Reusable Sanitary Pads  - A comprehensive list of FAQs

Why should I choose to use reusable menstrual pads? Is it difficult to wash and care for them? How much money will I really save if I switch to cloth sanitary pads?

Below we give you the answers to the most frequently asked questions about reusable cloth sanitary pads.

Please note that the terms cloth sanitary pads, reusable sanitary pads, and reusable menstrual pads are entirely interchangeable.

What is the difference between reusable pads and disposable pads?

This is the most common question we are asked. Aside from the obvious fact that you don’t dispose of reusable sanitary pads, there are several differences. The main ones are:

  • Cloth pads have wings that snap into place; there’s no adhesive that you would find with disposable pads.
  • A cloth pad tends to give you the feeling that it is breathing better than a disposable pad as they aren’t made of plastic. Cloth sanitary pads are typically made from cloth, while most quality brands have a waterproof breathable lining. The vast majority of women who wear them advise us that this makes them a lot more comfortable than disposables against the skin.
  • A reusable pad is also likely to come in a variety of colours and patterns unlike disposables which are a standard colour. You can get them in a variety of colours and prints to match your personal style, and if you’re concerned about leaks, well don’t; they are just as absorbent.

Why should I use reusable pads instead of disposables?

Ultimately this must be a personal choice for you, but there are so many good reasons for switching to reusable pads. Cloth sanitary pads:

  • Will keep thousands of disposable feminine hygiene products out of your bins saving you money and while also keeping waste out of landfills.
  • Save you so much money by not having to buy pads each and every month.
  • Reusable cloth pads let you experience the comfort of wearing soft, non-synthetic fabrics next to your body. It truly is one of those once you try it you never go back moments.
  • Are not manufactured with any harsh chemicals.
  • Cloth menstrual pads stay where you want; you’ll never again deal with an adhesive wing getting stuck in the wrong place.

Are reusable cloth pads safe?

100%. Due to their manufacturing process which avoids any chemical use, they are absolutely safe for use on sensitive skin. As mentioned above, reusable pads tend to be more breathable and are less likely to expose your most sensitive nether regions to harsh and harmful chemicals than traditional disposable pads. Of course, as always, it’s still imperative you make sure that you change your pads regularly. If they become saturated, they can lead to skin irritation, just like any other menstrual product.

Do cloth sanitary pads smell?

A very common question and a very surprising answer. Despite what many will perceive, cloth sanitary pads tend to stay fresher for longer than disposable pads. This is due to their breathable fabric and natural material which allows moisture to evaporate. Less moisture means fewer bacteria, which in turns means a reduction in unwanted smells.

How much money could I save by switching to reusable sanitary pads?

Whilst there are obvious environmental and health benefits to switching to reusable pads, there are also some significant monetary savings as well. Most women can expect to deal with 35 years of menstruation during their lifetime. That will cost you thousands of euros in disposable products over time. Should you make the switch to cloth pads, you’ll spend so much less on feminine hygiene. Everyone’s cycle is different, and so is the age when they start to use cloth pads. Switching to reusable pads will typically lead to savings in excess of €350 over a five year period.

Are reusable pads bulkier than disposables?

Whilst this does depend on the brand you choose, the general answer is actually no, they are not bulkier than disposable pads. Some pads are designed to be leak-resistant by utilising the thickness of their fabrics. Other cloth pads have a waterproof lining, so they require less cotton, bamboo, or other absorbent fabric than pads with no waterproof backing. 

How long can I expect a reusable cloth pad to last?

Most cloth pads will last up to five years if they’re properly cared for. Many will last significantly longer. 

If I switch to cloth sanitary pads, how many pads do I need?

If you switch to cloth pads full time, you will typically have day pads and night pads. Most women find that they need 10 day pads and five night pads, and 2-4 liners or light sized pads. This is a sufficient stash to be safe, and thus means no stress to wash them daily. Simply pop your used pads in a wet bag when they’re ready to wash.

Can I use cloth pads for incontinence?

Absolutely. Due to their comfort and breathability, washable cloth pads are a wonderful choice for women who suffer from incontinence.

Can I use cloth pads immediately after giving birth?

Of course you can. A cloth pad is an excellent choice for postpartum wear, especially an overnight pad which is longer and thicker. Reusable cloth postpartum pads are a natural choice for mothers who choose cloth nappies for their babies. When it comes to laundry, there is utterly no extra work involved.

Can teenagers use cloth pads?

Of course. They may want to start with pantyliner or small sized day pads to see how they like them. There is no need to make a significant investment right from the beginning. Starting early with cloth sanitary pads can help young people feel in control of their cycles, and teenagers love the many colours and prints of reusable cloth pads.

Should I wash new pads before wearing them for the first time?

Yes, it’s recommended by all brands that you wash your pads before wearing them for the first time. This will remove any loose fabric and enhance the absorbency of the fabric. You only need to wash them one time before wearing, and a gentle wash is all that’s required. 

Is washing cloth pads a lot of work and does it consume more water?

Washing reusable pads is as simple as cleaning any other items of clothing. Washing pads might seem  strange at first, but after doing it a few times, you wont think twice. Your washing machine is perfectly capable of carefully removing all stains from them. You can clean your reusable pads in your washing machine, or you can do so by hand. Washing and caring for reusable pads does not use up extra water.

How do I wash cloth pads? How do I dry my reusable pads?

The easiest way to clean your pads is to just toss them into the washing machine. You can wash them on cold or warm settings; just avoid using hot water if you want to avoid setting stains. If you’re less concerned with stains and more concerned with sanitising your pads, feel free to use hot water. And that’s it. You don’t need to choose any special setting or to wash them separately.

Then you can either air dry the pads or tumble dry on the low setting. Many women find they get the best results if they soak the pads before washing in cold water, particularly if there’s any dried blood on the pads. An alternative to soaking the pads is to use the prewash setting if your washing machine has that option.

Hand-washing the pads is also an option. In this case, you’ll probably want to pre-soak the pads to make washing easier. If you choose to soak the pads, be sure to change out the soak water on a daily basis. When the time comes to wash them, rinse the pads in cold water until the water runs clear and then gently scrub them to get them clean. There is no benefit of one form of washing over another; you choose what’s best for you.

You may choose to use any detergent when washing your cloth pads. You may want to avoid fabric softeners because they can make fabrics less absorbent so please bear this in mind. It’s not recommended to bleach pads either because it can break down the material and interfere with absorbency.

When should I wash the pads?

You can wash the pads during your cycle as you go through your stash or launder them all once your period ends. Again, you choose what suits you best.

Can you put cloth pads in the dryer?

Yes. Whilst this will vary per brand, and this is based on the particular fabrics that make up your pads, the majority of reputable brands will encourage a gentle tumble dry.

What are other ways I can dry my cloth pads?

You can also air dry pads but, just like with any article of clothing that’s air dried, the pads might feel slightly stiff initially. Don’t worry! Sunlight can help stains fade, but try to avoid leaving your pads in direct sunlight for extended lengths of time. The sun may bleach out the colours of your pads or damage their waterproof backing materials.

Will my cloth pads get stained over time?

If you have pure white cloth pads (which are rare), it is possible you may see some staining. However, stains don’t mean that the fabric isn’t clean. Reusable pads that have patterns or darker colours tend to naturally hide stains. If you’re concerned about staining, you can use a stain treatment on your pads before washing them. This should not degrade their comfort, durability, or absorbency.

How do I find the right cloth sanitary pad for me?

In the vast majority of cases, the most important factor is the absorbency level of your reusable pad. You can choose a thinner pad with lighter coverage if you have very light flow or simply require a backup for a menstrual cup or tampons. You can choose a thicker pad if you have a heavier flow. One way to get started is to measure the disposable pads that you like and order similar sized cloth pads.

Do cloth pads leak? How do I prevent my reusable pads from leaking?

Cloth pads are designed and manufactured to be incredibly absorbent. They’re typically made with wings that snap around the underwear to keep the sides of the panties dry, and keep the pad secure. Some brands include a waterproof backing with their pads. Ultimately, it depends on your flow level. Just like disposable pads, you need to change cloth pads out before they become totally saturated. After wearing reusable pads for just a short while, you will begin to have a good idea of how often you’ll need to change them, how to prevent leaks, and what fits you best.

Are cloth pads comfortable?

The vast majority of reusable cloth pad users say they’ll never go back to disposables for the comfort alone. There is no feeling of chafing or clamminess. Reusable pads are incredibly soft and breathable, and promote a feeling of dryness and coolness.

How often should I change my cloth pad?

Whilst this varies from woman to woman, you will need to change your reusable pad one to five times each day. You’ll know it’s time to switch out the pad if it starts to feel wet next to your skin. Naturally, the heavier your flow, the more often you’ll have to change pads. And thus, the lighter your flow, the less you will need to change.

I have a very heavy flow. Can I use cloth pads?

Of course you can. In fact, cloth pads are so absorbent many women say they’re a better choice than disposables for this very reason.


If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us, and we will do everything we can to assist you!