Your Guide to Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Curious about Reusable Menstrual Pads? Learn more about it!

What are Cloth Menstrual Pads?

Reusable Cloth Pads are an alternative to disposable menstrual pads. They are made of several layers of material.

Generally there is a wicking or absorbent top layer over an absorbent core layer on top of a moisture barrier.

The combination of these layer materials can make a big difference in pad design as well as cost. More on that later.

Cloth menstrual pads are washable which of course makes them reusable.

Most cloth pads have wings that snap around the gusset part of your underwear.
If your underwear does not accommodate wings you can certainly alter your pads to attach to your underwear a different way.

Why choose Reusable Cloth Pads?

There are many reasons why someone may feel they want to avoid disposable menstrual pads:

  1. chemicals like dioxins are found in bleached disposable pads and tampons
  2. gelling agents like SAP (Super Absorbent Polymers) included in disposable pads can be irritating and harmful.
  3. sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products
  4. purchasing disposables for many years can really add up and make up a significant cost factor.
  5. Since disposables have plastic components they take up space in landfills and require a long time to degrade.

Sources: 

Sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6504186/   

A Question for Women's Health: Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3948026/

Menstruation: Environmental impact and need for global health equity

https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ijgo.14311

Are cloth pads in any way regulated?

Different countries will have different regulations on this. In the US cloth pads are regulated under FDA rules. They are considered a Class I medical device, which is the lowest risk category.

As you can imagine, while not impossible it would be very unlikely to get seriously hurt by a menstrual pad!

Can you use washable period pads for bladder leaks?

Yes! Reusable menstrual pads also work great for bladder leaks and stress incontinence. Your best choice will be a top layer material that quickly wicks moisture away. For that reason Domino Pads KEEPDRY are a great choice for stress incontinence. 

How do you take care of cloth pads?

Whether you prefer to wash your cloth pads with your regular clothing or separate is completely up to you.

It may also depend on how many pads you have. Due to cost many people build "their stash' slowly over time.

domino pads cloth pad care instructions

While care instructions vary by brand it's usually safe to assume that the following cloth pad care instructions will work for most:

1.) Rinse in cold water. You do not need to do this manually. Most washers are capable of doing a pre rinse. The purpose of rinsing in cold water first is to prevent stains. the more hemoglobin you can wash out with cold water the better. Heat sets stains. 

2.) Wash in warm, not hot water with a sufficient amount of detergent. Don't use excessive amounts either. Just keep in mind that detergent is not a homeopathic remedy.

3.) It's possible that due to hard water and detergent deposits cloth pads get a little dingy after a few years. A great way to freshen them up is using RLR laundry treatment. This is safe to use even for hand dyed pads like the Domino Pads bamboo pads.

4.) Hang dry or tumble dry on gentle cycle.

 

How do you manage cloth pads while out and about?

Most people carry cloth pads using something called a wetbag. The most convenient ones have two separate zippered compartments. One is to hold your clean, unused cloth pad, the other is lined with a water proof fabric to hold your used cloth pad.

If that is not a convenient size you can also choose a purse sized mini wetbag. It holds exactly one pad so you leave the house wearing one and having a spare in the mini wetbag. Then when it's time to change pad you simply put on the fresh pad 

You can see some wetbag options here

What options are available in reusable menstrual pads?

Menstrual pads are available in many material and design choices. Let's cover the most common ones.

Top stitched & turned cross-shaped pads vs. serged hourglass shaped pads

Top stitched and turned pads make up the majority of cloth pads. All layers are cut in the same shape and stacked, then stitched around the perimeter and turned inside out. The the outline is stitched again.
This is a relatively simple process where everything is assembled in one step.

Because all areas including the wings have several layers of fabric this style tends to add a little more bulk compared to serged and 2-component assembled pads.

Most brands use this approach including Aisle, Hannah and Imse Vimse.

Domino Pads uses a 2-component approach where the absorbent portion is layered and serged separately and sewn onto a moisture barrier liner. This results in a wing that only has one layer of fabric.

The shape of the pads itself also has an effect on how they conform once snapped.

For comparison each image has an hourglass shaped Domino Pad on the left and a cross-shaped Imse Vimse pad on the right. We took photos of the cloth menstrual pads both snapped and unsnapped.

cloth menstrual pad shape comparison

cloth menstrual pad styles

 

Please disregard the size differences as both brands come in smaller and larger cloth pad versions.

Browse by Material/ Design Option:

The Best Cloth Pad Brands

We are excited to bring you this huge variety of choices.

Listing of Available Cloth Pad Brands listed in alphabetical order

Aisle (formerly Lunapads) 

Highlights

  • The Lunapads brand has been rebranded to Aisle Period Products
  • Made in Canada
  • Cotton Outer
  • PUL Lining

Consideration

  • Cotton pads are often more economical but may show age sooner than other materials

Domino Pads

Highlights

  • Cloth pad brand with most sizes, styles and top layer options
  • Made in USA
  • No PUL. Uses breathable, high quality Windpro as leak-proof barrier
  • Trimmer than most cloth pads due to design separating waterproof liner and absorbent pad
  • High-end materials

Consideration

  • US made will result in a higher cost for the pad

Hannah Brand Cloth Pads

Highlights

  • Affordable Multipacks
  • Made in Vietnam
  • Organic Cotton Outer Material
  • Smaller size than other brands

Consideration

  • Cotton flannel may pill over time, Consider other materials like bamboo velour, if this bothers you.
  • smaller size than other brands (could be good or bad depending on what you like!)

Imse Vimse

Highlights

  • Affordable Multipacks
  • Made in Sweden
  • No PUL
  • Organic Cotton Outer Material

Consideration

  • Cotton flannel may pill over time, Consider other materials like bamboo velour, if this bothers you.

Rael Menstrual Pads

Highlights

  • Made in South Korea
  • Organic Cotton
  • PUL Lining

Consideration

  • Cotton pads are often more economical but may show age sooner than other materials

For a quick overview check out our cloth pad comparison chart:

cloth pad comparison chart

 


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