I myself have converted to using reusable cloth menstrual pads rather then using the single use ones readily available in most stores. There are five reasons that I’ve made this decision, but I’ll say that I have no regrets and have no intentions of ever going back. So, what do I like about them?
1. I really like knowing what is in my pad.
Companies aren’t required to label their feminine products with what they are made from and it doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon. This makes it impossible to make good choices about the products.
Most of the feminine products that line the shelves are nothing more than a mystery. They aren’t required to do any kind of safety testing for these products and many are advertised as being beneficial or helpful when the medical community has proven otherwise; like douches. When you consider that I am putting these products into or against a part of my body that is a mucous membrane, a part of the body that is designed to absorb things, I find it very important to know what is in said products.
2. Cloth pads are more comfortable.
When you make them yourself, you can modify the pattern until it is the perfect fit for your body. This is always a huge advantage to knowing how to sew. Menstruation sucks enough without having to use uncomfortable products. There are a bunch of options out there for fabrics and patterns. Spending some time experimenting will lead to the perfect pad for your body. This is a promise that can never be made by a commercial company making a large scale product. Even if you don’t know how to sew and are hiring someone to make them for you, there will be way more potential for customization that you can’t get from an off the shelf product.
When you make your own pads you can use only materials that are safe and don’t bother your skin. You can get this kind of confidence with many online cloth pad sellers too if you’re not looking to make your own. If you’re like me and have a bunch of sensitivities or allergies, this is the perfect way to take control. I have MCAS and it is a constant battle to find products that are safe and comfortable to use. Off the shelf products bother my skin and because they don’t label their products, it is impossible to sort out what is in them that is causing the reaction. This makes it a trial and error process with every product. Not to mention that they can change what’s in them at any time and I’d never know. I’d just start reacting. Could be something new in the product or could be something new that my body is getting upset about. There is no way to sort that out.
4. It’s Cheaper
Anything that’s disposable is going to cost way more money then using something that is reusable. Switching to cloth pads can save you money every month. Instead of buying new pads, you’re just adding a few pads to a load of laundry. You can make these from the left over fabric from other projects easily enough. The ones pictured above were made from scraps. Even if you do buy the fabric specifically for the pads, they will save you money in the long run.
Let’s look at the cost for heavy flow pads. The top layer is made from cotton. If you get this in a solid color, you can get it for $5.00 a yard. Then I did two layers of zorb, which is $15.00 per a yard. Then a layer of light flannel, $7.00 per a yard. With the last layer being blizzard fleece, $8.00 a yard. Of course you can get these fabrics for even less if you go bargain hunting. Which is pretty easy to do since the colors and patterns on the fabrics really don’t matter much. But that brings our total to $35.00 if you are buying the fabric. Using my pattern, that makes 21 pads which is plenty for a month of bleeding. To buy off the shelf, disposable pads, a pack of 20 will cost between $10.00 and $20.00 depending on the brand you choose. So, the cloth pads will pay for themselves in 2 months. After that, you are saving money.
5. The Environment
Reducing trash is always a good thing. It’s good for the environment for to move to a more reusable culture. This is just another way that you can choose to reuse rather then throw things away.
So, nothing is perfect, right? What are the down sides to switching to cloth pads? I really don’t think there are any. It does take some planning. When you use cloth pads, you will need to have a bag to keep the soiled pads in while you are out and about during your day. I personally use a toiletry bag that has two sides to it so that I can have the clean pads in one side and the soiled pads in the other side. Some people also sew individual little pouches to put the soiled pads into. What ever the method, it takes a little planning.
In the end, I think that the only down side is that they are not really readily available yet. You can easily make these yourself, but if you don’t sew that’s a pretty big investment for a one time project. There are sellers online that make cloth pads. These sellers are very open about the products they use to make their pads (as a general rule) and if they aren’t, you can pass them over. There is a good number of sellers on Etsy now. There are even a few sellers now on Amazon. I think that in the near future cloth pads will be much easier to find.