My Experience With Cloth Pads

My Experience With Cloth Pads

Cloth (re-usable) pads are probably one of the most controversial feminine hygiene products out there. Many people are immediately repulsed by the idea of washing and reusing a menstrual pad. That's an understandable reaction- menstrual blood is a bodily fluid, after all. But society also amplifies that mindset by encouraging us to use products that allow us to deal with our own menstrual blood as little as possible. That's okay, but it's important to know that getting more up close and personal with your period is not inherently bad. It can take a little getting used to, but it's perfectly safe, as long as you use basic hygiene.

There are basically two kinds of cloth pads: All-cotton cloth pads, and cloth pads that have a waterproof leak shield on the bottom. I first tried cloth pads years ago because I wanted a more environmentally sustainable feminine hygiene product. I chose all-cotton pads, and it didn't really work for me. But recently I decided to give them another go. I chose pads with leak shields this time, and I'm hooked. I still use other products as well, but I love having cloth pads as an option.

All-Cotton Cloth Pads

All-cotton pads are extra breathable, because they don't have anything leak-proof anywhere in the pad. It's nice that they're so breathable, but the lack of a leak guard presents an obvious problem. Most brands that carry these types of pads argue that the pads are so absorbent, the lack of a leak guard doesn't matter. And they do seem to work for some women, apparently even some who have heavy flows.

But for me, the lack of a leak-proof shield made these pads almost useless. Even though the pads were indeed pretty absorbent, there was nothing to force my flow to spread out horizontally through the pad. Instead, gravity pulled the liquid down through one spot in the pad and then down through my underwear... and clothing... and bedding. I can only imagine these pads working for me if my flow was super duper light. I have some all-cotton liners which are great for spotting and daily discharge, but when my actual period hits, I need leak protection. Plus, all-cotton pads tend to be really bulky, since they rely completely on absorbent padding to keep you dry.

Leak-Proof Cloth Pads

Cloth pads that have a leak-proof backing or shield work more like regular disposable pads do, with absorbent material on top and a liner underneath that prevents liquid from leaking through onto your clothes. The shield can be made from a variety of waterproof materials, such as PUL or nylon. These pads tend to be thinner than disposable pads, because the reusable material is extra absorbent. They're also thinner than all-cotton pads, because the leak guard means they don't need to bulk up with extra material in order to prevent leaks.

These are definitely more user-friendly than all-cotton pads, since they provide actual leak protection. But the leak guards on some pads can be damaged by certain detergents and chemicals, so you may need to be extra careful while washing them. But eco-friendly detergents and chlorine-free bleach are better for you anyway, and better for the environment, so this is barely a drawback.

Cloth Pads: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Pro: They're comfier. Fabric feels softer against your skin than scratchy plastic and paper. There are no sticky adhesives to pull at your skin or hairs (cloth pads usually close with snaps). Cloth pads can help reduce irritation for skin that is sensitive to disposable products.

Con: They have to be washed. Once you develop a routine and figure out what works for your situation, it's really not that bad. But it's still an extra chore to deal with.

Pro: They reduce waste. Not throwing away tons of disposable feminine hygiene products means you're doing your part to help protect the environment. You'll be using a little more water for laundry, but you can always stick with eco-friendly detergents.

Con: You have to carry used pads with you. When you change your pad away from home, you'll have to carry your used pads home with you. But they can fold up into packets that keep the soiled portion entirely hidden, or you can carry them in a discrete pouch.

Pro: They save money over time. Because cloth pads can last for years, you'll spend less money on menstrual products over time. Especially if you usually by organic disposables, which can cost a small fortune.

Con: They can be expensive up front. Depending on the size and brand that you purchase, cloth pads can cost around $10 each. But you can always buy just a few pads at a time, and gradually grow your collection.

Pro: Variety. Cloth pads come in lots of amazing prints- stripes, polka dots, floral, paisley, rainbows, unicorns, you name it- and many different types of fabrics. They also come in tons of different sizes, from tiny thong liners to massive overnight and postpartum pads.

Thanks for reading!

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samhradh_leannan is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Guy

  • Thank you for sharing this. It was very interesting.


Most Helpful Girl

  • I want to do this, but I need to wait until I'm in my own place. My stepmother kind of owns the washing machine, and she's not at all open to talk about this kind of stuff XD
    but I don't get mine often at all so, it's no big deal.

    • What if you hand washed them, or just used the machine when she wasn't around? You can put them in the dryer, so often the process is quite quick. Just throwing ideas around. P. S. I'm addicted to Bree's videos!

    • Oh god if I used the dryer when I could have hung them out, just watch the shit go down! Such a waste of power, she'd say. You're only being lazy, she'd say.
      Then she'd ask why I can't just be normal and use regular pads.

      I am of course only speculating. Partly cause my concerns are likely valid and partly cause I'm just lazy and dont wanna wash them haha

      But I could do that, yes.

      And I know, Bree is amazing.

    • Haha well good luck!

      Yes, she is!

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Join the discussion

What Guys Said 7

  • Do girls ever talk about this stuff with each other? Share experiences, suggestions, etc?

  • Well I learned more about that than I ever would have naturally sought to.

  • Thank you for sharing.. it's pretty inreresting thing to know..

  • Ok who wants to have to wash that you have to wash it by hand or by it self plus lug rhatvaround it stink not less you use at home only

    • Actually, it's not so bad. They don't stink, and you can wash them with other laundry if you want to. The actual volume of menstrual blood in a pad is less than you'd think, so it's not like all your laundry will get stained or something.

    • Show All
    • Maybe, but you've been the most judgmental and closed minded male user to comment so far.

    • Thank you I like you to so now you know that I being the worst points to mind cuz I think out side the box all verbals

  • I feel really bad for you girls that you have to go through that every month!!!

  • Will the smell from this be so bad that men won't have sex with women who use these?

    • Nah, they really don't smell any more than regular pads do. In fact, I've found that they smell a bit less. And they only smell at all if you stick your face right up close to them, which you will pretty much never be doing, so I don't think it's a problem at all.

  • You ladies are lucky that you get periods and I don't.

    • If I could somehow give you my period I would. lol

    • Show All
    • I do wish I was a woman instead of being a man because being a guy sucks.

    • Being a woman can suck too. Trust me, periods are nothing to be envious of. They're a hassle at best, at worst they are complete and utter misery.

What Girls Said 8

  • Nice post.

    I just use old cotton bed sheets and towels or shirts as pads. I throw away because I wanted to get rid of them any way.

    I just cut it in the shape I want and put layers in.

    You can be extra and sew it, but I can't be bothered. Sometimes I do.

    I also buy organic tampons and pads made with 100 percent cotton and chemical free. Just in case I need it in emergency.

    • Why not wash and reuse instead of chucking them away?

    • @BaileyisDarcy its too much blood it just doesn't come off even with strong detergents.

      The detergents make my asthma worse.

      So I just use cotton rags, that I need to throw away like old work t-shirts of my partner, or ripped bed sheets and ripped towels etc.

    • I soak my pads in a solution of Oxo Brite for several hours before washing them. All the stains come out, even on the light colored fabrics.

  • I'm all for re-usable feminine products and really wish they would gain more popularity and social acceptance. The benefits far outweigh the negatives once you get passed the "ick" factor.

    Same with cloth diapers, and with all things once you establish a cleaning routine it's really not much effort.
    You can buy great wetbags made from PUL that look just like a smaller make up purses to store used products and just throw them in the wash when able to.
    Great take 👍🏻👍🏻

  • I am very environmentally conscious and I love the idea and have thought about it, but the ick factor has kept me on the fence. But I really don't bleed much, so I think I'll have to try them.

    • Yeah, if you don't even bleed a lot, is definitely recommend giving them a shot! Even as a heavier bleeder, it's not anywhere near as gross as I expected it to be. It's no worse than dealing with stained underwear.

  • I have converted to the cup from using tampons. I've used it for almost 12 months and have had little to no accidents.
    It's a great option if you are thinking of trying a reusable products. Personally, I never considered the option of cloth pads as I find them disgusting ( as well as disposable ones obv).

    If you are going to try the cup and don't get it at first, just read different instructions and remember to breathe and check that is is suctioned after every emptying.

    • I still wear a liner usually with the cup so I feel kinda bad.. at least I buy the ones with the nordic ecolabel and ones that are certified for sensitive skin (so shouldn't have (atleast as much) toxins.

  • I used them for a while, they were okay. I personally prefer my DivaCup. It saves money, is less to carry around, and can be left in for 12 hours

  • I actually like the idea of using cloth pads. I wish I could find them where I live.

    • You can just make them.

      Get some scrap fabric, preferably an absorbent one. get some scrap towel or rag.
      Cut the fabric into the desired shape, put strips of rag or towel between two pieces of fabric, sew together and attach buttons.

      You have just made your very own cloth pad. You don't even need any experience using a sewing machine, just practice doing a few straight lines first or even just stitch by hand.

    • or just follow Bree's instructions :P

  • Holy motherfucking shit that's more info about that that I ever wanted to know! Gross gross gross gross gross gross gross gross gross

  • This is very well written. Good job.


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