Cloth Sanitary Pad Guide
How do they work? How do I wash them? How many do I need? Why switch to cloth pads?
These are some of the most common questions we get asked about CSP (Cloth Sanitary Pads/Protection) as for many it is a new concept, despite having been around in some form or another for as long as our periods! There are a lot of questions and stigma surrounding reusable sanitary products, which is why we're here to answer your questions and bust the myths!
You can shop our CSP range here.
Why use cloth?
The most common reasons are to reduce plastic waste and save money, with around 10,000-20,000 disposable sanitary products being used in your lifetime it's easy to see how CSP can save you (and the ocean) a fortune! The average disposable pad is thought to have four carrier bags worth of plastic in it, who would've thought for such a small product?! But there are plenty of other reasons to use CSP, such as:
- Less irritation - there are no chemicals in CSP, resulting in less soreness and irritation. Many are allergic to the chemicals and pads but don't realise there is another option!
- Breathability - Often made from natural fibres, CSP is much more breathable than a plastic disposable pad, reducing problems such as thrush.
- No smells - Often the chemicals in disposable pads can react with blood to make that well-known 'used pad' smell. With CSP this isn't an issue, and washing correctly will keep your pads fresh as a daisy!
- Lighter Periods - Many users report a lighter flow when using CSP, although not yet proven it is thought to be due to the natural fibres or increased absorbency of CSP.
There's also the added comfort of not wearing plastic in your pants, no awkward rustle of the wrapper in public toilets, never being caught short of pads again and the pretty designs available.
How many do I need to get started?
Whilst everyone is different, we recommend around 10-15 pads for full time use. You can work out an estimate of how many you might need by thinking about how many you use in a day, then multiplying by two or three days to allow for time between washes. There's no need to invest in a full kit, you can even start with just two or three to give them a go, try a few different materials and brands to find your favourite!
What are cloth pads made of?
Most cloth pads are made of a breathable top layer that goes against your skin, an inner core of absorbent material, and an outer leak-proof layer of PUL or fleece for protection which sits against your knickers. Most pads fasten using a little popper on the wings to keep them in place. The top layer and core can be made up of a range of materials such as bamboo, cotton, charcoal, fleece or hemp. The natural materials are breathable and absorbent, and man-made fleece is designed to wick away moisture and dry fast. The poppers on the wings often have two settings for a wider/thinner pad to fit your underwear best.
What size do I need?
Cloth pads typically come in three sizes:
- Liners - Also known as 'mini' pads. Best suited to those with light flows, young teenagers and also at the start/end of your period when your flow is lighter. They are also great for everyday use if you like to use a panty-liner.
- Regular - Also known as 'day' or 'medium' pads. These are perfect for the average flow for day-time use, or at the end of your period for heavy flows.
- Heavy - Also known as 'night' or 'maternity' pads. Great for those with a heavier flow, or at times when you need extra protection such as at night. Many are also suitable for post-partum bleeding too. These pads generally have a longer/wider back section to prevent awkward leaks.
We recommend trying each size to see what works best for you. Different brands can have different sizes/thicknesses too.
How do I wash cloth pads?
We recommend rinsing your pad under the cold tap to get rid of excess blood but don't worry, this can be saved for when you're at home if you're using a public loo! Then just stick it in a little wet bag (a waterproof storage pouch) ready for washing. When you're ready for wash, we recommend every 2 or 3 days, just pop them in the washing machine (along with the wet bag) at 40/60 degrees and hang up to dry when done! They should be dry within 24 hours as they're only small. No need for fabric softener as this can affect absorbency, and generally tumble drying is best avoided but can be done on a low heat if you need the pads ASAP (high heat can damage the leak-proof PUL outer). Of course you won't have enough for a full load so feel free to add to a clothes or cloth nappy wash.
Do they leak?
The fantastic thing about cloth pads is that they are much more absorbent than their disposable equivalent whilst still having a leak-proof layer for security, so in short the answer is no, they shouldn't leak. Whilst rare, sometimes you may experience leaks just like you would on a disposable. This is often down to using too small of a pad for your flow, not changing frequently enough, or even failed PUL (perhaps you tumble dried on hot or accidentally did a 90c wash). If you're having leaks please contact us and we will do what we can to help!
Fancy giving cloth a go? You can support us and buy your pads here!
Do you have a question not answered here? Feel free to contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible!