cloth menstural pads

Pompadourable’s Guide to Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads!

What are they?

Cloth Pads are a cuter, eco-friendly and more comfortable alternative to disposable menstrual products like pads and tampons. 

What are they made of?

The materials used to make cloth pads can vary from maker to maker.  Typically they are made from soft, breathable fabric, such as fleece, flannel or OBV (organic bamboo velour), with an inner core to absorb and hold blood, sometimes made with layers of flannel or terrycloth. The wings used to connect them to your underwear can have fasteners such as velcro, buttons, snaps, or just a safety pin. Cloth pads are perfect for people with sensitive skin, or who don’t want to be exposed to the chemicals and plastics that can be found in disposable menstrual products.

One of the MANY advantages of Cloth Pads is the wide array of designs you can get on them. Psychologically, it can be a real bummer to go to the bathroom, only to be faced with a bloody massacre in your underwear. With cloth pads, you can get ALL KINDS of way more cheerful designs, from pretty, intricate patterns, to dinosaurs, cupcakes, superheroes and galaxies, to just plain colorful.

How long do they last?

In the long run, cloth pads can last for up to 5 years or more with proper care.

In the short run, it depends on your flow, and the size of the pad you are wearing. Speaking from personal experience, cloth pads can last a lot longer than disposable pads. If you have a very light flow, you may only need to wear one pad a day. If you flow is very heavy, you may have to change your pad two or three times.  But in general, cloth pads can hold a lot more liquid than disposables, and have to be changed less often.

Where can I buy them?

Cloth pads are difficult to find commercially, so it’s best to order them online through artisanal purveyors on handmade websites such as Etsy. You can also google the term “reusable cloth menstrual pads” for more options. 

What size should I get? How many should I get?

Cloth Pads come in different sizes, just like disposable pads do. The sizes range from “Panty Liners”, Light, Regular, Heavy/Overnight and Postpartum.

You can get an assortment of different sizes, or get sets of all the same size. If you know you typically have heavy periods, it may be a good idea to invest in some Heavy/Overnight pads. Personally, I only ever need a set of regular size cloth pads, as they work well for both light, regular AND heavy days.

As for how many, try to base it on how many days your period lasts, and how often you think you would need to change them. Think about how many pads or tampons you already use, and take into consideration that cloth pads can hold more liquid for longer.

Once I have them, how do I care for them?

Caring for your Cloth Pads can be as easy as throwing them in the washing machine with your delicates after your period.  But to get the most out of your cloth pads, some extra steps can really help prolong their lifespan.

After you take off your pad, pour a little hydrogen peroxide onto them, let it pull most of the blood from the core, and then run cold water over them until the water runs clear. Then soak them in cold water with a little bit of baking soda in the sink. Just like if you accidentally stained your underwear. This will help remove most of the blood from the core of the pad.

While they are still damp, put them in the washing machine with the rest of your delicate clothing. You can add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash. This will help with odor, as well as bacterial growth.  Fabric softener is not recommended.  Use a detergent that won’t irritate your skin.

After the wash, you can put them in the dryer on the delicate setting with the rest of your clothes. However, if you leave them out to dry in direct sunlight, this can help with any staining that may occur on the fabric.

What if I need to change my pad while I’m away from home?

Most purveyors of cloth pads also offer items called “wet bags”, which are bags lined with waterproof material (plastic, polyurethane laminate, etc), and can be used to hold your used pad in your purse, bag or backpack until you get home. In most cases, they can have cool designs on the outside of them as well, so they remain inconspicuous. I would like to mention, because cloth pads hold more liquid anyway, it is VERY UNLIKELY you’ll ever have to change your pad away from home, like at work or school, unless it’s an unusual circumstance. Better safe than sorry though!

You mentioned they were eco-friendly?

That’s right! Because Cloth Pads are reusable, and can have a useable lifespan of over 5 years, they are WAY better for the environment than disposable pads and tampons, which fill up landfills and dumps just as bad as disposable diapers do.

This also makes them very wallet friendly. Though a set of pads can seem expensive upfront, just think of all the money you will be saving, not having to buy disposable pads and tampons every other month. You buy reusable cloth pads once, and they will literally last you for years.