February 12, 2010

Reusable Pads: The Long-Delayed Update

I have been meaning to give you an update on the reusable pad situation for AGES.

The short version: It's going great and I love them.

The long version: What I did was, I ordered 1 or 2 pads from each of a bunch of Etsy sellers. I didn't know what I was doing AT ALL and just tried to get an assortment of sizes and shapes. After trying them out I discovered my favorite type was long, hourglass-shaped, waterproof layer, stitched all around. My top favorites are the regular pads and long liners sold by SugarMonkies.

Here is what surprised me: I PREFER the cloth pads. I would RATHER use them. I'd thought I was making a Noble And Laudable Sacrifice For The Environment, but it turns out I like the cloth ones BETTER and would now choose them even if they were WORSE for the environment. Disposable pads are to cloth pads as disposable underwear is to cotton underwear: the cloth pads are so comfy and nice. This is not the way I'd expected things to be.

If you think you might interested in trying pads but you have reservations and concerns, what I suggest is buying just one or two. When I was considering switching, I got all overwhelmed about it---like, I must CHOOSE THE BEST KIND and then I must BUY A FULL EXPENSIVE SUPPLY and then I must COMMIT TO A STRANGE NEW WASHING ROUTINE, and then what if I don't like them after all, OH WHAT THEN?? So I kept wringing my hands and putting it off. But there is no need to rush and/or commit. Take it slowwwwww.

Last time we talked, a few people mentioned the problem of not wanting to carry home used pads from work or a long day out of the house. Dear me, no, I wouldn't want to either. You can use the cloth pads at home and the disposable kind when you're out, or whatever combination works for you. There is no need to Fully Convert.

Same with Flow Issues: if you try a cloth pad and find them Insufficient (though I've found the ones with a waterproof layer to be the same sufficiency as disposables), you could use disposables early on and cloth later when things lighten up.

Perhaps you hate pads and only use tampons? Then cloth pads are not for you: they are a substitute for disposable pads. If you use a little liner with your tampon or in the last days of your period, though, there are little cloth liners available.

And perhaps you hate the whole idea and don't want to try it or think about it and in fact right now you have the squeemies and feel like you need to go wash your hands? Dude, you will not hear WORD ONE from me about it. Each of us does the mix of Good For The Environment stuff that makes the most sense for our individual situations, and just because this one makes sense for me doesn't mean I think it makes sense for you. Look at all the good stuff YOU do that I don't do.

There are lots of ways to wash them, so I picked the one that most appealed to me. I start by buying the pads in medium or dark colors, which helps tremendously. I rinse each one in cold water, then wring it out and put it in a net lingerie bag hanging in the bathroom closet. When the bag is full I put them in a low, cold load of wash with a cup of vinegar and a full load's worth of detergent, and I let them swish on the vigorous cycle and then soak for a few hours or overnight. Then I set the water level on high and add other clothes to make a full load and then run it. Some people line-dry them; I put them through the dryer. If they don't get completely dry, I put them in again with the next load of clothes I'm drying.

**********

Edit to add some questions from the comments section:

-R- asks:
How do they stay in place? They look like they might snap underneath?
-R-- Yes, all the ones I use have little wings that snap together on the other side.

Jessica asks:
1. when they snap around the crotch, do they slide from front to back? without adhesive like disposables is this a problem?
2. cleaning: is it kind of icky to rinse out or no big deal. Do you use your bare hands and your bathroom sink (I assume you would)?
3. Does Paul mind seeing the used-awaiting-laundry bag (see-through mesh I assume) when he opens the closet?
Jessica-
1. They do slide a little. I generally adjust each time I go to the bathroom. This is one reason I prefer pads that are on the LONG side, and also why I prefer the hourglass shape, which seems to slide less.

2. The first time I had to rinse one I felt kind of RESISTANT about it, but then it turned out to be no big deal. Yes, I use bare hands and bathroom sink.

3. He doesn't mind the bag in the closet (it's with the linens and spare bathroom supplies, so he rarely goes in there), but he doesn't like to find a pad soaking in the sink. I guess I wouldn't either, if it were someone else's pad.

Ashley asks:
I go through several pads in a day (I like tampons at night), so does than mean I'd need the same amount of reusables a day? Do they last longer or do they get gross fast?
Ashley- I find I go through about the same number of reusable as I did disposable. At first I was going to count and compare so I'd know for sure, but it turned out I was too forgetful to keep track. They're less stainy and easier to rinse out if you change them more often.

Wendy asks:
I find myself balking at the prices. Since you have researched this, what links offered the cheapest options?
Wendy- One thing I like about SugarMonkies is that her shipping is only $1.50, which is nice if you're just trying one pad or if you're buying a lot. She takes 10% off custom orders of three or more, which is nice if you decide to use them and start stocking up. Her prices are also the most reasonable to begin with. Randumosity has free shipping on sale pads, so that's like a deal on top of a deal, and also you get one free if you buy three---so I would buy three sale pads, get a fourth sale pad free, AND get free shipping. I also had some success buying "seconds" from various sellers---pads that work just fine but that had little stitching errors. That's kind of hit-and-miss, though---when I was first buying pads I found three or four of them, but I did a quick search now and didn't find much.

********

But the MOST IMPORTANT POINT here is that the cloth pads are WAY CUTER. And most sellers do custom orders, so you can pick the fabrics you like best.


SugarMonkies (my favorites):








Randumosity:







Epicerma:


53 comments:

DCMomma said...

Wow, I find this post really interesting. I didn't realize these exist. Although I wouldn't use them b/c my monthlys are very heavy and the new always pad is really the only one I trust, I think they are adorable and I think these are really a cool alternative. Maybe one day...

Thanks for the post!

-R- said...

How do they stay in place? They look like they might snap underneath?

missris said...

Oh wow I also did not know such a thing existed. I have a friend that swears by the Diva cup and I have promised myself that I will try it...some day. One environmental thing at a time because I don't do change well.

beyond said...

i use tampons and always have (no pads or liners ever) but this is a very interesting post nonetheless. nice to know reusable pads exist.

Swistle said...

R- Yes, all the ones I use have little wings that snap together on the other side.

Mama Bub said...

This is one of those things that I desperately want to want to do, but I just don't. I'm absolutely terrible about keeping up with laundry as it is and I just foresee a disaster of sorts. I do appreciate the update though and they sure are cute!

Jessica said...

Oh-I have questions:
1. when they snap around the crotch, do they slide from front to back? without adhesive like disposables is this a problem?
2. cleaning: is it kind of icky to rinse out or no big deal. Do you use your bare hands and your bathroom sink (I assume you would)?
3. Does Paul mind seeing the used-awaiting-laundry bag (see-through mesh I assume) when he opens the closet?

I'm soooo interested.

Swistle said...

Jessica- These are great! I'll add the answers to the post, too!

1. They do slide a little. I generally adjust each time I go to the bathroom. This is one reason I prefer pads that are on the LONG side, and also why I prefer the hourglass shape, which seems to slide less.

2. The first time I had to rinse one I felt kind of RESISTANT about it, but then it turned out to be no big deal. Yes, I use bare hands and bathroom sink.

3. He doesn't mind the bag in the closet (it's with the linens and spare bathroom supplies, so he rarely goes in there), but he doesn't like to find a pad soaking in the sink. I guess I wouldn't either, if it were someone else's pad.

Sahara said...

Awesome! I'm glad to hear another favorable review of these! My sister sews diapers for sale and is trading some of her handmade diapers for some handmade pads for me. She uses them and swears by them too, but I had always balked at the $20+/3 cost of mamapads. Now I am getting twice that money in exchange for me buying good books for my niece. WIN!

d e v a n said...

I have a few of the panty liner types, but I'm not a pad girl. They feel a LOT better than the disposable kind. I really like the Diva Cup though, which is a good alternative for people who use tampons but want to be "green" or just prefer it to spending a bunch of money on tampons each month.

Nowheymama said...

Thank you so much for the update! Will file away for future reference.

Also, I've seen online tutorials about how to make your own, which might appeal to your crafty readers, which I am not.

Manda said...

I read the post and tried not to have the squeemies but I DO. I am all for green-ness, but no. I can't even entertain the idea. Sorreeeee!

Linda said...

Fascinating. I cloth diaper and think nothing of the occasional toilet swish of sticky poo, but menstrual blood in the sink squicks me out. I am intrigued, however, and considering some of the pantyliner types - that's what I use plus tampons. Pads that aren't quite saturated are easier to rinse and wring out and give me less of a gross feeling.

I'm also intrigued by the Diva cup (I've read excellent reviews) but can't quite bring myself to make the change.

Swistle said...

Some people do a "soak bucket" instead of rinsing in the sink. You can put a bucket of water (with a cover) under the sink and just drop each pad in instead of rinsing it. But I've read that you have to change the water daily, so that would still result in ick-in-the-sink.

ellipses said...

gosh dear swistle! you must have gotten my mental email! i was just thinking about these the other day & wondering if you bought some or if you liked them. i am considering it just because i sometimes forget *duh* to get them between times at the store & hubby will NOT buy them for me. i do want to try them. how many do you think would be a good number to start with, should i just get like 3 or 4 and see how that goes? i think the sugarmonkies are the cutest!!

Robin said...

I use cloth pads, and I don't rinse at all! I put the used pads in a wet bag (like the small kind designed for cloth diapers) hanging from my hamper. So that's it: take off used pad, put in bag. I wash them either by themselves or with the second wash of cloth diapers. The no-rinse method sometimes leaves light staining, but they're pads for blood, so I can't get too worked about blood stains. And really, the stains are very light and not on all pads. So don't let rinsing put you off if you want to give it a try!

Jessica said...

Swistle- Thanks for the answers! You are the girlfriend I needed to ask about this. I will have to bookmark for the future since I'm pregnant and won't be needing these for a while. It will give me more time to get used to the idea, but I Love it and think I'll try it when the time comes!

alice said...

I LOVE my lunacup (was afraid that the Diva would be too long) - I've tried the pads, and they're ok, but I ran into some bad advice about soaking them in H2O2 to prevent staining - just led to a funky odor b/c I left them soaking for too long. :( Now I'll occasionally pair them with the cup when I feel the need for backup, but your post reminded me that I should try some new styles so I can have more than a couple available.

Sarah said...

For some reason the idea of reusable pads has never even grossed me out as much as the idea of cloth diapers. To me anyways, poop is FAR more disgusting than blood. Well, my OWN blood anyways, which I know isn't going to, like, contaminate me! Blood is blood, people- it doesn't change because it's coming out of your hoo hah! :) I think what icks some people out about the whole "menstual" thing is that their is an odor associated, if you use pads. However, I've heard that if you use the cloth, there really isn't a smell. True? Do tell.

Sarah said...

Their = there.

Linda said...

We all have different mental blocks, don't we? I'm a nurse and have dealt with brain matter, vomit, pee/poop, blood, bloody pee, bloody poop, bloody vomit, sputum . . . everything. But I'm still a little grossed out about menstrual blood in my sink.

Anonymous said...

This is great. I use tampons for my heavy days and then I go to cloth. I find it much more comfortable than disposables. For washing I throw them in with my disposable diapers, but if I have to I just doss them in with my regular laundry. OTOH, I don't care about stains. After 6 years of cloth diapering, the last thing I care about are stains.

Robin said...

Sarah ... there's no "pad smell" with cloth, at least for me. HUGE plus.

Blythe said...

Thank you, this is great information.
Basically, we should think of this as cloth diapering for grown-ups? (Cute fabric, rinsing, washing, repeating?)

StephLove said...

I use cloth pads. Mine are all brown or maroon so the stains don't show much. Glad Rags, I think is the brand. I find them much comfier than disposables and I don't mind rinsing them in the sink. It's no biggy.

Tina G said...

yay! I love mine too, and I feel like it's a secret I have since it's not really the thing you go around telling everyone....(at least I don't think so)I had to switch back to disposable ones for 2 months (an counting) since we are remodeling the laundry room and I have been using laundromats during that time and man- it is awful having to use them again. can't wait to go back to my soft cloth ones!

Meg said...

"Each of us does the mix of Good For The Environment stuff that makes the most sense for our individual situations, and just because this one makes sense for me doesn't mean I think it makes sense for you. Look at all the good stuff YOU do that I don't do."

I am interested in your info re pads, but felt I *had* to comment when I read the above. :) Comments like that are one of the many reasons you rock and I love reading you.

Katy said...

I can see the appeal of cloth over plastic. . . .I should probably just try them.

Swistle said...

Ellipses- That sounds about right: just get a few, and see how it goes. I'd say spend only enough that you won't kick yourself if it doesn't work out.

Leslie said...

Use some hydrogen peroxide with the cold water when you rinse then out. It's like magic.

Anonymous said...

cool! from a disposable user. the conversation seems VERY similar to cloth/disposable diapers...

amber said...

I'm an avid tampon user. Three years ago (or so) my best friend, who is an avid pad user, switched to cloth pads. At first I DID get grossed out, my YUCK alarms were sounding on all fronts, but I've since had time to consider and adjust and I don't see anything wrong with them.

Ashley said...

First of all, I'd never even heard of reusable pads before I read this. Then I thought, who cares if they are cute? But after looking at all the pictures you posted, they really are starting to grow on me! They really are quite cute.

What bothers me isn't rinsing them and wringing them out--it's how often I'd be doing it. I mean, I go through several pads in a day (I like tampons at night), so does than mean I'd need the same amount of reusables a day? Do they last longer or do they get gross fast?

I'm interested because my husband and I may be moving to a country for a couple of years where I don't think I could make a quick run to the store for pads whenever I needed them. Thanks for the food for thought.

Captivated said...

Funny you should post this today. Ever since the earthquake in Haiti I've been stewing about what would happen should such a catastrophe happen here (in MN...yeah). As such I've been reading a lot of survivalist websites and one of them mentioned using cloth/reusable pads for "that time of month" because we all still have it even in the midst of chaos. As I read, I wondered where one would find such and thing and low and behold! the next day you post this. Thank you!

Cayt said...

I've been using a combination of a mooncup (UK) and cloth pads for a few years now. I use the cup on my heavy days, and switch to pads for the last few days. I favour Lunawolf pads, because I like not having to pay international shipping.

Swistle said...

Ashley- I find I go through about the same number of reusable as I did disposable. At first I was going to count and compare so I'd know for sure, but it turned out I was too forgetful to keep track.

Ashley said...

Until reading about disposable pads on your site awhile back I had no idea they existed. And while I'm not sure I'll try or use them I applaud you for both wanting to help the environment and also being willing to try something new!

The Curmudgeon said...

Seconded, thirded and fourthed on Diva Cup love; I just started using it. Easier, nothing to carry around, clean, less expensive, more environmental. There is a learning curve but nothing liner-training-wheels won't solve the first two days. Woot!

Christy said...

Such a timely post! I use a Diva Cup (LOVE it!) but I usually wear a panty liner for backup (I've never had a leak, but I can't wrap my head around having NOTHING on). I was thinking about buying some reuseable pads from Etsy and I'm glad you did a review!

Joanne said...

Those are super cute, thanks for the info. I have had exactly one period in the last three years, due to various children gestating and then breastfeeding, but I am tucking this info away for a rainy day.

Alicia @ bethsix said...

I too have been period free for quite a while, but am expecting to be revisited any day now. I've always wanted to try something different. Wanted to try a Diva Cup, but then found out you can't use them with an IUD, which I had placed a few months ago after baby #4. We've used cloth diapers with some of our babies, and I LOVE them, so I don't really see any reason not to try cloth pads. I will investigate!

Amber said...

how cute! too bad no one else will be able to witness their prettiness :)

Mommy Daisy said...

I just finished my period, and I was thinking about this then. I might have to budget to get some. I normally use tampons and a diva cup type thing, but I have to have liners underneath. And when I have a heavier flow, I can't get the cup to stay put or work effectively. So when I'm home most of the time I just use pads.

Thanks so much for sharing this and opening the discussion. I learned a lot, and now I have a few starting places to look for them. I'm also interested in making my own (thinking if would be cheaper). I'm going to look up some info on that now too. ;) Thanks!

Amie said...

This was enlightening.

Wendy said...

Such an interesting post. I, too, had never heard of this sort of thing. It sounds so much more comfortable. However, I find myself balking at the prices. Since you have researched this, what links offered the cheapest options?

Swistle said...

Wendy- One thing I like about SugarMonkies is that her shipping is only $1.50, which is nice if you're just trying one pad or if you're buying a lot. She takes 10% off custom orders of three or more, which is nice if you decide to use them and start stocking up. Her prices are also the most reasonable to begin with. Randumosity has free shipping on sale pads, so that's like a deal on top of a deal, and also you get one free if you buy three---so I would buy three sale pads, get a fourth sale pad free, AND get free shipping. I also had some success buying "seconds" from various sellers---pads that work just fine but that had little stitching errors. That's kind of hit-and-miss, though---when I was first buying pads I found three or four of them, but I did a quick search now and didn't find much.

statia said...

I wanted to give this a whirl, but the way I bleed, I'd be afraid to try it. I was big into cloth with my son, but since my daughter was born in May, I just couldn't get into two kids in cloth (I don't know how you manage laundry with FIVE.KIDS! I can barely handle two, my lands), so I abandoned it. I usually only wear pads at night, and tmi, but I gush, so I'd be afraid I'd wake up in a pool.

I will agree, they do look really cute, though. I'm jealous that people bleed on such cuteness.

momstinfoilhat said...

I absolutely 100% agree that I thought I was sacrificing for the environment when I switched to cloth pads and a cup, and I VASTLY love them much much more.

Anne said...

Super cool!! I'm actually making that change myself, next month! I'm SO excited.

Anonymous said...

I wish I'd known about these when I still needed them! They sound so much more comfortable!

Amanda said...

I've said before in your other posts that I love my cloth pads and won't go back. I've had most of my stash two years and they are no less useable now than they were when I got them.

I'm so glad you're happy with them.

ps. my husband calls them pussy pillows. THAT gives me an icky feeling but he thinks he's hilarious.

mom, again said...

Amanda, that is hilarious, and I wouldn't be the least surprised to find a new on-line brand named that. It would be edgy and trying to appeal to young hipster women, all the fabrics would be either feline or retro. Imagine the logo for that company!

Isabel Bendfelt said...

Hello there! I've had a slight incontinence problem since I can remember, and used disposable everyday until I found by mistake and etsy seller who had great feedback and awesome designs.

At first the whole blood in the sink or carrying used pads in a bag.. really grossed me out, but the truth is... It was worst in my head than in reality. Hourglass-shaped cloth pads work for me, and since it is not blood, I can use my pads slighty more hours than with my period. GladRags offers pretty and affordable wet bags for cloth pads, you should check 'em out.

I also use the Diva Cup, and boy... This really FREAKED ME OUT. The only thing going through my head was.. Dear God, how can that fit in? Will it hurt? And it wasn't easy at first, but is not hard either. Also, using the cups I found that the slight smell of blood was gone, so I did some research. Turns out that sometimes, the pad (disposable or cloth) can "ferment" the blood, and that is what kind of smells funny, but with the cup that changes A LOT.