I’ve been using cloth menstrual pads for a few months now.* I felt guilty that I was dumping bloodied, plastic-y waste into landfills every time I had my cycle, and I was looking into more eco-friendly ways to be a welcoming host to my monthly visitor. I’ve been a tampon girl since I was ten, so my first instinct was to go with the DivaCup, which I tried a few years ago. After a couple of cycles, I just couldn’t get the hang of it, and I ended up with blood all over my hands every time that I changed it. I’m sensitive, so I can feel the scratch of the OB tampons when I put them in, and I didn’t like that plastic applicators left behind so much waste. Bleached, disposable pads had a gross texture and gave off a stench regardless of how frequently they were changed, and more changes meant more garbage.
That was when I started considering reusable pads. To be honest, at first I was skeptical. I thought that if DivaCups were messy, imagine the work involved in maintaining reusable pads! But then another part of me felt I needed to check my privilege; after all, what did women use in the remote villages of the developing world? Most likely, they used cloth pads, much like the Canadian women of 1875. As a friend told me, there’s a reason it’s called being “on your rag.”
But if I spent so much time washing them, was it really environmental? I visited some online message boards to find out how other people looked after their cloth pads. One woman asserted that they were quite low-maintenance. She said she simply soaked them, and stepped on them in the shower as she bathed herself. That sounded good to me, because I’d be using the same shower water I would use anyways for bathing. I bought my first cloth pad just to test it out, loved it, and quickly ordered two more. I found this great Etsy shop called “MomsCrafts4U,” that is Canadian owned and operated, with free shipping in Canada. They sell high-quality, gorgeous handmade cloth pads. The first time I ordered, actually, the owner informed that they were out of stock of the particular style I wanted. Once again, I checked myself. Sure, the pads are adorable, but do I really want to make a big deal about something that is ultimately going to go on the inside of my underwear, where no one but me is going to see it? I didn’t want a refund, so I told her to send me another pad with different pattern; she sent me two, and made me a customer for life.
Here is my cloth pad-care routine: when I’m ready to change them, I leave the used ones on the floor of my tub with a layer of cold water to soak. The next morning when I shower, I take off my overnight pad, fling it down on the tub basin, and proceed to shower as normal while I stomp on the pads. When the blood has stopped flowing, I scrub each pad with a squirt of shampoo, which makes them pretty much spotless. Then, just for good measure, I throw them in the washer and dryer with my other laundry, and iron them to kill off any hardy bacteria that dare to remain.
Now, I’m hooked on cloth pads. As an Earth Day present to myself (and to Mother Earth, too) I ordered a bunch more pads from MomsCrafts4U. What can I say? I’m in love. Here’s a pic of one of the cute pads I can’t wait to get in the mail. I have some others for stormy days, but this one’s an ultra thin pad, for days when I’m just drizzling but don’t really feel like free bleeding.