Reusable Menstrual Pads 101
Thinking of switching to reusable menstrual pads? I bet you have questions! Want to know where to start, how many pads you need and how to care for reusable menstrual pads? I’ll tell you!
Switching to reusable menstrual pads was one of the best decisions I’ve made. However, I do admit to feeling a bit nervous at first. I didn’t know what to buy, how many to buy or what size to get.
Reusable menstrual pads replace disposable pads. You wear them in your underwear, change them when needed but do not throw them away. Instead, you wash and reuse!
Benefits of cloth pads
- Save money
- You never run out!
- No toxic chemicals
- Made from fabric, not plastic
- Increased confidence
- Great for sensitive skin
- No perfumes or fragrance
How many cloth pads do I need?
In order to figure out how many cloth pads you need, you can look at the number you use during your cycle divided by how many days you want to go between wash cycles.
If you use 20 regular maxi pads in a cycle, your cycle is 5 days long and want to wash every 2 days you could be comfortable with 10-15 pads.
Number of pads used during your cycle ÷ number of days in your cycle × number of days to wear before washing = your magic pad number!
If you typically use 25 pads and your cycle is 5 days long and you want to wash every 3 days, 15 pads is a great number! However, I do believe it doesn’t hurt to have extra if you can have a heavier cycle here and there. With washing every 2 days 10 pads may be your magic number. See how it works?
Are you a minimalist or collector?
While some reusable pad users prefer to keep a small stash, only what is necessary to practice a minimalistic approach. Others, love to collect new pads, brands, prints and fabrics.
I personally love trying different brands and fabrics and am always on the lookout for a new print!
What size should I buy?
The best way to determine your starter stash is to look at what you are currently using. A regular Maxi pad runs around 9-10″ so if you are already a regular absorbency Maxi pad user you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love 9-10″ cloth pads!
Reusable panty liners are around the same size in both disposable and reusable liners. They are great for light days, menstrual cup backup and even non-menstrual discharge and sweat.
If you use super or overnight length pads, there are 11-12″ super and overnight pads in cloth too!
Postpartum pads, or pads for after giving birth, typically run around 13″ and also make great overnight pads for heavy bleeders.
How do they stay in place?
Disposable pads typically have adhesive substances to hold them to your underwear. Cloth pads have wings that snap together to hold them around your underwear. In addition, different fabrics on the back to help prevent sliding around but it seems like some are better than others. The shinier fabric slides around for me than some of the fleece or cotton backers seen in the video above.
How do you wash reusable pads?
Reusable pads get washed just like regular laundry. Depending on your machine, and how much blood is on your pads, you may be able to wash them with regular laundry wash items such as clothes or towels.
I have a terrible HE frontloader. I typically leave my pads in a reusable wet bag next to the toilet and then pre-rinse with cold water right before tossing into the wash. My heavier pads usually need more rinsing and rinsing out compared to some of the light-day panty liners that just need a quick rinse.
I then wash my pads in the washer on hot and toss into the dryer on medium heat. The thicker pads take longer to dry because they have more absorbency and sometimes I put them through a second time with the load of laundry following them.
What pads should you buy?
Check out my Menstrual Pad Shop list to find reputable shops with great products!
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