My Shift to Washable Feminine Cloth Pads: The Pros and Cons

Are you ready to make the switch for Mother Earth? (Photo by the author)

I’m always trying to look for little ways to reduce my waste. For almost two years now, I’ve been wanting to shift to reusable feminine cloth pads. But the thought of carrying around soiled cloth pads has always stopped me.

Recently, though, my colleagues have been buying menstrual cups and have been raving about how they’re life-changing. Like me, one of their reasons for making the switch to reusable menstrual products is to practice an eco-conscious lifestyle. Inspired by their courage to change something they’ve been accustomed to for years, I finally made the switch.

These reusable pads feature bamboo charcoal lining that locks in liquid and traps odor (Photo by the author)

I bought these cute pads from the online seller Ka Nami Pasador. Since my periods are relatively light and only last about four days, I chose the seven-piece set of regular bamboo charcoal pads. The black plush-like fabric is the bamboo charcoal lining that is supposed to trap odor while the colorful outer lining is the waterproof material that prevents leaks.

This cycle, my period lasted for five days so I tried the pads for that duration. Here’s my personal take on the washable feminine cloth pads:

(Photo by the author)

They’re barely there

I expected my bikini area to feel bulky since I’d be putting on a cushion-like cloth there. But a few minutes after wearing the pad, I’d already forgotten it was there. Since it is made of softer materials, it conformed to my body’s shape better than disposable pads. I also expected to feel warm in that area, but the cloth is actually breathable. Just two days after wearing the washable pads, I got so comfortable that I almost forgot I had my period.

Zero leaks (when you get the proper placement)

I was so scared of getting back leaks. So for my first two tries I placed the pad low for back coverage. I, unfortunately, lack spatial skills that I didn’t realize I was placing the pad too low. I ended up with front leaks twice. But the leaks were manageable that only my underwear ended up getting stained.  When I finally figured out the pad’s proper placement, the next days were 100 percent leak-free.

Didn’t smell a thing

We all know that scent. We go to the bathroom to pee or change our pads, and as soon as we sit on the toilet we feel that scent’s tendrils hook our nose. When I shifted to washable feminine pads, however, I didn’t smell a thing. I specifically chose a bamboo charcoal pad to control odor. But I think even without that feature, since the reusable pad is more breathable, wearing it won’t create the same scent we get with disposable pads.

Barely saw the blood

Not all of us are comfy with seeing our own blood, so getting reusable pads with a black lining is a godsend. Every time I peed or replaced my pad I would see parts of the fabric glisten, instead of the usual “murder scene.” I expected to see sticky blood every time I washed a pad, but I didn’t see anything too alarming. The water just turned a bit red, but that was all.

No napkin-filled bins waiting for trash day

Waste reduction is one great thing about switching to reusable pads
Image from Pexels

Garbage collection in our neighborhood is scheduled every Monday and Thursday. So when I get my period toward the end of the week, my used pads have to wait and sit in my bathroom bin for four nights. The used pads are all wrapped and secured well with used paper, but we all know how bacteria in closed spaces work.

You don’t have to buy too many

I thought my seven pads wouldn’t make it ‘til the end of my period, but they actually did. Every time I washed a pad it would be dry in a day and be ready for the next use. I initially thought I’d just try the washable pads first and if I liked it, I’d buy more. My trial period has taught me that I don’t need to buy too many. Maybe I’ll just buy another set just in case I get my period on a rainy week.

You save money in the long run

Every time I have my period I spend P40 for an 8-piece pack of regular pads with wings and P85 for a 10-piece pack of ultra-thin pads with wings. Every year, I shell out P1,500 for menstrual products. My seven-piece set is enough to last me throughout my period, and can be used for three to five years. Even if my reusable pads only last for two years for whatever reason, P800 spent for two years is a lot better than P3,000 for two years.

You help small businesses

One pro I never thought about ‘til I got into washable feminine pads is that I can help small local businesses. Angel of Ka Nami Pasador was such a delight to talk to, and she wasn’t like other sellers who would just tell you “out of stock” then ignore you. So I’m glad to have helped her store even just a bit, especially since she’s really in the business for the cause and not just because reusable pads are gaining popularity.

You’re kinder to Mother Nature

This, of course, is my favorite benefit. I’m only one person, but the thought of doing less harm to Mother Nature does make me happier. And I hope that I don’t just minimize my waste, but that I inspire others to do the same as with how my work friends have inspired me when they shifted to menstrual cups.

(Photos by the author)

It adds a few minutes to your shower routine

I don’t want my used pads to stay dirty ‘til the next laundry day, so I wash them every bath time. I soak them in soap while I take a shower and then wash them afterward. For those of us who are always on the go, the extra minutes washing pads can be inconvenient.

You’re gonna miss the adhesive disposable pads have

Reusable pads have wings with clasps to help them stay in place. This is both a pro and a con. The advantage is that you can easily adjust your pad if you clasped it the wrong way, unlike with disposable pads that lose the strength of the adhesive when repositioned. The disadvantage is that it takes a bit of a trial and error to find the right spot for your pad. (Or maybe that’s just for spatially-challenged people like me.)  Also, your reusable pad can move a bit when you take your undies off to pee, so make sure it’s on the right spot when you pull them back up.

You will be paranoid at first

Expect to be a bit paranoid on your first few days of use. You will be constantly asking family and friends if they spot any leaks and if they smell anything. But once you get the hang of it there’s really nothing to worry about.

Not as easy to buy

You can get disposable pads virtually anywhere, from pharmacies to sari-sari stores. And when all is lost, one of your classmates or colleagues will likely have a spare to pass on. With washable feminine pads, however, you have to go online or hope they’re one of the products in your favorite eco-friendly specialty stores. I bought mine online and had to wait for a few days for my chosen supplier’s stock to arrive. Then I had to wait for the package to arrive. So if you’re going to shift to reusable pads, you should probably order two weeks before your period.

Costs more at first

When I first saw the price range of the washable pads, I wasn’t too ecstatic. Aside from the set I bought I had to pay for the shipping fee. But now that I’ve computed how much sticking to disposable pads would cost me, I’m OK with the P800 plus shipping fee I spent.

You have to carry around used pads

Try bringing along a small dry bag to keep reusable pads
Image from Pexels

This is the thing I’ve been dreading the most. No one goes through my bag without my permission, but just the thought of a blood-soaked cloth staying there with the chance that someone might see or smell it makes me a bit paranoid. I use a small dry bag to keep my soiled pads and they don’t give off any scent. I also keep the dry bag deep in my backpack. The thought of its presence still makes me uncomfortable, but hey, we can all live with “a dirty little secret.”

Overall though, the pros greatly outweigh the cons for me. So I’m sticking to reusable feminine pads.

4 Responses

  1. Ruya

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been researching about feminine cloth pads and I stumbled upon this post! Not only did you convince me to finally make the switch, you also directed me to locally made ones! Super super thank you! <3

    Reply
  2. Kai O

    Hi! How often do you need to change if using cloth pads? I have very heavy flow on day 1 and 2 so I’m still worried of shifting.

    Reply
    • Nyj Verdadero

      Hi Kai O, thanks for your question. I just followed my usual schedule like when I was still using disposable pads. My flow is generally moderate to light so I only change every 6 hours for days 1-2 and every 8 hours the following days. For you, I suggest buying the overnight/heavy flow reusable pads and following your usual schedule. Like if you change every 3 to 4 hours with disposable pads, maybe you can try that with reusable pads. Hope this helps!

      Reply

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