Blue and Green Reusable Sanitary Pads - Cloth washable period pads
All, Period Talk

Let’s Talk Reusable Sanitary Pads

That time of the month is rolling around. No doubt you’ll be hitting up the unmentionables aisle in the supermarket, stocking up for shark week. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help feeling pretty resentful when I have to spend my hard-earned dollars every month on something that I don’t even enjoy! This resentment lead me to look into alternatives that are kinder to my bank balance and also much kinder to the planet. Enter, reusable sanitary pads!

REMINDER – Grab “One For You, One For Her” during our dignity drives!

What Are Reusable Menstrual Pads?

The modern reusable sanitary napkin is a far cry from the old fashioned cloths used by our great-great-grandmothers. Modern cloth pads utilise snap buttons to keep them in place on your knickers.

Cloth pads are usually made of natural fibres like cotton, hemp and bamboo and generally contain a leak-proof layer. Cloth pad converts will tell you that they are super-comfy, breathable and easy to get used to. They’re available in a range of sizes, absorbencies, shapes and funky designs and are surprisingly easy to manage.

How Many Reusable Sanitary Pads Do You Need?

If you’re a fan of the panty liner, you’ll want 3-6 of those for in-between days. If you aren’t, skip straight to the reusable sanitary pads. At a minimum, you’ll need half a dozen day time pads. If you have a longer cycle or heavier flow, you might want to have 12-15 day pads in your stash. Night pads tend to be a little longer and more absorbent. Depending on your cycle, you’ll want to add 3-6 of these to your collection.

What’s the cost?

You can head to eBay and buy a single reusable sanitary pad for as little as $2. Or you can find other sites and online stores offering handmade cloth pads with prices that vary depending on the materials used. Yes, it’s an investment, but keep in mind that each pad should last you 5 years or more with proper care. When you compare this to the $5000+ you’re likely to spend on disposables over the course of your life, you stand to save a fair bit of cash.

Cloth Period Pads- The Practicalities.

Sanitary napkins, whether cloth or disposable, need to be changed every few hours. Some people keep a lidded bucket or container in the bathroom or laundry for used pads, while others put them straight into cold water for soaking. But what do you do with your reusables when you’re out and about or during your work day?

If you’ve ever used modern cloth nappies, you’ll probably be familiar with wet bags, which are waterproof bags with zip closures for storing used nappies. You can buy these online for as little as $5. Essentially, reusable pads require the same treatment as used cloth nappies. Fold them up and pop them in your wet bag until you get home.

And don’t worry about odours- the wet bag traps them quite neatly and because you aren’t using a heavily processed and bleached product, many women report a much less noticeable smell.

Washing Cloth Pads

It’s a good idea to pre-soak your cloth pads in cold water, especially if they’ve been carried in a wet bag for a few hours.

Once you’re ready to wash your reusable sanitary pads, you simply pop them in the washing machine. Use a cold cycle, as heat tends to set bloodstains in fabric. Avoid fabric softeners and bleaches as these can make your pads less absorbent.

Once washed, you can dry on the line or tumble dry at low heat.

See Also: Period Panties!

If you aren’t completely sold on cloth pads but you’re still interested in reusable options, period underwear might be what you’re after. These are designed to be worn in place of your regular knickers and have varying absorbencies. These are as simple to care for as cloth pads and can generally be worn all day, depending on your flow.

What About The Ick Factor?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked if cloth pads were “kinda gross”, I’d be a wealthy woman – wealthy enough to afford the tax on tampons even!. But honestly, reuseable pads are simple to manage. They’re even available in dark colours to make them easier on the eye- something that can’t be said of disposables.

When you think about it, disposables have a much bigger gross-out factor that we rarely discuss. On average, we use around 12,000 pads and tampons over the course of our menstruating years. In Australia, our sanitary waste makes up around 18,000 tonnes of landfill every year. And that waste can take literally hundreds of years to break down.

What do you find more off-putting; throwing on a load of washing, or tonne upon tonne of used pads and tampons, hanging around in landfill for centuries?  Ick factor indeed.


This is a guest contribution by Amy Ahearn