Only a few years ago the idea of reusable cloth sanitary pads (also called CSP for short) was something that disgusted many, and it certainly wasnt a hot topic many people were willing to talk about openly. When I first mentioned reusable cloth sanitary pads, some of my friends jokingly threatened to dis-own me if I went down that route. Well would you believe it, that is changing! Now there are a huge variety of reusable cloth sanitary pads on the market, so much so that it can actually be difficult to choose which are the right ones for you.
Cloth sanitary pads are not a new invention of course, they were around before we became so dependent on disposable single-use items. With disposable sanitary pads containing up to 5 carrier bags worth of plastic in them, and the absorbent fibres being bleached with chlorine to make them more white, is it any wonder that we are returning to to the safer more traditional cloth sanitary pads.
If you have very sensitive skin or are allergy prone, you might be switching to cloth sanitary pads to avoid the dioxins that are present in disposable sanitary pads from the bleaching process. You might want to choose organic cotton cloth sanitary pads for sensitive skin.
The only real downsides to fully cotton pads, that is the top side closest to your body is also cotton and there isn't any wicking stay dry properties in it. So if your cotton pad gets very damp, it will feel damp too. Cloth sanitary pads with a stay dry layer, that is a topside of fleece, will feel dry to you even if the pad underneath is very damp.
Some people are concerned about staining when it comes to reusable cloth sanitary pads. Soaking adequately in cold water before washing should eliminate stains, but if you are really bothered by potential stains, opting for a dark pad will eliminate this risk. Bamboo charcoal cloth sanitary pads will have a very dark fleece topside. Organic cotton cloth sanitary pads are also available in very dark colours or black.
Next we have to talk about size. You will want to find the happy balance between finding a pad that is bombproof and won't let you down leakwise, and one that is discreet. Cloth sanitary pads are generally categorised as liners, day pads and night pads. Day pads are shorter than night pads, therefore more discreet. You may find however that when lying down asleep these just aren't long enough. That is where the night pads come into play. Their additional length, and sometimes width too, can help catch those pesky run away drips. Night pads are often also used as post partum pads.
Of course some women use sanitary pads and liners for minor urinary incontinence issues rather than periods. Traumatic births and ageing can certainly change us in ways we wish weren't possible. If you have to use a sanitary pad every single day, rather than just 5 days per month, then cloth sanitary pads are going to be even more attractive to you. Rather than wearing sweaty plastic pads every single day, you could be wearing lovely organic cotton ones. It just makes sense to switch to cloth.
An issue that can crop up with reusable cloth sanitary pads is with some sports. Horse riding and cycling is an issue with some reusable cloth pads because of the little popper closure underneath the pad. Although the popper is tiny, as a horse rider myself I can tell you it can be a little distracting, if not even a little uncomfortable. While it isn't uncomfortable enough to prevent you from being able to go horse riding, it is a sensation that would slightly decrease your performance, as you wouldn't be able to get as smooth a connection with the saddle. I'm pretty sure my horse would realise something is different! I'm not a cyclist myself, but I would imagine there would be the same interference with a bicycle saddle. There are some cloth sanitary pads on the market that close with a little ribbon rather than a button, and this would eliminate the bulk of a popper closure. These wouldn't be widely available, and perhaps Etsy would be a good place to look for ones made by a WAHM. Other solutions for horse riding and cycling would be period pants or a moon cup.
There is ever growing choice in period pants, and at My Cotton Drawer we stock a fantastic brand called FLUX Undies. You can find them here
Swimming, well that is probably the biggest challenge to sports and periods. Cloth sanitary pads are obviously completely unsuitable for swimming. The best reusable options would be a moon cup. We will explore the wonders of a moon cup in another blog post.
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