Reusable cloth menstrual pads have gained increasing popularity as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to disposable options. Not only are they gentle on the environment, but they also offer a comfortable and customisable experience. To make the most of your investment in reusable cloth pads, it's crucial to understand the proper washing and care guidelines.
In this guide, we'll walk you through a step-by-step process to ensure your reusable menstrual products remain clean, comfortable, and effective.
General Care Instructions
NOTE: This is a guide only. It is always important to check the manufacturer's specific washing guidelines.
Preparing New Cloth Pads / Menstrual Underwear
Before you start using your new reusable cloth pads and knickers, it's important to pre-wash them. This helps increase their absorbency and prepares them for optimal performance. To do this, simply wash them in a long, warm machine wash with your cloth nappies or regular laundry. Soaking the pads prior to use is not necessary.
Pre-Wash After Use
After each use, rinse your pads in cold water until the water runs clear. This simple step prevents stains from setting in and makes the subsequent washing process more effective. You can hand rinse them in the sink, add them to your cloth nappy pre-wash cycle or throw them in the bottom of the shower, to save water!
Store the rinsed pads in an open-air dry pail (like you would with cloth nappies) until you're ready to wash them - ideally every 2-3 days maximum. Storing them in wetbags can increase moisture and heat around your reusable products, so in an attempt to avoid ammonia or mould we do not recommend storing in wetbags for more than a few hours at a time (they can be placed in a wetbag if you are out and about, and then moved to a dry pail when you get home, for example).
Bleach has suddenly become a very popular part of the reusable pre-wash routine here in Australia, but please be aware that it may cause fading, especially in cotton and flannelette products, and will void warranty for some brands.
You can add pre-rinsed reusable cloth pads and menstrual underwear to your cloth nappy main wash cycle or your everyday laundry cycle.
To effectively clean your reusable cloth products, set your washing machine to a long warm water cycle (40° is the general recommendation, although premium quality brands should be able to withstand a 60° main wash).
Use a "heavily soiled" quantity of a good quality detergent to effectively remove any remaining menstrual product from your pads and underwear.
Placing the pads in a mesh laundry bag prevents tangling and makes it easier to keep track of them during the wash cycle.
Avoid using fabric softeners, as these can negatively impact absorbency and the overall lifespan of your pads.
Cloth and Carry does not recommend routinely hand-washing your reusable cloth pads and menstrual underwear as they need a significant amount of agitation for a deep clean. Having said that, we don't think it is necessary to change to disposable products if you are going on holidays! A short-term hand washing technique will allow you to get your products clean enough on the road, so that they can be added to a decent long warm-hot wash when you are back in the vicinity of a washing machine.
To hand wash your reusable menstrual products whilst away from home, fill a basin or bucket with warm water and add detergent. Agitate the pre-rinsed pads and underwear in the soapy water. You may wish to allow them to soak for a short while, however extended soaking is not recommended as it may compromise the waterproofing. Rinse them thoroughly in fresh water until the water runs clear.
When it comes to drying your cloth pads, it's best to air dry them in a well-ventilated area. Some brands recommend laying cloth pads flat on a clothes airer to maintain their normal shape.
Direct sunlight may lead to fabric discolouration and reduced elasticity. While it might be tempting to speed up the drying process using high heat or tumble drying, these methods can decrease the pads' lifespan and overall effectiveness.
Ecopads Reusable Cloth Pads - better for your body, better for the environment
Occasionally, stains may persist despite regular washing. In such cases, apply a small amount of stain remover to the affected area and gently rub the fabric. A bar soap is generally the most effective stain removal option (we prefer Sard Soap), although sprays and powders can also be used. Allow the stain remover to work its magic for a few minutes before proceeding to wash the pads as usual.
Sun bleaching is not considered adequate for stain removal, as it is simply lightening the stain and not removing it. Drying your reusable menstrual products in direct sunlight may also cause fading and can damage the PUL or waterproofing layers.
Folding and Storage
Proper storage prevents creasing and maintains the shape of your cloth pads and knickers. We prefer to lay cloth pads flat in a drawer or open wetbag between uses. Reusable menstrual underwear can be folded and stored with your regular underwear.
Always store your reusable menstrual products in a dry, clean place when not in use to prevent moisture buildup and maintain their freshness.
Queen Cloth Reusable Cloth Pads by Fudgey Pants are pretty, comfortable and easy to fold
Inspecting for Wear and Tear
Regularly examine your cloth pads and menstrual underwear for signs of wear and tear. Thin spots or visible damage can compromise their effectiveness and put you at risk for leaks. If you notice significant wear, it's time to consider replacing the product to ensure optimal protection.
Pack a Wet Bag
When you're on the go, having a wet bag is essential for storing used pads until you can properly wash them. This prevents leaks and odours from affecting your other belongings. Some people find it helpful to have two wetbags to keep their fresh and used menstrual pads and underwear organised.
For added convenience while travelling, consider carrying extra cloth pads and wetbags with you. This ensures you have the protection you need, even if you can't wash your reusable pads immediately.
Follow Care Instructions
Even when you're travelling, it's important to adhere to the general care instructions for your reusable cloth pads. This guarantees their longevity and your comfort throughout your journey. Always give your cloth pads a thorough hand rinse at your earliest convenience, and main wash as soon as practical.
Mini wetbags and reusable cloth pads make for dry and comfortable travelling
Choosing reusable cloth menstrual pads is a sustainable choice that benefits both your health and the environment. By following these washing and care instructions, you'll not only extend the lifespan of your cloth pads but also maintain their performance and comfort. Embrace these eco-friendly menstrual hygiene practices and enjoy a more comfortable and conscientious period experience.