(Heya R+H peeps. Before we dive in to this huge topic, I just have to tell you up front that this is *not* a sponsored post. No one paid me to write this. I had a genuine dilemma in choosing which company to order from to build my cloth pad stash last summer, and I decided to see if any companies would send me some products for free in exchange for giving my honest opinion to my community here. These six companies are confident enough in their products that they readily agreed to send me some to try out.)
I pseudo-homebirthed our third kiddo on a beautiful afternoon in June 2012 (pseudo = at someone else’s house). As per usual for me, it took over a year for my period to come back. Aunt Flo (squickiest name ever?) found me again in August 2013. Of course, it was perhaps the most inopportune time possible. Isn’t that like a womanly law or something?
We were at a friend’s trailer at the lake. The closest store was probably at least half an hour away. I had no supplies (reusable or disposable) with me. I searched high and low in the cupboards, but nada. Ensue momentary horror, then a grit and determination to not succumb to panic.
I did what any respectable crunchy, hippie mama would do in such a circumstance: told the husband, “nah, I don’t wanna bother driving to a store”, and instead used a couple of our washcloths along with a couple of liners from my babe’s pocket diapers, and Macgyver’d it up, wrapping them around my underwear as makeshift pads.
Understatement of the century: they were not the most comfortable. Nevertheless – they were perfectly functional. I carefully rinsed them after each use and washed them out by hand with a bar of soap, then let them dry in the sun on the hood of our minivan. (P.S. Not a single stain: yeah baby!)
(Is it weird that this did not gross me out? Whatevs. I think women in our culture have been sadly disconnected from their bodies’ amazing functions and rhythms.)
While I was endlessly proud of my amazon woman prowess in taking care of things while out in the wilds of cottage country, I knew upon arriving home a few days later that it was most definitely time to build up my stash of good quality products. My only dilemma? Where to buy from! And that’s exactly where this post comes in.
Why Reusable Menstrual Supplies?
I wrote a post last year about my love for reusable menstrual supplies. I knew then that I needed to increase my stash with some high-quality additions if I wanted to easily get through my entire cycle without stress, so I began to research my options. Reusable products for this purpose have certainly risen in popularity in recent years, and there are tons of companies and shops making them.
The benefits of cloth pads + menstrual cups are undeniable. They are more frugal, more comfortable, way cuter, and totally healthier. With reusable menstrual supplies, you don’t have to worry about placing a rectangle of toxic chemicals and bleached materials like plastic, rayon, asbestos, and dioxins directly next to (or inside of, with tampons) your lady-parts.
Did you know that many of the ingredients in disposable menstrual products have been linked to terrible things like cancer and infertility issues? I hate that there are no regulations in place to prevent these companies from using toxic and poisonous materials. That’s probably the main reason why I now avoid them at all costs.
The chemicals used in disposable products also do increase cramping and bleeding, as I found out first-hand when I used a disposable pad once last fall before I received my new ones. The cramping just about knocked me down for the day – it was like early labour pains! I was blown away by the marked difference between my cramps while wearing those vs. wearing my cloth pads. I had always struggled with bad period cramping as a teen, even resorting to prescription pain relief from my doctor. Using cloth pads has made a noticeable difference for me.
Also, surprisingly (for me, anyway), they really and truly do work just as well (if not better) than disposable supplies. They actually are just as absorbent, which amazed me (more about that below).
If you’re not familiar, using them is simpler than you probably think. I used to throw them in with cloth diapers, but we haven’t used our cloth diapers in the last few months, so I’ve just rinsed them and hung them over the side of my regular laundry to wash whenever I do laundry next.
Which Companies I Chose to Review
I ended up receiving products from six different companies. I intentionally planned for a variety of items so that I could get a wide range of experience. I have a large variety in styles of pads, a menstrual cup, and a pair of “lunapanties” (described below).
The companies are a wide range of size with everything from one of the biggest eco-friendly period companies out there to a couple of small one-person Etsy shops, plus several medium-sized companies in between.
Main Review Factors
These were the key points I kept in mind while using the products:
Absorbency (How reliable are they for guarding against leaks? Do I have to worry about them leaking after a couple of hours? Do they absorb as much as a disposable pad? Can I wear them out of the house with confidence?)
Aesthetic (How do they look? Are they cute and fun? Do the patterns and colours prevent stains from showing? I do have one pad from before that is a beige cotton and it shows every last stain and spot. I’m definitely wanting something that helps prevent that, and look lovely at the same time.)
Materials (Are the materials synthetic or natural? Are they organic? Are they high-quality? Are there several layers? If there are snaps or other closures, do they seem to be high-quality enough to last for years of regular use?)
Price/Value (Is it a good price for what you get? If it’s a higher price than competitors, is it worth it? Is there something unique or special that makes them higher-valued? What is the most frugal option?)
Comfort (How do they feel while they’re being worn? Hopefully they don’t feel like you’re wearing a diaper, and you definitely don’t want a constant wedgie! It’s a tall order – but totally doable. Are they luxurious and comfortable to wear? Are they more comfortable than disposable products?)
And the Results Are In…
1. Orgo Pads
Edited to add: Since the initial writing of this post, it appears Orgo Pads has gone out of business! 🙁
What I Loved: These pads are so incredibly luxurious with their soft minky material next to your skin. I experienced zero leakage with these, even when I pushed the limits on how long I should wear them before changing to a new one (the joys of trying to find a spare moment to go pee while caring for little ones!) I also saw no staining, even on the lighter-coloured ones. They are one of the most affordable options, too.
What I Didn’t Love: The main drawback to these pads for me was that they were among the most bulky of the ones I tried. The daytime ones were fine and I wore them out of the house with no problem, but the nighttime pad is definitely on the bulkier side (personally – I like the thick nighttime pad because it made me feel more secure in knowing it wasn’t going to leak. And – it never, ever does!) To be honest, they are still among my favourites. The small bit of bulkiness doesn’t bother me at all, but that will obviously vary based on personal preference.
2. Mighty Nest
What I Loved: MightyNest sells both the Keeper cup and the Diva cup (both made by separate companies). They are very similar, but I chose to try the Keeper cup simply because it is made with rubber, which is a natural material, as opposed to silicone (as with the Diva). I love the ease of use: just insert and go on your merry way. If it’s in correctly, you won’t even feel it. I’ve even worn it 12+ hours before, and it was no biggie. Of course, that’s a huge no-no with a tampon due to risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Some people (like me) wear a thin pad in case of leaks. I love how it feels so much less… (there’s no other way to say it)… *damp* down there because the flow is collected inside of you instead of coming out onto a pad. It’s also pretty cool that it’s instantly reusable – just rinse it off (or wipe in a pinch – like in public bathrooms) and re-insert. It doesn’t even require a washing machine! It’s probably the most eco-friendly option of all.
What I Didn’t Love: I struggled to get the hang of getting it in correctly, even after many months of using it. I discussed this with a midwife friend of mine recently and she told me that 87% of women who have birthed a baby have some degree of prolapse, which can make the menstrual cups less effective. I do believe that is my issue. I had unpredictable and frequent leaking issues while wearing it, and struggled to get it in far enough. I think it was the fault of my anatomy, rather than the cup itself. It’s also possible that the rubber is a bit less pliable than the silicone (the Diva cup). I still like to use it because it cuts down on my pad usage, but I always wear it with a pad because it’s not reliable for me.
3. AG Creations
What I Loved: These were the first pads I received, and they were a pleasant surprise. When I first saw them, I figured they would probably work fine for a couple of hours, but then they’d likely leak all over the place and make a mess. With disposable pads there’s a plastic backing for leak insurance, and I just figured I’d miss that with cloth pads. As it turns out, these pads impressed me in a major way. Even when I wore one of these for a really long time and figured I had obviously leaked through, I hadn’t. I like to rinse my pads out before washing, and when I rinsed these ones out I was astounded at how long it took for the water to run clear again. They are total workhorses! They are also a great price, thin, and comfortable. These never fail me!
What I Didn’t Love: I have a little bit of staining showing on the lighter pads, which I’ll try to get out with the sun after we move to our new house and have a backyard. The ones with fleece material are showing signs of wear, but it doesn’t affect their effectiveness at all.
4. Domino Pads
What I Loved: These are totally among my top favourites! So soft and luxurious-feeling, and extremely high quality workmanship. They use an organic bamboo velour for the top layer, which feels amazing. They use a breathable, leak-resistant fleece instead of non-breathable PUL, and they are very fast-drying. Their website says that they are thin and feel just like underwear, and I would have to agree – these pads are perhaps the most comfortable ones I tried. Also – zero staining on these.
They also sent me a wet-bag to use, and I just have to say – this wet-bag totally blew my mind with awesomeness. It has a front pocket for your unused pads, and a lined main pocket for your used pads. How brilliant is that?! I use this every time I leave my house while on my period.
What I Didn’t Love: I wish the leak-resistant parts extended to the wings as well. On the occasions I have “over-worn” these (yes, it happens a lot when your house feels like a zoo, haha!) I have noticed that the wings have been near to leaking, while the middle section was solidly contained. I guess that would compromise on the comfort factor, though, so I guess they are best as-is? I can’t really complain about much of anything with these ones.
What I Loved: I surprised myself by loving the lunapanties. They are basically just a super comfy pair of undies, but with extra padding/layers in the crotch area. They are shockingly comfortable, and definitely don’t feel like diapers (as I figured they would). I love having the extra protection against leaks, and the fact that they are black means stains will never show. They are snug but not restrictive, which is exactly what you want on your period. You don’t want stuff shifting around too loose down there, but you also don’t want it to restrict breathability, either.
As for the pads themselves, they are wonderfully absorbent and the patterns are super cute. They are quite thin, and I didn’t always find myself *feeling* completely confident in their absorbency. That being said, however, I never had a leak while wearing them, so it might just be a matter of getting over that mentality in my own mind that thick/bulky = more protection, because I really have learned that that’s not necessarily the case!
What I Didn’t Love: The only drawback to the lunapanties is that they’re pretty pricey. If I was paying for my cloth pad stash myself and trying to go frugal I might not bother, but in my opinion, they are totally a luxury worth splurging on, if you can. I have nothing negative to say about the pads except that I don’t love using inserts/doublers, etc. It’s just a personal preference, but I just don’t want to have multiple pieces to keep tabs on – in the wash, etc. That’s not strictly necessary, but it is how they market them.
6. Eco Alternatives
What I Loved: First, I have to say that the patterns in this shop are my absolute favourite of any I’ve seen. They are totally adorable, and I’ll be honest: that little bit of happy that comes from a super-cute pattern on my cloth pads is actually worthwhile, especially for a visual and aesthetically-driven person like me. In addition to that fun factor, I have to say that again, I was so impressed with these pads made by a work-at-home mom with an Etsy shop. I think some people expect that handmade/Etsy products will be somehow inferior to “professionally-made” ones. This whole experience has shown me just how wrong that assumption really is, because these pads are incredibly well-made, perfectly absorbent (never a single leak), and completely comfortable.
What I Didn’t Love: They are supposed to be dryer safe, but the overnight pad did see a tiny bit of shrinkage and puckering on the seam lines when I threw it in the dryer. It’s not enough to affect functionality at all, though, so no big deal. I try to hang dry all of my pads, but sometimes one sneaks into the dryer from time to time. After using the double-pocket wet-bag from the other company, I didn’t wind up using this one as much (I did use it for my Keeper Cup, though, and it was great for that).
This is one of my most favourites posts I’ve ever had the pleasure of researching and writing. It’s hard to find anything to critique about any of these companies because every single one of them provided me with incredibly high-quality, beautiful products. My overall preferences are based on arbitrary personal things, rather than objective quality differences, and as such I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to you.
I hope that sharing my real-life experience with each of these companies’ products gives you a peek into what may be the best choice for you. Honestly, I expected that by comparing six different brands I would find at least a few that fell short of my standards and were obvious no-go’s. But I didn’t. I totally lucked out in receiving a full stash of products that I love and use every single month! I will never, ever use a disposable period product again in my lifetime if I can help it.
You might be wondering what the bottom line is. Which was my top favourite? Well, if I have to buy any more to build my stash at any point down the road, I would probably maintain an assortment of styles and brands. I literally just now went and scrolled through the above photos five times, trying to pick an ultimate favourite, but I just can’t. I loved them all for different reasons, for different stages of my cycle, and for different needs/flows.
Have you tried reusable menstrual supplies? Which kind is your fave?
Other Eco-Friendly topics you may enjoy:
I’ve been using cloth menstrual pads for a while now ? ?
I have designed a great pad and am looking for a place to sell and could use some ideas. They are made by women in central Mexico with no other economic opportunity. Organic top and absorbent layer make them super comfy and absorbent (USA made). A labia pad is the perfect addition for heavy periods and still use a nice small pad. We are Bela Femenina.
Lunapads is no longer Lunapads. They are now Aisle. They no longer have the cute color selections, only 3 per pad type. I’m super disappointed in their lack of selection.
Oh that’s a big bummer. I hope to do a big update of those post soon. I’m hopeful that the selection has increased over the years!
I have used a Divacup for about a decade. I am glad to know that after childbirth they can fit less well…I think I fall in that category. Also, at just under 4 weeks postpartum with my second, I have had days when I cut a piece of flannel to stick in my undies beacuse even “natural” pads are so irritating on my healing nether regions. Wish I had real ones!
I use the Pink Lemonade Shop cloth pads. I’ve been using cloth pads for about six months now. I don’t think I could go without wearing them now. I love the high quality of PLS cloth pads, the variety of fabric and all the pretty prints.
Ive noticed most reviewers never cover Party in my Pants. Ive found that they are my favorite pad company, thin, absorbent, comes in organic and regular cotton and fleece, breathable waterproof backing, and best of all, the adorable designs on the fabric itsself.
I Have endometriosis and my periods are hell. I wish they had these all my period life!!! Now my 13 year old daughter has endo and horrible periods already. Using the soft cloth pads is a god send, the only ray of light in what becomes a week in hell. And the colours always cheer me up. Winning this package would be amazing for these two period cringing women. Thanks
I cut out meat, dairy and mostly have a plant based diet and I now feel no pain at all during periods. It’s quite strange as now they start and I don’t get the breast pain, cramps etc so there’s little warning except for looking at the calendar. Maybe try it for a couple of months (if you haven’t already) and see if makes any difference.
I tried the diva 2 after I had a regular cycle and I had leaks because it didn’t sit right and cramps . Not only that I was to tender to use it on days1-3 out of 7. I made my own pads and love em! I just wish I had used a darker cotton flannel rather than a white one and made them longer because in so tall. It’s been a work in progress.
Cindy L kesbey
i have been very interested in these cotton pads for awhile but didn’t know which ones to get or try. I’m somewhat different for the use of them. i would like to try them for urinary incontinence. Would really love them to work because chemical and loaded with fragrance has got to go. Any info and i would love to hear it.
I love https://m.etsy.com/shop/MotherMoonPads! As a bonus for this Michigan momma, Mothermoonpads is also from Michigan!!
Thank you so much for the detailed reviews. I’m in the process of switching from disposables to more sustainable options. I’m now at the point of replacing pads and tampons so I think I will try your strategy of having multiple options to see which works best. At least, I won’t need to keep replacing them after a certain point.
I think I’ve purchased one cloth pad and it was made by Treehugger. I purchased this pad after making my own based off my favorite disposable pad. I just wanted to make sure my own pads were as good as commercial pads, and they are. If you aren’t confident with your sewing skills, there are plenty of free online tutorials. I’ve even seen some tutorials on how to hand sew pads.
I’ve made pads out of a combo of old pajamas, old bath towels, old flannel clothing, and old robes. I always use fleece on the bottom of the pads because it’s semi water proof. I’ve never had any leaks. The beauty of using washable pads is you can change them as often as you like.
I use homemade pads every cycle, especially at night but I really love my menstrual cups for daytime. I love (depending on flow) being able to go up to 12 hours without thinking about my period. Cups are a life changer! I’ve had to try a few cups to find my favorite cups. I haven’t used tampons or commercial pads in over five years and would never go back.
What a great writeup! I found this article via Pinterest.
Did you happen to check your cervix height before deciding on the keeper cup? Even people with a low cervix can use a cup, but it’s about finding the right length cup for what you’ve got to work with. It could have been that the cup simply hadn’t opened fully. Glad to find another blogger out there who blogs about Reusable Menstrual Products 🙂
Tamsin | Eco Fluffy Mama
I’m both excited and nervous about using cloth pads, I’m the first to use the in my family and friendship circle and I’d really love to win this pack.
My older girls and I made their pads. Now my younger girls are getting to that age great article and we’d love to win!
Thank you so much ! I’m 15 and new to the whole period business and I have found disposables to be irritating and cloth are wonderful… though I was wondering were to get more .. thanks for the time you took!
I love using cloth. I have really bad reactions to the disposables and won’t ever go back! I make all my own pads because I can’t afford the costs if sellers oads. One of these days I hope to be able to order some to try and compare to the ones I make. I use flannel, cotton, minky and pul. So much fun!
Do you have links to the shops you reviewed I’m struggling finding some of them
Hi Melissa, I’m so sorry, but it seems that a couple of the shops have closed their businesses since I wrote this post. I can, however, tell you that I’m still using and loving the pads 2+ years later. My favourite at this point would probably be the domino pads – they’ve stayed in amazing condition (and can even go in the dryer, though I typically hang dry), are super comfy, and have never once leaked for me. Here’s their site: http://www.dominopads.com/
I also use my sea sponge tampons every single month, and they are AMAZING. Here’s the post I wrote about them: https://redandhoney.com/sea-sponge-tampons-natural-effective-menstrual-care/
Hope that’s helpful! 🙂
Thanks so much for this article. I am just starting my journey with reusable supplies, so this has been really helpful for me. If only i saw this when the giveaway was happening!! I am in the UK so I am going to try and find a supplier that is here, also I might have a go at making my own! xx
I just wanted to put in my two-cents about why I am switching to reusable pads as well. Many of my reasons are similar as above. I’ve noticed more often than not, the disposable pads lead to chafing and drying of my lady bits – which lead to little tears that hurt and must heal the rest of the month (only to come back the following cycle). Along the same lines, I tend to use more toilet paper during my cycle to stay “clean” feeling, but the dryness and roughness of the paper only enhances the above problem. Reusable cloth pads help solve this problem. They are not rough – heck some of them, the minky kind, are suuuper soft and luxurious I hear! (Still saving up for a minky, but I know the fabric and would love to have that on my most sensitive parts!) I’ve done calculations for myself and have found that after three years, I will have a 100% savings just by using cloth pads – and mind you, that is a low-ball number. That sounds good to me and will only increase as the years go by! Also, the pads are beautiful. You’d think this doesn’t matter much, but it does. If you have to wear something twelve (or more) weeks out of the year for 30+ years, it might as well be beautiful, comfy, and bring a smile to your face! I’d much rather wear something with a lovely floral print or happy animals than an ugly bleached and chemically filled bunch of cotton.
I tried making my own pads, but that was an incredible flop, so now I’ve turned to buying from sellers on Etsy. I love this because I know I am supporting small, local businesses/families who care and provide excellent customer service. I also feel proud knowing I am contributing much less to the landfill problem. I read somewhere that it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. I’m sure that disposable pads take a similar rate. I hated wearing a disposable liner or full-on pad because I “thought” my cycle was starting and yet it didn’t – then I had to throw the pad away despite it not being used (I wouldn’t want to reuse it due to risk of UTI or other bacterial issues). Now I can just wear a cotton liner or pad and wash and reuse it the next day if my cycle doesn’t start when I expected. Overall, I am excited to continue my journey into ditching disposables. I have yet to ditch tampons yet… I know, I know, even worse than disposable pads as I am putting chemicals inside of me and there is not only a plastic wrapper but plastic applicator as well 🙁 I would love to try switching to a menstrual cup, but am nervous about paying $40 for a cup that I can’t insert/get to fit comfortably. I’ve tried the SoftCups, and they were a nightmare to insert and never fit right. One day I’ll make the switch though… when I have the money saved up!
Another note, before I end my novella, for those of you also dealing with tears and dryness, I’d suggest trying “family cloth” (cloth toilet paper). I had heard about it and my initial reaction was NO WAY! Yet after some intrigue and research, I’ve recently made the switch to using it (only for #1… can’t bring myself to using it for #2 yet). Let me tell you, it is nice! The cloth – you can wet it if you want to feel cleaner during your cycle – is much softer and gentler on my bits than scratchy toilet paper. I was also having asthma issues from the toilet paper dust particles and no longer have that problem since using cloth. Not using toilet paper will also save your sewer and pocketbook. If it’s yellow, I often let it mellow to save even more pennies (brown gets flushed down… I’m not thaaat frugal!) Just something to think about! I know this was a terribly long comment, but I just wanted to share my experience so that others doing their “research” could finally make the plunge into the reusable world 🙂
Google lichen sclerosus
I’m 27, sexually active, and have never been pregnant. This is like the 3rd or 4th cycle I have used my diva cup. I love that it is a natural option for what is usually a miserable week for me. I love that I don’t have to buy pads or tampons anymore. I DON’T love that I am still struggling with leaks on my heavier days. Today, I have already had to change it three times. This last time I just took it out completely and put on a pad. Ugh!! I have read about “finding my cervix” so, I’m gonna try that, but I am thinking I need to try the larger size. My question is, should I get another Diva, or should I try another brand? I want so desperately to make this work! Help!!