Product Review: Reusable Pads
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Reusable pads are designed to be a zero waste, sustainable alternative to disposable menstrual pads. They are made from high absorbency, soft, body-friendly fabric, often with a leak-proof synthetic material as the base. Most reusable designs use snaps on the wings of the pad to secure the product in the wearer’s underwear.
Friendly for the environment — After packaging (which is all recyclable/compostable), these period products are fully reusable and don’t generate any material waste during your cycle. Yes, they go in your laundry, but they don’t take up a lot of real estate. To me, living with several cloth pads in my dresser drawer is highly preferable to contributing to the 12 million disposable pads and 7 billion tampons put in landfills in the US annually.
Limit long-term costs — Once you’ve invested in a full suite of the pads that fit your needs, you don’t need to purchase period products monthly. According to GladRags, with proper care their cloth pads last at least 5 years. Five years is their guarantee, but the user experience says most people's pads last much longer. GladRags even said that they get a lot of customers who bought their pads in the early days of GladRags (meaning the mid-90s) and are only just replacing them now, or even still using them! And I’m all for saving money while saving the planet.
High cost of entry — I typically go through 3 pads during the day and use one overnight, so for my full cycle of about 5 days, that would quickly grow to 19 pads total. I ended up doing laundry in the middle so that I could reuse my short supply of cloth pads. A single GladRags pad costs anywhere from $14-$26 depending on style and absorbency, and Party In My Pants pads cost $10-$20. These costs add up when purchasing a full supply for a full cycle.
Difficult to use in public — because you have to carry the used pad out of the bathroom with you. To mediate this, some companies provide a water-proof zipper pouch in which to store used pads on the way home to wash them.
How to Use a Reusable Pad
This was the easiest part! Just use them like normal pads, and then rinse them out in the bathroom after use before putting them in your laundry. Because I’m living in the pandemic era, I didn’t change my pad while out and about, so it was very easy for me to take care of everything from the comfort of my own bathroom, and I’m a person that doesn’t mind getting my hands dirty rinsing my own period blood out in a sink. I put the rinsed pads right in with my other laundry because they were almost entirely clean already, I just wanted the added soap and tumble to really freshen them up for my next use.
As previously mentioned, I tried out the pads produced by GladRags and Party In My Pants, both of which shipped quickly and were beautifully packaged on my doorstep. In considering each brand, I graded them on physical comfort, ease of use, and wow factor. Because being on your period is rough, and we all need a little pizazz to brighten our day.
This company is very established and reliable and their shop page was incredibly easy to navigate. They also do a significant amount of work for menstrual equity, which I was sure to highlight as a wow factor!
Physical comfort — Their material is so, so soft. It’s a comfy cotton flannel (a cotton material that has a fleece-like feel) that bends with the curves of your body and you barely notice it compared to the crinkling, man-made diaper feeling of a disposable pad.
Ease of use — These pads are a little more complex than a standard pad because they come with inside liners in addition to the pad itself. While this took a minute to adjust to while securing the pad in my underwear, I quickly came to appreciate the ability to customize how much absorption I was looking for on a given day or hour. For heavy flow and overnight, I could add two inside layers in addition to the pad itself, and for lighter flow I could remove one or both for comfort and to save on laundry hassle.
Wow factor — Never have I ever expected to look down and see a friendly owl looking back at me from my pad when I pull down my pants. Maybe it’s odd to have woodland animals join you for your period, but I couldn’t help but smile at the designs provided by GladRags, and that’s something that is 110% worth it during your period. Additionally, GladRags contributes hugely to their customers, and alleviating period poverty. They have a few ongoing discount codes (just bear in mind that codes can't be stacked, so it's just 1 per order): the code TRY1 will give you $5 off your purchase of $12.49 or more (meaning essentially any pad, pantyliner, or menstrual cup), the code NEW2CLOTH allows you to get a Pantyliner Plus for just the cost of shipping (typically $5.95 in the US), and subscribing to our newsletter will give you a code for 10% off. This helps get reusable products into your hands, and reduces the entry costs! Finally, schools and nonprofits have the opportunity to purchase products at GladRags' wholesale rates, which are 40-50% off our regular prices. Nonprofits can complete this form to begin the process, and for schools, they also offer virtual workshops where attendees get a free pantyliner!
I loved this brand’s story having been built up from a home-grown, woman-founded business that expanded to have its own studio and employees, but still hand-make each and every pad with love.
Physical comfort — These pads are built with a breathable, leak resistant nylon bottom later, which made me feel confident while wearing, but made for a more brittle, anxiety-inspiring obvious feeling in my pants. As I wore and washed them, the fabric definitely softened, but it was less comfortable at the beginning.
Ease of use — Super simple. They operate just like a standard pad with wings, except instead of an adhesive they use snaps. I loved the simplicity and they get full marks for ease of use!
Wow factor — Wooee, these folks do a bang up job. They have literally every print you can think of to greet you in pad form, and they also give away their scraps online to fans, users, aspiring tailors, you name it. Nothing goes to waste!
Thank you for reading our review, and we hope this assists you in your search for sustainable products!