Complete Guide to Cloth Menstrual Pads

Self Development
Click to read this post where I cover all the ins and outs of cloth menstrual pads! How to wash, cost, absorbency, etc!

I wanted to write this post to be a landing page for all things cloth menstrual pads. I have gotten so many questions and interest about cloth pads and how I use them, so it’s time to create a space for this info to live! Let’s just dive right in!

*this post contains affiliate links

What do you need to get started?

The list of things that you need is just my opinion and what works for me. Certainly, you can get more things or fewer things to get started. I find that I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to minimalism in my cloth pad materials. If you’re wanting to have a comfortable amount of pads and an easy routine, this is probably the post for you! I’ll link everything so you can find it easily if you choose to try this out.

  1. A large wetbag* – I got a solid colored, medium sized wetbag to store in my bathroom. I wanted the solid color so that it would be discreet and match my decor as much as possible, but any pattern will do. This bag is where you will place all the used pads when you take them off at home. No rinsing. Just take them off, fold them up, and put them in the bag.
  2. A couple of small wetbags* – I have 3, and I think it’s the perfect amount. If you work outside the home or are out and about a lot, these serve the same purpose as the large wetbag during those times. Just place the used pads in one of these while you are out, and then place the whole small bag into the larger bag in your bathroom when you get home!
  3. Pads for use during the day* – The size of pad is what might be different from woman to woman. I bought two sets (5 pads in each set) of 10 inch-long pads. This is enough to get me through about 3 days of use, and they are plenty absorbent for heavy flow days.
  4. Pads for use during the night*– I purchased one set of 3, and the set also came with an additional small wetbag! These pads are 13 inches long to help with the tossing and turning factor at night. I will admit that I haven’t gotten a chance to try these yet, but they are highly rated!

(Items with an * next to them are affiliate links. Learn more about what that means for you, here!)

Yay, cloth pads! Now, I want to answer some of the most common questions I received on my Instagram about cloth pads and how to use them.

How do you clean them?

I think the idea of cleaning cloth pads really didn’t scare me because I already use cloth diapers with my son, and it’s even easier than that! The answer to how to clean cloth pads is as easy or difficult as you want to make it. However, I’ve found that simple methods work best!

I wash my cloth pads about every 3 days, and I wash them along with cloth diapers. I’ve also washed them with regular clothes and towels. Regardless of what you choose to wash them with, the system is pretty basic. I take the pads off after wearing, place them in the wetbag (no rinsing necessary), and don’t touch them again until I wash them. Here’s how to wash them…

  1. Pre-rinse the pads. You can do this in the pre-wash with your cloth diapers, simply run the pads through a rinse and spin cycle on your washer, or even rinse them in your shower. I’ve done all three ways, and they each work fine. It’s all up to you! The easiest way is to throw them in with a load you already have to wash twice (like diapers) or do a quick rinse and spin cycle with just the pads prior to adding the other items.
  2. Wash the pads. This is exactly what it sounds like. Wash the pads with whatever other items you choose, but it’s important to wash them with something to bulk up the load for proper cleaning. Since you’ve already done a pre-rinse, I don’t find that it matters what temperature the main wash is. I usually wash them on hot with my diapers, but I have also done warm for washing with other clothing. I use Tide Original powder and Oxi-Clean (if needed) for my pads and all other clothes.
  3. Dry in the dryer on a low setting or let them air dry. I personally use the dryer…’cause mom life.

It’s really that simple. That’s it!

How absorbent are they?

This was a question that I had before I started using cloth pads as well! Obviously, it’s a very important thing to know. 😉

I have found cloth pads to be more absorbent than store-bought pads! In the first few days of my cycle, I would normally change my pads every 2-3 hours to ensure I didn’t leak onto my clothing. With cloth pads, I can change them every 5-6 hours with no problems at all!

Are they bulkier than store-bought pads?

They are going to be slightly thicker due to the nature of the product, but I don’t find them to be much bulkier. They definitely don’t show through my clothes any more than a “normal” pad would!

What about the odor?

The answer to this question is the same (in my opinion) whether we are talking about cloth menstrual pads or store-bought pads. As long as you are changing your pads frequently enough and practicing good personal hygiene, there is no more and no less odor than you would normally produce on your period.

…and lastly…How much money can you save?

The figures I will be using for this part will be based on the brand on menstrual pad I normally buy from the store! So…

I normally go through one box of pads per cycle. The box that I get runs about 8 dollars a box. If I’m not pregnant or nursing, I’ll have 12 cycles a year. That comes to be about 96 dollars in menstrual pads a year.

My cloth supplies cost me about 77 dollars. Because I wash my pads with loads of laundry I was already planning on doing, I won’t factor in the cost of washing them. From these numbers alone, you can see that you already save money in the first year, but let’s take it a little further!

I wanted to calculate how much money someone might save if they started using cloth pads from the beginning. I had to make some assumptions based on a quick google search, so give me some grace, please! Ha! The average age that a girl gets her period is around 13 years old, and the average age for menopause to start is 50 years old. The average amount of children one woman will have is 2, and most women get their period back around 3-6 months after childbirth. I will use 3 months for ease of calculations!

If you do the math, and I’ll just do it for you…the average woman spends about 35 years with a period. With the pads I use, that comes out to be $3,360 in buying pads over 35 years. While that may not seem like much money spread over that amount of time, I can’t wrap my head around spending over three thousand dollars to bleed on something and throw it away. Not to mention, I’ll never have to run to the store because I ran out of pads! #eventhoughithappenseverymonthistillforget

And there you have it! I hope this information is helpful to you, and I hope it encourages you to make the switch to cloth pads or some other reusable method. There are many other benefits to cloth pads, but I wanted to quickly cover the questions and comments I have received so far. If you have any other questions or anything else you’d like to add to the discussion, leave a comment below!

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