These reusables are incredible. I’m hooked and won’t go back.
Of course, there are several questions that come to mind when thinking about washable menstrual pads, so I’m going to address the most glaringly obvious.
I’ve got to admit, I was a little sceptical when I tried reusable pads for the first time. But now I've tried and tested them, I can give an honest review. Here's what I wanted to know before I made the switch...
What are they made out of?
On GPE we stock pads made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. All of which are 100% natural. They also have a metal stud press for the wings, so the pads are 100% plastic free.
We stock two sizes, short and midi - as well as two absorbency levels, light and medium.
Length: Short: 9" / 22.5cm - Midi: 10.5" / 26.5cm
The short pad is most like a light-regular pad from the supermarket, whereas the medium pad resembles more of a ‘night time’ pad.
Do they leak?
So far, I personally haven’t experienced any leaking. These handy period pals seem to be doing the job nicely, but I’ll caveat that this all dependant on your flow. Without going into too much detail – being fairly regular I can last from about 8am – 3pm with one, and then switch to another which will last until bedtime. I use medium flow pads.
We have made the active decision not to stock the heavy flow pads. This is not to shame ANYONE who has heavy flow periods. We promised to keep our online store plastic free, it was a vow we made at the start and one we need to keep.
The heavy flow pads contain a PUL (or Polyurethane Laminate) lining which is a type of synthetic material found in cloth nappies, fabric lunch boxes etc to keep them waterproof. As we mentioned, we're keeping this area plastic-free and PUL is exactly that, a type of plastic.
If you feel you might need a heavy flow pad there are heaps of great ones out there, but why not try a medium flow first and see if it’s needed? In six months nothing has leaked through to the patterned side.
If it doesn’t work for you then please feel free to shop elsewhere and find a PUL pad (or other plastic free alternatives!) that will suit you. We stock our pads from Tabitha Eve and they do have PUL pad on their website.
Are they comfortable?
We’ve been on mile-long hikes/walks and I’ve not experienced any discomfort or issues. I will say however I prefer wearing the medium length to the short length, which surprised me.
They are best suited to a bikini or regular ‘pant’ rather than anything skimpy (as with regular pads).
I’ve not really used pads a whole lot in the 13 years I’ve been graced with losing my uterus lining – but if I have used them I really hated the feel of the synthetic materials.
I know that a lot of people struggle with tampons for cramping, thrush and other joys of menstruation so these irradiate those problems as well. I also found that ‘unclean’ feeling was completely gone with the soft cotton/bamboo/hemp of the reusables.
They are a big yes from me.
What’s with the wings?
Not everyone loves wings, but these pads need their little wings to stay in place. As they don’t have that synthetic sticky lining at the bottom they are held fast through their popper-ed wings.
I really dislike plastic pads. Those damn sticky wings that will stick to anything except what they’re supposed to, then rip. So it is a breath of fresh air not to have to deal with all that packaging and sticky tabs.
How do I wash them?
Don’t freak out, these pads are white on the inside. So yes you’re bleeding into white as fresh as snow… the first time. Then they do stain a touch from there on out, but hey it’s all natural plus you’ll be the only one to see them.
Honestly, they don’t come out of the wash all glittering white again, sorry! But they’re also not stained as much as I thought they would. I’ve used them for around six months and I feel comfortable keeping them in my underwear drawer until I need them again.
The best way to prevent heavy staining is to soak your pad in COLD water as soon as you can.
Throw it in a sink or bath and if you’re in a shared house and can’t face leaving it for your housemates (sorry Dan), then dedicate a bowl or Tupperware for soaking it in your room. You can sneakily pour away the water in the bath when no one is looking.
Then throw it straight in the wash! Simples.
I’ve washed mine on a 30 degree and 40 degree wash and probably wouldn’t go any higher than that.
Also DO NOT USE fabric conditioner/softener as it can affect absorbency.
If you’re really upset about the staining, there are natural stain remover sticks online (zero waste) or you can use vinegar to remove blood stains.
How much do they cost?
Each pad is £12.
So say you need four, we understand this can be a big initial cost so we do a little deal for multi-packs.
Four pads comes to around £43. Which still seems steep right? Well, let’s compare…
It’s £1.40 for a 12 pack and say you use the same of x2 pads a day (which I know would probably be more with disposables but I’ve got to try and stay impartial here).
So that’s roughly 6 days or £1.40 per period.
Maths isn’t my strong point but that equates to 30 months (or just over two and half years) to make your reusable pads break even.
WELL HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS, reusable pads can last FIVE WHOLE YEARS (and beyond) if you take care of them properly. This isn’t even taking tampons into account which are even more expensive!
If you need more convincing on this. Imagine never having to do a midnight period dash! Or bumping into your ex carrying armfuls of tampons/pads. You’re welcome.
Plus you’re safe in the knowledge that you’re not polluting the ocean, waterways, endangering wildlife or sending anything to landfill. Bleed with pride my friends, you’re saving the planet one pad at a time.
Which pads should I buy?
I use one short (medium flow) and one medium length (also medium flow) per day.
I ABSOLUTELY love the long one (I’m a size 10/12 around the hip region for reference) but felt comfortable when hiking in the short one.
So really this is down to you. You could mix and match for different days or activities. I would recommend sleeping in a longer pad.
So there we have it. All the answers to the questions I had before switching to reusable menstrual pads. Want to make the switch too? Head to the product page here: Reusable Menstrual Pads