Making The Switch To Reusable Cloth Pads

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What are cloth pads?

Cloth pads are reusable menstrual pads made of cloth so you can wash and reuse them each cycle. They are also known as "mama cloth." However, I do not like that term as you do not have to be a mom to use cloth menstrual pads.

I think the term "mama cloth" became popular because a lot of moms will switch over to cloth pads if they are cloth diapering, as they can all be washed together. Plus teens usually aren't as concerned about the environment or would think something like cloth pads would be gross. I know teen me would have wanted nothing to do with cloth pads.

I also think calling it "mama cloth" can detour younger girls more from trying it as they see it as an "old" thing or a "mom" thing and won't even consider it as an option, so I will always refer to them as cloth pads or reusable menstrual pads.


Making the switch to reusable menstrual pads

My main reason for the switch was because it is more environmentally friendly. You can wash and reuse cloth. My only other reason for the switch is like with cloth diapers, there are so many cute and fun prints!

Some women are concerned about the "chemicals" in disposables and switch for that reason. I never really cared enough to look into it, to me, it sounded similar to anti-vax arguments, where there really is no truth to it.

Like a lot of women who decide to use cloth pads, I did so after I became a mom. We already used cloth diapers and that was going well, so I decided it would be the perfect time to try cloth pads as I can wash them with the diapers. Now that we're out of diapers, I just wash my cloth pads at the end of my cycle so I don't have to worry about wasting water.

I am a work-at-home mom, so I don't have to worry about dealing with cloth while out of the house. I do still use disposables when traveling as it is just more convenient, but for short grocery trips or quick errands, I will still use cloth as I can change when I get home. If you do plan on using cloth while at work, school, or on a longer trip, a wet bag would be something you would need to store your dirty pads.

One thing I didn't know when I started looking into cloth menstrual pads was just how many different sizes, designs, and absorbancies there were! I decided to start by going with ones that were a similar size to my disposables, and I only started with seven as you can see in the image below:


I knew this wouldn't make it through more than a day, but I didn't want to invest in something I wasn't sure I would stick to just yet. I, of course, ended up loving them, and am now working on building my stash!

The cloth is surprisingly more comfortable despite the pads feeling thicker. This could be because they are designed to fit my body better, whereas all disposables are one size fits all, which they really don't in my opinion. Plus the material is softer, whereas disposable pads are so scratchy and itchy.

I worried about using them at nighttime at first, but I purchased some extra long heavy ones and have completely switched over to cloth at night. I also bought some period panties as a backup. The kind I got isn't designed to be worn on their own except on very light days, but I no longer have issues of getting blood on my pants or sheets! 


Where can you buy cloth pads?

If you are just starting, I suggest going the cheap route and buy off of Happy Beehinds as the pads there are all under $3 apiece! Otherwise, Amazon is another great option for finding cloth pads at a cheaper price.

My favorite place to shop, however, is Etsy! There are so many crafters out there that make cloth pads and the best part is most of them will make custom pads for you! As I mentioned before, there are tons of options out there and that is what makes cloth better than disposables as you can have them designed to fit your body shape a lot better.

Here are some of my favorite Etsy shops for cloth pads:


How many do I need?

I have irregular cycles, so finding the right number of pads has been tricky. I currently have probably over 50 pads. I kept adding till I felt I had enough that I would not run out by the end of my cycle (and I also use the light ones on ovulation days). I also do not wash until after my cycle as I feel it's a waste of water, so you may need less if you plan on washing more often. 

The key when making the switch to cloth is to start with a few, and just add until you feel you have the perfect number. Since you will just start switching over, it's likely you would still have some disposables hanging around so you will have a backup if you run out.





How do you wash them?

If you already use cloth diapers then you can just wash them with cloth diapers. If you do not use cloth diapers, you would first wash them in a normal cold wash or prewash, and then you would want to do a heavy-duty cold or hot wash. I prefer to use hot water for the main wash as I personally feel it gets things cleaner, but cold water is fine too. You must use cold water for the prewash unless you rinse all your pads by hand beforehand in cold water otherwise your pads will stain.

A lot of small shops actually recommend hand rinsing them in cold water first. Personally, I find this isn't necessary as the cold prewash does the rinsing for you.  My pads have come out clean without a problem. However,  If you want to rinse before washing, that's totally up to you! Like with cloth diapers, it's all about finding a wash routine that works for you.

For drying, I just throw them in the dryer on medium heat, but you can hang dry them too.


Have you made the switch? 

Have you used cloth pads? How did it go for you? Let me know in the comments!



Post a Comment

28 Comments

  1. I have been thinking of trying cloth pads. I am very environmentally conscious, plus I think about all the wasted money every month by using disposable.

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  2. Wow crazy I’ve never heard of that before !

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  3. I have never heard of these before, what an informative post!

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  4. I have heard and seen them way before they start thinking about saving the environment. It was weird to me when I was growing up. Now, they are colorful, those that my parents used to use were white.

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    1. Yes, I hear a lot about how cloth diapers have changed from the past. The same is true with pads. There are so many options now!

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  5. Wow! I'm into sustainable products but I don't think this is for me, personally. There are tampons and pads made with organic cotton and non-synthetic material like conventional ones and I'm going to switch to those once my current stash is finishes. I need to change in the middle of the day and stuffing a bloody, wet cloth in my bag is a no-no, even with a wet bag lol. Kudos to you for the change. Really.

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    1. There are also the reusable cups too, where you just wash them between each use.

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  6. I've been thinking of making the switch for when I'm home, but I couldn't work out with these!

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  7. I've been wanting to try these! I am SO lazy with laundry though so not sure it'd work for my lifestyle. But I do want to look into more reusable options. We'll see!

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    1. There are more eco friendly disposables that will biodegrade. Also reusable cups that you just rinse after each use.

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  8. This is something that had never really crossed my mind and didn't even think they were a thing. The designs look really cute and my appeal to more teenagers and students if they were to see the designs.

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    1. You can also get plain colors if patterns aren't your thing. I didn't know about cloth pads till after we started cloth diapering. I wish it was more popular as I probably would have started sooner.

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  9. I think i have seen my wife making use of this few years back, i was disgusted. I actually didn't know it name. it looked weird to me but after reading this post i think am cool with it.

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  10. I haven't seen these before, interesting but I'm not sure I'm convinced!

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  11. This is something I have wanted to switch to for a few years now! Like you mention, it's much more environmentally friendly, and I like that it's still external to my body (I was never a huge fan of tampons). My only concern is that sometimes my periods are brutally heavy, and I am not sure they would hold up. But, maybe I should buy a few and just try them out. :)

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    1. I have heavy periods too. Many sellers make heavy options and even postpartum pads. If anything, you may have to change more often. If I wasn't a stay at home mom, I would probably still use disposables outside of the house for that reason

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  12. I'll have to try this! They are definitely sustainable and less expensive in the long run.

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  13. Such a helpful article, thank you x

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  14. this is really important the amount of trash the plastic pads are creating is affecting the environment so bad. The menstrual cups are also a great option if one is not comfortable with the cloth pads. Great article!

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  15. I am leaning towards making this switch but I am pre-menopausal so not even sure if it will make a difference now.

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  16. I dony use them but I also dont use pads. It's definitely a great earth conscious choice though!!

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  17. really didn't know this was available. It's an economical step. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. I have been using cloth pads since I got my first cycle. It was what my mom used and I never thought of using anything else. She taught me to make my own pads and I love them. They are comfortable and friendly to the environment. I use them overnight and have never had a problem.

    When traveling, however, it is best to use disposable pads.

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  19. Hmmm I am intrigued to try these out although I’m a heavy bleeder like beyond heavy but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try to save the environment

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    1. I have heavy periods as well due to my PCOS. Many cloth pad makers make heavy pads and in various lengths. There are also overnight and postpartum pads too, so you can find what works for you! It may take some playing around to figure out what size and shape fits you best.

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  20. I've been wanting to switch but I had so many concerns. Like you I'm irregular. I usually have 3 very heavy days though and have to change my pad 3 or 4 time a day. I worry about it being really messy even to store in a wet bag until I get home. I also worry carrying that round with me if that would happen. Then washing them, I feel I'd have to wash them separate but I hate to do a wash cycle just to wash a few pads

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    1. The nice thing with cloth is that there are all kinds being sold, even postpartum pads! So you can get cloth pads that will handle your heavy cycles. I work from home, so I don't really have the issue of needing to carry a wet bag. When I run errands, it's only for a couple hours, so I don't have to change until I get home. I would say even if you can only do cloth part time, it's still better than not at all. I store all my pads in a wet bag and never had leakage problems, but I don't rinse. Some recommend rinsing then putting in the wet bag. And I wash all my pads together at the end of the cycle so I don't waste water. I do the same kind of wash I would for cloth diapers. A pre wash (normal cycle) with cold water, detergent and dash of oxiclean. Then I do a heavy hot wash with detergent.

      There is also period underwear available now that works as a backup for cloth pads and cups. So you can get a little extra protection using those. I have some that I wear at night.

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