Why Did I Swap to Cloth Sanitary Pads?
Cloth sanitary pads (or CSP) have very recently entered my life. I tried them out for ‘Plastic Free July’ and made a conscious decision to stick with it from then on.
I have been aware of Moon Cups for quite some time now, but the idea of them never appealed. Then the ads kept popping up on social media for knickers you can wear during your period. Again, I wasn’t totally convinced. That may have been down to a ‘trust’ issue, or just having no idea how they work and how they would even keep you fresh.
Although, the more I’m getting used to seeing them, the less ‘new’ and strange it seems.
Soon after, cloth sanitary pads and products seemed to be everywhere. Being conscious of the planet I wanted to make a change. Disposable pads end up in landfill. Pads, liners and tampons contain non biodegradable plastic, chemicals, bleaching agents and other toxic ingredients which are also bad for you as well as the planet. These reusable pads are made of bamboo and charcoal (some are cotton but they are not as absorbent) and feel fleecy rather than scratchy.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I am guilty of using disposable nappies and wipes for my children when they were babies. Looking back I wish I ditched it all for re usable. But what’s done is done and it’s all about moving forward to make a change.
We stopped buying wet wipes for our daughter’s sticky hands and face, and we are cutting back on one use plastic where we can.
I have also stopped buying disposable knicker liners (thinking that I actually needed them every day) and started to check out reusable cloth sanitary pads.
Are Cloth Sanitary Pads Expensive?
When I first began to investigate, I came across online stores selling them individually and as packs. Initially it did look expensive – a multi pack on one store cost over £50.00. But they also contain a box to soak them in and essential oils to keep them hygienically clean. On the same site they have less expensive kits or you can buy them separately.
As I shopped around, I looked at what I personally needed to see me through a month and decided to go from there. If I need to add to my collection then so be it.
So I went online and purchased seven reusable bamboo cloth sanitary pads, suitable for a medium to heavy flow costing £15.99. Then I ordered six smaller pads in the same material for £12.99. They were being sold as panty liners or sanitary pads for lighter periods. Both packs came with a little zip up bag.
What are reusable pads like?
When they arrived I was unsure which way up they went! They were all very colourful with different patterns with a fluffy charcoal lining and a popper on the ‘wings’ to secure to your underwear. After a quick ‘Google’ and realising that it made sense, the vibrant patterned material faced downwards.
I tried out the smaller pads first using them as liners to see how they were and to also get used to the feel of them.
They were very comfortable, but I won’t say they didn’t feel very different! As a liner they were pretty big. You need to wear close fitting underwear to keep them in place despite the poppers, as they can slide around otherwise. But they are pretty quick to get used to.
Then my period arrived and I had to test out the larger pads. I was quite nervous leaving the house without knowing how far they would protect from leaks. But to my surprise, they were really good. In fact, on heavier days I use pads and tampons together, but even after three months of using these, they have been reliable on their own.
Have a look in your local refill/eco stores or stalls or shop online for the right type of pad for you. They come in different sizes and materials depending on your needs.
I’ve used mine during the hot summer months and now into a cooler September and the amount I purchased appears to be sufficient. There are definite pros and cons to reusable pads.
- These reusable pads are a lot bigger than the disposable ones we are used to. These days, disposable pads are slimline and come folded up neatly in individual wrappers. But the reusable ones are slightly harder to slip discretely in your pocket!
- They do fold up using the popper to keep them in place. Then zip them up in the funky little bag they come with, but they are a little bulkier.
- Storing them in the bathroom cabinet is harder as again, they are larger. So they do take up more space.
- It’s a good idea to rinse them in cool water before washing them in the washing machine. To begin with, it takes a bit of getting used to until you find a routine.
- They are dark so it’s harder to see how much you have bled.
- If you change your pad when you are out or at work, you have to take it home with you rather than doing what we are used to doing, and chucking it in the bin.
- You are helping the environment by not adding more sanitary towels to landfill.
- These do not contain the nasty chemicals disposable pads and liners have, so they are far better for us.
- Cloth sanitary pads ‘breathe’ and therefore do not smell like disposable ones.
- You will actually save money in the long run as reusable pads will last years if looked after.
- I have found that I can throw them straight in the washing machine without rinsing if they are not badly soiled.
- As they are dark, they do not look stained.
- They dry really quickly.
- You can handwash the panty liners and dry them on the radiator overnight.
- One pad will last the majority of the day as I have found my periods have become lighter and less painful (although there are not enough studies to confirm if that is related).
- Personally I would normally leak on day two of my period, as soon as I get up out of bed without fail. Since using reusable pads, this hasn’t happened once.
- My ‘trust’ issue has gone and I feel protected using them.
- You’ll never run out of cloth sanitary pads (provided they are washed!).
Now on month three of trying reusable sanitary pads out, I am determined to stick with them. I haven’t had any leaks so far, and I’ve definitely found my periods less painful. I’m not alone as other women have also reported more bearable months.
I’m also finding a routine with laundering the cloth sanitary pads. I’ll either rinse them out then put them in the laundry basket, or throw them in a bucket of cold water and detergent. As long as you use cold water to ensure the stains don’t set.
Having said that, I have thrown them straight in the washing machine before without pre-soaking if they are only lightly covered.
The ‘pros’ definitely outweigh the ‘cons’ on this. Treat your cloth pads like you treat your clothes and change your mindset. This is the way forward.