By Lace / January 20, 2018

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Cloth Menstrual Pads โ€“ Getting Started With Cloth

Cloth menstrual pads. Mama cloth. Washable pads. Yes, they are exactly what they say on the tin. Washable sanitary pads. Wear, wash, reuse. Simple. This concept has been known to make some people cringe but there's a growing number of women discovering the joy of cloth and I am one of them. Washable pads are anything but gross in my opinion, to me it's like washing knickers and wearing again another day, no biggie and perfectly acceptable.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of cloth and I'll tell you why; these babies are uber comfortable, breathable and Eco-friendly. What's more is cloth tends to be really, like uber pretty. So pretty in fact, that buying them can become somewhat addictive but that's ok - these pads make you smile. Has an Always pad ever bought a smile to your face? No? I Didn't think so either- but cloth most certainly can! In this post, I'll introduce the cloth pad concept, how to care for them and how to get started. So, without further ado, let's dive into the world of cloth!

An Overview of Cloth Menstrual Pads

Image courtesy of Red Rags CSP

Comfy, discreet and kinder to the vagina there's every reason to consider using cloth. Available in a variety of fabrics from cotton Jersey to flannel and everything in between - there really is something to suit every woman's needs and I just love em. The absorbent core often consists of hemp or zorb and are usually backed with fleece or PUL (a waterproof fabric) to protect against leaks. Leaks have never been a problem for me, I've never used a pad containing PUL and have no intention of ever doing so. As a rule of thumb select pad absorbance suited to your flow and change as regularly as you would a disposable and you can't go far wrong.

Custom cloth can be made in many shapes and sizes to completely fit the customer's needs. Flared backs and fronts for front and back bleeders, extra long (I've seen as long as 20 inches!) and even period pants are available. These are perks that disposables just can't compete with. Of course, cloth cost more than a packet of disposables but cloth is a one time purchase. Considering a woman would use in excess of 11,000 pads over her menstrual career we're talking significant savings with cloth. Just think of the landfill space that would be saved and the reduction in toxic chemical waste as a result of switching. Immense.

Summary: 

  • It's Estimated Women use Over 11,000 Disposable Pads in her Lifetime
  • Cloth is Comfy and Zero Waste
  • Gentle on your Nether Regions  with far Less Chemicals than Disposables
  • Comes in many shapes and sizes for the perfect fit
  • SAVES Money, lots of Money!

I Turned to Cloth Because I Loathe Disposables

Toxic menstrual products


Cloth pads came into my life about a year after the menstrual cup which I posted about here. Why? Well, at the time, I was pregnant with my second baby and I just knew there was NO way on God's green earth I'd be using disposal pads after birth. It just wasn't going to happen. The itching, the sweat and all those minging toxic chemicals? No thanks. Disposables were now firmly on the 'nope' list, if you haven't already, you can read the reasons why I ditched disposable sanitary products in this post. Knowing the menstrual cup wasn't a practical postpartum solution the search was on for something that was. It didn't take me long to find it. Mama cloth.

Some folks make a big hoo-ha over washable pads for various reasons I don't really understand. I don't bat an eyelid about washing pads, maybe it's because I've been using a menstrual cup for some time and I'm not adverse to a bit of blood, who knows. Whatever the reason is, I have no beef with rinsing and reusing be it a menstrual cup or washable pad. I was intrigued by the fact so many women spoke highly of cloth, many were reporting they were experiencing less period pain and even a lighter flow. Now, if that's not something worth investigating, I don't know what is!

I was, of course, anticipating using cloth post birth so I was keen to hear from postpartum cloth users and seek them out I did.  Postpartum women were raving about cloth too, it was the ultimate comfort post birth and many swore they experienced reduced lochia too. Satisfied with my research it was time to dive in and build a postpartum bundle in preparation for birth.I wasn't disappointed either. My bundle served me extremely well without a disposable in sight. Well chuffed! I have since purchased liners and regulars for my collection. I often switch between cloth and the menstrual cup.

Summary: 

  • Disposable Pads Contain Toxic Chemicals and Itchy
  • Women report less Period Pains Using Cloth
  • Rinsing Pads Really is no Biggie
  • Ideal for Postpartum Use 

Caring for Cloth Pads - It's Fairly Simple Really

Naturally, cloth pads are going to require some care if you want them are to last. I've found the best thing to do is rinse used pads under COLD water at the earliest opportunity to prevent stains from setting. Transfer them to a wet bag or lidded bucket until you are ready to wash, this is what I do. Some ladies prefer to keep used pads soaking in cold water until wash day if you do this change the water daily.

Out and about? That's easy. Invest in a wet bag (similar to a toiletry bag) and take it with you. When it's time to change rinse your used pad under cold water if possible. If not, don't worry. In either case fold up the used pad into a little parcel, secure with fastening and place in your wet bag. Rinse as above at the earliest convenience and wash.

So, it's wash day, now what?

Wash day needn't be a drag. I prewash my rinsed pads on cold, then wash as normal on at least 40 degrees with soap nuts -  a gentle, natural detergent. Non-bio is ok to use but I don't recommend it with all the minging chemicals it contains, it's just not fanny friendly in my opinion. No idea what soap nuts are? Find out all about soap nuts and why I don't do regular washing detergents in this post.  Perhaps you are wondering if you can tumble dry cloth pads? The short answer is yes but it isn't recommended. Tumbling can damage your pads and if they contain PUL the heat will damage this aspect. Personally, I hang pads to dry which is preferable to ensure the longevity of your stash. Plus, I don't own a tumble dryer!

If there are stains and they do happen, hang pads out in the sun (not much chance of that in the UK but hey ho) should 'sun out' any staining. Cloth pads are often heavily patterned so staining doesn't stand out like a sore thumb if it does occur.

Summary: 

  • Caring for Cloth is Easy
  • After Use, Rinse under Cold Water 
  • Store in Wetbag/Bucket until Wash Day
  • Pre Wash on Cold then Wash as Normal, Line Dry
  • DON'T Tumble Dry
  • Use Soap Nuts or Non Bio at Least

Get Started Using Cloth Means Building a Stash

cloth-menstrual-pads

You can see by now there are many potential benefits to using cloth pads and caring for them is relatively easy. I guess you're probably wondering how to get started with making the switch? Before you buy up every possible pretty pad you see, do this first. Dig out your favourite shape and size disposable pad(s) and measure them. Then you can purchase some cloth in a similar length in your preferred absorbance DO NOT skip this part or you risk ending up with a bunch of pads you don't get on with. It can be a bit of trial and error, to begin with, but absolutely worth it. Try a few different lengths and shapes to find what works for you and build a stash accordingly.

How many do I need?

Well, that's debatable but anywhere between 14 - 20 should be sufficient but I have seen some epic stashes of triple that amount, although I believe this is a fine example of what a cloth paddict stash looks like. There is a solution if you do get over excited or find you've got pads that don't suit you. Sell them. I know, it sounds bizarre maybe even yucky but cloth has a good resale value. In fact, there is a huge market for preloved CSP and there are just as many women buying preloved as there is buying new. Resale is a great way to destash pads that are not serving you, recoup cash from what I call paddiction or fund new pads for your stash.

Summary: 

  • Start by Choosing Cloth in Style to What you Currently Like
  • Build Up a Stash and Use Them
  • 14 - 20 Pads is a Reasonable Number to Own
  • Cloth has Great Resale Value - Weird? But True.

Are Cloth Pads Are The Way Forward? Yes!

Save on disposable sanitary products

Your Piggy Bank is Gonna be Smiling When you Switch!

Cloth is a safer alternative to disposable sanitary products with an uncanny ability to bring a smile to your lips each month. With the potential for reduced period pains and a more comfortable period cloth is worth the extra bit of effort you successfully resist the urge to acquire cloth in all of your favourite characters and patterns you'll save a tidy sum over your lifetime on sanitary products. If you do succumb to pretty patterns, you can always take comfort in knowing cloth is kinder to the vagina and resale value is good. If that appeals to you I'd recommend you give cloth a go. I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to cloth and found it useful. Share with your girlfriends and let's change the way we do periods one cloth pad at a time!

Yours in muff fluffiness,

Lace

Get Started with Cloth

Head over to GladRags to start building your stash! Use Code REUSE2018 for $10 off any Value Kit


What do you think about cloth pads? Would you use them? What print or characters would you like on your cloth pads? Got a question or personal experience with cloth? I'd love to hear from you, post it below and let me know.

About the author

Lace

Wife, mother and natural health and wellness enthusiast. When I'm not dabbling in natural stuff, I like to eat brie with onion chutney and mull over a good "coincidence" theory. Cooking up a nutritious storm, books with real pages and being barefoot are a few of my favourite things.

  • Brandi Lawson says:

    I’m new to cloth and have been trying different companies to see what suits me. Where can I sell the ones that didn’t work for my needs?

    • Lace says:

      Hi Brandi,

      How are you getting on with cloth so far? There’s groups on Facebook for resales. Search csp b/s/t and csp cloth menstrual products and sales group. Hope that helps.

      • Brandi says:

        Thanks for the suggestion.
        So far I’m a bit overwhelmed and struggling to find something to suit my needs. They all seem so bulky and I’m needing a daily liner.

        • Lace says:

          Oh no, really? I’ve found all my liners to be slim and discreet. If you haven’t already, perhaps try a coreless liner. There’s lots of makers and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I hope you find something that suits soon.

  • Nica says:

    Hi,
    Are these suitable to wear as an alternative to traditional ‘knicker liners?’
    I like to always wear something just to keep me ‘fresh’ Being a larger lady I do sweat a bit so like the added confidence a liner gives me (sorry if too much info there lol)
    Nica

    • Lace says:

      Hi Nica,

      Great question, thank you for asking it. Yes, you can buy cloth liners which are suitable for everyday wear and super comfy too. These can be bought in varying lengths so you can choose a size according to your needs.

      I hope that helps. If you have any more questions I’m happy to help. If you do try cloth liners let I’d love to know how you get on.

  • Rabia says:

    Hi Lace

    Thank you for providing alternative products so we as consumers do not continue to damage our bodies and harming our environment.

    I am however coming from old school, I wonder how comfortable and reliable these sanitary towels are? In terms of absorption, do they really absorb the blood very well for people with heavy period?
    How long do they last before they are worn out and you have dispose them.

    Other than that I very much like what you are selling. I think is excellent idea., you are certainly helping towards reducing the damage we cause to our environment and help reduce costs for the consumer as well..

    • Lace says:

      Your concerns are quite common Rabia,thank you for raising these questions.

      Cloth is available in a variety of absorbancies and are more than capable of keeping you protected. I used them postpartum and was so impressed with them. For heavy flows I’d recommend heavies and night. Change regularly as you usually would and you’ll be grand.

      In terms of comfort there’s just no comparison. Cloth is sooooo comfortable and non sweaty. Women swear by them.

      Cloth can last many years with proper care, I’ve had mine almost 2 years now and they’re in fantastic condition. I don’t expect to be replacing them anytime soon. Many more years of life to be had out of them.

      Perhaps try a few before going the whole nine yards so you can see how you get on?

      I hope that helps.

  • julie says:

    Wow I had no idea cloth pads were on the market, definitely something to give a try. I like how almost appealing they are, in a sense that I know there will be no harsh chemicals, and better for the environment as well. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Lace says:

      You’re welcome Julie. Once you try them getting used to the washing doesn’t take long at all. They definitely rock compared to disposables. I hope you enjoy using cloth!

  • Penelope says:

    Can I ask how…absorbent these are? I tend to have one heavy day and two or three light days, but I’d want to feel confident that I could use these on my heavy days. Have been thinking about trying them for awhile, and I’ll take advantage of your discount, thank you!

    • Lace says:

      Hi, of course Penelope, I welcome your questions.

      Cloth is available is a range of absorbancies from liner to postpartum/heavy and night, just specify to the maker what your after. For your heavy day(s) I’d recommend heavies/night. Change as you usually would and you should be absolutely fine. They worked a treat for me after birth.

      Enjoy the awesome discount and grab a bargain!

  • Caz says:

    You have certainly opened my eyes, I had never heard of cloth mentrual pads before reading your article, I must be living under a rock. ๐Ÿ™‚ They sound amazing and will definitely look at purchasing some as they are eco-friendly and the amount of money you can save both are of high importance for me. Thanks for sharing this great post!

    • Lace says:

      Haha, cloth is gaining momentum but there’s many who like you, are new to them, don’t worry. You’ll definitely be doing your bit for the environment while saving yourself a tidy sum. Always a pleasure to share, you’re welcome. I hope you enjoy using cloth.

  • stefanie says:

    Hi Lace, I’ve always cringed at the thought of these like you say, but I think you may have changed my mind. They actually sound great and I absolutely love the designs and colours, what a great selling point! I am willing to consider giving these a go after your great review. But please can you explain how they can give you less pain and a lighter flow as these are two things I have problems with so it would be great to find a solution. Thanks

    • Lace says:

      Thanks for your comments Stephanie, fantastic to hear you’re coming over to the cloth side!

      If you see the Related posts linked above you can read more about my experience of reduced pain and flow. Exactly how cloth and cups do this I’m not sure but it’s a recurring theme in women who use CSP, myself included. I suspect it’s the nasties found in disposables that exacerbate pain and increase flow in the first instance. Perhaps ditching disposables, thus greatly reducing toxic exposure cause period pain and bleeding to return to the ‘normal’ we never knew? That’s my take on it anyway.

      Do let me know how you get on and if it helps reduce your menstrual complaints.

  • sarah says:

    Wow, these cloth menstrual pads look amazing, lighter on budget, durable and help us reducing the non recyclable disposable sanitary pads. Great article and with sharing with all woman and raise awareness.

    • Lace says:

      Hey Sarah, yes cloth rocks! There’s every reason to give cloth a go. Share far and wide, let’s get the word of cloth out there! Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚


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