06 April 2016

Eco Menstrual Solutions: Cloth Pads

 Yes, I've gone off the deep end. First cloth diapers for my kids and now this. We're not quite as far down the rabbit hole as family cloth yet, but with the return of my cycles after J I took the plunge and started using eco menstrual products. 

So, what exactly are eco menstrual products you ask? 

Well here's where things might get a little TMI, so buckle up. 

There are two different styles of eco menstrual products: 

1. Used externally to catch the blood - eg cloth pads (or mama cloth as they are also known as). These look similar to disposable pads with the difference being that you wash and reuse them instead of throwing them away after use
2. Used internally to catch/soak up the blood - this includes menstrual cups, sea sponges and cloth tampons. These are essentially the reusable alternatives to disposable tampons.

For this post I will be focusing on reusable cloth pads (aka mama cloth).

There are a few brands available locally - Mini Matters, HannahPad, Woman-Kind, BabyThingz, Eco Nappy Solutions, Charlie Banana, The Nappy Shack, Forever Evelyn, Bokkie Cloth, TomFips, LuLi & Co, Buttercup Mom & Baby to name a few. 

Cloth pads are available in various fabrics and sizes to suit your needs. 

Various sizes and shapes of cloth pads
Some options for the fabric against the skin include - 100% cotton, organic cotton, flannel, fleece, charcoal bamboo, minky or hemp. I have tried a few of these options and so far natural fibres or at least a mix of natural and synthetic (eg minky) feel the most comfortable for me. They do not offer a stay-dry feel like fleece does, but it honestly has never bothered me as the natural fibre options are breathable so that you don't really notice the moisture. 

In terms of absorbency - the most commonly used are layers of flannel, hemp or cotton. As the amount of liquid to be absorbed is not that much, cloth pads do not require as many layers of absorbent fabric as say a cloth nappy. If you require more absorbency, you can either opt for a cloth pad with more layers (usually referred to as super pads or overnight pads) or simply using a larger/longer cloth pad to increase surface area which will give increased absorbency.

Cloth pad fabric options: cotton, hemp, flannel, fleece, minky
The last layer of course is a waterproof layer - this is either PUL/TPU or fleece. I have used both and both work well for me, I will say that PUL/TPU (if it is not hidden) is more prone to shifting as the surface is smooth. At the moment fleece seems to be a better option for me as I can it without worrying about possible delamination.

In terms of size, I personally prefer a shorter pad with a narrow centre, this is just the most comfortable for me in terms of fit. For overnight a longer pad is however best for peace of mind. I have found that pads with two snaps on the wings generally enable you to get a narrower fit, so I tend to look out for that. These are of course personal preferences - if you require more absorbency you might prefer a larger pad just so you don't have to worry about possible leaks. It's nice to have a small variety of sizes and absorbencies so you are covered for heavy days and light days though.

Cloth pad backing fabrics - fleece, PUL and hidden PUL underneath a layer of cotton print
When it comes to washing, I rinse or soak them in cold water and at the end of the day, drain the water and add the pads to our nappy bucket ready for the next wash. I have also added them to our regular laundry and it works well to get them clean too. So you don't really need the extra long wash cycle as with nappy laundry. As with stains on cloth nappies, any remaining stains after the wash should sun out.

And that's it. I was never a fan of disposable pads, they always felt a little icky to me and I much preferred tampons. But I can honestly say that cloth pads feel so much better to wear (no crinkling when you walk!) and at this stage I prefer them over the menstrual cup that I have. 

Have you tried cloth pads? Leave a comment and let me know which brands are your favourite!


  1. Would love some reviews on the different pads
    Enjoying all your posts

    1. Some reviews are in the pipeline. Watch this space. :-)


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