Tips For Removing Stains From Reusable Menstrual Pads
In the USA we are obsessed with stains. Walk down any laundry care aisle and you are bombarded with stain care treatments, pretreatments, detergents with stain-fighting ingredients and the general message that clothing should never ever have stains.
When switching to reusable menstrual pads removing stains, keeping pads stain-free and washing pads is a common concern. How do I keep my pads stain-free? How do I remove stains? Are both common questions and I want to provide my experience removing stains and keeping my reusable menstrual pads in tip-top shape.
To start I think I need to say that no fabric will stay stain-free forever. I have 4 boys plus a lot of laundry care experience. I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was pre-teen and let’s just say that it’s had ups and downs. One thing I’ve learned is that something only looks new when it is new and it’s okay if it doesn’t.
When I switched to reusable menstrual pads, after years of horrible menstrual cramps, rashes from disposable pads and collecting used menstrual care products in the landfill…I finally discovered and fell in love with RUMPs (reusable menstrual products). However, I didn’t want my pads to resemble used bandages or be covered in stains.
This is not about period stigma.
While I am an advocate for removing period stigma and understand that many feel as though concern over stains is part of period stigma, this isn’t about that. Like the rest of my laundry, I want my pads to look as close to original as I can keep them. They bring me joy, I love using them and prints and patterns are main reasons I have chosen many of the pads I own.
Pads will not all remain totally stain-free. Even with excellent care.
Just like your favorite pair of jeans, after some use…reusable menstrual pads will look used. I know used is a dirty word to many, but use is not a bad thing. Each use keeps pads out of our oceans, limits the chemicals you are exposed to and is kind to the planet.
Some fabrics are better for preventing stains.
In my experience, synthetic fabrics like minky and blended fabrics stay stain-free longer than others. Natural fiber pads like cotton and organic cotton are more difficult to keep stain-free.
A lightly colored fabric of any fiber blend stains more easily than others. Darker colored fabrics hide stains better because they are closer to the shade of menstrual blood. If you don’t want to see stains, get darker fabrics.
Pretreating, Washing and Drying.
Pretreating stains is an important step in preventing staining and drying in the sun can make a huge difference in your reusable menstrual pad care system.
- Pre-rinse with cool or warm water and squeeze out by hand.
- I do this 100% of the time for pads used on heavy days and night pads.
- Pretreatment with a farmer’s stain stick
- This is a very gentle and one of my favorite ways to remove stains!
- Pre-treatment or Pre-soak in a stain remover like OxiClean or Washing Soda
- OxiClean is Sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate made from combining Washing Soda with Peroxide
- Note that some pads, especially hand-dyed, do not recommend either of these products because it can impact the dye used in hand-dying.
Washing Reusable Menstrual Pads
- Check each brand for specific wash instructions
- I often wash, ensuring I can see sudds but have not over-soaped pads
- Extra rinse if too much soap was used
- Re-washing before drying if they come out not clean enough
- I use All Free and Clear and have since I was a child due to sensitivities, I find that it works well.
- Drying on Medium in the dryer
- This may differ by pad brand
- Drying in the sun to remove stains
Sunshine is a powerful tool in stain removal. I used my oko creations pads last cycle and after washing, natural light fiber pads. I placed them in the sunshine to dry. I have to stare hard at them to see any remaining stains!
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Remember, your pads won’t always stay looking exactly like they did before you used them. However, with good care they can remain fairly stain-free or have reduced stains. For questions about specific pad brands the manufacturer usually has instructions on their website.