Going On the Rag: The Low Down on Cloth Maxi Pads

I will admit that despite my love of periods, I was grossed out the first time I came across washable maxi pads on Etsy. They were the color of caulk and looked like scraps of fabric salvaged from an old dog bed. Ick.

And besides: they’re pads. You bleed on them, then throw them out. I wouldn’t think of reusing a tissue or toilet paper, so why reuse pads? I used to look forward to the crunch of opening up a fresh new pad. The bleached white fibers looked so crisp and clean, like a blank check begging for my signature.

Flash forward to the afternoon when, in an effort to procrastinate standing up and putting on pants, I stumbled upon another photo of a resuable pad, only this time, it was adorable. Then I saw another, which was equally as cute. Next thing I knew, I had spent more than an hour looking at pads. A couple weeks later, a few too many clicks on eBay, and boom. I had bought one.

It was a $4 pantyliner…. and pink… with googly eyed owls across the middle. I decided to use it on a not-period day, like a training bra for my ladybusiness. It felt great.

You know those snuggly, warm comforter blankets that you curl up in on chilly, wintery days and never want to leave? Cloth pads like that, but better because they’re nestled against your oh-so-sensitive vulv.

So then I bought another pad. And another. And another. And now my collection is up to about 20 pads.

But, won’t the pads stain?

Not really. If you were looking at my collection, chances are you’d have a very hard time guessing which pads I’ve used often and which I haven’t. For the most part, they don’t stain, as long as you give them a quick rinse and soak them in cool water. My preference is to rinse them under cold water to remove excess soiling, then soak them in hydrogen peroxide ($1 per bottle at just about any grocery store) and cold water in a reusable, plastic ice cream tub for about 3 days after my period ends. Then, I dump them into the wash with my towels, sweatpants, and pajamas, wash the entire load on cold/cold or warm/cold, and toss them into the dryer without a fabric softener sheet. See? Easy peasy.

My two favorite makers are:

1. Punky’s Pads. As functional as they are adorable, these pads are sewn to perfection and are made with tons of fun, brightly colored fabrics. They’re super absorbent, leak-proof, breathable, and long enough that they don’t shift around in your panties like some pads are prone to do. Pictured below are Punky’s Pads recently sold via eBay, which is how I have purchased all of mine in the past from their artist/creative genius, Jackie. These regular-sized pads are about 10 inches long, come in either cotton or flannel, and cost between $6 to $8 each.

punkyspads1 hedgehogs   punkyspads1 elephants

punkyspads1 dachshunds    punkyspads1 sharks

2. GEM ClothThese pads are flat out gorgeous. I’m especially fond of their color poppage of contrasting velour and cotton. Very absorbent, very breathable, and very waterproof. The liners are about 8 inches long and can be purchased on clearance at about $20 for a set of six. The regular-sized pads are 9 inches long can be purchased at $15 for a set of three or $30 for a set of six.

1021132229    11-22-10004

5-30-11009    6-15-11005

I have been on cloth since last May and have already noticed that the skin around my babymaker doesn’t get sore or rashy anymore. It’s never too late to give clothies a whirl! I wholeheartedly recommend these to anyone and everyone with a period. Not only are you saving your body from the harsh chemicals used to make disposable tampons and pads, but you may also experience less cramping. Many women also report lighter bleeding after they switch.

There are many brands to choose from, so it really comes down to three things.

  1. What looks do you like? Do you want to see cute baby animals, or would you prefer something darker in color so as to not see any blood? Do you want bright, vibrant prints, or something more subdued without dyed fabrics?
  2. What size do you prefer? This includes both length and absorbency. Absorbency tends to increase with length, but you can often ask sellers to customize pads to meet your needs, or you can sew the pads yourself. Many start at 6 or 7 inches, but heavier flow and overnight styles can easily run greater than 12 inches.
  3. What price do you want to pay? There’s a wide range here. If you’re skilled with needle and thread, you can save lots of dough by creating pads yourself. If not (like me), you can find panty liners on eBay for as little as $4 each. Often, regular pads sell for under $10 each, shipping included. If you choose a more commercial brand, larger pads can cost as much as $15-20 each and are often sold in sets of three or more. A word to the wise: collecting pads is addictive, so it’s worth spending the extra effort to shop around if you’re on a tight budget.

Happy hunting!

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