I have been on the hunt for safer alternatives to the conventional feminine products you find in pharmacies. I have tried a few options so far (you can read all about my experience using the menstrual cup here). The choice to use products filled with chemicals just doesn’t resonate as a healthy choice in my mind. The fact that Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is something that could possibly occur when using a conventional brand of tampons just makes my head spin. Not to mention I despise disposable pads and everything about them.. They are made of plastic, they crinkle every time you move, they bunch up causing leakage, they are itchy against the skin, they smell terrible, and are filled with chemicals used to absorb. For years now I have stayed away from pads for these very reasons even when I could have used the extra absorbency. Using cloth pads had never really crossed my mind as a good alternative.. boy, was I wrong..
* This post includes some affiliate links. This means that any product purchased from my links will generate a small commission (At no extra cost to you). As always, I will only recommend brands that have passed my seal of approval and that I truly love.. these commissions help to cover Bloom + Clementine’s fees so that this website can stay alive and I can continue sharing my green beauty passion with you all. Thank you for supporting my little green space on the internet. *
* This post has been updated January 2020, to include a more recent account and review of Hannah Pads. *
When I was approached by Hannahpads over four years ago to test out cloth pads and write about them, I will be honest, I hesitated.. I have passed by cloth pads on shelves at natural health food stores and haven’t really given them a second thought. Then I thought about the fact that I felt this same hesitation before making the switch over to cloth diapering, and I love cloth diapering. So I thought, maybe this switch over will be similar. There are a number of benefits and since I’d never been a huge fan of conventional pads, I was certain that these would trump those already. I am so glad I decided to test out this option because I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them.
Here are the reasons why:
1) ORGANIC/NO CHEMICALS: Hannahpads are made of organic cotton and are not bleached or dyed in any form. They have ZERO pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. They are incredibly safe, especially for such a delicate area.
2) COMFORTABLE COTTON FABRIC (NOT ITCHY PLASTIC): It didn’t even feel like I was wearing anything besides underwear. Unlike using plastic disposable pads, the cloth pads were made of the softest cotton fabric and I could barely tell they were there! I find the plastic from disposable pads so uncomfortable and itchy so this was a huge bonus for me.
3) COST EFFECTIVE: You only have to buy them once! Just like cloth diapering there is the added task of laundering but I barely noticed the extra task and once you rinse them with cold water, the laundry machine can do the rest! (I also save a ton of money using cloth diapers and you can see how much I save here).
4) NO SMELL: Disposable pads use various chemicals within their pads for absorbency but these added ingredients tend to smell once they become damp. Periods do not smell (the chemicals in your disposable tampons and pads do). and neither do the cloth pads!
5) EASY TO CLEAN: Like I said above, the laundering process was not a big deal in my opinion.. I simply rinsed them in cold water before tossing them in the laundry machine. Once cleaned, you just hang them to air dry and that’s it!
6) ABSORBENT: They were just as good if not better in terms of absorbency. There are different sizing options ranging from liners all the way to super overnight protection. You just choose which pads work for your flow by purchasing individually or you can purchase various sets listed on the Hannahpads website.
7) WAY CUTER THAN DISPOSABLES: Did you see the adorable prints? Enough said. Disposables don’t even stand a chance in this category, and I’m partial to floral prints so Hannahpads really blew that one out of the water!
8) EASY OPTION WHEN OUT IN PUBLIC: Unlike the menstrual cup which takes a little bit of grace, patience, and humility when dealing in a public washroom, Hannapads are embarrassment free! You simply fold them up using their clips and seal them in a plastic baggy or a reusable bag (similar to a diaper wet bag for babies but much smaller). Then toss in your purse and wash at home!
9) ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Cloth pads are reusable and washable and last for years. Much unlike disposable pads which are sitting in landfills and dumps and are NOT decomposing/breaking down… Gross!
10) HEALTHIER OPTION: Lastly, the most important factor in this trial was the health benefits of using cloth pads versus disposable pads. Chemicals are not meant to sit against such sensitive areas. We often wonder why women have such issues with hormones, period heaviness, cramping, infertility.. but we never turn our attention to products that we are using monthly and how they are affecting all of those issues. Consider this your wake up call. They ARE affecting women’s health and thankfully it is becoming more common to use healthier alternatives nowadays.
Since Hannahpads are absorbent, comfortable, cost effective, and healthy, I will definitely continue to use them. I tend to use pads as extra insurance on the days when that’s needed and the liners at the end. I will never have to purchase disposable pads again which is a nice monthly savings. Not to mention I’ll never have to deal with the potential ugly side effects of disposable pads either.
I put together a list of Reusable Cloth Pad FAQ’s that I received from readers of this blog. I’ve answered with my personal experience of using cloth pads over the last 4+ years:
Q: Do you use a menstrual cup with the cloth pads?
A: Yes! I am currently on the hunt for a cup that works well for me. I tried the diva cup a few years back and it was awful. Little did I know that there are all kinds of different cups to fit different women. Makes sense! I have a very low cervix so it can be painful if the cups are too long. I learned this after going to the put a cup in it website. You can take their quiz HERE to see what brand of cups might fit you best based on your cervix, flow, age, maternal status, etc.
You can use the pads WITH a cup as back up on heavy days OR on their own. They can be used exactly as you would use regular disposable pads. Just customize them to your own preferences.
Q: Do you know of any other brands that are more affordable?
A: I can really relate to this question as we are a family of four on a tight one income budget. I think hard before making any purchase. Many cloth pads are more costly up front, but, they save you so much money over time. I bought an off brand option from Amazon once and was incredibly disappointed. To be honest, they weren’t much cheaper than what Hannah pads cost me, they leaked, and they were dyed inserts against my skin. I tried Hannah pads and haven’t wanted to try anything else since.
Hannah pads offers the option to buy the pads in singles or in sets. You obviously save more money bundling as a set. I have the “try them all” set which contains 7 different cloth pads of various sizes. This set costs $140 CAD. If you consider the amount one could spend each month on disposable pads and multiply that by the number of years the pads last, you will see the savings over time.
Let’s work this out using average numbers. Disposable brands can range anywhere from $10-$20 based on what you choose. Organic brands can run up to the $20 mark which is what I would typically choose if I had to pick up disposables on a trip or for any reason. I will use $15/month as the cost of disposable pads for this calculation.
$15 x 12 months= $180
Pads can last anywhere from 2-3 years depending on how well you take care of them. Mine have lasted 4+ years partially due to the fact that I’ve been pregnant and nursing during their lifespan. I will use 3 years in Thai calculation because after owning these pads for over 4 years, I think their quality would easily stand up to 3 years.
$180 x 3 year lifespan= $540
Over the span of 3 years you could spend on average $540 before taxes on disposables. The cloths pad set I bought was $140. Which means that over 3 years you would save $400 using reusable cloth pads.
So, when looking at the price of cloth pads, it’s important to focus on the savings over time as well. Not to mention, the amount of waste you’ll be saving the environment.
Q: What is the lifespan of a cloth pad?
A: Hannah pads last in average 2-3 years with proper care. As I’ve stated above, my first and only set have lasted me well over 4 years. This is partly due to the fact that I was pregnant and nursing my second born over their lifespan, but also because I made sure to take care of them with proper washing.
The materials the pads are made of were thought of carefully by considering the environmental impact. Once you are done with your pads, the organic cotton inside is compostable, the outer fabric degrades within 3-5 years, and the buttons are recyclable.
Q: How do you wash them?
A: Once you take one off, rinse under cold water to help avoid stains. You can then hand wash them or put them in your washing machine on a gentle cycle. I prefer the washing machine.
It’s very Important that you don’t put these in the dryer. Please hang them to dry! You can hang them with the clip hanger from Hannah pad or even throw them o et the edge of your hamper in your laundry room to dry.
Q: How many do you have in hand for one cycle?
A: I have the “try them all” set which includes 7 pads of varying sizes. I use them in conjunction with organic tampons or a menstrual cup during the heavy part of my cycle and switch to Hannah pad liners at the end. I get away with using the 7 in one cycle and only one wash, but you could definitely do two washes over your cycle and forgo having to purchase more. It is completely personal preference and can be based on whether or not you would prefer to do a washing cycle in the middle of your cycle or not.
Q: Do you ever leak through on really heavy flow days?
A: Sure! But no differently than I would regular disposables. It depends on my flow. I haven’t leaked more than twice over the last four years and it was definitely no different than accidents that occur while using disposable options. Hannah pad carries many options for heavy flow including a overnight pad which also could be used during the day for heavier days.
To put it into perspective, these are the pads I used postpartum (in addition to organic disposables for my padsicle recipe to induce extra healing). Postpartum bleeding is much heavier than regular period flow, and I felt they held up really well.
Q: What do you do with the pad if you are in public and have to change?
A: I carry around a small waterproof zip up bag in my purse that came with the pads. It’s small and all you have to do is pop it in and take home to wash. This was my biggest concern when switching over but it really hasn’t been that difficult of a process to get used to.
Q: Can they be used postpartum?
A: Yes! As I mentioned above, I used a combination of my Hannah pads and organic disposables (as I made a batch of healing postpartum padsicles and can’t do that with reusable pads). They held up well and were much more comfortable than using the reusable pads. They stay in place so much better in my experience.
Q: Are they comfortable? Do they bunch up?
A: Hannah pads are MUCH more comfortable than disposable pads in my opinion. It’s just like wearing another soft layer of cotton underwear. Disposables contain plastics much of the time and stock to your skin, can cause you to sweat, and bunch up or roll off the side. Hannah pads have a clip that buttons beneath your underwear and I’ve had no issues thus far with them bunching.
I was amazed at how comfortable cloth pads really are. It’s one of my favourite parts about using them.
Where to get Hannahpads:
If you want to learn more about cloth pads or want to purchase your own set (or even try one or two out before committing) then check out their website at the link below.
All first orders over $79.00 recieve %15 OFF with the code ‘bloomandclementine’ (Canada & US)
Here’s a cool offer from Hannahpad if you are intrigued but not 100% convinced yet:
You can purchase a SAMPLE pad in size small or medium from Hannahpad (with bonus free tracked shipping) before you take the plunge and buy a whole stash! “These are super light weight and awesomely breathable option for your everyday needs with spotting, light flow, and backup protection for internal menstrual products.” -Hannahpad website.
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