Cloth pads are not as bad as you think. People can be very squeamish about the idea, but hopefully this post might make them seem less scary.
It has to be said, that we were using cloth products well before they were trendy and hipster. My tween, when she was a baby and toddler wore cloth nappies. We discovered early on that she was badly allergic to disposable nappies and our health visitor suggested using cloth nappies as an option. Initially, I resisted and thought they would be hard work, but we tried them and never looked back. You can read our why and how in a bit more detail here .
I also use cloth products, and started to use them well before they became a thing people were accepting of, again. I opted to use reusable sanitary pads shortly after converting to using cloth nappies on the baby. Partly for physical reasons and partly for environmental reasons after reading some articles on how disposable sanitary products really are not good for our planet and the harm and also the chemicals in them concerned me.
I have tried a few makes over the years. They are an initial cost, but once you have bought what you need, you shouldn’t have to spend too much regularly. You do have to wash them, of course, but that is easily done, and because you are only using them for a few days a month, it’s not really that much extra work. You will need to try a few to see which work for you, in terms of shape and size and absorbency. You may want to purchase from a bigger company that makes them, or a home-based business (I have done both and found both good and bad from each option.
They are better for the environment because you are not throwing away disposable pads, and even if you are doing an extra wash or two, it is far less harmful to the environment than the chemicals and plastic in disposable pads.
They do take getting used to. Disposable sanitary towels contain absorbent gel, washable pads don’t. Depending on your cycle and how heavy it is you will need to work out how often to change them. Some people prefer bamboo material which is very absorbent, and soft, and some prefer hemp, or a mix of both, with cotton.
Buying from a company or brand means you will probably get a more uniform product that is machine-made. I find I prefer these, to be honest, but I have used some hand made pads from smaller, at home businesses that have worked well too.
What works for me, what I use, and how it works.
I find I need 2-3 heavier pads for night time.
9-12 pads for daytime for the whole cycle.
I use a small lined zip bag, with a waterproof lining, to store the used pads when I am out and about, and I pop them all in a net bag, in a bucket in the bathroom. I soak them in cold water and salt, and then run them through the washing machine on a moderate hot wash, and then I rinse them through with a few drops of tea tree oil and lavender. If the weather is sunny I will let them dry on a rack outside. This helps with staining too. They can be tumble dried but I find just popping them on a drying rack or radiator works fine.
I also only buy winged ones, that fasten securely.
I find a set of pads lasts me 3 years or so, depending on usage and quality.
It sounds old fashioned, to be wearing something you have to wash when there are disposable items available, but for me, they are comfortable, manageable, and work just as well as the disposable kind and I feel that I am at least doing a tiny thing to be more green.
Yes, the tub is plastic, but it keeps them dry and stored in the bathroom, and will be very much repurposed for something else at some point.
Cloth pads are not for everyone, but they can be an alternative if you don’t want to use disposable pads or can’t. They are not as bad as you think, I promise.