I feel like we have talked a lot here about the Diva Cup and its cohorts, but we haven’t spent much time talking about reusable pads. I’ve never been comfortable with tampons, and they have a tendency to give me horrible, doubling-over-in-pain cramps. Since I do not care for heinously painful cramping, I stick to pads.
When I first read about washable pads, in Luci Furious’ post about the Diva Cup ironically enough, I immediately said “No way, nohow, no thank you.” The idea of rinsing out my menstrual pads to reuse them took me back to my twelve-year-old self and just seemed gross. However, after the initial reaction wore off, I started thinking about 25 years worth of my used pads, hanging out in landfills, not biodegrading because they are made with plastic. The image stuck in my mind, and my idea of what’s really gross began to shift. I still wasn’t ready to make the change, though, because they seemed like kind of a pain in the ass. Then one of our commenters mentioned Party In My Pants pads.
With a name like PIMP, I had to check them out. As soon as I got to their website, I was hooked. Because of their design and construction, there is very little difference between the cloth and the disposable experience. They have a nylon back, so you don’t have to mess with liners to ensure they won’t leak. If you have to change one while away from home, you just fold up the used one and toss it in a bag to wash when you get home – no need to rinse in a public restroom and carry around a baggie full of soggy cloth all day. They are really pretty AND they offer a free pad to new customers who are “cloth curious.” They seemed perfect.
I broached the subject with Mr.B one night, partly because switching to reusables requires a bit of an initial investment and partly because because we share a bathroom. As I have tried to explain to my happily single friends, I didn’t have to ask permission, it just seemed polite to make sure the little basket of pads-to-be-washed wasn’t going to totally freak him out. He spent about 10 minutes telling me that it was my stuff, and he was totally cool with it, and why did I keep asking him about it? Translation – he was mildly uncomfortable, but he felt like he shouldn’t be. Imagine my surprise, then, when he came home from work the next day and said “I thought some more about all this, and I think it’s a really good idea. I just ordered you a full starter kit from Amazon!”
I managed to smile and say thank you (my go-to response when I’m not sure what to do), but inside I was thinking “PIMP doesn’t sell through Amazon! What the hell did you just get me?!?” Turns out, he had gotten me a Gladrags starter kit. They follow the classic all flannel, envelope and liner configuration. I had already ordered a smaller PIMP starter kit, with a free pad, so when the shock wore off, I decided that this was my opportunity to compare and contrast. You know, for science.
Here is what I noticed right off the bat:
- The PIMPs are a little stiffer when they are new, and they need to be washed a few times to reach maximum comfort level, while the Gladrags are soft from the start.
- PIMPS are definitely less likely to leak, and they do a better job of staying in place if you are walking around a lot (getting accustomed to the lack of adhesive was the hardest part of the transition).
- Both are awesome compared to disposables.
You get used to ignoring it, but wearing a maxi pad is like wearing a tiny diaper. Cloth pads, on the other hand, are like tiny sweaters for your vagina. Yes they are a bit more bulky, but they are also soft and snuggly and it’s kind of awesome. “But aren’t vagina sweaters hot in the summertime,” you ask? Not really. Since the cloth is breathable, it is cooler than having a piece of sweaty plastic in your crotch when the weather gets hot. My favorite thing, though, is that cloth pads don’t rustle. It’s silly, but I was always self-conscious wearing loose pants or skirts with a pad because I would hear that little *crinkle* and feel like I was yelling “HEY EVERYBODY, I’M ON MY PERIOD!” every time I walked into a room. This is no longer a problem.
There are a couple of questions that everyone seems to ask about cloth pads:
- Isn’t it kind of weird to rinse out your pads? Not really. At this point in my life, I have had to rinse blood out of underwear, pants, sheets, towels and pretty much anything else that might have come near my crotch during my period. It surprised me a bit, but rinsing out pads is just more of the same and it was very easy to make that part of the bathroom routine.
- Honestly now, don’t they get funky after a while? Again, no. It is another benefit of fabric being breathable. Not only are they cooler in the summer, but you are less likely to create the warm, moist environment that bacteria like to breed in. The blood dries out and the odor level stays low.
- Seriously though, don’t they leak? I have had some leaks since switching, but not much more than any other pad transition. Whenever Always changed their design, there would be leakages while I figured out the best placement for the new pads. The adjustment involves a little trial and error, but nothing traumatic has happened.
Like I said, I was surprised by how easy the transition has been. I get more laundry done while I’m on my period than I ever did before, because I want to make sure I don’t have to break into the emergency stash of disposables I kept when I got the cloth pads. I am more comfortable on my period than ever before, and it is surprisingly fun to choose between the butterfly pad and the hedgehog pad when I need to change. The only drawback, the one thing I never saw coming, is that the Gladrags come out of the dryer crumpled up into little wads of fabric. They really do work better when they are nice and flat, and ironing my menstrual pads is something I have yet to get used to. It’s just another point in favor of the PIMPs; the nylon backing keeps them flat, so no ironing needed. All in all, they get a big thumbs up in my quest to be more environmentally conscious, and I get a kick every time I walk by the Feminine Hygiene aisle and think about how I never have to hunt through all the different boxes looking for the one I want ever again.