads. Check out some patterns on Pinterest.
All about Interlabial Cloth Pads
#15: Can I Make my Own Cloth Pads?
If you’re handy with the sewing machine, you may want to consider making your own washable feminine pads. You can potentially save a lot of money by doing this, and they’re quite easy to make.
How to Make Cloth Menstrual Pads?
Just search on Pinterest for something like, “Cloth Pad Patterns” and you’ll find plenty of good options to get started sewing your own reusable pads.
#16: How to Use Cloth Pads
Disposable sanitary napkins are pretty easy to use. You just have to peel off the backing and stick them to your underwear. Many of them have wings that fold around the bottom of your underwear.
It’s recommended that you change them every few hours, and possibly more so if you have a heavy period and aren’t using a menstrual cup or tampon.
Cloth pads are not so different in terms of how often you’ll need to change them. Most people find that they’re equally absorbent to disposable products.
However, the major difference between cloth maxi pads and disposable ones is that they don’t have a sticky backing on them. They stay in place on your underwear with snaps on the wings.
Have your Say about Cloth Menstrual Pads
Cloth pads: Are they a good feminine hygiene option? Have you used them before? Did you like them? What’s your favourite cloth pad brand? Leave a comment below and let us know all the details.