For the past several years I've had the pleasure of serving moms around the globe with the reusable items I make at Moms Crafts 4 U and Eco Fab Mama. Many questions especially exist about the use of cloth pads and with this post I'd like to highlight several of the reasons so many women today use cloth pads, how they are used, and the types you will find available. Because I speak as an expert in Mama Pads, there may be minor differences between those I discuss and brands from other makers of cloth pads.
Cloth Materials Used
The Mama Pads I make consist of multiple fabrics, depending on the coverage required. These are very soft and comfortable: you will not mind wearing them! Included may be: 100% cotton, 100% cotton flannel, organic bamboo velour, ZORB (a super absorbent layer that holds 10x its weight in less than half a second), PUL (an anti-leak fabric that does not allow liquid to go through), and fleece (the fleece is not only used as an anti-leak layer, but it also helps pads stay in place without slipping). On each winged pad you will find Poly Resin Snaps for closure (similar to the 'wings' on disposable pads). These are applied with a professional snap press to ensure quality workmanship. Snaps are very durable, and longer lasting than metal snaps which will rust, chip and fade.
Types Of Pads
There are three types of coverage: Light, Medium and Heavy. There are also variety packs for those unsure of what type of coverage they need, or those who use a variety over the course of their cycle. Light Coverage is panty liner thickness. They can be used as a back-up to a tampon, light/spotting days, or for everyday leak protection. Medium Coverage is similar to the regular maxi that many women buy for use during their normal flow days. Heavy Coverage is a postpartum style pad that would be used for heavy flow (super absorbent) or overnight use.
How To Use / How They Feel
Just as a disposable pad with wings: simply wrap around your underwear and snap underneath. The fleece (fuzzy) side goes next to your clothes and the soft cotton or flannel side goes next to your skin. Cloth pads are plush and more breathable than disposables - no more uncomfortable sweaty feel or chafing!
Simple Laundering Instructions / Sanitizing
Some women soak their pads in cool water until wash day, but this is not necessary. Simply throw them in your laundry and wash on cold (hot water will set stains which is why it is not recommended). Use your typical laundry soap. Toss in the dryer (heat can be as high as 160 degrees on hot dry without shrinking). Simply launder and they are ready again for wear.
How long will they last?
Cloth pads will last many, many years, and can be reused over and over. The average life of a cloth pad is 6-7 years.
How many should I have?
Most women want 10-20 cloth pads to go completely disposable free (depending on individual flow and cycle length).
How much does this save?
While there is a bit of upfront cost to starting with cloth, the return is amazing! Not only in comfort and gynecological health, but in money saved. The average American woman spends $150-$200 per year on disposables and will use over 12,000 disposable pads or tampons in her lifetime. The average price for cloth pads is $8 each, although they range from $5-$19 depending on brand, size, absorbency, material and style. If we multiply these averages per year times six (the life span of a cloth pad) an American woman spends $900-$1,200 on disposables or $80-160 on cloth over a six year period. This is a savings of $137-$174 per year.
Chemicals No More
Many women do not realize the amount of chemicals within their store bought disposables, or how they may correlate with gynecological concerns. Disposable pad and tampon companies are not required to list the ingredients on labels. Some irritating or toxic ingredients found in disposables include: aluminum, alcohols, fragrance additives, and hydrocarbons. Tampon bleaching processes leave behind dioxin. Dioxin is a toxic chemical (chlorine-compound) linked to cancer, immune system suppression, ulceration, pelvic inflammatory disease, reduced fertility, changes in hormone levels and endometriosis. Try this simple test: Place a regular tampon in glass of water and return in a few hours. You will find the water cloudy and filled with residue - all things that your body is otherwise absorbing into the soft tissues of the vagina.
Cloth pads come with minimum packaging - lowering the cost for fossil fuels and transportation disposables otherwise use. With an average 20-25 pads per cycle, this saves 8,000-10,000 pads over 33 years (an American woman's typical length of menstrual cycles). This equates to 300lbs in a landfill. For each and every woman.
* Cloth pads are commonly sewn with care, often by work-from-home-moms, and decoratively top stitched for extra absorbency and leak protection.
* Cloth pads consistently lead to less bacterial and yeast infections because cloth is more breathable than disposables and are much less irritating to the body's natural pH and healthy microflora than tampons are.
* In hospitals, blood contaminated waste is handled as a bio-hazard (as it should be) due to the potential for transfer of blood borne illnesses. In our home and businesses, blood is not handled any differently than any other waste. Blood does not pose a health risk (as fecal matter does). Hot water is not necessary and there is no reason not to wash cloth with the rest of the cold laundry.
* Women who use cloth never run out of pads at the worst timing!
I am certain, once you try cloth, you will never go back to store-bought disposables again! ヅ
Veronica Perrin runs Eco Fab Mama, a location for high-quality Work-At-Home-Made products, as well as other eco-friendly products. Cloth pads, nursing pads, wet bags and similar products are currently found at Moms Craft 4 U. Eco Fab Mama on Facebook. Moms Craft 4 U on Facebook.