17 April, 2016

Cloth Pads - Part 1

Hello, Beautiful Blogging World! Today I'm going to talk about something that may seem "icky" "gross" or "weird", I've also heard "hippy" and "crunchy" used to describe the WONDERFUL world of cloth pads and reusable menstrual products! 

So if you don't want to talk about the female body, menstrual cycles, or other things that happen with females, then move along and don't read any further.

Part One - Your Questions Answered
Part Two - Meet the Pads
Part Three - Caring for Your Pads

Welcome to Part 1 - My Questions Answered!

Ok let's begin by answering the common question, what are cloth pads?
Very simple imagine your disposable pad from the store, but mine are made of cloth. It's reusable, and come in shapes and sizes to fit what you need most.

Alright, so what's in cloth pads?
So with a cloth pad, much like a cloth diaper or a disposable diaper, you have the outer layer, which on cloth diapers is where the pattern is, then you have multiple layers of absorbency, then you have the part that touches your "areas". Cloth can be cotton, knit varieties, flannel, organic cotton, bamboo cotton, microfleece, woven, jersey, velour, organic velour, and terry. Oh and that's just the "top" layers, to explain when you use a cloth pad, the top is the part that touches you, and is usually the pretty patterned parts. The bottom, the part that keeps the liquid ie menstrual fluids from leaking through can be flannel, ripstop nylon, windpro fleece, PUL, and many others. Also, there is a layer of absorbency, these can be zorb, flannel, diaper twill, terry cloth, and fleece. Those are the common ones, makers might use others, but those are the basics.

What makes them better than disposable? 
I hate to use the word better, for me it was about what's important. I didn't just wear pads during my time of the month, I also wore them (full disclosure) after intimate times with my husband and when my asthma kicks up and I cough a lot. So wearing disposables and having to carry them and just use them a lot, was uncomfortable for me. I also hate that smell they give off after anything is on them. Another concern was I didn't know who had touched this product, what was in it (there is no ingredients list because it's a medical grade product) and because I don't know what chemicals are inside of it, I'm weary about putting it near my body, the most intimate part of my body. It's also a money saver, but IN THE LONG RUN, you will spend a good penny to start this journey, but pads last. Also, who doesn't LOVE to reduce waste and things filling up our landfill? Again this wasn't a huge factor for me but it was in there.

Are cloth pads my only option?
No. If you want a product that isn't disposable, there are options. Cloth pads are the only thing I have used, but there are reusable cups (like tampons) and knit tampons, and many other products, but you'd need to research. I know some people prefer tampons to pads, so I understand.

How hard is it?
It's not hard. Let's be frank, real talk ok? I spent most of my pre-marriage life using tampons, more convenient, and less clean up. Post-marriage, for whatever reason, I switched almost exclusively to pads. It wasn't until a few months ago that I heard about cloth pads, and I had the same question, how hard is it to CLEAN these damn things. Ready for the frankness, when you take a tampon out or put it in, your fingers get up in there, and they get covered in fluids. When I clean pads, I touch fewer fluids. I'm going to do a whole blog post on the cleaning of them because this week is Shark Week, so I'll be able to actually show you what's up. But basically laid down is you store the pads for 3-4 days, then you do a long soak in cold water with some OxiClean. Soak about 3+ hours, more set in stains longer. Some stains won't immediately come out, so you'll have to use a stain stick, which I will share the one I LOVE, so you'll use this stain stick and then soak again for another few hours. Throw them all in a zippered garment laundry bag, and wash them like normal. Some people dry them in the dryer, I've been told this decreases the lifetime of the pad, so I air dry mine.

What's the cost?
So typically I have bought cloth pads one at a time, from sellers on facebook or etsy. It's usually you pick the pattern and then they make it for you, which means you also pick the absorbency (light, regular, heavy or postpartum), and the size. Usually, you don't pick the shape, but some sellers do that, and you don't always get to pick the backing material, but some sellers do that as well. Everything really does depend upon the seller.
I have spent at cheapest $3-4 a pad, at most, and this was a CHOICE, $10 for Harry Potter fabric. I would say average pad price is $6-8 a pad.

That seems like a lot, how many pads do I need?
That really does depend upon your flow and how long your period is, they say ON AVERAGE someone could use 30 pads in a NORMAL cycle. I don't have a normal cycle, I have yet to need 20 pads for a cycle. So I always say to my friends, start with 10. Keep disposable as an option if you run out. You also need to not put too much money into these first 10, because of "front-bleed" "center-bleed" "back-bleed" and flow.

What do you mean by "bleed"?
Every person bleeds a specific way, its made up by how you move, how your body is, it's sort of unique. Some women are front-bleeders, so when it hits a pad it's all up near their pubic region. Some women are straight down, center-bleeders. There are also back-bleeders, and all the blood heads back there. All are normal and you just have to figure out which one you are. It's important because if you're a front bleeder or back-bleeder and a pad has a flare on it, then you can turn the flare to that direction and cover the area better. There are special pads for specific bleeding types, you have to look, or ask sellers if they have some.

Flow matters!
When we talk about flow, we usually say spotting, light, regular, heavy, postpartum. In the cloth world we have liners to postpartum, and knowing your flow is heavy or light and on what days is important so you know how many pads you'll need of that absorbancy. I am light 1-2 days at the start and the last day of my period, but super heavy 2-3 days in the middle. 1-2 days I do a light or regular pad and usually, I use a 8"-10" pad for those days, the middle I do heavy pad usually 10"-12". Remember how I mentioned post intimate time pad use and coughing pad use, the post intimate I use light 8" pad when I'm coughing though I use my bigger ones so 12" heavies because coughing is more a gush than a steady flow.

Are there pads made just for incontinence?
Yes, there are, you have to look around but they're there. You can also ask a seller to windpro or PUL back your pad, that makes them super water-resistant or water-proof.

Where do I get started?
I'm so glad you asked. Part 2 I'm going to introduce you to the pads, show you sizes, the different shapes, and of course the patterns that I have. There are a few others "supplies" you need to do this. I'll be showing those off in that post as well. So stay tuned!

I hope at this point I've answered a lot of questions, but if you have more please feel free to reach out to me in the comments, on facebook, or by email. I'm happy to answer any and all questions.

Please share on facebook, and pin on Pinterest if you love this post!

Post a Comment

Your comment is pending approval from a moderator.