Women’s Health Series: Cloth Pads

When I heard about cloth pads I was pretty squicked – who really wants to deal with that? Ew, right? I’ve heard about them for years, some of my friends use them, and I have been told time and time again that I needed to change over to cloth.

As always, click the jump to read the rest of the article. Nothing explicit or gross, just wanting to cut this for uninterested readers.

I put off trying cloth pads for a long time. My periods were never heavy – it just made more sense to buy a 100 pack of liners and be on my way. But, as a lark, I decided to make a few cloth pads and try them. A couple health reasons helped push me over the edge here, too.


There are a huge variety of fabrics you can use for making cloth pads – flannel, fleece, cotton, hemp, etc. But I decided to try good ol’ flannel, because it is soft and they have cute prints. I bought 2 half yard pieces – so a yard of flannel, and it was $3 total, and a pack of twelve snaps, which were $1.22. I printed out a few patterns online and dug out my sewing machine.

I tried three different patterns, and I was able to cut NINE pads out of this. This comes out to 47 cents per pad! On most pads I used two inner layers for absorbency, but on a few I used three or four for heavier days. I used three different patterns to try them out, but if I was only using one I could have probably gotten more out of the fabric I had.

Fabric and patterns laid out

I am really, really impressed with them, and they are very comfortable – you can’t even tell that they are there. And there is something about not having to be reliant on a disposable product, and using something that I made, with my two hands, to take care of myself. Plus, I feel like I’m screwing over “the man”, because pads are expensive as holy hell! These are a one time cost, and a pretty low cost at that – and the product I am getting is so, so much better than the plastic-y disposable pads.

I started with this page, which has a good amount of links and info concerning cloth pads. I used the 11 inch pad and pantyliner pattern from this page, and I also made a few of these – they are the simplest to sew, and the most economical for fabric use.

There are also two very good communities on LiveJournal that you can get information out of: DIYPads and Clothpads. Make sure to check the memories in each community – there is a *lot* of info dealing with washing, construction, use, storage, etc.

I have had a lot of questions concerning washing the pads – especially since I don’t have dependable access to a washer and dryer. I plan on handwashing them, using hot water and a scent and dye free soap. The blood issue *does* squick me out a bit still, but I know that I will get used to it over time. Plus, the benefits of cloth pads far outweighs me going “ew ew ew” for a few seconds, and if you take care of them quickly, the staining is minimal (or none at all). I typically get to a laundromat or other laundry facility once every few weeks – that’s enough to get them a good, hot wash. And (as you quickly learn when you don’t have access to laundry) I plan on making a large number of these to get me through the no-washer times. Plus, they are fun to make. Quick to sew, but fun fabrics, and you will actually use them!


Here are a few of the pads I made today. As you can see, they don’t have to be perfect.


This is a pad folded and snapped closed – so easy to throw in my purse!

And as to that “What will you do if you go out?” question I am bound to get – I plan to make a small bag, possibly out of a water-resistant fabric. Used ones will go in there and get washed when I can get to it. Also, the chance of leakage with these are very, very low, so I am not over-concerned with that.

I am really happy that I decided to make the leap to cloth pads, I wonder how I messed with the disposable ones this entire time! If there is anything I’ve left out that you’d like to know, or anything I can help my readers with – please let me know! Making the change to cloth is a lot easier than it sounds – and it’s healthier for the body, and saves a lot of money!

Also – flannel is on sale at JoAnn Fabrics for $2.49 a yard till February 21st! It would be a great time to stock up, it’s usually $5.98 a yard.


6 Responses to “Women’s Health Series: Cloth Pads”

  1. February 12, 2009 at 6:11 am

    thanks so much for this entry! i’ve been considering cloth pads for awhile now, because i’m really tired of paying for this stuff every stinkin’ month. park+vine (downtown) actually sells them, which route i think i’ll take since i am domestically inept and don’t own a sewing machine.

    but i’m glad to hear your success with this, knowing that others are trying it and loving it is encouraging. 🙂

  2. 2 lucia
    February 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I love the idea of cloth pads. I actually use a reusable silicone cup, which I love as much as you can love a feminine hygiene item. If you haven’t already been here: http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups/ it’s a great place to find out more about non-disposable menstrual items. According to this: http://www.keeper.com/facts.html women spend about $400 in ten years on disposable items and every year, 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons pollute landfills. YUCK!

  3. 3 Jessica
    February 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the links. Since I have heavy periods, I’m looking into the ones with waterproof back layers and absorbant cores. The livejournal communities were very helpful. Maybe eventually I will get brave enough to make my own, but for now I’m looking into the recommended makers on the cloth pads community.

  4. 4 dara
    March 4, 2009 at 3:28 am

    I’m with lucia on this one. I’m a menstrual cup user as well. And the Keeper and Keeper Mooncup are manufactured in Cincinnati! There is also lots of great information at http://www.menstrualcups.org

  5. 5 Laura
    March 21, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Do you know about clothpads.net? You can deposit unused or gently used pads (yours look great, so you could totally deposit some) and withdraw others, giving you the opportunity to try different ones pretty much for free! I’ve been “working” as a data entry person there and have gotten one pad already with no cost to me! You should check it out. 🙂

  6. 6 Laura
    March 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    okay, duh, it’s clothbank.net. sorry. 🙂

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An always interesting but sometimes random blog of a 20-something just trying to save money in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am also a wanna-be foodie on a budget.

Likes: cats, pink alcoholic drinks, my KitchenAid mixer, knitting.
Dislikes: Our health care system, celery.

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About Me

An always interesting but sometimes foul-mouthed blog of a 20-something just trying to save money in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Likes: cats, pink alcoholic drinks, my KitchenAid mixer, knitting.
Dislikes: Our health care system, celery.

Social Networking Thingies

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