Cloth pads are a modern twist on the age-old practice of using a soft, gentle, washable and reusable cloth to absorb blood. Modern cloth pads come in vibrant colours and with conveniences like wings that button together securely around your underwear and leak-proof layers that prevent messy leaks.
They are easy to wash, gentle on the skin and a great complement to menstrual cups for low-flow days or an alternative to cups for those women who are unable to use them. Depending on your flow, you can wear a cloth pad for up to 8 hours. If maintained properly, the cloth pad can last for 3 – 5 years.
How to use a cloth pad
Hook the cloth pad to your underwear.
Once the pad is soiled, remove the pad and soak it in cold water for 20 minutes
Remove any stains with a mild soap. Do not use a brush.
Rinse the pad and dry it in direct sunlight.
Fold the pad and keep it away until your next cycle.
COMFORT: While cloth pads don't make you forget that you have your periods, they are certainly softer and more comfortable on your sensitive areas than disposable sanitary napkins. They prevent itching and rashes and do not have nauseating, artificial fragrances.
HEALTH: Using disposable sanitary pads exposes you and your most sensitive parts to harmful plastics, artificial fragrances, chemicals, dioxins and bleach. Cloth pads on the other hand are made of natural fabric. Even if a leakproof layer is present, it is kept away from contact with your skin.
ENVIRONMENT: Disposable sanitary pads take a huge toll on our environment. They are not bio-degradable. They occupy landfills, clog sewers and waterways and when incinerated, release harmful dioxins and other unpleasant chemicals into the air we breathe. Switching to cloth pads keeps waste away from our environment and helps us live better.
SAVINGS: Disposables are a drain on your wallet month after month. Cloth pads on the other hand are reusable, last a few years and save you money.
Where can I buy it?
Available on Ecofemme.org, Amazon, Shycart.com, Flipkart, HygieneAndYou and Privyshop.com.
Available on Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Available on SochGreen, HygieneAndYou and Amazon.
Contact details available at this link on Scribd.
Available on HygieneAndYou.
Available on SaukhyamPads, AmritaStore
Available on Shomota and HygieneAndYou.
Available on Uger and Craftsvilla.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cloth pads hygienic?
When cloth pads are washed well, dried well (preferable in direct sunlight) and stored properly, they are perfectly hygienic. It is inadequate washing, drying in closed spaces and storage that makes the use of cloth unhygienic. The newly designed cloth pads give a ‘new look’ to the old cloth method and can be easily washed and sun-dried.
How do I wear a cloth pad?
Do check out this video (courtesy HygieneAndYou.com) for instructions on how to wear a cloth pad and how to store them for washing later.
How do I wash them?
We recommend that you soak used pads in cold water, scrub by hand, and finally wash by hand or in the washing machine at 40° or less. A good scrubbing by hand keeps them soft and free from being strained unnecessarily, making them last longer. Machine wash is rather rough on cloth pads. If you still feel like going for a machine wash, just put them in a lingerie bag first and then put them for a machine wash. This will be easier on them. You can also watch this video (courtesy HygieneAndYou.com) that explains how to wash a cloth pad or a period panty.
How do I dry them?
Dry cloth pads on the washing line for best results or tumble dry on low heat.
Where should I dry them if I don't want others to see my pad?
Line drying under direct sunlight is the best option because sunlight is the best disinfectant. We need to kill the taboo around menstruation and menstrual products being in plain view. If you are still particular, you can cover the pads with a thin cloth while line drying them out in the open or you may choose to dry indoors in any airy space, preferably near a window.
Do they get stained?
Soaking used pads in cold water prior to washing ensures pads remain stain free. They might change colour after use, but that’s normal.
Do they smell?
The smell of menstrual blood is very mild and not bad. The smell also varies based on the exercise you do and the food you eat. Disposable pads smell as the blood reacts with the toxic chemicals that go into making them. While using cloth pads or menstrual cups, the smell is only that of menstrual blood.
How long can I reuse them?
If properly cared for, cloth pads can be used for 3-5 years.
Do they retain their softness?
This again depends on which brand/fabric you use. Some pads will become a little rough after repeated use. To avoid this, use vinegar. soak your pads in cold water, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a couple of drops of essential oil. This will freshen them up and keep them soft. Do not use fabric conditioner/antiseptics. While line drying, you can ‘scrunch’ the pads a bit before they are fully dry to soften them up.
How frequently do I need to change them?
It depends on your flow, the capacity of the pad you use and whether the cloth pad has a leakproof layer or not. Typically you would need to change every 6-8 hours, comparable to a disposable pad. Opting for longer pads with higher absorbency can make you go longer before your next change.
Do cloth pads leak? How can I avoid leaks?
Any pad (cloth or disposable) will eventually leak if it is not changed in time. Cloth pads come with and without leak-proof layer but that does not mean “pads with a leak-proof layer” will never leak. It simply means that a pad with the extra protective layer will last you longer as compared to the ones without the leak-proof layer.
There are 3 kinds of leakages that can happen.
Through the pad – this is common with pads without a leak-proof layer. When not changed in time, pads can leak through. It is a good option to keep extra inserts if you are using these pads.
Side leaks – common in pads with leak-proof layer. When the pad has reached its full capacity and you are unable to change, it starts leaking from the sides/wings.
Compression leaks – common with both styles of cloth pads – when the pad is saturated, and you sit down, blood oozes out from the top.
The best way to avoid leaks is to change in time.
How do I carry a used/soiled menstrual cloth pad?
If you are out for a long day at work or school and are unable to wash the pad after use, you can fold the pad and close the snap buttons with the soiled side inside and keep it in a wet bag or a zip lock bag. You can also buy leak-proof travel pouches that are specially designed for this purpose.
How many do I need?
We suggest that you would need an average of 7-12 pads, depending on your flow.
How do I decide which one is right for me?
Cloth pads come in different shapes, sizes, lengths, thickness, fabrics, stitching styles and designs. This comparison chart and video (both courtesy HygieneAndYou.com) compares the sizes, material, absorbency and style of various menstrual cloth pads available.
Aren’t reusable pads bulkier than disposables?
It all depends on the pads. Some pads are made leak-resistant by the thickness of the fabrics. Others use a waterproof lining, so they require less fabric than pads with no waterproof backing. The thickness of the pad also varies based on the flow level the pads are designed for. The pads designed for heavy flow days and night pads tend to be a little thicker than disposables. Thickness also depends on the kinds of fabric being used. 100% cotton pads designed for heavy flow will be thicker than pads that are made of polyesters + cotton as poly/microfibres tend to absorb more than cotton.
Can young adolescent girls use reusable pads?
They sure can, right from their first period. Some brands have small size pads for young girls
Can I use cloth pads for incontinence?
Cloth pads can be used for light incontinence. People with incontinence usually need to wear some kind of protection every day. When they wear disposable, plastic-based products, they are at an increased risk of getting yeast and bacterial infections, in addition to ordinary irritation and chafing.
Can I use reusable pads for postpartum bleeding?
Yes, you may- the longer, thicker overnight pads can be used for postpartum wear. Clubbing cloth pads with inter-labia pads can significantly increase the duration for which you can wear the cloth pads during heavy flow.