I Made The Switch To Cloth Reusable Menstrual Pads

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 

Like many of us who are totally alarmed and freaked out by the unnecessary harm we are all doing to the planet, I am constantly looking for ways to do my part and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. For example, I have become super-aware of all the plastic shit I throw away on a daily basis – and boy is it alarming.

Yes, there are many plastic items we can recycle, but there are lots that aren’t recyclable (like plastic straws, saran wrap, and plastic bags). These “single use” plastic items end up sitting in landfills for hundreds of years, polluting the earth and harming our oceans and sea life. The manufacturing of these items increases dangerous carbon emissions, polluting the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.


A few months ago, I took note of all the plastic crap I use on a daily basis – the sandwich bags I use in my kids’ lunches, the bubble wrap and plastic packaging that comes with all my online purchases … the list goes on. I realized, too, that many of my toiletries are packaged in plastic – from the plastic dental floss container, to the plastic packaging for my toilet paper rolls.

And when I got my period, I was like “Whoa, even my damn maxi pads are ruining the earth!”

That’s when I had a little lightbulb moment: I should try cloth menstrual pads! As someone who uses pads and nothing else during my period (long story short, but I can’t use tampons or menstrual cups, or really anything inside my vagina during my period), I realized it was my duty to at least try the cloth alternative.

What could go wrong?

Now, I should back up and say that back when I was an environmentally-conscious teen, I did a little experimenting with cloth maxi pads. Let’s just say that it didn’t go very well. I couldn’t get them clean, and it was gross having to deal with my own blood up close and personal.

But that was over 20 years ago. I figured the technology had evolved since then, and “going cloth” might be easier than I remembered. Plus, I was a little older and wiser, so that could probably help too.

Not only that, but I had grown to despise maxi pads (I mean, who doesn’t?). They always bunch up at the wrong times. Despite maxi pad “wings,” they are constantly sliding all over the place. During my heavy days, I often have to use two pads just to contain things. It isn’t fun at all.

But the worst part of it all is how irritating menstrual pads can be to the skin. Even if you don’t use them full-time for your period like I do, you have probably experienced how irritated and itchy you get after using a pad or a pantyliner for a few hours. It’s just awful.

So I went online and got a cloth pad starter kit, which arrived a few days later.

The first thing I noticed was how pretty the pads were – cute AF floral prints, and a lovely wet bag to store them in. I was actually stoked for my period to start so I could use them.

My experience using them was mostly positive. Here are my observations:

– They are much more absorbent than disposable pads (the manufacturer says they are made with “super-absorbent microfiber”).

– I can use them for longer with no leakage.

– They have “wings” too (they snap together) but they stay in place much better than disposable pads.

– I did have some minor skin irritation, but it was noticeably better than when I use disposable pads.

– Though you have to feel okay with wringing out a pad covered in your menstrual flow, cleaning the pads was really easy (a few quick squeezes over the sink or bathtub).

– After laying them out to dry, I stuck them in the washing machine and they came out 100% clean, with no lingering smell whatsoever.

So basically, I’m sold on these pads. I will admit that a couple of times, I found the whole “squeezing out my blood into the bathtub” thing a little unpleasant, and I understand that getting that intimate with Aunt Flo isn’t for everyone.

But at the same time, it’s kind of cool to get to see exactly how much blood you produce, and to see it slowly dwindle over the course of your period. Maybe that’s just me though.

Either way, it definitely didn’t add much time or inconvenience to my life to switch to cloth pads – and if I were just someone who uses pads as a back-up for tampons or as a pantyliner (they make cloth pantyliners, too), it wouldn’t really be much of a hassle at all.

Oh, and did I mention that these cute pads are going to save me money in the long-run? I spent $25 for this set and won’t have to buy menstrual products again for years. Yipee!

My advice is that if you are considering trying cloth pads or pantyliners, just go for it! The worst that will happen is that you will only use them sometimes, or just once – either way, those small efforts will help make the world a cleaner and more sustainable place.

If you don’t want to try reusable pads, pick one of your other frequently-used single-use plastic items to replace with a reusable option. Each little thing we do to reduce our carbon footprint adds up, and we don’t really have a day more to waste when it comes to saving our planet.

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