I seriously feel like I could go on for days and days about how amazing cloth pads are, but I won’t. If you’d like to hear me ramble some more, please contact me – I’d love to chat about them! The short version, though…
Benefits and Downsides
I honestly feel the downsides are minimal and are virtually insignificant compared to the benefits, but everyone is different. Cloth pads do cost more up front than disposables, but they save TONS of money over time. My smaller (but workable) stash paid for itself in less than 4 months, and I am factoring in full price.
Another consideration is laundry, as they will be something else that needs to be washed, however they can be easily washed with other laundry (and there are details in the washing section below).
For benefits, they’re cheaper, can be customized to suit you perfectly, can be washed with other clothes (so very little extra work cleaning), they’re really comfy and adorable or trendy or whatever look you’re going for. And these are just the superficial benefits off the top of my head. I didn’t even go into environmental benefits, or how some people (myself included) are actually allergic to disposable menstrual products, but don’t even realize it because it’s the only method they’ve ever known.
Prepping new pads
If they’re made with bamboo (and all mine are), they should be washed approx. 5 times before they will reach max. absorbency. If they’re used before they’re fully prepped then they won’t absorb as quickly or effectively, but they will still function (you’ll just need to change them a bit sooner). For prepping, they can be washed with normal loads you’re already doing.
If you’re impatient (like I am) and want to use them right away, I would definitely recommend washing once as this will partially prep them, then just keep an extra close eye on when they need to be changed.
This depends on your washer, detergent, water, and personal biology. I’d start by washing normally with regular laundry and see how it goes. If this isn’t quite enough, you could try a heavier wash cycle, or a quick prewash with a small amount of detergent before adding your other laundry. Staining can be avoided by rinsing immediately, and/or washing frequently (within 48 hours), but they will come clean even if you don’t rinse and wait a few days. Hot water is a toss up. Some people find it cleans more effectively, but it also tends to set stains. Definitely avoid fabric softeners like the plague though as they can negatively affect absorbency.
If you have any questions at all, whether about my pads or reusable menstrual products in general, please don’t hesitate to let me know because I’m happy to answer what I can, whether in the comments below, or more privately – you can find all my contact info here. This isn’t a topic we tend to talk about easily, so if you’d rather not talk publicly, believe me, I completely understand.