• Thu, Dec 15 2011

I Just Can’t Get Behind Reusable Menstrual Pads

With the DIY movement going strong, crafty women have started making just about everything themselves, which delights my green, tree-hugging heart. But it’s time I came clean on the sustainable something I just can’t do. I admit it: I’m the worst body-positive, eco-friendly-living-espousing feminist of all time. Because, despite my best efforts, I cannot make myself be OK with reusable menstrual pads.

Reusable menstrual pads should be right up my proverbial alley. Less waste! More body-positive because they don’t contribute to the period-shaming that most major manufacturers of feminine hygiene products do! Not made of plastics and other unsustainable materials! And yet, in practice, I’ve found that cloth pads are less reliable, hard to really get clean, and more than a little embarrassing to wash in a communal laundry situation.

I’m not coming at this without experience. I own exactly one cloth pad, which I received as a free gift from New Moon magazine when I was a pubescent hippie living in Eugene, OR and listening to a lot of Ani DiFranco. And from time to time, I have busted the old thing out (it has a really sweet little pattern on it and looks very friendly) and given it a whirl. And every time I have been disappointed and skeeved out and generally had a terrible time of it. It feels like walking through town with a rolled up yoga mat between your legs, and is about as effective at doing what it is supposed to do.

One of my chief concerns with The Little Pad That Couldn’t was that one of the things it couldn’t seem to do was actually get clean. Sure, it went through the washer and I even pre-treated it with green stain remover and soaked it in cold water. And yet, it has become repairably marred, and I always have a sneaking suspicion that it may be harboring bacteria dangerously close to my most precious of regions.

I’ve read up on other kinds, like the LunaPad, which features multiple pieces for easier cleaning and more effective use, but I’m still not entirely sold on the idea of having to take my soiled rags down to the laundry room of my apartment building along with the rest of my clothing. And because I’m on a limited laundry budget (i.e., I rarely have the $6 in quarters it takes to run multiple loads), I’d have to either hand wash every one (which I’m not super comfortable with–even though, I’m aware, it’s my own body, but still), or throw them in with the rest of my clothing and hope that the janky old washers we have here will do the trick.

Am I missing something? Is there some big secret to washing and using cloth pads that makes them both effective and awesome? I’m pretty sure my misgivings don’t stem from user error, but I’m always willing to give something another try. So go ahead. Suggest a brand to me. Maybe, maybe there’s still some room for these to grow on me.

Are you a user of cloth pads? Do you have any sage words to help me get over it and give them another try? Let me know in the comments.

Image: Moon Pads

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  • Morgan

    I don’t think you are necessarily missing something. The best advice I can think of is thus; get over it (and I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

    Lemme ‘splain:
    If you are washing your cloth pads in a washing machine with detergent and water and then putting them in a hot dryer and allowing them to fully dry before next use, there is no way there is going to be any left over bacteria.

    There may be some stains but think of it this way: These are pads, meant for absorbing menstrual blood, nothing more. You aren’t exactly serving Sunday dinner on them, so who cares if they have stains? A stain doesn’t mean it’s still dirty, it’s just left over pigment.

    Personally, I don’t soak my pads. Too much of a hassle. I just do a quick rinse and treat with stain remover right before tossing them into the washing machine with my other laundry. Do they have stains? Yup. Do I care? Nope.

  • Kim

    Honestly, I don’t have any of the problems you have, so I’m not sure what you could do. I have a child, so I’m pretty much immune to caring about what people think of me. I wash my pads in the laundry room of our apartment complex, and dry them on a line outside; I could really not care less about what my neighbors might think. Guess what? It’s a pad, we’ve all used them at one time or another. I’m just saving more money than you.

    We also use cloth diapers, and I wash my pads with the diaper laundry, so I have no worries about how clean they come or even potentially getting blood on my other clothes.

  • Bonnie

    Hi Hanna,

    I recently switched from disposables to Lunapads this year. I soak soiled pads in water first before putting them in the washing machine. The pads (and the leak proof carrier pounch) are so well designed with practical and pretty fabrics that I find them less intrusive than disposables. I don’t think anyone in your communal laundry will notice.

    My Lunapads have a black patterned fabric on the outside and the absorbent pads are light blue and purple. The light blue ones stained a little bit, but really isn’t noticeable.

    The washing machine wash gets out all the waste and to be perfectly honest, if you’re worried about nasty stuff dangerously close to your precious regions, it is the plastic disposables you have to worry about. I switched because Lunapads look cool, they are well made, they last a long time, and having cloth pads against my skin instead of the yucky, chemical filled, plastic stuff is so much better and healthier!

    Best of luck Hanna – I hope you make the switch!

  • Jay

    I use cloth pads occasionally as back-up to my menstrual cup (as my flow is super-heavy), I’d not be able to use cloth pads exclusively so cannot comment on regular cloth pad use, but a few thoughts…

    I think you need to look at the pad you’re using for a start – not all cloth pads are the same, different styles and materials will work differently, and of course you may also need a more absorbent pad. See ecomenses or the cloth pads database to look at what materials may be best and different styles (AIO, Envelope, folded, etc.), then go to Etsy.com and search for cloth menstrual pads – find a pad of suitable style, material and absorbency. Etsy is a good place to start because they’re significantly cheaper than buying from the likes of Lunapads, Gladrags, Dominos or Party In My Pants, so you can try different materials and styles to see what works for you. Personally I found Punky’s Pads to be the best, but she doesn’t seem to be selling right now.

    As long as you can use pads alone (if you’re normally a tampon or cup user than pads of any style may not be enough for your flow) then cloth pads shouldn’t be less reliable – you may have to change more often, but that’s just a matter of getting used to using cloth pads as you would have with any other sanitary product. Cloth pads also shouldn’t be more uncomfortable, they should be more comfortable than disposables – not any more bulky, no sweating or irritation from plastics, they should feel like your underwear is softly padded.

    As for washing – I wash mine in my washing machine, between 30°C-40°C with normal detergent – I have NEVER soaked or used stain-removing substances…and my pads are clean and have never stained despite being heavily soiled. I REALLY don’t understand the fuss women go through with cloth pads, I just bung mine in the laundry basket and then wash with the rest of the laundry as normal.

    The only issue to consider in this area is fabric softener, this can effect absorbency of pads…personally as my pads are for back-up, and don’t seem too effected anyway, I have no problems using fabric softener in my wash. If this something you need to consider, and you can’t afford a separate wash for pads alone, then try washing by hand in your bathroom (in this situation I would soak in boiling water, then wash with plain soap and water) or soak the pads in vinegar and water after washing to get rid of some of the fabric softener build-up.

    If it stains, again this may be due to the material of the pad, and then as the previous comment suggests; it’s not an issue. It’s a mark on a pad, something that only you will see, why does it matter to you?

    Plenty of women wash in communal laundry rooms…I’m not one of them so I can’t really comment, but I can’t imagine it being a huge deal just to pop them in a washing bag so no one can see them if necessary, or do with them what you’d do if you got blood on underwear or sheets. Look about online, there are plenty of web sites, communities and forums that will discuss various ways of cleaning and getting around problems like cleaning in communal laundry rooms, or ask customer services at Lunapads, etc. for advice too.

    FYI if you’re looking for pad-specific eco-friendly/healthy options also consider organic disposable pads and period panties over commercial disposable pads.

  • Michaela

    If you find that cloth pads aren’t up your alley, you should try out a reusable menstrual cup like the Diva Cup. I switched to the Diva Cup a year ago and it has seriously been one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. So comfortable, no leaks and no nasty side effects. I also use cloth panty liners on my light days. So, while I do bleed into them, it’s not much to deal with. They are still stained, but I trust my machines to get them just as clean as my other clothes :)

  • Cristen

    I would also suggest trying a menstrual cup. The diva cup literally changed my life. As for the “eew!” factor of cleaning used pads/menstrual cups, you get over it. After all, it is only blood and it came from you. Try not to get into in an in depth conversation with yourself over it. I think of it like changing a dirty diaper, just clean it up, wash your hands and move on. ;)

  • alianora

    I had an initial yuck factor when I first started using reusable pads, but I got over it pretty quickly. For starters, we cloth diapered. If I can believe that a washing machine with LESS than the amount of “recommended” detergent can get out poop, I can completely believe it can get out blood and bacteria. I throw my used ones in a little basket by the toilet and just add them to the rest of my laundry. They don’t get a separate wash or dry. They barely add any additional laundry, so it’s not a huge deal to me, even when I have to go to the coin laundry instead of using our washer/dryer.

  • Keri

    I suggest a pad company called “Tree Hugger Mama Cloth” she uses a material called minkee that does NOT stain at all and is the softest material you can put “down” there! You can find her on facebook and she sells her pads on Hyena Cart.

  • Keri

    I also recommend a laundry detergent company called Rockin Green. It is primarily used for cloth diapers but you can wash all your laundry in it! Now they have “Femme Rock” Used just for cloth menstrual pads. Their ad says “Cloth menstrual pads never looked so cool! This enzyme based detergent is designed to work on the toughest of stains while keeping your reusable cloth pads looking like new. This 16 oz bag will last you for several cycles, making it a great value! Phosphate Free – Scent Free – SLS Free”

  • Penny

    Well, I really love my Lunapads and my randumosity velour pads. They are not as thick as paper pads (I actually compared them when I first got them) and they wash up SUPER easy! No stains after over a year. I just use nellie’s washing soda and soak, hot wash, cold rinse and dry in the dryer. Voila! I also use the divacup which I absolutely love. You do have to follow instructions and learn to put it in the correct way (not as high as a tampon, make sure you clean it properly etc) but it is amazing.

    I have hanging wet bags i got from green bumkin in both bath
    rooms that hang under my toilet paper roll that hold clean dry pads in the
    front and have a wet bag to store sorties in the back. When I’m ready to wash
    I take the whole bag off and unzip it and toss it in the wash! Simple! No pre-
    soaking at all. Also with Lunapads you can choose the thickness you want
    because the liners for the pads come out.

    Give it another go! It’s well worth it!

  • Lyndsay Holman

    You need to not just use one type of pad..all of pads are shaped differently, some are made with a different material than just plain ole cotton, plus it’s not a one size fits all!
    Try Partypantspads.com
    yurtcraft on etsyf, country cloth creations on etsy, cloth pad shop, and feminine wear!

  • Melissa C

    I once thought exactly what you do, but since I switched my little one to cloth diapers I figured, really, whats the difference. I personally haven’t tried Lunapads, they are probably a pretty fantastic product, but can only comment on what I’ve tried. I have some made of minkee fabric from Tree Hugger Mamma Cloth & as I think someone else said, they do not stain!!! How great is that?? I didn’t read all the comments so not sure if someone else mentioned this but another great thing about cloth is people have said that it shortens their cycle (I’ve only been using for a couple months now so don’t know for sure from experience) But it makes sense to me… some of the chemicals in the disposable products are there to make you bleed, no chemicals, shorter cycle…

  • Jennifer

    I’ve been using cloth pads for over a year now, and I really like them. If you have fairly light cycles, they’re very comfortable, easy to use, and I really haven’t had any leakage issues. I’ve heard that women with heavier cycles do better with a menstrual cup, though those have a much sharper learning curve. Some types of cloth pads (Party in My Pants for sure, may be others) come with a layer of leak-proof fabric. The ones I use and love are by Mimi’s Dreams, and they’re just backed with polyester fleece, which works fine for me.

    Staining hasn’t been much of a problem for me. I chose darker, busier prints, because I do mind stains, and soak mine in cold water (change daily, sometimes with soap added) until laundry day. I’m pretty squeamish and hate the smell of blood, but I got over it pretty quickly. There were a few months in which I had disposables as back-ups, but by the time I ran out of them, I no longer wanted them.

  • jody

    First, you need to try a different kind of pad. Second, get a mesh laundry bag. Rinse them or don’t. Then put them in the bag to wash and dry! They’ll get plenty clean and no one will give you strange looks.

  • Courtney

    I think you just need to shop around a little bit. Consider the shape of the pad you were given, and consider the shape of the throw-away pads you use now. Find a pad that is similar in shape. One of my favorites is C-Pop Commodities on Etsy. They look pretty much like a Stay Free pad and they are so thin (although they aren’t the best for my heavy days). I love my Lunapads too, they’re a bit more bulky than the aforementioned pad, but they keep me protected on my heavy days, and you only have to change the liners, the pad can stay all day as long as you change your liners before it has soaked through. Party in My Pants has a cloth pad RX feature on their website, which takes in consideration the type of underwear you might be wearing with your pads to get the proper fit.
    Also, cloth takes some time to get used to. I don’t think wearing one pad every so often really gives you a fair enough chance to get used to it. It took me about a month to absolutely fall in love with my Lunapads, but I’m so glad I made that investment.

    I feel like as far as the embarrassment factor of toting your pads to the public laundry is common. I wasn’t so keen on the idea when I first started using cloth, but I disliked throwing away $7+ a cycle even more. This too shall pass, and eventually, you’ll find you’ll be comfortable washing them in a public space. In the meantime, however, throwing your pads in a lingerie bag works wonders at concealing what you’re actually washing.
    Hope you’ve found this helpful!

  • Jessica

    I just started using cloth pads this month and absolutely loved them! I have multiple different kinds. I have a few lunapads, some from Cozy Folk Creations (on Etsy), some from Randumosity (on Hyena Cart), and ones from Pampered Mama (also on Hyena Cart). If I had to choose my favorite I would probably choose the ones I bought from Pampered Mama (note I didn’t have the ones from Randumosity yet when my cycle came so that could change). The Lunapads didn’t seem to hold up as well in the wash as the ones and the one day I wore a liner the black flannel got discolored to a pinkish color even though I was not bleeding but just had some clear vaginal fluid. I tried using my Buncha Farmers Stain Stick (works excellent on everything I have tested it on) but even that couldn’t help the discoloration. Cozy Folk Creations also uses flannel which seems to hold up better but I got her base and insert sets and the base is nothing but a flimsy piece of fleece. Granted when the insert is in it it works like a charm but it can be a hassle to try and switch inserts when the base isn’t staying in place. Pampered Mama’s uses minky on top and like another person mentioned, it doesn’t stain! I also never had a problem with leaking with hers, which is a miracle. With other disposable pads I would soak through an overnight pad in no time but with hers I keep checking to see if it is soaked through but it never did! Randumosity lets you decide between flannel or organic bamboo velour. I haven’t tried them out yet so I can not give an accurate opinion on them. I also use Ruby Moon’s Mama Cloth detergent. It comes in scents or unscented (I have midnight pomegranate which smells amazing!). As for the laundering aspect, it is really easy to soak them in water or to rinse them and get all the blood out. Rinsing does take sometime as they can hold a lot of blood but it doesn’t take any scrubbing but more just running water over it and squeezing the water back out. I don’t mind doing them in the laundry even though I share a washer with others. I actually want to show these to all the females I know because they are cute! I am more ashamed to be caught carrying a disposable pad than a reusable one. Also, how is it any different if you leaked and got blood on your panties than blood on a reusable pad? You wouldn’t throw away underwear just because you got a speck of blood on them would you? The only problem I found was that one needs an adequate stash for it. Especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on laundry, it would be best to get multiples so you don’t have to do as many loads.

  • Julie

    As for your laundry sitution, use a mesh lingerei bag. If other people are watching you wash your clothes, they will just assume it’s your underwear.

    I agree that Rockin’ Green is a good detergeant and you can also use it on your other laundry just as safely so your pads don’t need to be washed separately. I also highly reccomend Buncha Farmers sain remover stick. Buncha Farmers is also great for food stains and general dirt on your other clothes.

    I also suggest trying a few different types and sizes of pads. I have a few different brands in my stash but my preffered pad is the maxi size LunaPad and for nights the long size LunaPad. Towards the end of my cycle or if I am having a rather light period, I use Gladrags day pads with one insert. I also have a mixed bunch of New Moon Pads which are also for lighter flow days or sometime I use them as liners. PartyInMyPants pads are great if you prefer something thinner that still gets the job done and their fabric choices will hide staining very well.

    Even if you ultimately decide that cloth is not for you, it won’t hurt to have a few on hand for emergency use. If you really must go disposable, there are some good natural options available like Natracare, Maxim or Seventh Generation.

    Good luck!

  • Tianna

    If you’re finding your pad ineffective, it’s probably because it’s too thin, or you aren’t changing it soon enough.

    I have LunaPads and I’ve made my own, and both work great! I used to soak them (the water is great for gardens, too), but when I went on vacation with no place to soak them, I ended up just rinsing them until the water came clean. I haven’t had stain problems with either method except once, and then I just used a little stain-remover and threw that one back into the washer. I normally wash them with my jeans and other rough fabrics.

    I take my pads with me to college and when I go out. No one can tell I have my period when I’m in the stalls in public rest rooms because cloth pads don’t make any noise (unlike plastic), and no one even looks when I rinse my pads in the sink. If you feel uncomfortable rinsing in public, you can always store them in a plastic ziplock (or better–a reusable pouch) and clean them when you get home.

    I have a hormonal imbalance, but my pads have gotten me through my lightest as well as my worst and heaviest periods with no problems! Where disposables are sweaty and can’t really hold that much, my cloth pads keep my skin clean and dry. I also noticed that since I made the switch, my cramps are amazingly lighter.

    Also, when some women are on their periods, others can smell it. With cloth pads (or a menstrual cup) there is no smell at all.

    I feel much better about myself since I switched, and I never want to use disposables again–I don’t even carry them as back-up! There’s really no downside to reusable pads or menstrual cups except the possible awkwardness or humiliation from what others think. But really, if you feel embarrassed, it should just show you how much farther you have to go on being completely comfortable with your body. Please give it another try! Good luck!

  • Sheila

    If your washing machine can get your underwear clean enough, it can get your pad clean enough!
    Try some better ones :)

  • Kelli

    Three words: Minkee doesn’t stain!!!

    Granted, I use cloth pads as backup for a menstrual cup the majority of the time, but still … if stains/bacteria/general cleanliness qualms are part of what’s holding you back, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try some different fabrics.

    The silky-smooth minkee-topped pads from Tree Hugger Mama Cloth are lovely, as are the lush organic bamboo velour selections from Homestead Emporium. And if it’s a trim, leak-proof, stay-dry feeling you’re after, Pink Daisy offers some of the most comfortable, foolproof mainstream (PUL-backed) cloth pads I’ve ever tried. Some of the most affordable, as well.

    I’ve tried plenty I didn’t care for, to be honest. Not too keen on fleece- or flannel-topped pads, not fond of anything too long or bulky, etc. Point is, you just need to try a few types/sizes/brands to figure out what suits you best … same as anything.

    And while you’re at it, try a LadyCup or MeLuna! Same advice applies, of course (the Diva Cup didn’t work for me at all, but I didn’t give up on cups altogether — and I’m so glad!). So much more practical, affordable, comfortable and, of course, better for you AND the environment. Win win, once you find the right one.

  • Kim

    Try lunapanties … they aren’t as obvious in the washer because they look like regular underwear and the inserts kind of look like socks. Besides, anyone who’s looking that closely at your laundry in a public laundromat might be worth avoiding in the future.

    Lunapanties also work better in my opinion. My luna pads sometimes soak through but that doesn’t happen with the panties. They are also more comfortable and don’t bunch, which prevents the “rolled up yoga mat in your pants” sensation. They aren’t thin underwear so don’t be surprised if you do try them … but definitely give them a go, you may find you like them too.

  • Jessie

    I just wanted to point out that it takes time to adjust to a new menstural product. I doubt any of us here figured out the best pad routine for us when our periods first started, or the perfect tampon routine on the first cycle of use. I would suggest trying out a few new pads from different sellers, and give it a fair shot for a month or two!

  • N

    You’re probably over this but I just stick them in a bucket of cheer and water overnight then rinse till the water is clear (like 2 seconds) Then I hang them at the back of the tub, when they are dry they go in my laundry basket till wash day. Then I just wash them with my underthings. I’ve never had any problems with staining or people seeing them.

  • Phoenix

    For what it’s worth, I was slightly weirded out at first as well. But, while I generally use the DivaCup (which, for what it’s worth, I absolutely love, and have had no issues with to speak of), there are days that I’m so cramped and bloated, I can’t stand to have anything pressing against my bits up there. I use GladRags, and I absolutely love them. They come with one “outer part” and multiple inserts, to make it easy to go from a light pad to a heavy or overnight one. My partner and I both bleed VERY heavily, and we never have leaks or any issues with them. We just soak them in cold water for a bit, rinse until clear (same as mentioned above), and then throw ‘em in the wash. If you have to do your wash publicly, dry ‘em and toss ‘em in the laundry with the rest. Works just as well. We’ve had a little effect with dark-coloured pads bleaching slightly due to natural fluids, but despite that, NONE of the colours have any blood staining at all. And if you get a DivaCup, I HIGHLY recommend their DivaWash – it’s excellent. :) We’ve been using these since last December (Happy Christmas!) and could not be happier.

  • christal

    I’ve been using cloth pads for about a year.Once you’ve used them store them inan open container, I put mine in a small bucket behind the toilet. You want them to dry this will prevent staining and they don’t smell like this. Once your cycle is done, take the bucket and fill it with cold water and a tiny bit of detergent. Let soak for an hour or more, then wash in machine on cold. I have zero stains this way. I will never willingly go back to disposables. My favorite pads are Mothermoon pads, Party in my Pants pads, and Pampered Mama pads..in that order. I’ve tried other bands but like these best :-)

  • G.L.

    As Christal said, store used pads in an open container. I have a bucket in the cabinet under the bathroom sink, which I just keep covered with a hand towel to be more discreet. I also snap them backwards to close the blood inside, yet allow air to flow and dry the blood quickly. Keep them DRY until you’re ready to wash them, after your cycle or when you run out if you only have a few. When I’m ready to wash, I take them out of the bucket. Then I add 1 cup hot water to bucket, dissolve 1/3 cup baking soda into water, then add 1/5 cup vinegar. Then I add enough COLD water to make the water very cold, always cold with blood. Put your pads in, sprinkle a bit of flour on top, then put on the lid and agitate a bit. Let soak at least a few hours, I soak overnight if I have time. To dump the icky red water, just crack the lid a bit and pour into the toilet. you can fill with cold water and dump again a few times, then gently squeeze out the excess water. This will take care of any embarrassing mess in your apartment before you go to laundry room. Now they are ready to wash in a regular load! wash warm. Dry on low heat or hang, but drying makes them softer and fluffy. I make my own cloth pads from cotton and a cotton/hemp/bamboo blend and I rarely have staining, if I do I pay so little for them by making my own I can usually toss them as I’ve used them for a while… Now, as for absorbency, fabric softener will make them less absorbent, as will any detergent buildup. Maybe an extra rinse cycle will help, no fabric softener ever! Keep trying,if you’re like me and others, you will find within a few cycles your flow will lessen, and cramping will lessen as well. I started using cloth pads when I had so many issues during my cycle I had no options left, but I’m so glad I did. now I know I don’t have anything wrong with me, and my cycle isn’t a pain anymore. Thinking of all the trash I’m saving from the landfill feels so good! Plus making my own pads allows me to only use pads I find to be beautiful and make me smile. I know that’s silly, but it really does feel special and somehow just right to be making these things specific for “that time” and making them just for my own pleasure and self care.. as a mom I needed that I guess, and ancient women did these things for much longer than disposables have been around! But if you just can’t get into them, don’t stress about it. You sound like you’re making green choices where you can, and that’s what we all have to do. I’ll do the cloth pads and menstrual cup, you do what you can and we’ll leave this planet farbetter than the way we entered it! One more thing, anyone who has a dog knows the awful mess they can make if they try to get a bloody tampon out of the trashcan, no longer do I ever have to wake up to that nasty mess in the morning again!

  • Nature nut

    I was also skeptical. So I did my research. I am currently using some from Trojacek farms on esty!:) she has great stuff! It isn’t like what you are talking about when you wear one that she has made you forget you even have one on! She has a large range of selection and they are super cute!!

  • Kay-T

    I have used cloth pads since I had my second child eight years ago. I developed some weird allergies, and using disposable products give me terrible reactions (ill spare you the details) anyways, I bought some pads off ebay made from hemp, and I liked them pretty well, but realized I could make my own for free from stuff I already had! I cut a prefold flat diaper into four strips (so each strip had a thicker part in the center) and I cut some other material to cover each side with, and then I sewed all three pieces together. since they were just for me, I didnt bother trying to make them too pretty by turning them inside out, but I did use a fun stitch. Great use for old flannel items, but my favorite are the ones I put fleece on the outsides of… helps wick moisture away from you, is soft, and keeps the pad from sliding around in my panties. You can make them any shape you want, or even ad d wings! Anyways, as far as washing, I keep my used pads in a small diaper bag i recied free while pregant. (the zipper on top keeps things in, but is in no way airtight–tey get plenty of air!) when my cycle is over, I do a rinse in my washer, then wash with very little soap, with an extra rinse. When I am gone camping, I stilluse my cloth pads (and cloth diapers!) and wash them both the same way. I made a bucket washer for them, and use the same process. Works great. I buy gallons of vinegar (cheaper that way, especially if you shop at costco) and always use it in the rinse cycle. This process could work great in your apartment, if you dont mind plunging away (which is a great workout). Whats a bucket washer? A five gallon bucket with lid, drill a hole in the lid just big enough to fit the handle of a plunger through. There are videos all over the net on how to make one. cheap. easy! Dont give up on cloth pads! I used to have such horrible periods, and now, they are so mild, Its awesome. Not to mention I never have to run to the store for pads!

  • Ngmama

    Try Party in my Pants! Though not cheap, I love their pads, don’t feel bulky at all.. they are doing a free cloth liner with free shipping promotion right now. Am using them during this postpartum period–so much more comfortable than scratchy disposable pads!!! Worth the price to me…

  • LT

    Disposable pads from the store are not sterile and harbor all kinds of nasties (petrochemicals, dioxin, BACTERIA). Washing a cloth pad (even if it is stained) is much cleaner and body-friendly than the disposable. You can always try the organic cotton disposable, but I always felt guilty throwing them away because they are SO expensive. You wash your panties and wear them again without a second thought, the pads are the same, but red is more obvious than the typical discharge staining. You only wear a pad for a couple hours, and you wear your panties all day long. Disposable themselves cause a lot of the “ick” factor because it breeds bacteria and causes more sweating which is why they smell SO bad. I’ve found the cloth pads don’t smell really at all unless I’ve been doing strenuous activity and it’s caused allot of perspiration. Maybe you need more than one pad, and maybe the type you have is just not the right type for your body/flow?
    Either way, I really hope you can make the switch, the diaper rash feeling after a week of disposable is not noticeable until it’s absent from your life! Your body and your “lady” will thank you!

  • Catsmeat Potter Pirbright

    I very rarely use pads so it’s not an issue for me. My feeling is: find a good mens. cup and that should take care of your concerns. You can use it on the lighter/iffier days because you don’t have the toxic-shock concern. You can use the cup for upwards of 10 years (we’re told). And the new Sckoon cup sounds like the best one on the market, according to user reviews.