There are several reasons, such as environmental health, personal health, and economy.
Each year in North America alone it is estimated that 20 billion pads and tampons end up in
our sewage system. Pads take an estimated 500 years to decompose and most contain
plastics and dioxin. Producing cloth pads uses fewer natural resources than producing
disposable menstrual products. Cloth pads also do not clog sewage treatment machinery
and use of them reduces solid waste in the land fills.
Cloth pads contain fewer chemicals.
For those who are chemically sensitive or prefer to avoid
the chemicals, cloth pads offer an alternative. Use of cloth pads made of organic unbleached
cotton further reduces personal and environmental chemical exposure.
Cloth pads are comfortable.
Many women say that cotton flannel makes the most comfortable and softest menstrual pad.
Cloth pads are economical.
The initial expense is greater, but considering that the cloth pads
may easily last 5 or more years, the long term cost is less.
Using cloth menstrual pads is a wonderful way to honor and respect yourself, your cycle,
and the Earth.
Many women buy them for their daughters as a healthy way to welcome them
into their womanhood.
Why use unbleached or organic cotton fabric? What is color grown cotton?
While switching to cloth menstrual pads reduces the amount of chemicals you are exposed
to, there are still chemicals used in the growing of cotton and production of cloth.
Unbleached cotton is cotton that has not gone through a chlorine or chlorine-compound
bleaching process. Instead hydrogen peroxide may be used for a ‘whitening’ process, and
the fabric produced appears more ‘off-white’ than the ‘whiter than white’ that menstrual
product manufacturers want us to believe means is sterile/clean. Organic cotton is cotton
that is grown using no chemicals. Not all cotton grows white or off-white;
some of it grows more green or brown. Color grown cotton is cotton that has been allowed
to remain its naturally grown color, without bleaching or dyeing it.
Are cloth pads difficult to care for?
You can either rinse your soiled pads immediately or store them in an air-tight plastic bag
until rinsing. Then soak them in cold water until you are ready to wash them, preferably
washing with a natural laundry soap. If there is staining, consider using an oxygen-based
bleach such as Oxy-Boost, and line drying in the sun. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and
While it may take slightly longer to care for your washable cotton pads than to use
disposable products, you can choose to think of it as giving yourself a gift. A gift of slowing
down and living deliberately in a world already so full of moving fast and mindless modern
conveniences. A gift of recognizing that menstruation is normal and healthy and not
something to be embarrassed about or to pretend it doesn’t happen to you. A gift of taking
responsibility for your health and the environmental concerns that affect us all.
Lisa Armstrong runs Feminine Options
who seek to offer women a healthy and economic alternative to single-use menstrual products. They believe that in addition to the positive effect using washable menstrual pads has economically and environmentally, there can be a holistic positive effect on women as they learn to trust and reconnect with their bodies and look at conventionally-held menstrual taboos in another light.