Why Choose Cloth Menstrual Pads or Liners?

So you want to love cloth.  Maybe you’ve switched to cloth kitchen towels, reusable grocery bags, cloth diapers and even maybe cloth wipes. And now you’ve been thinking: if it’s good enough for my house and kids, maybe it’s good enough for me?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about cloth pads since I started selling Wee Essentials cloth menstrual pads on Etsy in 2008. Women worry a lot about how well they work, if they smell, and how to wash them. Many remember their grandmothers talking about wearing “rags” that leaked and were difficult and embarrassing to wash. And a surprising number confide in me that when their periods are over, they are left raw, red, and irritated in their most sensitive areas.

But there is a reason why most women who try cloth pads never go back: cloth is comfortable, easy, and actually a little fun! (Hey, you need something that will cheer you up when Aunt Flo comes!)

I’d like to answer some of the questions women have asked me, and explain some of the best benefits to using cloth menstrual pads!
  • They are comfortable. Disposable pads are made of paper and dehydrated cellulose (ie. wood fibers!) That’s why they chafe and itch. It’s like wearing cardboard! In addition to that, pressure on disposable pad manufacturers recently has revealed that they use chemicals that aren't always nice to skin.  

    Cloth pads are generally topped with natural fibers like cotton – just like your underwear. And since they are soft and mold to your body, your attention can be somewhere besides your bottom. 

  • They are pretty – okay, this probably isn’t the best reason, but I like it! It sounds silly, but it makes me smile a little when I choose a pretty pad. I need that when I get my period. It’s a whole lot better than bleached white paper!

  • Cloth menstrual pads are absorbent and work great. And, yes, they will leak – only if you wear them too long. Just like any pad. 

    Look for pads that contain a bamboo or hemp core – they are some of the most absorbent natural fibers available.   Bamboo and hemp hold a great deal more than a cotton core, so they are worth the additional cost. You can also buy menstrual pads with or without a waterproof layer. Wee Essentials pads typically use PUL, which is the same waterproof barrier used in many cloth diapers, or Windpro-brand fleece, known for it's water resistance.

  • Nothey don’t usually smell. That menstrual blood smell comes from bacteria from your body multiplying in your pad. I don’t honestly know the science behind why cloth pads smell less, but I do theorize that the plastic in the disposable pads raises the temperature of the blood more than cloth pads does and allows the germs to multiply faster.
  • They are easy to care for: if you don’t like stains, rinse them after you use them with cold water. (Hot water will set the stain – it literally cooks the proteins in your blood and removing that is kind of like removing last night’s burned lasagna from the pan…)

    If you are like me and don’t care too much about stains, you can throw them in a dry pail until you are ready to wash.   They wash best when you wash them like diapers – a cold rinse, a warm wash, and another rinse. If you don’t use cloth  diapers, just throw them in with your towels and add a cold rinse beforehand. Most washers allow you to preset that now, so you don’t even have to come back after the rinse! You can tumble dry them on low in the dryer.

  • They are designed by women, for women. Granted, the disposable pad companies have figured this out, too. Things like wings and easy-to-place designs help make your period a little easier. I also like that I don’t feel like I’m wearing a huge diaper!

  • They save you money. Yes, the initial cost is much higher. $10 for a pack of disposables sounds a lot better than $10 for one cloth pad! But when you start to think about the cost per disposable, you’ll begin to see what I’m saying.

    I went to drugstore.com in 2016 and looked at the cost-per-unit for Always and Kotex brand regular maxi pads with  wings. I found that prices ranged from 19 cents to 26 cents a pad. (For reference, that’s about what a brand-name disposable diaper costs!)

    When you realize that you can use the same cloth pad several times during a cycle, you can see how quickly the cloth pads will begin to pay for themselves. And that doesn’t even include the costs spent on medications…

  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that cloth pads may actually reduce or stop yeast infections, vaginitis, and other irritations of your private areas. On several occasions I’ve had new customers complain of redness, soreness, or even raw skin after a week of using disposable menstrual pads. When they switched to cloth, they no longer had those symptoms – the disposables irritated their sensitive skin. Many people have told me they have had fewer yeast infections since changing to cloth (myself included – I don’t think I’ve had one since I switched, and I used to have one nearly every month!)

  • Oh, and the most obvious one: Cloth pads are more environmentally friendly than disposables. All but the waterproof or water resistant layer and any plastic snaps can be composted or burned, rather than wrapped in a plastic wrapper, thrown into a plastic trash bag, and then into a landfill.  Cloth pads also don’t require a separate wash, and they are small, so they can be thrown in with any load of laundry – no extra water or soap is required!
I would love to answer any other questions you may have about cloth pads. Use the contact me form here on my website.  Don’t worry – I am not easily embarrassed!