I’ve been dealing with my menstrual cycle since a month after I turned twelve. I still remember when I first got my period — where I was, what I was wearing, what I had for dinner that evening, my mother’s reaction, etc. My mom gave me some of her pads to use, and bought me my own stash to keep around. A year or so later I gave tampons a try, and from that point on I’ve used a mixture of tampons and pads (I’d say 60% tampons/40% pads) to take care of my period. Then I started hearing about Lunapads. And since I have used pre-folds from Ryan’s cloth diaper stash on occasion (during a few instances where I didn’t have any pads left) and found them to be super-comfortable and a nice alternative, I figured I might as well make the official switch to cloth that is specifically designed for menstrual use.
Why I switched to cloth menstrual pads
Cloth menstrual pads are infinitely more comfortable than disposable pads. There’s none of the rippling, rolling or curling that disposable pads sometimes do. And you know how disposable menstrual pads sometimes stick, or even fold/bunch up in the middle? There’s none of that. There’s no adhesive to struggle with (drying out, not adhering to certain materials, sticking to itself, or worse yet, sticking to you and causing discomfort), and no wings to worry about lining up properly. Plus they just feel good — so soft!
Just as cloth diapers and cloth pet pads cost more up front but quickly pay for themselves, so do cloth menstrual pads:
Here’s what the entire stash above cost me: $149.00.
Cost of a box of disposable menstrual pads (which I’ll use up during just one period): $8
Cost of a year’s worth of disposable menstrual pads (based on 13 periods in one calendar year): $104
In a year and a half’s time my supply of cloth menstrual pads will have paid for themselves, because while I’d continue to buy, use and dispose of disposable pads, cloth menstrual pads, when cared for properly, can last five years or more. And then there’s the comfort, eco-friendly and cute factors, which are all worth something!
I’m by no means a sandal-wearing, if-it’s-yellow-let-it-mellow hippie, but I do care about the environment, and I do change up how I do things in order to make my own contribution to the landfills be a little less. Six to eight disposable pads a day (give or take a few tampons), for six days, thirteen times a year, is a lot of pads to be adding to a landfill. Using and then washing (I have enough pads to get through about half of a period, so I do run my washer two additional times during those weeks) is a much more eco-friendly alternative. (I hang the pads to dry, so there’s no electricity usage from the dryer to factor in; and if I did dry them, they’re small enough to dry with other clothing.)
C’mon… tell me that most cloth menstrual pads aren’t cute! With so many colors and patterns and the option for custom colors and patterns available, there’s no reason why you can’t have fashion-friendly cloth pads in your drawer (and panties, heh).
For those who are curious, handling and laundering cloth menstrual pads aren’t a big deal. I cloth diapered Alyssa (from 22 months until she potty-trained at 33 months) and Ryan (from 1 month until he potty-trained at 44 months), and when Leah is sick or the weather is cold or atrocious I use cloth pads for her, and laundering is no big deal whatsoever: hot water and a bit of detergent (I use bleach for Leah’s pads, and I used a small amount of bleach for Ryan’s prefolds and diaper covers/AIOs), and then hang to dry over the shower curtain. Prior to laundering, I store used pads and liners in a mesh bag that I keep next to the toilet. And since I go through pads so quickly (sorry for the TMI), they don’t sit around long enough to create an odor or become an eyesore.
The cloth pads pictured are as followed:
Pink paisley – Menstrual Mama Pads
Earth Girl pads (yellow w/ flowers) – Etsy: Allidigator
Organic Bamboo pads (blobby figures) – Etsy: Allidigator
Lunapads (large set of varying sizes + liners) – Lunapads
Besides the ever-popular Lunapads and the pads I linked to, you can find plenty of styles of cloth menstrual pads on both eBay and Etsy. The Cloth Pad List is also a great resource for all things related to cloth menstrual pads.