It took me awhile to make the switch from disposable menstrual products to reusable ones – but I’m so glad I did. It’s better for my health to not have all those chemicals near my sensitive lady parts and it’s better for the environment, too. I use both a menstrual cup and cloth pads (aka Mama Cloth), but will just focus on using cloth pads today as it’s the simpler of the two. And if you’re already using cloth diapers on your baby – then cloth pads will fit right in!
How to Get Started Using Cloth Pads
- SIZE: Just like there’s different sizes and absorbencies of disposable pads, there’s different sizes and absorbencies of cloth pads, too. You’ll pick your size of cloth pads mostly based on how light/heavy your flow is. You’ll also find cloth pad sizes based off of the type of underwear your wearing (i.e. thongs), and you can also get different width sizes. Although there’s too many different sizes and styles to list, below you’ll find the most common – all available from my blog sponsor – Pink Lemonade Shop.
- Panty liners: Best for spotting, everyday discharge, pregnancy, and as backup for a menstrual cup.
- Light pads: Tweens, teens, light flow days.
- Regular pads: Light to moderate flow.
- Heavy pads: Moderate to heavy flow.
- Overnight pads: Heavy and overnight flow.
- Postpartum pads: Overnight and postpartum flow.
- FABRIC: You’ll find a variety of fabrics – minky, fleece, cotton, bamboo velour, organic fabrics, and on and on. Just like cloth diapers, there’s a wide variety to choose from. I prefer a combination of minky and fleece. And although no one sees your pads but you – there’s lots of fancy prints to choose from.
- NUMBER: How many do you need? This number is sort of like cloth diapers. It all depends on how often you’ll be washing (it’s recommended not to go longer than 2 days to avoid staining), and how often you’ll be changing them based on your flow. I think it’s good to start out with at least 6. If you change every 4 hours or so during the day and use one at night – you’d likely have 1 to wear while you wash the rest. That’s cutting it pretty close though. I preferred to double that. I’ve got 12 and have never run out and had to stress about washing. And comparing to cloth diapers again – the more you have, the less you have to wash them, the longer they’ll last. In my opinion – it’s always good to have more than less.
- PREPPING: Simply wash once before using. I’ve read some other things about washing multiple times to increase absorbency – but I don’t find that necessary. Save your time and water and just wash once.
- USING THEM: You just simply lay one in your underwear and snap it underneath to hold it in place. Depending on the brand you choose, you may have to figure out which is the correct side to have facing up. Pink Lemonade Shop pads are used with the print facing up, but I have others where it’s the opposite. Once you’re ready to change your pad, you just unsnap, place in a wet bag, and snap in another.
- WASHING: I just throw mine in with my load of cloth diapers and I’ve had no problems. If you’re not using cloth diapers on any babies – then I would probably throw them in with a load of towels since just cloth pads would be too tiny of a load of laundry to wash. Most brands specify specific washing instructions (I’ve seen both warm and cold), but I wash on hot and have had no issues with staining. I dry on low in the dryer.
- STORAGE: I have a basket of cloth pads in my bathroom. They come out during my monthly flow and get put away in the bathroom closet once it’s over. I store my used pads in a hanging wet bag until washing. I also carry a small wet bag in my diaper bag for changes when we’re out and about.