We Tried Reusable Cloth Pads!
In light of the current environmental crisis, Bleed Shamelessly has become more aware of how our menstrual habits have been affecting the planet. Thanks to sustainable cloth pad making team Bleed Geeks, we were able to test out various models of cloth pads and see for ourselves how we can be more environmentally conscious menstruators.
Reusable cloth pads are made with three primary layers: the absorbent core made of fabric that can retain menstrual blood; the moisture barrier made of fleece meant to create a barrier between your clothing and the absorbent layer; and a soft outer layer made of a breathable fabric that keeps moisture away from your skin and helps maintain comfort. Just like single-use pads, there are a variety of styles that cater to the individual menstruator.
Maggie and Lauren used different types of pads based on their individual menstrual habits. Maggie, who tends to use pads more regularly than tampons, used a thicker pad for a heavier flow to wear throughout the day or night. Lauren on the other hand, who is a bigger fan of tampons on her period, used a liner, to wear either simultaneously with a tampon, or for spotting days.
Our experiences were both excellent. Maggie wore her pad for a few days over the course of two periods and appreciated the long-wear nature of the cloth pad that separates it from store-bought tampons or pads. She enjoyed being able to wear it for the entirety of a school or work day, without having to change it. This allowed her to forget about her period for a bit and focus on productivity and recreation - which is certainly a nice change from the regular strife that comes with being a menstruator.
Maggie also appreciated how comfortable the cloth pads were. Single-use pads tend to be made of bleached cotton, rayon, and plastics; cloth pads, on the other hand, have a very short and natural list of materials: cloth and buttons. The feeling of a cloth pad is far more soft and flexible than the crinkly synthetic pads most menstruators are used to. The spongy and malleable material of the cloth made it far easier to move quickly and participate in athletics. In addition, reusable cloth pads are just as absorbent as their less environmentally friendly counterparts; giving the user comfort when it comes to keeping a heavy flow in check.
As for Lauren, she wore her liner in conjunction with tampons throughout the course of a couple of her periods. Her favorite thing about it was its longevity. Being able to wear just the reusable liner throughout the day as a backup for tampons eliminated a lot of the waste that generally accumulates from changing single-use liners throughout the day. Being able to take not just the multiple liners she wore on a regular basis but also the plastic packaging that they are individually wrapped in out of her period routine, Lauren noticed her waste decrease significantly. The comfortable material was also a nice change from the more synthetic material liners she was used to. The soft cotton and full padding of the cloth layers mad the liner both nice to wear and ensured full absorbance. The product was overall a very convenient and comfortable change to her menstrual routine and one she would highly recommend to anyone looking for a low maintenance sustainable period product.
If you, like Maggie and Lauren, are very sensitive to the excess plastics and scents in single-use pads, cloth pads are an excellent alternative. Because there is no excess bleach or odors, cloth pads reduce irritation and inflammation. Bleed Geeks state it best when they explain that their “cloth pads are made with breathable, soft materials, specifically designed to be comfortable and absorbent. No crinkly plastic, no sticky tabs, and no excess sweat due to lack of airflow.”
Reusable menstrual products are a great way to become a more environmentally conscious period-haver. According to Bleed Geeks, our single-use pads will outlive us. On their website, they point out that “a disposable pad takes about 500-800 years to decompose... considering the average [menstruator] goes through about 16,800 pads in their lifetime, that’s a pretty hefty legacy to leave.” Each of us has a responsibility to do as much as we physically and fiscally are able when it comes to caring for the environment; for menstruators, an aspect of this is maintaining an environmental period.
All that being said, reusable pads and menstrual products do require the means to clean and care for them. In order to keep them sanitary, cloth pads require regular cleaning and care. This means access to running water, a washing machine, and possibly a dryer. If you do not have access to these cleaning facilities, single-use pads are still a viable option.
Cost could also be a barrier to cloth pads for some. If you were to switch to cloth pads, an individual would end up saving $250 per year. The cost of a single cloth pad may be greater than a single disposable, but the disposables add up very quickly. That being said, if you do not have access to larger sums of money at a single time, cloth pads and other reusable menstrual products may not be the answer to your period.
Overall, our experience with cloth pads was absolutely incredible, and we hope that you find a similar environmentally friendly option for you! If you are interested in trying reusable cloth pads for yourselves, check out our wonderful sponsors for this project, Bleed Geeks.
Bleed Geeks has a wonderful selection of all sorts of cloth pads and will provide outstanding service to make you feel welcomed and appreciated. Don’t forget to check out their product selections on Etsy, and their website!