What are Cloth Menstrual Pads?

Tara Barnett

Cloth menstrual pads are items designed to stop the flow of menstrual blood from ruining a woman's clothes or other items. These pads are often considered more environmentally friendly than disposable alternatives, although many women do not find cloth panty liners very convenient to use. Many people find that cloth menstrual pads are an excellent choice because they are very comfortable and easy to wash. Problems with these environmentally friendly pads arise primarily from carrying the soiled pads around when a woman is out or from washing the pads.

Menstrual pads are designed to be worn inside the underwear in order to absorb a woman's menstrual flow.
Menstrual pads are designed to be worn inside the underwear in order to absorb a woman's menstrual flow.

Pads of all kinds function by catching blood after it has left a woman's body, typically in her underwear. Disposable pads collect blood and are then disposed of in trashcans. Reusable cloth menstrual pads perform the same basic task but are not thrown away in the trash. This results in less waste.

Cloth menstrual pads can be more environmentally friendly than disposable pads.
Cloth menstrual pads can be more environmentally friendly than disposable pads.

While most people who use cloth menstrual pads appreciate how environmentally friendly they are, there are other reasons to use this type of menstrual pad as well. Over time, using reusable menstrual pads can save a lot of money, particularly if a woman is careful to take good care of the pads. Also, many people find that cloth pads are more comfortable than disposable ones. For people with allergies, using cloth pads can prevent irritation associated with artificial materials and fragrances in disposable pads

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Pregnant women who may experience delays in getting to the bathroom at night may choose to wear menstrual pads.
Pregnant women who may experience delays in getting to the bathroom at night may choose to wear menstrual pads.

One problem with cloth menstrual pads is that they can be inconvenient to carry around when not at home. For this reason, some women use cloth menstrual pads only when at home, but others simply carry plastic containers around with them. Soiled cloth menstrual pads do not take up much more room than ones that are clean, although they can make more embarrassing messes. As long as a woman is careful, it is perfectly practical to store this type of menstrual pad for an entire day.

Many people would be happy to use cloth pads except for the unfortunate task of washing the soiled pads. Washing cloth pads is actually extremely simple if they are soaked in cold water beforehand. Once the majority of the blood has been wrung out of the pads, they can be washed with the rest of a person's laundry without damage. While most people do not worry too much about discoloration on menstrual pads, if discoloration from blood becomes a major issue, the pads can be washed with loads of laundry until they are entirely free of blood. Even though cloth menstrual pads are not disposable, they can eventually be replaced if they begin to look unsanitary.

Most girls start to menstruate between the age of 10 and 15 years old.
Most girls start to menstruate between the age of 10 and 15 years old.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

@Grivusangel -- I agree that the disposable kind are way more convenient, but I do wish manufacturers would work to make pads that are biodegradable and more environmentally friendly.

Cloth menstrual pads aren't my thing, but I have had success with the menstrual cup. You can find them online. They're not very expensive, compared to the price of feminine products, and mine works well.

I will say I don't know how well it would have worked when I was a teenager and had obscenely heavy flow days. I probably would have used a pad backup. But as an adult, my flow has leveled off, and the cup handles it. I use a pantyliner for backup.

Grivusangel

There has been a time when the only menstrual pads available were the ones made of linen and lined in cotton. These were washed and bleached every month.

There's a reason disposable menstrual pads came on the market. They are just easier to use. I've never tried the other kind. I was never interested in them. Cloth diapers are one thing. There is such a thing as a diaper service. Cloth menstrual pads are a whole other animal. The "ick" factor is extremely high.

If a woman wants to use them, more power to her, but I'm sticking with the kind I can roll up and throw away.

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