Did you know that approximately 14 billion
menstrual pads and tampons end up in landfills every year? Or that they may contain chemical residues including dioxin? Did you know that there are alternatives to using rough plastic-feeling pads with sticky sides that often end up sticking to your sensitive skin and hair instead of your panties?
Welcome to the wonderful world of washable cloth menstrual pads! They are good for your body, are soft and absorbent, and are good for the earth, too.
I have been using cloth pads regularly for nearly eight years now, though sometimes I also use my Divacup and very rarely, unbleached disposables. Back in my early twenties, I tried an early version of reusable pads - with a velcro closure and uncomfortable nylon on the bottom. They scratched, chafed and drove me crazy. I ditched them before two cycles had finished. But after the birth of my daughter I found that things had really changed. I found some Lunapads
in my local health food store, and have never looked back. I've added to my stash over the years and have pads from at least 10 different places - Etsy
is such a wonderful place - and when I find a new one in a pattern I simply adore I snatch it up quickly.
They're relatively easy to care for, and can last up to five years or even longer. Most of my eight year old pads are in great condition. They need to be changed approximately every few hours just like disposables. You can simply rinse them out then & there in the sink and throw them into the washing machine right away, or many women like to soak them first - either in the sink or a bucket - and you can even use this rich, crimson water to feed your plants. If you're concerned with stains, you can use a biodegradable stain remover, but remember these are meant to be bled on, so does it really matter?
There are so many different kinds of pads on the market. The all-in-one styles (my current favorite at the moment) are just what they sound like: a one piece pad with no liners, and fasten with a snap underneath your panties. The type that Lunapads
make have liners on the top, which are held in place with two bands of rick-rack. A great advantage of this type is that you can simply change the liners most of the time, and change the pad less often. A third type is a pad with inserts which tuck up underneath the main pad like a pillowcase. This allows extra padding during heavy flow, and less when it's a light day. It's your choice!
How do you get started? Take a look at what's available - there are so many styles and so many fabrics including organic cotton and silky-soft bamboo - and order just one to try it out. If you're trying cloth pads for the first time, you could start by using them at home, perhaps at night to see how you like them. Some women use them solely at night. There are pantyliners, day-use, night-use and postpartum pads, and some even made for young women who are just starting to get their periods. You can find styles for any type of flow. I have a mix of just about everything.
Do they leak? Not usually. I'd be lying if I said they never leak, and for the most part, my washable pads hardly ever leak. And when they do, it usually means that I should have changed the pad a bit earlier. This happens with disposables, too. Some washables have a PUL lining sewn into the body of the pad which helps prevent leaks.
Are they sanitary? Of course! You wash your underwear don't you? Same thing. And for the record - those bleached-white disposables that are individually-wrapped with ten tons of packaging, are not sterilized.
Where do you get these fabulous pads? You can get cloth pads at many health food stores, natural women's clothing stores (hemp stores in particular seem to carry them) and my favorite place is online! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Sustainable Cycles - non-profit with unique & soft bamboo pads
- Lunapads - with liners, organic & regular cotton, DivaCup & more
- Gladrags - insert style in many fabrics, including organic
- Mamaelle - carries Many Moons (with inserts), oils & treats
- CountyClothCreations - fabulous Etsy shop with colorful all-in-ones
- Naturally Hip - another fantastic Etsy shop with bamboo pads
I challenge you to try just one during your next cycle and become a moonwise woman...