Your Guide to Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Curious about Reusable Menstrual Pads? Discover what cloth menstrual pads are, their benefits, how to care for them, and how they contribute to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Learn about different flow levels and when it's time to replace your cloth pads in this comprehensive guide.

What are Cloth Menstrual Pads?

When it comes to period care, sustainability and comfort are key. Cloth menstrual pads offer a reusable, eco-conscious alternative to traditional disposable products. In this detailed guide, we will explore what cloth pads are, their myriad benefits, and how they can revolutionize the way you think about menstrual care.

Cloth menstrual pads are not just a piece of fabric from yesteryear but a modern menstrual product designed for comfort and convenience. These cloth pads are made from absorbent fabrics, carefully constructed to easily manage your menstrual flow.


Each cloth pad consists of multiple layers:

- A leak-resistant outer layer to prevent accidents.

- An absorbent core to soak up menstrual blood.

- A soft top layer against your skin, often made of natural fibers for added comfort.


Cloth pads equipped with snaps or wings are designed to stay secure, providing you with peace of mind.
Other options can be modified to work if your underwear does not allow snapping.

They're available in various sizes, shapes, and whimsical patterns, allowing you to choose the perfect fit for your body and personal style.

- More than just a practical choice, cloth pads are a statement against the disposable culture.

- By switching to cloth pads, you reduce landfill waste and exposure to potential irritants in some disposables.

- Their reusable nature doesn't just save the planet – it may also save your skin from irritations and allergies.


The decision to switch to cloth pads is both a personal and an environmentally conscious one. It's about embracing a lifestyle that values sustainability, health, and personalized care.

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) in disposable pads can be irritating and harmful.
  3. sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in standard commercial plastic products
  4. purchasing disposables for many years can add up and make up a significant cost factor.
  5. The environmental impact of disposable period products is substantial. Around 20 billion pads, tampons, and applicators are estimated to end up in North American landfills each year. Due to the slow rate of decomposition of plastic, which can take up to 500 years, the accumulation of these disposable menstrual products in landfills continues to escalate. This accumulation contributes significantly to environmental pollution and waste management challenges, making exploring more sustainable alternatives in managing menstrual hygiene imperative.


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

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

Menstruation: Environmental impact and need for global health equity

Are cloth pads in any way regulated?

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

As you can imagine, while not impossible, it would be improbable 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 an excellent choice for stress incontinence. 

How do you take care of cloth pads?

Understanding how to wash and care for your cloth pads ensures longevity and effectiveness. Proper maintenance is simple but crucial.



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 sufficient 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.

For storage and transportation, consider the following:

- Keep your cloth pads in a dry and clean area between menstrual cycles.

- If you're out and about, a wet bag is a discreet and hygienic solution for transporting your pads.

In conclusion, taking care of your cloth pads is a simple process that pays off in the long run, ensuring they remain effective and gentle on your body.

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.

There are even cloth pad subscriptions. Check out the Domino Pads Cloth Pad Subscription here.


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.

How Often Do Cloth Pads Need to Be Replaced?

Cloth pads are a long-term investment in your menstrual health, with the potential to last between 1 to 5 years. However, the lifespan of your pads can vary based on use and care as well as material and construction. High-end pads like Domino Pads can last 10 years or more. 

Keep an eye out for signs that your cloth pad might need replacement:

- Visible wear and tear.

- Thinning fabric or a reduction in absorbency indicating it's time for a new one.


To maximize the life of your cloth pads, consider:

- Rotating among multiple pads to distribute wear evenly.

- Adhering strictly to care instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Replacing your pads when necessary is not just a matter of hygiene; it's also essential for comfort and preventing leaks. Adequate care and timely replacement ensure your cloth pads remain a trusty companion during your menstrual cycle.


Can Cloth Pads Be Used for All Levels of Menstrual Flow?

Absolutely! Whether your flow is light, moderate, or heavy, cloth pads have got you covered – quite literally. They are designed to cater to different absorption needs, coming in an array of sizes and thicknesses.


During heavier days, it might be necessary to change your cloth pad more frequently to:

- Maintain optimal hygiene.

- Prevent leakage and promote comfort.


Choosing cloth pads means embracing a sustainable and cost-effective way to handle your menstruation, regardless of its intensity. With comfort and reliability, they prove versatile for every day of your cycle.


Are Cloth Pads a More Environmentally Friendly Option Compared to Disposable Pads?

The answer is a resounding yes. Cloth menstrual pads embody environmental consciousness in period care, presenting several benefits over disposables:


- Longevity: They can be reused for years, significantly cutting down the waste you would otherwise contribute to landfills with disposables.

- Lower manufacturing impact: Using natural and sustainable materials, cloth pads avoid the plastics and synthetic fibers prevalent in many disposables.

- While washing them does consume water and energy, the ecological footprint of cloth pads is comparatively smaller than that of disposables.


By choosing cloth pads, you're actively participating in a circular economy – a system that emphasizes resource efficiency and waste reduction.


In conclusion, cloth pads not only offer a more skin-friendly and customized period care experience, but they also reinforce your commitment to an environmentally sound lifestyle. This simple switch can profoundly impact your health and the planet for the better.


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) 


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


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

Domino Pads


  • 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


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

Hannah Brand Cloth Pads


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


  • 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


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


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

Rael Menstrual Pads


  • Made in South Korea
  • Organic Cotton
  • PUL Lining


  • 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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