Did you know that the average Australian woman disposes of around 12,000 used sanitary products during their life? All of these products end in landfill or the sewer…up to half are flushed down the toilet despite labels saying not to do this. And unfortunately most disposables are synthetic based plastic so they take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
I’ll admit, before having children and becoming comfortable with the concept of reusable products like nappies and “wee pants”, I had never even thought about reusable cloth pads and liners for myself. Disposable period products are a relatively new mass-market invention and somehow we are conditioned early on in puberty that we have to fork out money for these items on a monthly basis. But there are various reusable options out there that can save you money, time, and the environment.
For me, I really started to notice the sheer volume of disposable items our family was consuming once I had kids. Around this time I also started experiencing allergy flare ups and disposable products were causing unnecessary irritation where no one needs any irritation ever….I realised I was caught in a cycle every month of buying and throwing away scented plastic disposable products that I didn’t even like.
Once I made the decision to reduce my reliance on disposable products, I knew I could create a more sustainable and less irritating product myself. I put my high-school home-economics sewing skills to good use, I researched natural fibres and absorbency, and then designed, developed and tested my own cloth pads and liners. Plus, I got to make them from premium materials. It’s a bonus that cloth pads are way prettier than disposables!
How do I start with cloth pads?
Cloth pads work just like disposables. Because they have a cotton top layer they feel a little smoother to wear, are more breathable, and they don’t have the plastic scent.
Wear cloth pads just like you would disposables. They have wings that snap around the gusset. Wear until they feel heavy, then change. (Also, similar to disposable pads, it’s best to change your pad/liner if you’ve gone number twos to keep things nice and fresh down there).
For beginners, I recommend a trial pack like the starter kits at Little Earthside. These have one regular pad, one heavy pad and an all-cotton liner for days in between. These are similar to standard store bought disposable equivalents in terms of length and absorbency. Wash and wear these a couple of times and then decide for yourself how you like the fit and feel. Give yourself some time to see for yourself how easy these products are to use.
How many pads will I need?
The total number of pads and liners depends on how often you do the laundry and whether you use a moon cup. (I have 10 pads in my own stash and a handful of liners).
If you launder every day, and have a dryer, you will need 1 days worth of pads (the same number as the number of disposable pads you’d use).
If you launder less often or don’t use a dryer, you’ll need a couple of days worth of pads.
How do I carry the pads around in my bag?
Fresh pads are easily snapped up into a neat square and can be carried like that in your bag, or in a cloth bag wrapper.
Used pads, fold and snap them up and place them in a mini wet bag.
How do I care for and wash the pads?
It’s easier than you think!
The most important step is to cold rinse cycle at the end of the day. Rinse and leave them in the machine until your next wash. (You can use a bucket or laundry basin if you prefer). If you feel they are not rinsing clear enough, stain remover can be used. Cold water is important because it removes the blood and reduces the risk of staining.
You can then launder your pads alongside your regular washing! Use your regular laundry detergent. Just don’t use fabric softener as this reduces absorbency. Hang dry, or you can tumble dry if you prefer.
If you ever have an infection or just really want to be 100% sure your pads are sanitised, they can be washed on hot and tumble dried on hot. A hot wash will also improve the absorbency again if have had to use a medical or barrier cream. Just make sure you have rinsed all the blood out first otherwise hot water will set blood stains.
Will they leak?
No one wants to be caught out with a leaking situation! Realistically any pad will leak if worn too long, even the store bought super-maxi postpartum disposables.
Moon Cloth Mama pads come standard with leak resistant microfleece backing. These will suit most, simply change out the pad when it starts to feel full – you’ll quickly get the hang of this. Many customers over the years have worn Moon Cloth Mama pads comfortably and without leaky surprises.
For those with extra heavy periods or for those who just want the extra piece of mind, PUL is available as an extra option. PUL does provide an extra water proof barrier. The draw back is, they take longer to dry. It’s a personal choice whether to add PUL or not, that’s why it’s available in the starter sets as an option.
How long do cloth pads last?
A long time! Pads should last for years. Ultimately it comes down to how often you use and wash each individual pads. I have customers that are using the same pads since 2015 and are still going strong.
People do come in different shapes and sizes so cloth pads are available in various shapes and sizes too. The 20cm and 15 cm pads are the most popular pad size. Moon Cloth Mama offers the following sizes:
12” / 30cm postpartum / overnight pads – wider at the front and back for extra cover, there core is PUL backed. (This size is also popular for those with light urinary incontinence issues).
12” / 30cm regular or heavy pads – longer than regular store bought. Regular is an all-cotton core, heavy is maxi style core with cotton & felted merino OR vegan bamboo
10” / 25cm regular heavy pads – same as the 30cm, just in a regular length just like a store bought pad
8” / 20 cm regular or heavy pads – same absorbency as the other pads, but in a petite length 5 cm shorter than a store bought pad. These are perfect for teens, petite women, or women who use a cup and just need extra backup.
8” / 20cm all cotton liners – these are for days in between, especially great if you have undies that are a synthetic.
There are also thong liner options in 6”/15 cm (similar size to store bought) and 4”/10cm (petite) mini thong liner.
I still have questions?
We're here to answer any questions you may have. Everyone’s period and monthly cycle is different. Some people need longer pads, postpartum or overnight, some have issues with postpartum urinary continence and need extra cover. Maybe you are a teen or have teens and want to get them started on reusable and environmentally friendly products from the start. Let’s get the conversation started and normalise talking about periods, using reusable period products and feminine hygiene.
Written by Melinda from Moon Cloth Mama
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