So, you’ve decided to consider reusable menstrual pads… at least, I’m assuming you have since you are here. But if you are researching the pros and cons of cloth pads, I’m also assuming that you may have some doubts.
As the loveable tree-huggers we are, the Lil Helper team believes that the waste-reducing pros of cloth pads far outweigh the cons. But we are also not the type to sugar coat things to try and bring someone to “the Cloth Side." Much like making the switch to cloth diapers, finding success with reusable menstrual products is going to depend on a variety of factors related to your lifestyle and personal preferences.
So, we thought we’d give a full rundown of the benefits and potential drawbacks of cloth pads. That way you can decide whether cloth pads will be the right choice for you.
Pros of Cloth Pads
This is one of the most common reasons that people consider reusable menstrual products. Choosing cloth pads means less waste ending up in landfills. Plus the way that they are produced is also, generally, much more eco-friendly. So if reducing your carbon footprint and avoiding single-use plastic products is something you are working on, making the switch is a great step in that direction.
When checking out the prices of cloth pads, it may seem like they are extremely expensive. But if you sit down and crunch some numbers, you will quickly realize that it doesn’t take long for them to pay for themselves. Since they can be reused over the course of several years, they can save you a lot of money. Plus, disposable pads aren’t exactly cheap either.
Another pro of cloth pads is who makes them. Unlike disposables (which are manufactured by huge corporations), most cloth pad companies are pretty small. Whether it is a WAHM’s Etsy shop or a budding small-business like Lil Helper, buying cloth pads usually means supporting a business that you can actually put a face to.
So if you are sick of feeling the sting of literally throwing your money away each month or want to be more discerning in who you are supporting with your hard-earned cash, cloth pads are something to take into consideration.
I’m not sure who came up with the idea of putting something full of chemicals, that doesn’t breathe near our most sensitive bits. I’m guessing it must have been someone who does not possess a set of those bits. Another big pro of cloth pads is that this is no longer an issue.
Cloth pads are made of a variety of different materials (depending on the brand). But pretty much any cloth pad is going to be more breathable than a disposable. Our HyPs pads have a stay-dry topper, which pulls sweat and other secretions away from your skin. This leads to a more temperate climate in your nethers, which we can all agree is a big plus.
This, combined with the lack of chemicals in cloth pads, means that skin irritation, infections, and other issues are far less likely to occur.
Also, anyone who has ever skipped a bikini wax and then used a self-adhesive pad knows that there is a flaw in the comfort-factor of disposables. Putting something sticky next to a place with sensitive hairs is a pretty major oversight.
If you go cloth you won’t have to worry about that eye-watering experience happening again.
Wanna know true panic? Have Mother Nature come calling only to realize you forgot to replenish your tampon supply. Then, subsequently, realize that every store in town closed about an hour ago.
Wanna avoid that issue in the future? Switch to cloth. Since they are washed and ready to go after each cycle, going with cloth means never again having to dash to the 24-hour pharmacy two towns over.
You also never have to worry about absorbency. Like disposables, cloth pads come in lots of different sizes to suit any flow. And many types (including HyPs) are made with waterproof linings so you never have to stress about leaks.
Most companies also offer systems to help you store, wash, and take your pads to-go. So while cloth may seem like extra work, it’s more convenient than you might think.
Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But cloth pads do have some qualities that make them seem like they possess supernatural abilities.
First, they don’t smell. So the days of enduring a garbage can full of funk are behind you if you switch to cloth.
Second, they could make your period less miserable.
Yes, you read that right. Some folks find a reduction in length, heaviness, and cramps when they make the switch. And, I don’t know about you, but I am more than willing to dish out the dough for at least a trial kit if there is even the slightest chance that Shark Week is gonna be less miserable.
Cons of Cloth Pads
Washing and Maintenance
This is usually first on the list of “dealbreakers” when people consider the pros and cons of cloth pads. Our HyPs have pretty simple washing instructions compared to some other brands, but they do still need to be rinsed and laundered after each use. Regardless of the brand, most pads can be thrown in with your regular laundry but the added step of washing takes away some of the convenience.
You also need to make sure that you have a good place to store them until you are able to wash them. This can add some logistical complications if you have little ones around or are tight on bathroom storage space.
Some people cannot get past the idea of reusable pads being “gross.”
I think a lot of this has to do with the way we are taught to think about and talk (or not talk) about menstruation. They way our society views periods and the people who have them is pretty bogus, but that is a rant for another post.
They do also require you to have a little more “contact” than you are likely used to. As I said before, we recommend rinsing after each use. You will also need to carry both clean and dirty pads around when you are away from home. Some people find the idea of that unpleasant.
So even though cloth pads are perfectly hygienic it may be hard for some people to get past their preconceptions. If that’s you, you may want to reconsider cloth pads. Or look for another reusable alternative.
Despite their ability to save you money long-term, the upfront cost of cloth pads can be a big con. There are a variety of options to suit different budgets and you can slowly build your collection as your finances allow. But it is something to take into consideration.
Cloth pads also require access to reliable laundering facilities. As I said before, you can just throw them into a regular load of laundry, so they shouldn't add to your costs if you use coin-operated laundry. But, they shouldn't be left too long between launderings. So figuring out if they fit with your routine is another thing to consider.
This is a consideration for a lot of folks, even with disposable pads.
Depending on the brand and materials used, some cloth pads can feel pretty bulky. Especially when compared to some of the ultra -thin disposables.
That being said, some brands (*cough* HyPs! *cough*) are actually thinner than certain disposables. So sometimes it is a matter of shopping around.
If, however, you are firmly opposed to having anything unnecessary between your legs (teehee), cloth pads probably aren’t for you. Maybe consider a cup or other reusable alternative.
Like a lot of eco-friendly products, reusable menstrual products are an investment. It only makes sense, therefore, that you would want to consider all the pros and cons of cloth pads before making the switch.
I’m the first to admit that the Lil Helper team has a bit of bias on the subject. BUT we are also all busy gals who don’t have time for messing around with unusable products. And general consensus around Lil Helper HQ? HyPs pads (and cloth in general) are totally worth the switch.
What do you think? Are there other pros or cons of cloth pads I didn’t think of? Other issues or questions you have? Let me know in the comments!