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Cloth Pads for Women?

I'd like to start this blog by saying, for some of you, this may be TMI, as in "too much information," but as I've said before, we
image of cloth menstrual pads
cloth-diapering moms are not typically overly-squeamish so with that warning, I'll continue. After 23 months, I just had a visit from Aunt Flo.  That's right. My monthly. My cycle. My friend. My period. After over nine months of pregnancy and then 14 months of breastfeeding (and still going strong, thank you very much) I wasn't sure if I would ever get it again. And truth be told, I hadn't missed it at all. So anyway, as I was dealing with Aunt Flo and getting ready to use a maxi-pad, into the bathroom walks my four-year-daughter, Kate--Mommy wants privacy? What a ridiculous concept. Anyway, curious Kate asked about the "diaper" I was  holding. After I gave her a very simplistic, yet truthful answer, I started thinking. These pads are a lot like diapers and a whole lot of them end up in landfills every year. Surely someone had already invented a cloth version. A quick internet search revealed that yes, indeed, cloth pads do exist and actually, they seem to get great reviews. One of the companies I found Gladrags even asks has a program that will donate their products to girls in Africa, living in poverty, who have little access to feminine products. A starter kit costs a little over $100 and comes complete with the specialty detergent and a small bucket with a lid (to keep near the toilet, I assume). Like using cloth diapers, this would be a great way to save money and put less trash into the landfill. Another cool looking company that makes and sells cloth pads is called Luna Pads. Their pads have wings and come in dark colors, like black, with colorful trim. Personally, if I end up investing in cloth pads, I would go with black--it just seems to make sense, if you know what I mean! While on the Luna Pad site, I came across a very disturbing blog called The Moldy Tampon Turmoil. I hadn't heard this story but I am pretty grossed out by the picture. The woman who discovered the moldy tampon only discovered because she accidentally popped it out of the applicator--otherwise, anyone who has used a tampon knows that you don't see the tampon before you put it in--so who knows how many moldy tampons exist? Ewwwwwww! The environmentalist in me is thinking maybe I should give these a try.  And since I have two daughters, I've already decided that I'll be buying the girls each a set when they get their first periods. They'll think this is just the way it's done if I start them early enough--or at least I hope so. What do you think of reusable sanitary pads? Would you? Could you? Do you? Let us know what you think.
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52 comments

  • Ever since starting cloth diapers, I’ve been curious about mama cloth. I’ve been researching in anticipation of my period coming back. Plastic-y pads are so uncomfortable!

    Sara R on
  • When I first heard of cloth pads, I thought they were gross, for some reason. But now, I want to get on board, but I guess I’m stuck at the buying part, too nervous to make the investment.

    Talia on
  • I’ve used cloth pads for three years now and just started using a menstrual cup a few months ago. I love my cloth pads (so soft and comfortable! No chafing or moving and sticking to me) and my cup! I wish I had cloth from menarche, and my children certainly will!

    I think cloth pads absorb better than ’sposies and have to be changed less often. Plus you can customize the absorbency of cloth pads by choosing the number of inserts you use.

    I tried sea sponge tampons but had difficulty inserting them (maybe it’s the vaginismus, maybe I just hadn’t gotten the technique down). The great thing about cups is that you can safely practice with them when you’re not bleeding as they collect instead of absorb, this also means one cup works for light and heavy bleeding!

    I checked my menstrual cup a couple of times a day in the beginning and used a cloth liner or light day pad as backup protection, but now I can often go almost twelve hours before feeling like I have to empty my cup (clues: it starts to sit lower, feel heavy, or leak a bit). Lately I’ve only bled around 7.5 mL (sometimes more, sometimes less) or about a tablespoon in half a day – being able to measure with the cup provides more useful data for me and my OB/GYN than how many GladRags I’ve soaked through.)

    Using cloth pads decreased the volume of my flow and how many days I bled, and seemed to ease cramping a bit. Less plastic and chemicals near my body is always a good thing! I’d read other women say the same thing online, but honestly I thought it was an exaggeration until it happened to me too! I know this is not the case for everyone who switches over from disposables, but it may be a pleasant side effect of using cloth pads for some people!

    I rinse my cloth pads in cold water, and you can soak in plain water or with a bit of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide before/until you wash. Change the soak water once or twice a day. But you don’t have to soak at all, you can just rinse, air dry, and wash. I put my cloth pads in a lingerie bag to keep the pieces together and wash with my regular clothes. If I fall and scrap my knee (oh too common!) I don’t wash the pants separately from my other clothes. It’s just blood, and it’s mine! Rinsing and treatment with a natural stainlifter or H2O2 helps the pads come pretty clean!

    I’m actually wearing a cup as I write this! I’ve emptied the cup in public restrooms without any problems. If the restroom is quiet I’ve taken the cup out to the sink to wash it before reinserting (I carried gentle soap with me in my bag to use), or if it’s busy I’ll just wipe out the cup with clean tissue and reinsert. Water-based lubricant can ease insertion. It does take more time to take out, clean, and reinsert the cup, than to unsnap a pad and snap a new one on, but both can certainly be done in a public restroom.

    There’s lots of information about reusables online. My favorite tip: turn your menstrual cup inside out before inserting if the stem bothers you – this has made all the difference for me!

    Daisy on
  • I have both Glad Rags and Luna Pads, and I use the Diva cup. I love the Diva cup; it just has a bit of a learning curve. But sticking with it is totally worth it!

    After trying both Glad Rags and Luna Pads, my vote goes toward Luna b/c you only have to change the top layer throughout the day instead of the whole pad. I like that this means less wash and less pieces to wash, which is certainly a conservancy issue for me.

    Never had any problem getting or keeping them clean. I do line dry outside when possible and inside the rest of the time. This is partly b/c I was raised not to use the dryer much and partly to help them last longer as they are a bit of an upfront investment!

    I also love all the different color options.

    If you live in a place that tends to get warm and humid in the summer, the cloth pads help to prevent the dreaded summer “pad rash” from the heat. The cloth pads are way more comfortable and hold a comparable amount of liquid to the disposables.

    Best of luck with your transition. Hope that it goes smoothly. All it takes is a few cycles to find the routine that works best for you. :)

    Laura D on
  • I’ve been using Gladrags for a year now; they have some pretty designs (and I even prefer them to using black so you can see how clean they get). Super comfortable compared to the disposables! Wish I had switched over a long time ago.

    Jennifer on

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