How should you take care of your reusable sanitary pads?
More and more women are being won over by reusable sanitary pads. They are more respectful of the environment, of our body, but also of our wallet. However, many women are still hesitant about switching to washable menstrual pads due to everything that such a change entails. Among other things, some women wonder how to use or wash them. Are the stains easy to remove? How much time do you need for washing reusable sanitary pads? Is washing powder expensive? Doesn't the blood stain other clothes? Should they be washed just like period panties?
And yet, caring for reusable sanitary products, such as washable pads or period panties, is not as complicated as you might think. Especially when you start to get used to this new way of life. Anyway, this detailed guide will help you take better care of your reusable sanitary pads easily.
Why should you take care of your reusable sanitary pads?
Reusable sanitary pads are certainly one of the best innovations of the moment. They provide the comfort and security that every woman needs to get through her period with confidence. In addition to being more economical than disposable products, washable menstrual pads are also more eco-friendly. They are also much healthier, as reusable sanitary pads are made with organic fabric, and without the chemicals and other dubious components of disposable pads. They actually prevent bad odours, irritations, allergies and itching linked to toxic elements in disposable sanitary products.
But to take full advantage of all these benefits over the long term, sanitary pads need to be properly maintained. Indeed, respecting their duration of use and capacity as well as using a proper washing method are key to maintain the absorbency of your washable menstrual pads. If you misuse them, you could end up with less comfortable, or even leaking, protection!
To properly take care of them, you'll also need to understand what reusable sanitary pads are made of. In general, they have three layers, including:
- The topper which is directly in contact with your skin and which is made with a very soft and very comfortable fabric;
- The absorbent insert, in the middle, which is made with a thicker, highly absorbent fabric;
- The back, which is in contact with your panties and which contains a waterproof fabric to avoid any risk of leakage.
Realizing that producing these washable pads is both simple and complex will help you better understand why taking good care of them is so important. For instance, if you don't follow the washing rules by using a fabric softener or any harsh products, the waterproof fabric will become more fragile and you'll risk causing the pad to leak more quickly.
How should you use reusable period pads to prolong their life?
Caring for washable sanitary pads isn't just about washing them well. Proper daily use is equally important.
Before using your washable sanitary pad for the very first time:
Before you start using your washable sanitary pad, the first step is to machine wash it. Indeed, this step is crucial for good hygiene. As is also the case with all other kinds of new clothes or underwear! Especially since the washable sanitary pad will be in direct contact with an extremely sensitive part of your body.
But in addition, the first wash will increase the absorbency of the fabrics in the washable sanitary pad. This will also strengthen its durability and efficiency.
To do this, use a normal machine 30 to 40°C cycle for an effective but gentle wash. Also try to use an organic washing powder, free of any irritating chemicals or allergens from fabric softeners or detergents. This will preserve the softness and the eco-friendliness of the washable sanitary pad.
How are washable sanitary pads used?
Reusable sanitary pads are worn just like a conventional disposable pad. Except that instead of the sticky side wings is a snap button system. When you need to put on a washable sanitary pad, put it over your panties with the topper side facing up. Then, secure it by closing the snap buttons under the panties so that it can't move or fall off during the night or during the day.
Finally, if you need to change your reusable sanitary pad, just fold it up with the two ends towards the middle and the waterproof side on the outside, before closing the snap buttons again to keep it tightly closed until you can wash it.
How long do reusable period pads last?
In theory, washable sanitary pads have the same absorbency as identical disposable pads. Therefore, if you have used disposable sanitary pads before, their duration of use should be about the same.
Typically, they can be worn for about four hours, if you wear it without other sanitary products. If you combine it with a menstrual cup or tampon, or if you have a light flow, it can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time.
Note that after each use, it is recommended that you rinse the washable period pad or leave it to soak in a basin of water. But if you can't do this step right away because you're at work or anywhere other at home, the best solution is to use a plastic bag or waterproof pouch for storage. That way you can keep used washable sanitary pads there until you get home.
How many washable sanitary pads should I have?
The number of reusable sanitary pads you need essentially depends on two parameters:
- How heavy your flow is;
- How much time you have for washing.
If you have a heavy flow, you'll need to change your washable sanitary pads more often. Also, if you don't have a lot of time to wash them, or prefer to wait until the end of your period to do so, it's better to have several on hand.
On average, for real ease of use, get at least five washable sanitary pads. This will allow you to change pads without too much hassle, while still having plenty of time to wait for the other sanitary pads to dry.
How are washable sanitary pads properly washed?
Rinse your sanitary pad well during the prewash step.
As soon as you can, either right after using it or when you get home, rinse or soak your washable sanitary pad. This will prevent blood, urine, or discharge from getting deep into the fabric. This step will really make the washing step itself a lot easier. To do this, use a large container. For example, a basin, a bucket, or a sink all work very well.
If you choose to soak the pads, you could opt for containers with a lid for more discretion. Before soaking the pad, rinse it with water to remove as much blood as possible. If you can't manage to rinse the pads and decide to wash them at the end of your period, you'll need to change the water in the container frequently, every night for instance. In this case, you can also soak the washable menstrual pads in water with a few drops of lemon juice, white or apple cider vinegar or even lavender, tea tree or eucalyptus essential oils. Indeed, these natural ingredients are very effective in preventing the formation of mold or bacteria, while decreasing the risk of bad odours due to soaking.
Otherwise, you can simply rinse your reusable sanitary pad before putting it in the machine. In a basin or sink, rinse it with cold water and wring it out. Then repeat until the water runs completely clear. You can also rub it with organic soap if you're worried that stains will not come off in the machine. That said, avoid disinfectant soaps, as these can allow bacteria that have some resistance to antibiotics to thrive.Machine or hand washing washable sanitary pads
On laundry day, take the soaked pads, rinse them, wring them out and put the water used for soaking down the sink.
Then put the reusable menstrual pads in the machine with the rest of the laundry on a 30 to 40°C cycle. You can also put them in a net if you want. But note that thanks to the pre-wash step, the reusable sanitary pads aren't likely to stain other clothes. Otherwise, wash them with dark-coloured clothes if you're not sure.
There is also no risk of contaminating other clothes with possible germs. Either way, the washing machine is a great option for eliminating germs effectively, as well as for removing stains by rubbing off the other clothes. Again, if you're in doubt, you could add a spoonful of white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine. Indeed, white vinegar is a natural and harmless product that disinfects while gettting rid of bad odours effectively. You should also use an organic washing powder that doesn't contain any softeners, stain removers, detergents, or any other toxic or chemical products which could affect the quality of the fabric.
If you prefer to handwash, gently scrub your reusable sanitary pads. Likewise, choose an organic stain-removing soap, such as Marseille soap without glycerin. On the other hand, avoid soaps which are too greasy or contain chemicals that can alter the absorbency of the washable sanitary pad, or even its waterproof properties. Also, avoid any vigorous scrubbing with a brush! This will damage the fabric unnecessarily.
Dry your washable sanitary pads in the open air
After washing, try to dry the pads in the open air to preserve the quality of each fabric, as with period panties. Stretch it out well, as straight or flat as possible so that it doesn't crease, as the creases may bother you when you wear it.
In winter or when it rains, put it in the bathroom or a heated room. Use a portable clothes rack to attach to a hanger, towel bar, or shower curtain bar.
In summer, take advantage of the good weather to dry the washable sanitary pad in the sun. The sun's rays are very effective in killing germs too, for example in the case of an infection of thrush (or candida). It is also a powerful stain remover that nature gives you for free!
On the other hand, if possible avoid the dryer (use a delicate programme if you are in a real hurry), the hair dryer or the iron to avoid damaging your washable sanitary pad. Indeed, the heat can affect the waterproof properties of the fabric.
How can the most stubborn stains be removed?
In theory, the sooner you rinse a washable sanitary pad after use, the more easily the stains will come out. Because the blood comes off the fabric faster when it's still fresh.
However, reusable sanitary pads are sometimes made with lighter colour fabrics, unlike period panties which are usually black. As a result, they tend to show visible stains.
If you find any stubborn stains, your best ally is ox gall soap. Before putting them in the machine, soap and rub the washable menstrual pad, then let the soap work for about fifteen minutes and rinse.
Another trick is to soak it for an hour in lukewarm water mixed with percarbonate of soda. After that, you'll only have to rinse it with cold water to easily remove the stain.
When your reusable sanitary pads become duller, put them in the machine with the other clothes at 60°C and add one to two tablespoons of percarbonate of soda to the laundry.
How should reusable sanitary pads be washed?
Reusable sanitary pads, like period panties or baby's cloth nappies, can also become dirty over time due to washing powder residue. As a result, they lose their absorbent capacity and risk leaking or even smelling bad.
In this case, soak the reusable menstrual pad in lukewarm water with baking soda, then machine wash it at 60°C on a long cycle. Otherwise, put on a machine wash without washing powder at 60°C to effectively clean your washable pad. That said, if it gets dirty, it's because you used products that were not recommended in your previous washes!
What products should I use to wash reusable menstrual pads?
To preserve the quality and durability of your reusable sanitary pads, choose an organic detergent or soap, without chemicals. This is because the washable menstrual pad is directly in contact with your very sensitive skin. And these products will not only damage the fabric, but also cause possible problems like irritation, allergies or itching.
Therefore, avoid products like bleach or chlorine-based products. Instead, use white vinegar which is more environmentally friendly and more effective at removing germs, odours and stains.
For the maintenance of your reusable menstrual pads, you can also use natural essential oils such as tea tree oil or lavender. Besides having a nice smell, these oils are also excellent disinfectants.
Finally, hydrogen peroxide, percarbonate of soda, or even baking soda can be used to effectively wash your reusable period pads. Use hydrogen peroxide to easily remove blood from the fabric during the prewash step by adding it to the water. Percarbonate or baking soda also helps remove blood or urine stains on your pads that may have built up with use.
How often should you wash your reusable sanitary pads?
You can wash your reusable sanitary pads as often as you can and as needed. For example, you can do this at the end or the beginning of the day throughout your period. Otherwise, you can wait until the end of your period to wash them all together.
However, remember that fresh blood is more easily removed than blood embedded in the fabric. Also, wash your pads as soon as possible! This advice also goes for period panties. They are of course underwear and it's better to keep them clean to avoid health problems related to poor hygiene.
What are the mistakes to avoid to make your reusable sanitary pads last?
Almost everything has already been said in the previous paragraphs. But to sum up, here's what you absolutely must avoid to keep your reusable sanitary pads spotless:
1- Forget about fabric softeners: the chemicals they contain smooth the fibres of the insert and reduce or even undo its absorbent properties. Remember, washable sanitary pads (just like period panties) are made of naturally soft fabrics. Cotton, like bamboo fibre , therefore won't need fabric softeners, because it already gives you all the comfort you need during your period.
2- Don't use detergents, bleach or other chlorinated products or super cleaners: not only do they weaken the fabrics of the reusable sanitary pads, but they also risk seeping into them to cause irritation when you wear the towel.
3- Avoid using a brush to scrub the pads: being overly zealous during the washing could ruin the sanitary pad.
4- Don't use very hot water: in addition to weakening the fabric, it heats the blood and makes the stains more difficult to remove.
5- Don't put the pad in the dryer, don't dry it with a hair dryer and never iron it! Heat is your reusable sanitary pad or period panties' worst enemy because it affects their waterproof properties.
6- Don't exceed 40 °C in the washing machine. Already, the heat ruins the absorbent properties of the washable sanitary pad. Also though, too much heat will make the colours duller (say goodbye to the pretty colourful patterns that you carefully selected at the time of purchase).