Are you tired of buying menstrual pads every time you have your monthly period?
Washable menstrual pads are the answer!
They are a healthier alternative to the chemical-laden disposable menstrual pads and are made of layers of absorbent cloth sans the harmful chemicals.
And they can be used over and over again.
They are also known as cloth menstrual pads, reusable menstrual pads, or washable period pads.
This is one of the things I discovered as I was digging deeper into the zero-waste/low waste movement.
Many of the women I followed on Instagram who advocate the movement are also avid users of the washable pads. And they only have good things to say about them.
The Dirty “Bloody” Facts About Disposable Menstrual Pads
As I keep reading more about the subject, I came across scary facts about the disposable ones.
Disposable menstrual pads contain harmful chemicals such as dioxins, furans, pesticide residues, plastics, and fragrances.
Dioxins and furans are highly toxic pollutant s that are a by-product of the bleaching process.
Sanitary pads are not naturally pure white, but the fibers in pads are chlorine-bleached to give them their clean and sterile appearance.
It is said exposure to dioxins and furans has been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.
Pesticide residues and herbicides are heavily sprayed in conventionally grown cotton (mainly used in making sanitary pads) and these chemicals can stay on the cotton even after being harvested.
Plastics are one of the main components of disposable sanitary pads, making them leakproof.
The plastic traps moisture and heat, creating an environment that promotes the growth of yeast and bacteria, and it may cause burning, chafing, and soreness for sensitive individuals.
One estimate says that pads are made up of 90% plastic and that a pack of menstrual pads is equivalent to 4-5 plastic bags. 🙁
Fragrances in sanitary pads are added to neutralize odor and are usually a combination of unknown chemicals that can enter into the bloodstream and cause side effects.
According to the report, Chem Fatale by Women’s Voices For The Earth, the chemicals used in the “fragrances” of most feminine care products include carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxicants, problematic disinfectants, and numerous allergens.
Yet, companies only disclose the generic term “fragrance” as an ingredient because companies are legally allowed to keep fragrance ingredients a secret from consumers. Argggg!
Benefits of Washable Menstrual Pads
1. Health-friendly. All the scary chemicals mentioned above are not present in reusable menstrual pads.
I read a lot of blogs of women who were saying that their dysmenorrhea and other menstrual discomforts like rashes and irritations were lessened or completely gone after they switched to washable menstrual pads.
2. Environment-friendly. According to research, the average woman will use 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, panty-liners, and tampons in her lifetime. And that is only for one woman!
3. Budget-friendly. You’ll only buy your stash once and you’ll use them over and over again.
Research says that washable menstrual pads usually last for 5 years, but there are a lot of women who say that theirs lasted for more than 5 years.
4. Comfortable and Silent. They’re very soft unlike the “hard” feeling of disposables. And they’re very silent.
No one is going to know that you just changed your menstrual pad when you’re in a public comfort room.
5. Use them over and over again. This is exactly the reason why they’re called reusable.
You’ll never have the problem of running out of menstrual pads again and you’ll never again beg and shame your father, brother, husband, or boyfriend to rush to the store to buy you some menstrual pads.
6. They have very cute designs. This one is a bonus! Your monthly period will never be boring with all the cute and colorful designs of each pad.
Why I Made the Switch
Because I am looking for healthier and eco-friendly alternatives, I am instantly convinced to make the switch upon knowing the scary facts about disposable pads and the benefits of washable ones.
And using the washable ones is like going back to the basics since these are a modern version of the “cloth” menstrual pads that my mother and my grandmother used in their younger years before disposables became a hit in the market.
My mom said that during her teenage years, she has to improvise with clothes layered to serve as a menstrual pad because disposable was considered “expensive”.
Maybe one of the reasons why women of the older generation are not prone to problems like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption is because they are not exposed to the harmful chemicals of disposable menstrual pads?
How To Choose The Right One For You
Reusable pads come in different sizes, just like disposables. Large and Extra large for heavy flow and nighttime, medium for normal, and small or the pantyliner type for the last days of the period or as a back-up if using tampons or cups.
I am the “large type” of girl ever since. I always use the night disposable pads even in broad daylight.:)
I always have the feeling that I’m going to have a leak on my clothes when using the normal size. But feel very comfortable and at ease with the large ones.
How To Wash Them
After each use, rinse it with cold water to remove the blood.
Then just wash them all with the normal laundry or you can also wash them by hand.
Then sundry them if possible and make sure that they’re completely dry before storing them (to avoid bacterial or fungal growth).
Don’t use bleach or fabric softener in washing them.
My Stash and Personal Experience of Using Them
I have 5 XL size that I bought in March 2018 (right after I learned about them) and 7 medium ones that I bought in October of the same year.
But how I wish I discovered them before I gave birth to our first child, I could have saved a lot of disposable pads from going into the landfill. 🙁
I bought several packs of disposable pads for my postpartum bleeding.
But despite having them already on my 2nd pregnancy, I was not able to use them in my postpartum because my repeat cesarean had a lot of complications and recovery was hard, I can barely walk and do household chores.
Despite feeling bad about it, I went for the disposable pads again because I don’t want to add work to my husband of washing my reusable. 🙁
I like the XL size the best. They’re the ones that I keep on using and the medium size I only use in the last days of my period.
5 pieces of XL size is a good number for me. I just keep on washing them every day.
But I bought 10 pieces more in November 2019, but I haven’t used them until now. A clear sign that you don’t have to own a lot.
Reusable pads are very absorbent. I always sleep on my side with disposables to make sure that I don’t stain the bedding, it’s effective but back-straining.
I always wake up with back pain. But with reusable, I am no longer worried about having a leak. I can already sleep on my back without worrying about the sheets getting stained.
Have you experienced being grossed by the “nasty smell” of blood when changing your disposable pads? I don’t have that feeling anymore after switching to reusable pads.
And there’s no more noise and no more parts of the adhesive sticking into the underwear every time I change.
Try Them And Experience the Difference
I encourage you to give washable menstrual pads a try to experience all the benefits personally. They’re good for you and the environment. A total win-win!
You can check my post about the best washable menstrual pads of 2021 and see all the different choices for you.
But if you are not yet ready to switch to the washable pads, at least please find a better brand of disposable pads (if you’re not yet using one).
There are now a lot of disposable pads that are made of organic cotton and biodegradable materials.