When I first came across reusable pads in a targeted Instagram ad – aesthetically millennial, eco-friendly, and available in pretty patterns – I was instantly hooked. There are a few reasons for this: When I’m not active, I generally prefer tampons to tampons because I can wear them outside and my periods are rarely heavy enough to fill a full tampon. The idea of washable fabric cushions that I could use over and over again made the deal better. Like many menstruating people in 2020, I’m increasingly interested in minimizing the environmental and financial impact of my periods. Phasing out single-use products (or switching entirely to products like reusable pads or a menstrual cup) seemed like a surefire way to do both.
Even so, I didn̵
How do reusable pads actually work?
Like single-use disposable pads, you attach reusable pads to the crotch of your underwear and absorb the menstrual fluid from the outside. So there isn’t much of a learning curve there. However, where they differ from the pads you may be used to is in their construction. Some pads, like GladRags Organic Day Pads (Amazon, $ 37), are made in two parts. There’s a washable retainer that snaps around the crotch of your underwear and an absorbent pad insert that you can wash, reuse, and even double up for heavier days. Other models are made from a single piece of fabric that snaps into your underwear, e.g. B. Aisle’s Pads and Liner or Think Eco’s Organic Reusable Cotton Pads (Amazon, $ 20). A pad costs around $ 15, and many come in packs of two or three.
Whether or not the absorbent part of the pad is removable, it is usually made of cotton, synthetic fabrics, or charcoal-based material. Disposable pads can also contain a variety of materials, including a combination of wood pulp and superabsorbent polymer (the same “slush powder” found in most disposable diapers). While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pods as medical devices and encourages brands to provide general information about their contents, they do not need to list each ingredient individually.
Like your regular disposable pad, reusable pads are usually available in different sizes to accommodate different flow rates. However, many brands claim that their products are more absorbent than your average pad. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), aim to change disposable pads when they feel full or wet and uncomfortable, usually about every four to eight hours. But even if you are dealing with an extra absorbent reusable pad, you should at least replace your pad every day, Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, a gynecologist and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health, tells HERSELF.
How do you clean a reusable pad?
When it comes to cleaning and maintaining reusable pads, it is best to follow the instructions that come with the pad of your choice. In general, fabric cushions can get into the wash like other items of clothing (if your pillow comes with an insert, separate it from the sleeve before throwing both pieces into the wash). “To the [menstrual cups and underwear]People only use soap and water, ”says Dr. Shirazian. (Except when menstrual cups are boiled between cycles to disinfect them – but we’re talking about regular cleaning.) “I don’t think so [washing a reusable pad] would differ from the medical or hygienic point of view. You just want to wash it thoroughly with soap and water or throw it in the laundry, ”says Dr. Shirazian. If you are concerned about staining, soak your pads in cold water until you’re ready to do laundry, or pre-treat them with a special stain product like The Laundress Stain Solution (Amazon, $ 16) before washing.
Do Reusable Pads Really Make a Difference in the Environment?
Put simply, yes – but the extent to which they are greener than traditional pads and tampons is difficult to quantify. Here’s the thing: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t publicly share information about the exact effects of single-use menstrual products on the environment. That said, we know enough to believe that no matter what the exact effects, it isn’t great.