Everything you wanted to know about cloth pads (and then some)

Custom Mimi's Dreams Starter Package "The Mini"In high school, I didn’t daydream about being smarter or more popular. I daydreamed about being completely asexual: physical androgyny of the tall, elegant, sculpted variety. In short, I wanted to be an elf — with none of the inconveniences and embarrassments of being merely human and female. Let’s just say that I’m still not on good terms with my uterus, an utterly pointless expenditure of resources as far as I’m concerned. But if being physically insubstantial is the greenest way to go, it’s not one that’s available to me or to anyone else I know.

I’ve noticed that a lot of women who are otherwise interested in going green draw the line at reusable menstrual products, which seem to provoke a knee-jerk ‘eeew’ reaction. I get it.  It’s one thing to roll up a used pad and throw it away, and quite another to rinse it out and reuse it. Cloth pads require a certain lack of squeamishness. (It’s one of my theories that our alienation from our own bodies and resulting squeamishness are bad for the environment.) But speaking as someone who is still recovering from a serious case of squeam, I can also say that they’re better in a lot of ways than disposable pads. I wanted to address some of the common questions that come up about cloth pads in case you’ve been hesitating about trying them. These are my personal opinions; there are no affiliate links of any kind below.

Why quit disposable pads and tampons?
Take your pick: there are environmental, health, and financial reasons to choose reusable pads or menstrual cups. One source estimates that the average woman throws away 250-300 pounds of used menstrual products in her lifetime. Unless you buy organic cotton pads and tampons, they can contain pesticides, petrochemical products, and/or irritating synthetic chemicals. Tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome, which I was surprised to learn can be deadly even if you use tampons according to the instructions. (Learn more about TSS at you-are-loved.org.) And finally, there’s the cost factor. Even if you only spend $5 a month on pads or tampons, that’s $60 a year for approximately 35 years — $2,100 is a low estimate.

Which works better, cups or cloth pads?
I don’t know, since I haven’t tried the most popular cup, the Diva Cup. I find tampons uncomfortable, and disposable Instead cups give me mild cramps and a feeling of continuous pressure, so I opted for cloth pads. Cups are probably a better choice for athletes and anyone unwilling to rinse out cloth pads.

How many do I need?
It depends on how often you’re willing to do laundry. I’d say the minimum is probably three — one to wear, one in the wash, and one clean one to change into. Since cloth pads can take a while to dry, especially in a bathroom, having a few more is convenient. You can fold up one for your purse; no one will recognize that those small rectangles of fabric are pads.

Don’t cloth pads leak?
They can, but it takes some doing. Some companies offer cloth pads lined with waterproof fabric, but mine are just backed with water resistant polar fleece. I haven’t had significant leakage issues, and I rarely use anything heavier than the pantiliner.

Aren’t they bulkier than my ultra thins?
Yep. A little. Most cloth pads have terry cloth or flannel cores for absorbency, and they can be a little thicker than ultra thin disposables. I think mine are between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. But they don’t crinkle when you move and they don’t feel as hot or sticky as disposables. It’s a tradeoff.

How do I clean cloth pads?
I give mine a quick rinse in the sink and then stick them into a small container of cool water (changed daily, sometimes with soap or some hydrogen peroxide) until laundry day. Surprisingly, they don’t seem to stain much, if at all. If you’re especially non-squeamish, the soaking water — as long as there isn’t too much soap in it — can be used to fertilize your plants.

How high is the ick factor?
It’s really not that bad. I hate the iron-y smell of blood, so rinsing out cloth pads is a little unpleasant. But in the end, blood is just blood. We’re filled with the stuff. Deal with it.

How do I store used pads until I can soak them? 
Most cloth pads have snaps, so you can fold them up into tidy little rectangles (back side facing out!) and stick them in your purse until you get home. They might stain a little if you can’t get them in water for hours, but soap and hydrogen peroxide really do work wonders.

How long do cloth pads last?
Years? I’ve had mine for about a year, and they’ve held up beautifully through multiple washings, wringings, and even a dryer cycle or two when I needed them right away. I expect them to last several years more.

Where can I get them?
Some Whole Foods now carry GladRags (expensive by my standards), but the internet is still probably the best way to get cloth pads. Some other companies include Luna Pads and Party in my Pants. I haven’t tried too many brands because I got lucky with the ones I bought from Mimi’s Dreams on Etsy — they’re affordable, well made, and totally comfortable. Also, you can choose from lots of cute prints, and the shop owner Hope is a wonderful person to deal with. I totally recommend one of her $25 starter packs.

Can I make my own cloth pads instead?
Absolutely. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, they’re not difficult to make using cloth and old towels you have lying around. You can make a pattern using a disposable pad, or check out some of these patterns and ideas. I was going to offer you a tutorial, but my project got derailed by having a foster cat in the room with the sewing machine.

And that’s about it for the whole cloth pad experience. Not that scary, right? Have you tried cloth pads or menstrual cups? What do you think? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

92 responses to this post.

  1. I remember in college hearing about the Diva cup. I read a little bit into it, but never gave it much thought. When I’m not on my period, I tend to forget about it until it comes around again. But buying pads is expensive, and can definitely add up. Especially when you talk about having a heavier flow, so you need to change more often.

    And yes- my main deterrent from getting a Diva cup was the blood factor. Touching it and all that stuff. o.o;; But, it would be more environmental and only a one time cost, which is more economical. And then you just put it away when you’re done, and dump it like 1-2 a day. Which is emotionally rewarding as I’m frantic about messes. :/


    • Hi Tatiana,
      I’m also curious about the Diva cup…just not $40 curious. I’ve had friends who swear by it, though, so I’m thinking they’re on to something. I do think they’re likely to be less messy than cloth pads and possibly last longer (10 years?), but I kind of like my cute prints and soft fabric, and they’re working out fine for me.


  2. They’re much more comfy than disposable pads and have a much lower smell factor than disposables.

    Since I only go a few times a year, and will be ending any year now (I’ve been in peri for 8 years now) they weren’t very cost-effective for me, but they are SO much more comfy it was worth it to me.

    I don’t rinse or soak mine – I throw them in a little garbage pail with a lid and then wash them in very hot water with a powdered bleach product. Probably not so great for the environment, but since I do a whole period’s worth at once, I’m figuring oxyclean 3-4 times per year is probably a smaller footprint than the disposables. Never had a problem with staining, even though I let them sit for a week without rinsing or soaking, but one did get a bleached spot after I washed it, where the blood had been. I don’t like the bleached spot but it’s better than a stain spot, I guess.

    I’m a big girl, so I got the post-partum size. I found a company where I could order post-partum size (even longer than the sleep size) with the normal amount of absorbent stuff in it. I tried the regular size and they were a nightmare for me – always leaking at the front or the back, depending on body position and pad position.

    You can get or make a cute little bag with waterproof lining to put used ones in, in your purse. I’ve even seen a bag with two compartments – one for used, one for fresh. At the end of your moon, you can throw the bag in the wash with the pads.

    Even though I don’t bleed so often these days, so it cost much more for the cloth than it would have to just finish my days with disposables, I don’t regret getting the cloth pads.


    • Hi Sparrow,
      Lucky you — I’d like to be done with menstruating already, but I’ve probably got 20 years left. I’ve always been told to put blood stained things in cold water ASAP, but it certainly sounds like your method is working. Oxybleach isn’t horrible for the environment, unlike regular bleach. I add some to my laundry load to get out any remaining stains.

      I’ve thought about giving the postpartum pads as part of a baby shower gift, but always stop short because I don’t know whether the recipient is open to using cloth pads or not. (Not something that comes up in my conversations with other people!)


      • Posted by Brenda P on 04/24/2019 at 20:33

        Don’t be fooled by the end of menustration. Incontinance follows quite quickly. You’ll be glad to have the cloth pads then.


    • Oh, here’s where I got the double-sided bag I was talking about:

      (scroll down to the bottom half of the page.)

      I also got some Family Wipes from the same folks
      and I use them for a couple of things. I have a hand-held bidet and I use a Family Wipe to dry off after (softer and nicer than a regular washcloth.)

      Also, when I get out of the bath and am on my moon but am not ready to get dressed immediately, I tuck a Family Wipe between my legs to keep from making a mess while I sit and dry off and hang out.

      Some people use them as reusable toilet paper and I do when I go number one (spray water with the handheld bidet and dry off) but have not gotten so bold (or so green) as to use them for number two! Just using water and a Family Wipe for number one, however, has seriously cut down on my use of toilet paper and since I only go through the whole rigamarole for washing the bloody ones (the post-bidet ones are so clean I just wash them in my 7-gallon electric bucket with a little castile) I’m pretty sure they have a smaller footprint than toilet paper.


    • Just a quick update on my cleaning method. I was sorting through some laundry just now and discovered that I’d missed a pad. (Yeah, I know, gross. Sorry. I don’t know how it got from the usual place to the general laundry pile. I blame poltergeists. Or my husband. heh.)

      Two months, no soak. I did my usual: a scoop of oxyclean and a kettle of boiling water in my Wonder Washer (a 7-gallon bucket with an electric motor.) Filled the rest of the way with tap water, run for 15 minutes . . . totally clean. This time it didn’t even leave a bleach mark. Just spotlessly beautiful purple mushrooms.

      (This is still Sparrow. Just somehow switched which account is linked to the blog. Sorry for the sudden image change. That’s the WWI Victory Garden poster I use as a Facebook icon.)


  3. Maybe lucky . . . unlike you, I kind of wanted to have a child before my uterus closed shop. I’d have probably been a lousy parent, but having that option taken away from me so quickly (I’m ending peri far younger than most women are when they enter it) means I don’t really have a clear and simple “ah!” reaction…


    • 😦 Sorry. My comment was insensitive (it goes back to the whole not wanting sex specific organs thing). I hope you do find a way to have the experience of raising a child if you want it.


      • S’okay.

        As for raising a child — we’ll see. Right now I’m tending a dying man. When he’s done with that labor, I’ll probably want a rest and a lot of “me time.” By then, there’s a strong chance I’d be too old to adopt (you’d think with all those kids needing adoption they wouldn’t say someone in their 40s is too old, but it gets really difficult to get a child in middle age.) I got to help raise a step child for a few years, and loved her dearly, but it just wasn’t the same — I was always “an extra on that set.”

        With the slim-to-none chance of being a mommy, I’m working on focusing my energy toward what I can make of my life and future without a child and how to direct nurturing feelings toward someone or something else that needs me. (For now, I’ve got my hands full of that with my husband. When he’s gone, I’ll just have to see where the winds of change take me.)


        • Sparrow, I don’t know much about your life, but it sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time of it. I admire your courage to keep on keeping on.


        • There’s an alternative?


        • Posted by Sue on 09/20/2018 at 11:16

          Have you thought about fostering? We were foster parents for 10 years. We adopted our youngest daughter 1 1/2 years ago. We are 60 years old. There are many kids out there who need foster homes and too few foster parents to take them. Many of those foster kids end up needing new permanent homes and you would possibly have a chance to adopt one of them. Usually they are older so they are considered special needs kids. And many of them do have developmental delays or behavior issues. But it is amazing how much improvement you see once they have a stable home! We have four daughters now, ages 37, 35, 33, and 12!


  4. I’m a washable pads gal and have been using them for about 8 years now since my periods returned after feeding my daughter. I LOVE them.

    My horrible itching thrush has disappeared, I used to get a kind of ‘nappy rash’ when using disposable products which has gone and my flow is lighter – go figure!

    My first set of pads are just about still holding out, but are less absorbent now because we have hard water and I use a fast spin (because I don’t have a tumble dryer) so the material is just about worn down.

    But I’ve now got some bamboo ones and I’m getting on really well with those, although they stain unlike the hemp ones I’ve had for years – can’t figure that one out.

    I have a container that I fill with water and I soak the pads when I change them then chuck them in the washing machine. I don’t use anything in the container, just water and I wash them at 40 degrees with eco friendly bio liquid.

    I have to admit I nearly laughed out loud at your suggestion of a minimum of three – there is no way I could get by on that – for the first two days I’m wearing post partum size to cope with the flow and get through about 6 of them in 24 hours… So it really does depend on your flow. And yes, I use the soak water on the plants 😉

    I know the initial cost can be offputting, but my first batch cost about £80 / $160 and have lasted me 8 years – cost per wear must be next to nothing by now…


    • Hi Mrs Green,
      Eight years, wow! I sometimes just rinse mine out in the sink with soap and don’t bother with the washing machine — the fleece on the back goes a bit pilly if I use the machine. It’s probably good you don’t dry them, though. Whenever I use the dryer, I look at the lint and think, ‘Well, there goes the life expectancy of my clothing!”

      I can’t imagine going through six postpartum pads in a day. Whoa. On the two heaviest days of my cycle, I use about three pantiliners (one size up from the minis) and never soak through. I guess I get off easy.

      My cloth pads really didn’t cost that much. I first got a starter pack from Mimi’s Dreams with two minis, two pantiliners, two maxis, and one overnight for $25, and then I wanted some more minis and liners (I gave away the overnight and rarely use the maxis), so I got a second pack, the ‘light’ version with four minis and three liners, also $25. They’re not organic, but maybe Hope will start offering organic cotton choices soon.


      • Posted by Sarah on 09/06/2013 at 05:53

        I just discovered a company that makes organic cloth pads. Just used them for the first time this month, and I must say I like them better than my lunapads. they are so soft and thin. So far, no pilling. I still use both brands though! Here is a link: http://www.orethic.com/


  5. I use a lunette or fluercup for my periods. The diva cup is a bit long. Menstrual cups aren’t really one size fits all. I had to try diva cup and mooncup US first before finding that lunette/fluer/lady is best for me. There are many other cup options. The cheapest one I see is ladycup (which is my close 3rd choice in cup). i I go through times where I am mentrual cup only, cloth pad only, or a mixture of both. I have tons of cloth pads (I lose them plus I need to have backup because laundry isn’t done on time a lot).


  6. Hi Shannon,
    I didn’t know there were so many types of menstrual cups! I do find the higher cost a bit of a barrier to trying them. Cloth pads are cheaper — you can try one or two for under $10, so I found them more approachable. It’s interesting the way menstrual cups seem to be more acceptable in Europe (LadyCup and Lunette both seem to be European companies). Wonder why they aren’t catching on as quickly in the states?

    Out of curiosity, how do you lose a cloth pad? I’m also not great about doing laundry promptly, which is why I have enough to get through an entire cycle….possibly not all that green, but convenient.


  7. Thanks for writing about this -it’s not always a comfortable topic to cover.I have a Diva Cup sitting in my bathroom. It’s been there for months. I’m a little concerned that it’s made of plastic and I’m also afraid that it’ll get stuck! The directions warn about getting stuck. I like that the cloth pads are cloth! I really try not to use pads at all. I’ve switched to only organic cotton tampons-but they’re still disposable. I’ll have to give cloth pads a try.


    • Hi Lori,
      Yep…I’d be squirming if I had to talk about cloth pads in real life because I’m just not that enlightened. But it’s fine on the blog! I haven’t tried a Diva cup, but I’m pretty sure they’re made of super flexible medical grade silicon and that most of the complaints I’ve heard about them have been that the stem is too long — not that they get stuck! The thing I hate about trying cups is that if they don’t work, you’re out a significant chunk of money AND you can’t exactly give it away. I mean you could, but…yuck?

      If you’d like to try cloth pads, the minis would probably work great towards the end of your cycle when tampons become too drying. It might be one way to reduce the number of tampons you use.


    • Lori, I have a Keeper cup, it’s basically the same thing as a Diva cup except it’s made of all-natural rubber and is hypoallergenic. You may want to give that a try if you’re afraid of the plastic! I’ve been using my Keeper cup for a year now, and I love it! I’ve used it on and off, but at this point I wouldn’t go back to disposable pads.


    • Posted by Hollycliff on 03/22/2014 at 07:05

      The DivaCup actually isn’t plastic- it’s medical grade silicone, which is what all but the Keeper and Meluna cups on the market are made of. Medical grade silicone is the same stuff used in implants and catheters, and it’s 100% safe.

      If you’re worried about it getting stuck, don’t be. When you go to take it out, if you can’t reach it, try bearing down like you’re having a bowel movement, and if that fails, try a different position, like sitting on the toilet or squatting. Took me ages to get it out the first time, but now it just takes a few seconds 🙂


  8. Posted by Emily on 08/01/2011 at 13:02

    I have been using the Diva Cup for over a year and I highly recommend it. It is so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it. With some practice, it becomes easy to take in and out. It is impossible to get it stuck; you’re actually more likely to get a tampon stuck or lost than the Diva Cup stuck. Changing it is no more “icky” than changing a disposable pad or tampon. Please read my blog post about my positive experience with the Diva Cup:

    During the first heaviest days of my period, I like to wear a cloth pad as a back-up to the Diva Cup. When changed frequently, the Diva Cup is leak-proof. However, when I’m too busy to change the cup often or during the night, cloth pads have been very helpful. I soak mine soon after I’m done with it, which cleans it almost thoroughly. Then, I throw the pad into the washing machine and let it stay there until I run my next laundry load. The only embarassing, rather gross aspect of a cloth pad is the soak phase. If I’m busy or leave for the day or night, I’ll leave the pad to soak in a container in the shower. It can become stinky and my boyfriend complains about the smell and the fact that he has to see it. I’m not sure where else to hide it from him… With the Diva Cup on the other hand, my boyfriend never has to see or smell it. It is much more inconspicuous.


    • Hi Emily,
      I use a container with a lid to soak. 🙂 One of these days I’ll make myself a lidded ceramic one that is pretty as well as totally functional. I think adding some soap or baking soda and vinegar to the soak water could help with the odor. I haven’t had issues with mine except when the weather is really warm and I let them soak for days.

      Still haven’t tried the Diva Cup. I think I’m happy enough with cloth that I’d have to win one before I tried a cup!


  9. Posted by Emily on 08/01/2011 at 13:13

    Duh! A lid is a great solution, thanks! By the way, you were the one who turned me on to cloth pads a year or so ago; they really are a great product. Thanks for your advice.


  10. Posted by Jamie on 08/01/2011 at 15:45

    I began using cloth pads after having my first child. Cups are not an option postpartum and the sticky, bulky maxi pads that were needed were less than pleasant on my sensitive skin. I got a postpartum pack from Mimi’s Dreams on Etsy, and was very pleased with the results! The fleece is super soft, and breathable. I have been using them ever since. I usually don’t even rinse (because I do laundry every day) and have never had an issue with staining. I just toss them right into the washer on cold and add a little baking soda.


    • Hi Jamie,
      I love my Mimi’s Dreams cloth pads — Hope is awesome and her pads are really some of the most neatly and sturdily sewn ones I’ve seen. (And I was kind of psyched that I could get pirates, cats, and mermaids on mine…) I have pads by two other companies, but I use them only when I’ve run out of the good ones. One is kind of pokey, the other doesn’t have a moisture resistant layer…but Hope’s are just right.

      You’re making me reconsider giving cloth pads at baby showers. It might be a sneaky way to convince women to keep using reusables even after they’ve gotten past post partum bleeding. 😉


      • I think it’s a great gift idea! I have a friend who is preggers now, will totally consider the post partum pack as a shower gift!


        • I think Mimi’s Dreams might offer cloth nursing pads, too? It might be a nice set. If she’s science-y, you could get nerd fabric (Spoonflower has some awesome bacteria and fungi prints) and ask them to be made out of that. 🙂


      • I loved cloth pads postpartum, and Mimi’s Dreams are some of my favorites! I actually used them while pregnant as well, when I got a horrible bronchitis and kept coughing so hard I would wet my pants a bit–embarrassing, but it was great to have such a comfy, non-wasteful solution!


  11. Posted by Nikki on 08/01/2011 at 23:04

    This is a great post. I have been meaning to make the switch..but the cost makes me nervous to try it because as you said if it doesn’t work out you are out of a nice chunk of change!

    This topic leads me to wonder about contraception and what is the greenest, safest option in that arena. Maybe a future blog post?? 🙂


    • Hi Nikki,
      Apparently some companies have excellent return policies (see comment below), which is definitely a plus when it comes to this type of thing. Not Diva Cup, though — just checked out their FAQ, and unless the cup is defective, all sales are final. I’m starting to get the sense that cups are better for women who bleed a lot more than I do, so I might not bother.

      I’m sure I’ve read a number of articles on Slate and Grist talking about green contraception. IUDs came up favorably, pills can leach hormones into the environment, condoms get tossed (but take up little space). The final consensus: any form of effective contraception is more environmentally friendly than producing unwanted children. I am looking into non-surgical sterilization myself, but it’s not for anyone who might want kids later.


  12. Because you asked, I’m linking to an old post on my blog about menstrual cups. I’ve evangelized them amongst my friends group and I often answer questions about Diva on LiveJournal’s Menstrual Cups group – THE go to spot for Menstrual Cup help. Anyway, the linkie @ http://theinfamousj.livejournal.com/411933.html

    Diva Cups are silicone, not plastic.
    If you buy from the company, you can return with a full refund.
    I’m on year 8 with my cup.
    My cup has never been stuck.
    Cups and IUDs are friends.
    There is a learning curve (mine was three cycles), but once you get through it it is OH SO WORTH IT!!!

    I hope I pre-answered a lot of concerns from people who might be interested in menstrual cup use. I invite anyone with further concerns to read my entry as it links to other resources. I’m not tracked by anything nor do I get ad revenue, so I’m not trying to gain traffic or anything … just be helpful.



    • Thanks for the resource, Jai! I think Diva Cup’s return policy may have changed since you bought one, since they no longer offer returns unless a cup is defective. Boo. Maybe some of the other companies still accept returns. Right now, I’m less willing to invest in a cup since cloth pads work well for my light cycles, but they do sound like a terrific option for women who have heavier flows.


  13. Jennifer,
    Saw your tweet and spewed up some coffee. Thanks for that. You’ll get the bill in the mail for a new keyboard. ;P

    I am totally trying the Diva Cup. Washing cloth pads will run up some utility bills with my flow. That’s why I’ve been using the disposables because I am an open faucet for a week!!! I do use Seventh Generation when I can but cloth pads would make sense if they don’t leak or they can hold more.

    I’ve been eyeing the Diva Cup but haven’t acted on it yet. Thanks for the nudge. 🙂


    • Hi Karen,
      Hah! I’ll swap you a new keyboard if you send me some of those luscious caramels you were going on about! 🙂 I think I may have to buy some for my caramel-loving friend if I don’t win your giveaway.

      Glad you’re thinking about a Diva Cup. They do sound like the best choice for women with heavier periods. I haven’t done a comparison to see if cloth pads hold more or less liquid than disposables, but I’m guessing they’re about the same. I know Diva Cup does blog giveaways — you could email them and ask if they’d be willing to let you review and sponsor one! I thought about taking this approach and then wondered if I really needed a Diva Cup when cloth pads were perfectly adequate for me.


      • You know what’s interesting? My mom used cloth pads when we lived in Korea. Seeing these long cotton sheets (unbeknownst to me back then what they were since I was in elementary school) swaying in the clotheslines in our backyard was our natural landscape. Then, we came to the States and she immediately changed to the disposables. No clotheslines in our Brooklyn apt.

        So using cloth pads is no new concept, just not practical or too eco-friendly for my ‘state’. Anyway, Diva Cup sounds more painless, now that I’ve read some of the comments here.

        (nom nom nom) ;P


      • “I haven’t done a comparison to see if cloth pads hold more or less liquid than disposables, but I’m guessing they’re about the same.”

        When I first started with cloth pads, I bought three to see if I liked them. SO I was using cloth and disposable alternately because three were not enough to use all the time (After washing, I air dry all laundry on a rack in my bathroom. It takes 2 to 2.5 days for a cloth pad to air dry, depending on temperature and humidity in my home. Thus 3 pads are not enough for me.)

        I found that the same amount of flow would either require two regular cloth pads (one at night, a fresh one for the day) or four disposable maxi pads (one at night, three for the day.) In neither case was I bleeding enough to “fill them up” but rather I had to change the disposable pads more often because they got stinky and icky. For whatever reason(s), cloth pads don’t get stinky like disposables.

        So my own answer to your question is that it doesn’t really matter so much which holds more as which has to be changed more often.


  14. I bought a Diva Cup and tried it during my last period, which still surprises me, because when I first read about them I thought no way in hell am I ever trying that! Have I mentioned I hate change?

    I’ve always been a tampons girl, and am not a fan of pads. There is definitely a learning curve to using menstrual cups. The first night I got it in, but it hurt. The second day I had so many problems and it hurt so bad that I gave up for the rest of the day. And I’m going to have t0 disagree with an earlier comment and say it IS ickier to change than tampons. Way ickier. But you get over it and I felt cleaner overall using the cup. By the third day, something clicked and I finally got it in more easily (no more pain) and was able to tell when I inserted it correctly. I’m still not sure about having to change the thing in a public restroom, but other than that, switching seemed easy enough, and for the environmental and cost benefits, I think I’ll stick with it.

    If someone wants to try a cup, I advise not doing what I did, which was getting it in my head I had to try one RIGHT THAT MINUTE and buying it at Whole Paycheck. Check Amazon instead and you’ll save quite a bit!


  15. Hi Minhus,
    Uh, yeah. I’m not a fan of change either. I finally got seduced into trying cloth pads when I saw the fabric selection on Mimi’s Dreams (see, I like fabric) and realized I could get them with cats, pirates, owls, mermaids, and toadstools. And that was the point at which I got kind of excited. Silly? Yep, but it worked.

    I was thinking about this in the shower this morning, and I think it’s fair to say that both cloth pads and Diva Cup involve dealing with some ick — cloth pads when you go to wash them, Diva Cup when you put them in or take them out. As I mentioned, I’ve only tried the Instead cup, but pulling one of those things out almost always involves spillage. I think I’ll stop there with the description. 🙂

    Good tip about buying online. Whole Paycheck is rarely the cheapest place to get anything!


  16. Hi Jennifer, awesome topic. One that I’ve been thinking about writing for some time now. I have a Keeper cup as I mentioned above, it’s the all-natural rubber alternative to a Diva cup. They’re essentially the same thing. They hold a finite amount of liquid, so I wear reusable cloth pads with them. And it’s a perfect system! My pads have stained a bit as I’m not perfect with my upkeep, but honestly, who cares? No one is going to see them, and I have them for purely functional purposes. I like the pretty fabric designs, but my heart will not break if they are stained. I guess this may not be true for everyone, but the health benefits outweigh the squeamishness by all means. Thanks for writing this!


    • Thanks, Lynn! Good to hear an opinion about a natural cup. I think some people avoid the Keeper due to latex allergies, but that’s probably not a problem for most of us.

      My cloth pads are fairly dark, fairly busy prints. Some seem to wash better than others; it’s hard to tell since the patterns are dark to begin with! I do try to keep stains to a minimum, since I share a laundry line with the rest of the complex and am slightly self-conscious as it is! I find that Seventh Generation detergent with some added oxygen bleach gets most of it out.


  17. the pads by Party In My Pants are really thin and not bulky but have a waterproof layer on bottom. they’re great, and I’ve never had them leak.


    • Hi Mallory,
      I have one liner by Party in my Pants. I do like the thinness, but the waterproof layer makes it a bit stiffer, and it really only has the absorbency to be a pantiliner. (My Mimi’s Dreams minis have just enough to get me through most of my cycle.) I haven’t tried their other sizes/absorbencies, but I can imagine that the waterproof layer makes them perfect for women who tend to leak through other backings.


  18. Ha! I remember the first time I saw reusable cloth pads. I was thoroughly disgusted. It was just such a completely foreign idea. But once I got over the initial shock, cloth pads started to make a lot of sense to me. I still haven’t gotten around to trying them, but I really ought too. Can’t be any more “eww” than the poopy cloth diapers I’ve very, very, very accustomed to!


    • Hi Green Legume,
      I’m always amazed at how adaptable we really are. Having switched to cloth pads, I am now more open to the idea of wee cloths and composting toilets (yikes!), and who knows where it will go from there? I agree that cloth diapers are one heck of a way to lower your squeamishness factor! I’d love to know what you think of cloth pads when you get around to trying them.


      • I used a composting toilet for a year and I loved it. No stink. No flies. Don’t be afraid of composting toilets!


  19. I’m a happy Diva Cup user. It took a few cycles to get to know what to expect from it, and I still use pantyliners (disposable ones, sorry) as back-up on my heaviest days because I’m paranoid about leaks (never got over an embarrassing experience in my adolescence). This is going to sound really weird but I appreciate that using the cup means I’m more in touch, literally, with my body. I’m not saying I love the cramping and bloating that go along with my period, but it’s my period, and it’s my body, and this is what it does when I’m healthy and not pregnant. I think it’s important to remember that we have this natural cycle. The extra “work” involved with using the cup means I’m no longer squeamish about it, and that’s a good thing because I don’t want to be ashamed of my body and how it functions. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m glad I made this choice.


    • Hi Andrea,
      Good for you! I’m not there yet…might never reach that level of acceptance (rather than my ongoing exasperation with a completely useless and energy intensive reproductive system that I will never use). I resent the fact that my body will prioritize protecting reproductive organs above other things I consider more important. But there’s not much I can do about it.

      If you’re interested in trying cloth liners, I think Party in my Pants offers a free one ($4 with shipping) to anyone who hasn’t tried cloth before. Not that a few disposable pantiliners a month is going to ruin the planet.


    • Posted by Hannah on 09/11/2012 at 06:18

      I agree with Andrea that for me, the most positive personal aspect of using a cup (I have a Mooncup) was becoming accustomed to the messier aspects of my own body. Instead of treating my blood like an icky waste product to be thrown away with a stinky tampon, I just wash it away. I have more respect for my body and it’s processes, and menstruation is a renewing and cleansing monthly ritual, not a dirty chore.
      Second best- no stinky tampons or pads (I never used pads though). Never had leakage issues.

      Third best- I travel a lot. Sometimes my grasp of the local language isn’t that hot. The winter I spent in Morocco, the year in Peru, all those times I’m camping or couchsurfing or living on a boat…. one of those times was enough to convince me that I hate asking to buy or dispose of tampons. Asking for water is easy.

      I’ve had my Mooncup for years and I recommend it to any gal that asks. If the stem is too long, you trim it with scissors (never seen a Diva but it could be the same, ladies?). Definitely worth the initial change-over phase. The first coupla times you try to take it out, you WILL freak out that it’s stuck. And it’s a hundred times easier to get in if you run it under the tap first. Don’t worry, you’ll get it, and never look back.



  20. Hi. Here in Britain we have the MoonCup, which I have been using successfully for the last 6 or 7 years, I do back up with washable liners too. But I love it for so many reasons, saving money and the comfort issue being the top ones. I have children and animals and dealing with everything they offer me, abit of luna blood is nothing. There is a very, very long, funny and informative thread about all things reusable for your moon cycle on this forum.
    Keep up the good work.


  21. Thanks, Jackie! I guess the initial investment doesn’t seem so high when a cup can be expected to last for so many years. Sounds like you’ve developed a much higher ick tolerance than I have — the cat is essentially a self-cleaning model, and not having kids spares me from dealing with anyone else’s ick. 🙂

    Looking forward to checking out your link. Everyone has been so generous about contributing knowledge and resources. Thank you!


  22. I love your willingness to go into quirky topics. When I think of the petrochemicals, etc. in disposable pads, it makes me sick. I spent plenty of years using all the bad stuff. Now, I no longer need to use these items.

    Thanks for the excellent overview. I know many will benefit and be encouraged to give this a try.


  23. I dug in and did a lot of research–the Diva cup is floppy, and I didn’t want that. I went with a Luna cup, which is has a stiffer top ring and pops into place easier.

    The downside to cups is, sometimes you have to tug them around for proper fit/position–or it makes using the restroom of EITHER sort kinda weird feeling.

    Oh, and NOTE to anyone who is thinking of switching–DON’T CUT OFF THE STEM until you’re all the way through the cycle. Silly me didn’t realize how the cervix changed position throughout the days, and it’s a bit of a pain to get to it now that the stem is shorter.

    I think I’d prefer the cup to the pads–less mess, for sure! Quick rinse and it goes back in. Then, you boil it at the end of cycle. They’re reputed to last 20 years–definitely worth the $28 I spent on it. 🙂


    • Hi Jeanie,
      I didn’t know that about the different cups. I looked at the smaller Lunette cup after seeing the Diva in person and being intimidated by the diameter of that thing. I’d love it if there were a way to try out lots of cups before buying the one that worked best, but it’s such a personal product that there’s just no way that would be feasible.

      Thanks for the tip about the stem!


  24. Posted by Naomi on 08/04/2011 at 21:42

    I love the DivaCup. I was spending about $7/month on tampons before I bought mine for $36. It has now officially paid for itself and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s so simple to use (especially if you’re already familiar and comfortable with tampons). It’s comfortable. It’s just…man. It’s awesome.
    The cost factor is originally scary, I know, but consider how much money you spend a month on disposables. It’s only going to take a few months to recover the cost.
    The first time I used it, I did keep a couple cloth back-up liners on hand. Now I don’t need them; I simply know when to empty the cup. Ok. So, it’s totally some hippie bullshit, but this stupid thing has actually made me FAR more in tune with my body than I ever have been.


    • Hey Naomi,
      We are totally OK with hippie bullshit here. 🙂 Glad you’ve had a great experience with the Diva. I may try it at some point if my cycles get heavier or I become a champion athlete (hmm…).


  25. Posted by Wendy on 08/07/2011 at 17:07

    Thanks for this great blog post – I will share it with my readers. As as women’s health practitioner and also owner of Rad-Pads (cloth pads) I applaud your honesty and the initiative in taking your experience to the world. Women would benefit greatly from being more aware of each others experiences when it comes to menstruation products.

    We find that when women start using more health friendly, earth friendly products of all types they feel fantastic as well as save alot of money and minimise their waste.

    Keep up the great posts.


    • Thanks, Wendy. I don’t think I’d heard of Rad-Pads — as I said, I found cloth pads I was happy with and pretty much stopped there. You’re right that communication is important. Cloth pads are a subject I would never talk about in person (watch me squirm!), but that squeamishness probably keeps a lot of other people from getting their questions answered and from trying out greener methods.


  26. Posted by Hazel on 08/07/2011 at 23:56



  27. Thanks so much for commenting on my post (http://www.accidentallygreen.com/2011/08/i-may-be-green-but-im-not-that-green-no_17.html) and leaving your link … I love your blog! And based on your comment and post, I think I’m going to have to try cloth pads. I don’t like tampons either, and I just don’t think I’m ready to attempt a Diva Cup yet. Baby steps. 🙂


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  37. Posted by Sando on 06/16/2014 at 14:38

    Just ordered some with fleece on one side and printed cotton on the other. Which side goes where!?


  38. Hello there,

    I just wanted to share a new product we have developed. It is the first of its kind: a true, reusable, period panty. An eco-friendly alternative to pads, these period panties are completely lined with leak free material and have a built in “pad” made of super absorbent bamboo



  39. Thank you for such a great informative post; I’m still a bit on the fence about this but there’s no harm in trying!!! In the mean time I recommend you check out http://www.revenvert.com . They have beautiful design led clothing that focus on sustainable practice within the fashion industry , and I’m sure you’ll love it. Happy browsing 🙂


  40. Posted by Michelle on 07/10/2015 at 11:30

    I’d rather do laundry every few days, but of course I would know to rinse the pads in cold water soon after I change one. So how long do the pads typically last in a day? Like just changing 1-3 pads or what?


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  43. Posted by Danyel on 01/07/2016 at 14:00

    I was wondering if cloth pads or which cloth pads would be good for everyday use for urinary leaks. Ever sense I was pregnant with my son it’s almost a daily thing. I’m also using progesterone suppositories and would like to try a natural alternative.

    I love my menstral cup I got off amazon for $16 it took my a one to to get it figured out and I love it. I’ve even mastered the one hand dump and insert! I definitely feel it’s worth giving a try. I would like to find one with a slightly longer stem for my next one.


    • Posted by Mary on 05/25/2016 at 16:05

      Hi Danyel, my name is Mary and I own TLFshop on Etsy. I sell wingless cotton pads for incontinence and they are super light and comfortable. I also sell a variety of other kinds of pads with or without wings at an affordable price. I make custom orders and will do everything I can to make you the perfect pads! Check me out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TLFShop?ref=hdr_shop_menu.


  44. Posted by susan black on 07/02/2016 at 18:23

    I just ordered a 10 pk of 10 inch cloth pads for 16$ plus shipping. All together 21$. I ordered from wish the brand is ohbabyka. Just putting it out ere for someone without much money. I love the cloth pads. Wish I had switched sooner.


  45. Posted by Kaelen on 07/18/2016 at 23:05

    I just discovered cloth pads today! At first I didn’t know how they worked or how to sew them but I realized that since my flow isn’t that heavy (yet at least) that I would just cut out some the shape of regular pads. I used no padding either but I could also just stick a regular pad underneath if need be. They’re so much more comfortable to the touch than disposable pads! The way I made them is an easy and great option for people with light flow! Thanks for sharing.


  46. Posted by Kg on 09/23/2016 at 14:51

    I use disposable soft cups currently (which I love, but are $5 for 14 of them), but just ordered a starter pack with a luna cup woth a cloth pad and pantiliner. Super excited to try them out!


  47. Cloth pads are the bomb. I’ve always felt my period was kinda cool, so it wasn’t hard to make the switch. I think wounds are cool if you live to tell the tale, and blood isn’t gross when it comes from your nose or a cat scratch or anything else. There are so many pros to going cloth. Most noticeably, ))3 comfort, and itch-less-ness. You can get cool patterns. Dark fabric hides stains if they bother you. But I almost prefer to see the blood so I know what I’m working with. One less thing to buy at the store. More natural but not quite as hardcore as moss……..
    You can freeze your pads with a little water in them for postpartum relief if you feel extra sore or abused down there.

    It’s kind of fun to collect them, but then, as a minimalist, I keep only what I need. The patterns actually make me feel a smidge happy. Puts a little brightness into menstruation!


  48. Posted by Lou on 01/29/2017 at 08:25

    Coming late to the party but I thought I would put in my two cents. I tried a cup, it just didn’t work for me, it was uncomfortable, it didn’t fit properly, yada yada yada. But a few years ago my baby sister mentioned washable pads, and I haven’t looked back. They are comfortable, relatively cheap, I can use them while bushwalking, and the soak water can be used as garden fertiliser. Sure I still use tampons for when I’m swimming, but hey, you can’t have everything!


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