Everything you need to know about reusable sanitary pads

In a bid to reduce our single use plastic, I’ve switched from disposable sanitary pads to reusable sanitary pads.

These are better for the environment, more comfortable than disposables and they’re so easy to use.

Before I made the switch I had lots of questions about reusable sanitary pads. Trying to find answers was tough. That’s why I thought I’d write my own little guide about my experience, in addition to how to use, store and wash your reusable pads.

I’ve also put together a video which may also be of use.

Types of reusable sanitary pads

First up we’ll talk about the different types of reusable sanitary pads.

Reusable sanitary pads come in cotton, bamboo or minky. Bamboo and milky are more absorbent than cotton pads which need to be changed more regularly. 

I’d also suggest that if you’re squeamish you opt for dark coloured pads. That way they won’t show blood as clearly as lighter coloured pads, plus they’re less likely to show any staining, although if you follow the care instructions and cold soak and wash them then that shouldn’t be a problem.

Different Sizes

Reusable sanitary pads come in different sizes. You can even get them custom made, but I’m just going to show you the most common ones available.

Pictured below are three reusable sanitary pads. The red one is from Hey Girls and is a night time/heavy pad. The grey one in the middle is from Cheeky Wipes and is a daytime pad. Finally the one on the far right is also from Cheeky Wipes and is a liner pad which can be used for lighter days or spotting.

One of the things I was curious about before I started using reusable sanitary pads was how did they compare in size to the disposable pads I used to use. Pictured below is the Cheeky Wipes day pad alongside an Always Normal disposable pad. As you can see they’re pretty much the same size.

Differences Between Reusable and Disposable Sanitary Pads

Disposable sanitary pads, as the name suggests, can only be used once before they need to be thrown away.

Reusable sanitary pads can be used over and over again. You simply wash them in between each use – more on this below.

Disposable sanitary pads are made up of around 90% plastic.

Did you know that the time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it, particularly when wrapped in a plastic wrapper or bag.

Disposable sanitary pads have sticky wings which are used to hold them in place in your underwear. Removing them can be fiddly.

Reusable sanitary pads have poppers that are simple to use.

How to use

Reusable sanitary pads are worn in the exact same way as disposable pads. Simply pop them in your underwear the same way as a disposable and do the poppers up to keep them in place. It’s recommended that you wear a pair of tight knickers to help keep them in place, but I tend to use my normal ones and have never had an issue with the pads moving about.

Storing and Washing Reusable Pads

What you do with your reusable pads when you’re finished with them depends on where you are.

For example, if I’m at home, I’ll rinse it under cold water. I tend to hold them under the cold water tap with the water running and squeeze the blood out. If I can see some blood sitting on top of the pad or some blood stains, I usually rub them with my finger under the water until they disappear and continue to squeeze the blood out.

If you’re squeamish you can simply skip the last step and pop them in a bowl of cold water to soak.

Once I’ve rinsed them, I then put them face down in a bowl of cold water to soak. I tend to add half a scoop of Vanish as well.

I then keep adding my reusable pads to the bowl until I’m ready to wash them all. I just keep the bowl in my bath tub.

When I’m ready to wash them I check each pad and if I can see any stains I’ll give them a spray with Vanish.

I then place them all in a mesh wash bag and into my washing machine on a cold wash.

It’s important not to use warm or hot water as this can set stains, and not to use any fabric conditioner. I just use half a capful of fairy non-bio.

Once washed you simply line dry them.

If you’re out and about and need to change your reusable pad, I have a handy wet bag that I use to store the used pads in until I get home.

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