How should you choose the right reusable sanitary pad for you?
So you've decided to switch to reusable sanitary pads ? But you don't yet know how to choose the right ones for your needs? Through this detailed guide, we'll help you make the right choice so you can make the most of all the advantages of opting for this greener, more comfortable, more efficient and much more economical alternative! Indeed, criteria such as material, size, price and heaviness of flow are all parameters to take into account before purchasing.
What materials should I choose for my reusable sanitary pad?
Apart from the press buttons, each reusable sanitary pad is made with different fabrics: cotton, velvet, hemp, bamboo, flannel, polyurethane, nylon, etc. This criterion is especially important, because the comfort, softness and absorption capacity as well as the breathability of sanitary pad all greatly depend on the fabrics used.
Ideally, choose natural materials such as organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. Fabrics certified GOTS or OEKOTEX are best, because this ensures that they are indeed organic fabrics. This is essential, especially for the topper, which is the upper part directly in contact with the skin. For example, if your reusable sanitary pad is made of cotton, you'll have a soft natural fibre in contact with the skin, which is also breathable, durable and ultra absorbent.
Obviously, the outer part of the sanitary pad, i.e. the back, should be made of a waterproof fabric. But it should also be made of breathable fabric. For instance, some manufacturers use polyester covered with polyurethane. This makes the outer layer of the reusable sanitary pad breathable, while being waterproof too to avoid any risk of leaks, despite a heavy flow for example.
The absorbent insert, which is located between the two fabrics mentioned above, must be made of an ultra-absorbent fabric and needs to be thick enough to absorb the blood and avoid an unpleasant feeling of dampness! This is why this layer is often made from cotton or fleece, both known for their absorbent qualities.
In addition, make sure that the washable menstrual pad doesn’t contain any chemicals, such as synthetic fragrances which are supposed to prevent bad odours! These toxic ingredients can actually cause irritation, allergies and itching. In any case, a good quality reusable sanitary pad is not likely to create bad odours, as long as you wear it for the duration it was designed for.
How should reusable sanitary pads be chosen according to menstrual flow?
The heaviness of your flow will define the type and number of reusable sanitary pads you need to use. Menstrual flow varies from woman to woman, but to know exactly how heavy it is, take the day when your period is heaviest as a benchmark. On this day, if:
- One pad is enough for a day and you only change it for greater comfort, your flow would be considered light.
- If you need to change pads every 4 hours because they are full, you have average flow.
- If the pad becomes full every two hours, you have a heavy flow.
- If you have to change pads every hour, and even at night, you have menorrhagia i.e. very heavy periods.
So, depending on how heavy your flow is, you will need:
- Simple panty liners for light flow. These are smaller and thinner than sanitary pads.
- Washable sanitary pads for daytime are suitable for light to medium flows. These are quite short, but thick enough for a moderately heavy flow.
- Reusable sanitary pads for nighttime are suitable for heavy or menorrhagic periods. These are very thick and long to avoid any risk of leaks that could stain your clothes or sheets during the night.
Of course, the amount of blood lost will also vary according on the stage of your period. It would therefore be better to have different types of pads on hand and to adapt them according to whether you are at the beginning, at the peak or at the end of your period. Fortunately reusable sanitary pads come in sets with different sizes, which effectively offer protection for varying levels of flow.
As for the number of pads needed, this will also depend on how often you wash them. The heavier your flow the more frequently you'll need to change and wash your reusable sanitary pads. So you will also have to take into account the time it takes to dry the pads. It is also a question of hygiene, because washable menstrual pads can only be worn for up to 12 hours in a row.
Therefore, on average, it is recommended you have ten reusable pads ready for use during a menstrual cycle. If necessary, you can add more later.
How should reusable sanitary pads be chosen according to your habits and need for comfort?
Your choice will also depend on how you like to wear your washable sanitary pad:
- If you wear them individually and just during your period, just follow our advice from the previous point, regarding the heaviness of your flow and how often you wash them.
- If you're looking for everyday protection to stay dry and protect your underwear from stains caused by urine leakage or discharge, a simple panty liner is better than a reusable menstrual pad. Less thick, it will be much more comfortable for daily use.
- If you are looking for reusable sanitary pads for lochia (postpartum bleeding), there are also ultra-absorbent reusable sanitary pads suitable for use after you stop using postpartum pads.
- If you want to combine reusable sanitary pads with another type of protection, such as a menstrual cup, or a panty liner is more than enough to protect your underwear from possible leaks.
The underwear you wear also plays a crucial role in choosing the right reusable sanitary pad for you.
- Classic or traditional panties as well as tanga panties, are ideal for wearing with a reusable sanitary pad. Just make sure the pad has wings or a fastening system that can secure the pad and prevent it from slipping (or falling) when you move.
- Shorts or boxer-style panties are also suitable for use with reusable menstrual pads. But note that the gusset should be wide enough for real comfort of use.
- Thongs and other high-cut panties are more recommended for smaller pads, or even panty liners only.
But in any case, reusable menstrual pads are available in different sizes to perfectly match your body shape while also fitting your favorite panty style.
What patterns, colours and styles of reusable sanitary pads are best?
If aesthetics are important to you, you'll be happy to know that reusable sanitary pads are available with different colours and patterns to suit your preferences. Some reusable sanitary pads have flowers or geometric patterns on them, while others come in a single colour without any patterns.
Despite the fact that pads are worn in the underwear, colour is important for ease of washing. This is because darker colours tend to hide more persistent stains, while lighter-coloured pads leave stubborn marks more noticeable over time. So choose fabrics that don't easily show stains!
That said, if you strictly adhere to the methods of caring for reusable mentrual pads, you can choose any model you like. To wash your reusable sanitary pad effectively, start with a prewash phase that involves rinsing it with cold water to remove as much blood as possible. Then put it in the washing machine at 40 or 60°C maximum. For hand washing, it is best to leave the pad to soak overnight to make washing easier the next day.
If it's hard to remove stains, the trick is to soap them in cold water before soaking them for a few minutes in a basin of water with a tablespoon of percarbonate of soda. You can also remove stubborn stains with hydrogen peroxide, leave it on for 5 minutes before rinsing well.
One very important point about the maintenance of reusable sanitary pads: drying is always done in the open air. This is done to keep their absorbent properties optimal.
How do I choose reusable sanitary pads according to my budget?
To switch to reusable sanitary pads, you'll have to have a fairly substantial initial budget, because a set of four pads costs on average around 40 euros. To save more, invest in sets with more pads, as they are more cost effective.
The price also varies depending on the brand and quality of the reusable sanitary pads. Although ideally you would invest in quality rather than pads made from dubious fabrics. During purchase, you can also take into account other ways to save which are offered by the website, such as free shipping.
Whatever your choice, it will be a long-term investment. Indeed, unlike disposable sanitary products, you'll have reusable menstrual pads for several years, as long as you take good care of them!
Another less expensive option is also to make your own reusable sanitary pads. On the internet you'll easily find tutorials explaining how to sew them to avoid buying them.
If I choose a home-made pad, how do I make it myself?
To make your reusable sanitary pad yourself, just follow the steps below.
First of all, you will need to have the following tools on hand:
- A marker or pencil;
- A ruler
- Thread and a needle if sewing by hand or a sewing machine;
- A button (you can also choose a snap button);
- A light breathable fabric, such as cotton or bamboo fibre for the topper;
- A thicker fabric for the insert (you can for example use a pad);
- Thick, waterproof fabric for the back;
- A template downloaded from the internet (otherwise you can create your own pattern according to the measurements of your choice).
If you need to print an online pattern, cut it out along the dotted line.
On the thinner fabric for the topper and the thick fabric for the back, trace the template with the marker or pencil, then cut the fabrics so that you have pieces in the shape of the pad.
Place these pieces of fabric on top of each other, with the patterned sides facing each other, and start sewing.
However, leave the upper and lower bits fully open. Then fold down their edges and sew them in place so that they create a hem.
Then turn the pad inside out to reveal the pattern and hide the seams. Then, sew the wings of the reusable menstrual pad.
Sew the button on the right wing, and make a hole in the left wing for the buttonhole. Make sure to sew around the hole so that it doesn't fray.
Using the ruler cut two rectangles 20cm long x 6cm wide from the thick fabric for the insert. Put the rectangles on top of each other and sew them along their edges.
Then insert the rectangle into the reusable pad using a large safety pin, using it to pull it up to the top. Then finish off the seam of the reusable sanitary pad.
Besides reusable sanitary pads, what's the best reusable sanitary product?
If reusable sanitary pads have impressed you with their many advantages, there are also various other alternatives other than reusable sanitary pads. These include, among others:
- Period panties:
This underwear incorporates a thicker absorbent area in the crotch to absorb and hold blood during menstruation. Much like reusable sanitary pads, period panties usually feature three types of fabric: the first softer material is in contact with the skin, the second layer in the middle is made of absorbent fabric, and the third layer is a waterproof fabric to avoid the risk of leaks. Period panties are a perfect alternative for women who want to wear only period panties, without the discomfort caused by sanitary pads which are usually quite thick. Period panties also come in different sizes suitable for heavier or lighter flows, and you'll find different styles of period panties on the market to satisfy your needs.
- Menstrual cups:
Besides washable sanitary pads and period panties, you can also opt for a menstrual cup. This small silicone container is shaped like a funnel to collect blood during menstruation. Inserted into the vagina, it suits the shape of your anatomy to avoid the risk of leakage. Once full, the menstrual cup is removed using a small stem at its base. This is the perfect option if you are used to tampons. It is also possible to use it in combination with other sanitary products such as period panties, panty liners or reusable menstrual pads if you have a very heavy flow or if you are afraid of leaks.
- Reusable panty liners
If you don't feel comfortable with reusable sanitary pads due to their thickness, and you have a very light flow, this is also a good alternative. For example, you can use it at the start or end of your period, but also to protect your panties from stains caused by urine leakage and discharge. This type of protection is also perfect for preventing any leaks if you use a menstrual cup during your period.
- Menstrual sponges:
The last alternative to reusable sanitary pads is the menstrual sponge. It is actually a sea sponge, but it has undergone a special treatment to improve its absorption of menstruation blood and be as effective as traditional tampons. So if you are used to wearing tampons, but would like to replace them with a greener alternative, menstrual sponges are perfect for you. However, you must follow the instructions for use to avoid any hygiene problems. Menstrual sponges need regular washing after and before each use.
Ultimately, to choose the right reusable sanitary pad or other eco-friendly sanitary product, you must consider your preferences and requirements. This especially means taking into account your need for comfort, how heavy your flow is and your lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll find all kinds of reusable sanitary napkin suitable for you on the market, whether you’re looking for a certain size, thickness, colour, degree of protection or price. With the right reusable sanitary pad for you, you’ll be able to manage your period in a much more relaxed, economical and environmentally friendly way.