You read the topic so I’m assuming you are comfortable with the topic of conversation. If you are not, please consider roaming over the site to find another topic that may interest you.
This is a LONG post. I wanted to let you know up front because I had lots of questions and had no idea who to turn to for answers. I am hoping that I can answer anything you have before you have a chance to ask it.
I have PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS for short. I have inconsistent periods but they are extremely heavy and painful when I have them. My cycle can go as little as 7 days but on average it is 10-14 days. I’ve gone up to 9 months without a cycle, but I wasn’t pregnant. Typically if I don’t have a cycle every other month my GYN will give me a prescription that starts it for me to avoid extreme and debilitating pain.
I heard about Toxic Shock Syndrome at age twelve and since then I’ve been too worried to wear tampons. With that being said I’ve always worn pads up until about 2 years ago. I’ve alternated between both a Diva Cup (Aff Link) which is a menstrual cup and the store bought Always pads. Once I found cloth pads I stopped using the Diva Cup entirely.
How did I find out about cloth pads?
About 8 months ago I read online about reusable pads, and I was interested right away. Now I know what you may be thinking Ewwwww! Well, ladies, the cycle is part of being a woman so I just got over the grossness of menstrual blood. We all have mishaps where blood may get onto your best lace panties and have to clean up that mess, cleaning a menstrual pad isn’t that much difference, there’s just more blood.
Where did I purchase mine?
I found myself on Etsy and I really liked a store called EcoHearted. The seller’s name is Kristi and she has a plethora of different pads available. I would like to think I’m an eco-friendly type lady and I loved the idea of spending less over my lifetime on pads, so I bought a Set of 7 x 10″ heavy absorbency pads and awaited my next cycle.
How much did it cost?
Now, of course, I had no idea what I was doing, so I was certain that a set of 10″ heavy absorbency cloths would do… well they did the job but I should have purchased the 12″. I didn’t think to measure the length of my disposable overnight pads. The pads absorbed very well, but the problem is I will leak from the front or back, so a longer pad would have been ideal.
My next two purchases were for the Set of 7 x 12″ heavy absorbency pads. So far I’ve spent about $180 in cloth pads. Now you may be shaking your head wondering what the heck I just did so let me explain…
Ok, here’s your chance, break down the math for me…
If I have heavy cycles for 14 days on average, swapping three to four pads a day, then that’s 56 pads per cycle. My local grocery store is currently selling Always Ultra Thin Overnight in 38 count for $7.50. So let’s say $7.50 per bag and divide that by 38 that makes the pads about 20 cents each multiplied by the 56 I need is $11.20. Assuming I have six cycles per year, and that they stay consistent with the info I provided before, I’m spending $67.20 per year anyway. I would have spent the same amount in disposable cloths over the course of two and three-quarters of a year.
Because I purchased reusable pads:
1) The pads aren’t ending up in a landfill so the eco-conscious part of me is happy.
2) I can wash and reuse these for about five years (is the general consensus online) saving me about $156 unless I can squeeze more time out of them.
3) I’m helping a woman in the United States earn a living working from home with her children. (See the EcoHearted bio.)
4) I know there are no chemicals touching my body other than the laundry detergent that I use to wash these before the first use and after each cycle.
5) Dry chaffing is no longer an issue, EVER. That alone is worth it, in my opinion. When your pad is dry in some areas and it chafes against your delicate skin down there is ouch, ouch, and more ouch.
6) No more offensive odors. I found that when wearing these heavy absorbency pads I don’t smell, with my super sniffer, any blood or feminine odors trapped in the pad.
So how often should I change my pad?
This is going to vary based on your personal needs. With these 12″ heavy absorbency pads I change them twice a day. I have better coverage than before with disposable pads, and no offensive odors or leaks.
So what about traveling with them, what if I have to replace one when I’m not home?
When I leave the house I will take two separate quart size freezer Ziploc bags with me, one houses a clean 10″ and 12″ extra pad. The other for pads that needed to be replaced on the go.
Can’t I use a wet bag?
Sure, if you have one. I personally don’t have any, plus I’m not sure if the color would seep through the bag, so I just stick with what I know will work.
Wait you got 10″ pads, if you use the 12″ normally then when do you use those?
I use these for the days that I’m spotting. I have zero issues with chaffing when I use these and I find that to be a miracle in itself.
Is your family horrified by your reusable pads?
Hubby isn’t particularly fond of seeing the mess. He knows it happens but he just doesn’t want to see it. Since we have a household of two I just soak them in a bucket and put them in our spare bathroom’s tub then slide the curtain shut. Now he can stay in the dark.
When I told my parents about them, Mom thought I was insane. Dad, on the other hand, was like good for you, which made me laugh. My thought is that women in previous generations had to use similar products, why not me?
I’m thinking about doing this myself… how do you clean them?
I prepare a bucket of cold water first. I’ll remove the dirty pad and replace it with a clean one. Once I’m finished I’ll put the dirty one in the bucket of water and squeeze out any blood I can get out of it right away. Next, I empty the bucket, leaving the pad inside, then refill with cold water again. At this point, if you have a pad that has a pattern on it, or if you worry about any staining, I’d recommend pulling it out of the water and using Fels Naptha soap on it just rubbing the soap on it gently as a pre-treatment to prevent staining. Next, I’ll move it to the tub to soak for a couple of hours. Once it’s finished soaking I will rinse it out til I can’t see any more color coming out then lay it on the bottom of my tub to dry. If you had a way to hang it up to drip dry that would be better, but I don’t have a way to do that.
Once I’ve used all my pads, with the exception of the last clean one I just put on, I’ll put them all in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with detergent only. DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER on your reusable pads. It will reduce the effectiveness of your pads. When the cycle is done I’ll put it in the dryer on delicate cycle as well. They may come out slightly damp if they do I’ll just let them finish air drying.
Wait, where can I find Fels Naptha?
In the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. My local store sold it for 99 cents.
Can the black ones you have stain?
I didn’t think so when I purchased them, but I was wrong. Yes, they can.
How do you store them when they are clean?
Since I have three sets of pads I store them in a large 12.7 Quart Sterilite container. Now these may no longer be sold, I bought this like ten years ago, so buy what it is best for your needs. Before I had the third set I used a Rubbermaid container that was about the size of a medium sized shoebox.
What are the little white things in the bottom of the container?
Those are TreeHugger Cloth Pads – Leaf Pad Boosters. They are supposed to help ladies that have problems with unexpected gushes in their flow. While it is in the picture, I haven’t used them yet, which is why I didn’t discuss them. I’m a touched confused by them and although I already own them I’m not sure that I will use them after all.
Why didn’t you recommend Tree Hugger Cloth Pads?
I didn’t recommend them for a variety of reasons:
1) I prefer empowering a woman in the United States, this company is based out of Canada.
2) Because the company is based out of Canada they only ship twice a month, they drive across the border and do mass mailings on set days.
3) I prefer the shape of a typical disposable pad compared to the ones they have at Tree Hugger Cloth Pads.
4) They are significantly more expensive for the bamboo ones I prefer. EcoHearted sells a set of 7 for $63, THCP sells a set of 6 for $80. (Note: Both amounts were rounded up to the next dollar.)
Tell me the truth, would you really recommend it?
Yes, I would. If you are not afraid of handling menstrual blood. If you have the financial ability to afford the cost of the up-front investment. If you are going to stick with it, because who needs to spend $63 for a set they will only use once. If you own your own washer and dryer, I wouldn’t want to take it down to a shared machine myself but you could be braver than me.