How To Use Reusable Pads, Making The Transition!

Embracing reusable pads for eco-friendly periods is a fantastic way to reduce your environmental footprint while maintaining comfort and protection during your menstrual cycle. Although it can be a challenging transition, it's well worth the effort for the long-term benefits to your health and the planet.

In this comprehensive guide, learn How To Use Reusable Pads for a greener period. I'll share my experience switching to cloth pads, tips, and advice to help you transition smoothly and confidently, embracing an eco-friendly menstruation journey. 🌿🩸

What Are Reusable Period Pads?

Reusable period pads, known as cloth pads, are a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to disposable menstrual pads.

They are made from washable, absorbent fabrics such as cotton, bamboo, or hemp and are designed to be used multiple times, significantly reducing waste generated by disposable products. Reusable period pads come in various sizes, shapes, and absorbency levels to accommodate different flows and preferences.

A glass jar with reusable pads in it. Pin
Image: The Eco Hub

What's The Problem With Conventional Sanitary Pads?

  1. Many conventional pads contain harmful chemicals, such as dioxins, fragrances, and phthalates, which can harm human health and the environment. Dioxins are byproducts of the chlorine-bleaching process used to manufacture disposable pads. They have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues and disruptions in the endocrine system.
  2. Disposable pads are primarily made of synthetic materials derived from the petroleum industry, such as plastic and superabsorbent polymers. These materials are non-biodegradable and contribute to the pollution of landfills and oceans.
  3. The average woman uses between 12,000 and 16,000 disposable pads and tampons in her lifetime, which creates a significant amount of waste. Most of these products end up in landfills or oceans, taking hundreds of years to decompose. According to the Ocean Conservancy, over 20,000 tampons and pads were collected from beaches during their International Coastal Cleanup in 2019 alone.
  4. Disposable pads' production, transportation, and disposal have a substantial carbon footprint, contributing to climate change. The extraction and processing of petroleum and other raw materials used in manufacturing these products release greenhouse gases. In addition, the transportation of disposable pads from factories to stores and eventually to landfills further increase their carbon emissions.

Understanding the Functionality of Reusable Pads

  1. Reusable pads typically have multiple layers that serve different purposes. The top layer, which comes into contact with your skin, is usually made of soft, moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you dry and comfortable. The middle layers are made of absorbent materials to hold menstrual blood, and the bottom layer is often water-resistant or waterproof to prevent any leaks.
  2. Reusable pads come in various sizes, shapes, and absorbency levels to accommodate different flows and preferences. You can choose from panty liners for lighter days, regular pads for moderate flow, and overnight or extra-long pads for heavy flow or nighttime use.
  3. Cloth pads are designed to be attached to your underwear, much like disposable pads. They usually have wings with snaps or buttons to secure the pad, ensuring it stays put throughout the day.

How To Make The Switch To Reusable Cloth Pads?

1. Transition Slowly

There's no need to rush the process. I recommend trying a few brands to find the best one for you.

For me, the transition began with panty liners, which I used during the lighter flow at the end of my period. This also helped me choose the right size and absorbency for my flow. Don't hesitate to contact the brands you're considering and ask about the different fabrics they offer and how they cater to various flows.

2. Start with a Trial Pack

Consider purchasing a trial pack with different sizes and absorbency levels when transitioning to reusable pads. This will allow you to test various options and determine which ones work best for your specific needs before investing in a full set.

3. Explore Various Brands and Fabrics

Different brands offer reusable pads made from various materials, such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp. Each fabric has unique characteristics, so take the time to research and try out several options to find the most comfortable and effective choice for you.

A woman reaching for a cloth pad on a bathroom shelf. Pin
Image: The Eco Hub

4. Replace Disposables One at a Time

You don't have to switch to reusable pads all at once. Start by replacing one disposable pad with a reusable one, and gradually increase the number of cloth pads in your rotation. This will help you adjust to the new routine and make the transition more manageable.

5. Develop a Consistent Cleaning Schedule

Establishing a consistent cleaning routine is crucial for successfully using reusable pads. Determine how often you need to wash your pads based on your usage and menstrual flow, and set up a washing schedule that works best for you. Depending on your preferences and the pad manufacturer's recommendations, this may include soaking, hand washing, or using a washing machine.

6. Build a Selection of Sizes

Once you're comfortable with your new routine, you can experiment with different pad sizes. I found success with overnight pads, which offer extra protection during the night. It's essential to have a variety of sizes on hand to accommodate your needs throughout your period.

In my collection, I have five panty liners in assorted sizes and shapes to fit different types of underwear and seven overnight pads. Ultimately, finding what works best for you and your unique flow is crucial.

7. Connect with Others Who Use Reusable Pads

Talking to others who have successfully transitioned to reusable pads can provide valuable insights and support. Share your experiences, ask questions, and learn from others in online forums, social media groups, or among your friends. This will help you adjust quickly and contribute to a growing community of eco-conscious individuals.

How To Use Reusable Pads When Not At Home?

Using reusable pads in public might seem challenging initially, but it can be manageable with a little preparation. When you're out and about, carrying a small waterproof bag or pouch to store your used pads until you get home is essential.

This will keep them separate from your other belongings and contain potential odors. When it's time to change your pad, go to a restroom, remove the used pad, fold it up, and secure it with the snaps or buttons if it has any. Place the used pad in your waterproof bag or pouch, then attach a clean pad to your underwear.

If you cannot rinse the used pad immediately, you can do so when you return home. Just be sure to store it in the waterproof bag to prevent stains from setting in. Once home, rinse the pad in cold water to remove excess blood, then wash it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

How To Care For Your Period Pads?


Wondering how to clean reusable pads? Check out our guide for detailed care and washing instructions to keep your pads fresh and functional. But here's the quick version!

To wash reusable period pads, start by rinsing them in cold water to remove excess blood, either by hand or in a washing machine on a pre-rinse cycle. After rinsing, apply a gentle, fragrance-free detergent to the pads, and wash them in a mesh laundry bag using cold or warm water, set on a delicate cycle.

Avoid fabric softeners or bleach, which can compromise the pad's absorbency. Once washed, air-dry the pads by hanging them or laying them flat, away from direct sunlight, to prevent damage to the material and maintain their shape and function. Always make sure the pads are completely dry before storing or reusing them.

A final word on reusable pads

Switching to cloth pads is a fantastic eco-friendly choice that benefits you and the planet. While adjusting to the change may take some time, it's well worth the effort. If pads are not your thing, you can always try period underwear. Make sure you wash them properly.

By following these tips and remaining patient with yourself, you'll soon become a pro at using reusable pads and embracing a more sustainable period experience. Remember, it's all about finding what works best for you and taking it one step at a time. Happy transitioning!

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