Ladies? Let’s chat. Gents, you may want to turn your head for this one. Have you ever thought of using cloth pads? Yes, I do mean cloth menstrual pads. I made the switch several years ago and honestly; I have not regretted it at all. We all know that reusable products can help save money and reusable menstrual pads are one that will save most women month after month – for years.
For me, finding ways to live a zero waste lifestyle played only a small part in my decision to start using cloth pads.
The biggest factor for me was the amount of money wasted on something that was easily replaced but tossed every month. Disposable pads are incredibly expensive when you really think about it.
Reasons to Consider Cloth Pads
I am not going to lie; I was pretty iffy on using reusable menstrual pads at first. The very idea made me a bit squeamish.
It turns out though there really isn’t a whole lot of mess. I have even worn them while on the truck with my husband with zero issues!
In fact, there is far less mess than with disposable pads and a menstrual cup.
That, the cost savings and the fact that cloth menstrual pads are a super easy way to reduce household waste made it a no-brainer for me.
What are Cloth Pads Made Of?
If you’re not familiar with them, you may be thinking that a cloth pad is nothing more than a strip of cloth and would be easy to leak through.
I assure you; they’re not.
What they are is a layer of cloth, an inner liner and a backing – usually fleece – that is sewn together to create the menstrual pad. A product called PUL is usually used for the absorbent liner although there are other options.
Most reusable menstrual pads have wings. Snaps or buttons are added to the wings to give them a way to attach to your underwear.
Why You Should Use Cloth Menstrual Pads
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s all fine for you, but why should I use cloth pads?”
Well, that is why we’re here isn’t it?
There are quite a few different reasons you might switch to reusable menstrual pads, but for now, let’s focus on the big six. After you read though, I’m convinced you will at least think about it.
Cloth pads are infinitely more comfortable
Most disposable pads have a vinyl/plastic/whateverthatstuffis liner that touches your skin. We all know it crinkles, rolls, sweats and a few other random feats.
Cloth menstrual pads are just that. They are cloth touching your skin. They breathe better, they stay put, there is no crinkling and frankly, they’re soft.
In fact, the comfort level is so different, I usually feel as if I am not wearing one at all.
Reusable menstrual pads are more cost effective
Some of the cloth pads I currently have in my stock I have owned since 2015. If they are well cared for and well made, cloth pads will last for years.
Because of this, they are far more cost effective than a package of disposable pads.
You will pay about the same as a package of disposable pads for a single reusable menstrual pad, but once you buy the cloth, you can quite literally be done with buying for years.
Cloth Pads Reduce Waste
There are a lot of reasons someone may want to reduce the amount of waste they’re putting out.
For instance, when I lived in Iowa, we paid per bag for our trash. This meant we tried to put out as little trash and instead recycled or reused everything we could to save a bit of cash.
When you switch to cloth pads, you’re opting for a reusable option that you won’t be tossing anytime soon. You would be surprised at how much less waste you will be sending to the landfills.
How to Clean Cloth Pads
Cloth pads, just like cloth diapers, go in the washer. While you’re on your period, rinse them out when you change them and soak them in a bucket filled with water and borax.
If you’re squeamish, a diaper pail like THIS one will work as well.
Once you’re done with your period for the month, place the pads in a mesh laundry bag and toss in the washer like normal.
Use a cloth pad drying strip or snap them across the shower rod to hang them dry.
Cloth menstrual pads may help with PMS, irregular or heavy periods
Now here’s the thing on this; I’m not a doctor and I am not a scientist and I highly doubt anyone with those titles would agree with me on this.
However, when I was using disposable pads, I had incredibly heavy and very irregular periods.
For whatever reason, within a few months of switching to a zero waste option, those issues fixed themselves. I can’t give you the scientific data. I can only give you my experience and that is, they work.
My daughter Laura suffered from horrible PMS every month at just 13 years old. The kind of PMS that would keep her in bed for days. Once she made the choice to move to cloth, her symptoms eased quite a bit.
Most disposable pads contain an untold number of chemicals. It simply makes sense to me that putting those chemicals up against the most sensitive part of your body and leaving it there once a month is probably causing more issues than you may realize.
Your daughters wear cloth pads?
Because I am not a dictator and because this is an incredibly personal choice, my girls make the decision themselves. As it currently stands, I have one that wears cloth with me and one who has chosen disposables.
The disposable girl wears them due to PCOS and the issues that come with it. If and when she decides to move to cloth, I have a cloth pad starter kit like THIS one waiting for her.
Reusable menstrual pads support small business
Most cloth pads are made by a small business owner. Yes, there are companies who sell them, but it is not hard to purchase them from an individual.
I personally love to buy mine on Etsy. I know that I am getting a great product while helping a business owner turn a profit.
In fact, one of my favorite cloth pad makers is an Etsy seller. Her pads are extremely high quality and super soft!
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Cloth pads are more easily personalized to your body
We all know that your period cycles each month. You start out spotting, then move to a light flow and so on.
Know what this means? You have to keep multiple types of disposable pads on hand to handle each different day.
With cloth pads, there are only a couple of situations where you may need different sizes. Postpartum cloth pads are one instance.
The rest of the time, you could use a regular or normal flow pad and be fine! You’ll save money, space and time by making the switch.
So what do you think? Would you ever consider making the switch to reusable menstrual pads?
If not, that’s okay. I would however suggest you use a more natural option. They ca be expensive, but if you look for deals, you can usually find them. Otherwise, I highly recommend Grove for buying any natural products you need.
Originally published March 2014. Updated November 2019.