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5 Reasons Cloth Pads Are Better Than Disposables

Updated on April 21, 2015

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Are you thinking about making the switch to reusable cloth menstrual pads? If so, here are five reasons that cloth pads are better than conventional pads that will hopefully make your decision easier.

Cloth pads are less expensive, in the long run

Unlike conventional menstrual products which have a relatively low cost at the time of purchase that slowly adds up each month, cloth pads are an initial expense.

When I was purchasing conventional menstrual products, including pads, tampons and panty liners, I usually spent between $10-$17CDN/month. These monthly expenses went unnoticed and I didn't realize that I was spending a minimum of $120 every year on menstrual products.

Like many, when I decided to make the switch to reusable menstrual products, I was a little hesitant because of the upfront cost. I determined that for $100 I could purchase enough cloth pads to last my entire cycle (and a couple of extras) and a wet bag, saving money in the first year of switching.

Don't let the initial expense discourage you. With proper care, cloth pads have an average life span of 3-10 years. In the long run, you will save money.

Worried about the financial investment?

Consider purchasing one or two cloth pads to try before committing yourself to an entire cycle's worth. You may want to use this opportunity to try different brands, sizes and shapes.

Cloth pads are better for the environment

Reusable menstrual products are praised for being environmentally friendly.

In North America alone, an estimated 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to landfills every year (source). But because most cloth pads can be reused for five years or more, they result in much less waste. And, unlike conventional disposable pads and tampons, cloth pads are not produced with harmful chemicals.

Now, I would like to address one argument I have heard suggesting cloth pads are not environmentally friendly because you have to wash them. While it's true, you do have to launder your cloth pads, many women have a large enough collection that they only have to do this once or twice a month.Want to reduce this impact? In addition to only washing your cloth pads at the end of your cycle, I strongly recommend rinsing your pads after use or doing a pre-soak and washing them with a regular load of laundry as opposed to washing them on their own. Just remember not to use fabric softener or bleach.

Cloth pads are healthier

Because cloth pads aren't made with chemicals, they aren't only better for the environment, they are also better for us, our bodies and our health.

We know that conventional menstrual products contain chemicals, but the truth is, we don't know exactly what they contain. This is because menstrual products are considered to be medical devices, which means the manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients (source). How scary is that?

The chemicals in conventional pads and tampons are linked to a number of health problems and diseases. In addition to these, conventional pads and tampons can cause irritation, create an environment in which bacteria thrives and are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Irritation from cloth pads is not common, even in individuals with sensitive skin. Cloth pads are designed to be breathable, which helps prevent bacteria growth and makes them perfect for women prone to yeast infections, especially during or after their menstrual cycle. And of course, cloth pads are not associated with TSS.

Cloth pads are comfortable

I'll admit, when I made the decision to switch to cloth pads, I was a little worried about comfort.

I wasn't too worried about the feel of the fabric, but more about the size. When I ordered the 8" Organic Mini Pad and Insert Set from Lunapads, I was preparing myself for something massive. I certainly couldn't have imagined wearing a 10" pad (or longer). I wondered if cloth pads would feel like a giant diaper. Would it be bulky? As much as I wanted to avoid chemicals, I couldn't help but wonder whether or not chemicals were essential for absorbency. Would cloth pads be absorbent or would they feel wet and messy?

A 12" heavy/overnight pad from "HandmadeByAlycia" on Etsy.
A 12" heavy/overnight pad from "HandmadeByAlycia" on Etsy.

Fortunately, this worrying was unnecessary. Cloth pads are extremely comfortable, or at least, I think so.

Of course, cloth pads do come in various sizes (length and thickness). Before purchasing, I was convinced anything longer than 8" and anything thicker than a light-day pad would be bulky and uncomfortable. That has not been my experience. All cloth pads, including 12" or longer heavy or overnight pads have been nothing but comfortable.

Cloth pads are pretty

In addition to coming in various materials and shapes, cloth pads come in virtually every color, print and pattern. Are you looking for something specific, such as an 8" light-flow pad in zebra print? If you are not able to find one pre-made, look on places such as etsy for shops that accept custom orders. Or, make your own.

While some women prefer the plain, un-dyed, organic cotton cloth pads, I absolutely love having an assortment of colors and prints. And as silly as it may sound, I consider this to be an advantage. It makes cloth pads fun and even exciting.

Reusable cloth pads from 'HandmadeByAlycia' on Etsy.
Reusable cloth pads from 'HandmadeByAlycia' on Etsy.

Why do you prefer cloth pads over disposables?

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