Today we’re going to talk about cloth menstrual pads and answer some questions you may have if you’re considering giving them a try. I’ve been using cloth pads for a few months now, so those beginner questions are still fresh in my mind!
This is somewhat of a taboo subject, so I’ll do my best to be helpful without getting too detailed or graphic.
Before anyone asks, yes, those are brand new pads that I received in the mail yesterday… so they have never been used. 🙂
Tips for Purchasing Cloth Pads for the first time:
1. Measure the pads you currently use. Grab a ruler and an unused disposable pad that fits you comfortably and measure the length. Also, consider what you don’t like about the sizing of the pads you currently wear. Are they too long? Too short? I should’ve followed my own advice on this one because the cloth pads pictured at the top of this post are larger than I thought they’d be.
2. Purchase from more than one seller. Purchasing from more than one seller ensures that you’ll get to experience more styles, and fits, of cloth pads. If you initially purchase all of your pads from one seller, and find them uncomfortable, you may decide that all cloth pads are uncomfortable simply because you’ve only had one experience with them across the board.
Answers to Common Questions
I put together a list of questions that I had as a beginner and that I’ve been asked by friends that are interested in using cloth menstrual pads. Please remember that I’m answering from personal experience, so others may have different experiences and opinions.
© Ghost / Dollar Photo Club
What’s the minimum number of cloth pads I need to get started?
Comfortably, I’d say six is the minimum. Though some say three, which is possible, but you’d have to launder them daily. I purchased six to get started and it worked for me because I only needed to toss them in the wash every other day.
Do I need anything else to get started?
Technically, no. But there are tools that may make your experience more comfortable and help keep your pads stain-free. Some of these may be:
- Stain stick (I use a Fels Naptha bar – you can find them at most grocery stores in the laundry section)
- Sanitary method of storing soiled pads
- Oxyclean (off brand is fine)
- A wet bag (if you work a job outside of the home or are a student)
What about odor?
I have found them to be completely odor free.
Will the cloth pads become stained?
Short answer: maybe. Long answer: There is always a chance, but you can take certain steps to minimize staining, like using a stain stick and soaking in oxy clean. A friend that has worn cloth pads for years recommends purchasing black pads and says she never has to worry about stains (good idea!).
How uncomfortable is it to clean?
It may not be as uncomfortable an experience as you might think. Being a fairly squeamish person, I dreaded this part at first, but it didn’t make me uncomfortable or disgust me (which is a word I unfortunately see used to describe cloth pads by those that haven’t worn them). It is an adjustment, though, and not everyone may be comfortable rinsing a soiled pad.
How do you clean cloth pads?
© kitzcorner / Dollar Photo Club
Some rinse and fold after use, and place in a wet bag, bin or laundry basket until laundry day. While others soak in a container of soapy water or oxy clean, changing the water daily. Others prefer to rinse, treat with a stain stick immediately and on laundry day do a quick soak in oxy clean before washing (which is what I do).
There is no right, or wrong, method for cleaning cloth pads. It’s all about which method best fits your lifestyle and comfort level. Most cloth pad sellers will include recommended care instructions with your package.
Note: I also clean the sink with rubbing alcohol so it can resume its normal use without concern. I’m not sure if everyone else does this, but it’s a “for good measure” step that I never skip.
Do cloth pads leak?
They can, but this really depends on whether you are wearing an appropriately sized pad and whether it has the necessary absorbency for the particular stage in your cycle. I’ve found it best to wear longer, more absorbent pads at night to avoid potential leaks.
What do you do when changing a pad away from home?
Most ladies use a small wetbag which has a waterproof lining and two pockets –one pocket for clean pads, and another for the pads you’re changing out of. When changing, you simply fold and snap the pad closed and place it into the “used” pocket; while grabbing a clean pad from the other pocket. You can keep this bag in your purse. Then when you get home, treat as you normally would.
Here’s my wet bag (which I haven’t had to use yet) with clean pads in each pocket to give you a better idea.
I’ve had no personal experience with this situation, however. I work from home so the need simply hasn’t arisen. I would love for more experienced ladies to chime into the comments below with their tips and experiences.
Can I throw them in with the rest of my laundry?
If you’d like to. Some prefer to keep them separate from the rest of the laundry (like me), however, so the way you wash them is up to personal preference. But be mindful of the heat settings on your washer and dryer. Generally, cloth pads should not be treated with hot water.
When rinsing and washing, I use cold water. When drying, I use the lowest heat setting. Some prefer to air dry cloth pads, but if you don’t have many pads in your stash, this may take too long to be practical.
Are they less expensive?
There is an upfront cost involved ($8 to $13 per cloth pad, in my experience). But over the long term, it is less expensive than disposables, as cloth pads last for years.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments below. I’ll try my best to answer, but if I can’t help hopefully someone else will chime in and answer your question.
If cloth pads aren’t for you but you’d like to move away from disposables, consider reusable menstrual cups as an alternative. I have no personal experience with this, but some women prefer them to cloth pads.
Calling all Cloth Pad Users!
If you have experience purchasing cloth pads, please leave your recommendations and the name of the shop in the comments below. I’d love to help each other out by recommending our favorite shops/providers. If we get enough recommendations, I may add them to the post.
Cloth Pad Shops:
I’ve found most of the cloth pads in my stash on Etsy (here are some popular ones).