Women have many reasons for switching to cloth pads, including:
* They display better stewardship and are more "green." Cloth pads get used over and over again - many women report using them for 2 to 5 years; once they finally wear out, the pad decomposes rapidly in the landfill.
* They are far more comfortable.
* They are much less likely to cause uncomfortable rashes and sores.
* In the long run, they are more frugal. I purchased most of mine for about $9.50 a piece and I was spending about $12 a month on disposable pads. I will save at least $64 this year alone by using cloth pads. Assuming the pads last me longer than a year, I'll save much more.
* Cloth pads can be purchased or made at home.
* They can be had in organic materials.
* Some women even claim cloth pads have made their flow less heavy or have shortened the duration of their period. The theory behind this - not backed by science, as far as I know - is that store bought, plastic pads retain moisture and germs, perhaps causing some sort of infection we don't fully understand yet.
What They Look Like
These are not the menstrual clothes of days gone by! Oh no, not at all. Most are shaped like "winged" disposable pads. The wings have snaps, fitting the wings around the crotch of underwear. A backing of flannel prevents the pad from slipping around.
But the key difference between these pads and the ones your grandmother wore? A layer of waterproof, polyurethane laminated (PUL) fabric (made of polyester and originally used for medical purposes), which makes cloth pads just as leak proof as disposable pads.
I buy my cloth pads from Lola's Loft; the photos accompanying this post showcases a few of her products. I highly recommend her Etsy store - and for readers of Proverbs 31 Woman, she's extending a special offer:
If you wish to make your own cloth pads, try the following links for free patterns and tutorials:
Homemade Sanitary Pads by Hillbilly Housewife
Circular pads by She Who Runs in the Forest
Free Menstrual Pad Sewing Pattern by Ask Pauline
Cloth Menstrual Pads by Sew Your Own Diapers
Cloth Pads for Dummies by Backyard Academy
Beveled Pads by Cloth Pad Shop
Cloth Pads by Sew Green
Washable Pads by Many Moons
Cloth Menstrual Pads by Jan Andrea
Patterns for Cloth Pads by Ecomenses
Click here for many, many more patterns and tutorials.
The Nitty Gritty
Now for the question on everyone's mind: How do you deal with soiled cloth pads?
I just toss mine in the washing machine right away. I usually have a load of clothes I could do - but if for some reason I don't, I add cold water to the machine and lift the lid. This means the pads will soak without washing. As soon as I can run a full load, I do, in cold water. (And yes, the other clothes in the wash come out just as clean as they do if cloth pads aren't in the washer.)
Other people keep a lidded container (like a Cool Whip tub or a Rubbermaid box) in a drawer in the bathroom, put a little water in it, and place soiled pads in this until they can run a load of laundry. You can also use a more decorative container for this purpose.
If you're out and about, just pack some Ziplock bags in your purse. Roll soiled pads just like you would disposable pads and place them in the bags.
Many people wonder if cloth pads stain. I've not had this problem, but I do wash or soak them right away. If for some reason you can't wash or soak them immediately, pre-treat them before washing. A little bar soap and water, allowed to sit for a while, usually does the trick. So do commercial stain treaters.
What do you think? Would you ever try cloth pads?