(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.