Disposable period pads are part of my routine. I’m way too used to them. Pads are just easy, you know? You use them, you bin them. End of story. But the amount of waste I produce from one period cycle is a thought that has been niggling at my brain for a while now. I just feel super guilty, especially when I think about just how many pads I go through a week. So because cutting down on personal waste is my current vibe, I thought I’d give reusable pads a red hot go.
According to a 2017 report by the ABC, women in Australia use around 10,000 to 12,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime. Pads, according to reports, take 500-800 years to decompose in landfills. I… didn’t know this. I knew pads were bad for the environment, but I didn’t know they were that bad. So I started doing some research into alternatives, which brought me to Australian natural and beauty website Nourished Life. If you’re not familiar with the group, Nourished Life stock a slew of vegan and 100 per cent cruelty free brands. So I got in touch with the team and they recommended Hannahpad’s reusable cotton pads and Modibodi period undies (pretty much reusable underwear with built in pads), and sent over some samples.
Full disclosure: I didn’t just go cold turkey and change to reusable cotton pads. I subbed in a couple of reusable ones over the disposables. I’m the type of person to freak out over change, so I have to do things slowly.
Also, the period undies really just look like black undies, so I’m going to skip pics of those. Instead, here are the pads.
On your left is the hannahpad in medium and on the right is the ultra pad for overnight use.
The pads, made of certified organic cotton, last a good two to three years or longer depending on your personal use. The pads go pattern down over the inside of your underwear, then you use the buttons on the wings to fasten it around the crotch bit of your undies. So instead of stick-on wings, you have buttons. It’s barely a change. You can suss out a whole number of FAQs right here.
So I used this on day 3 of my period, which is when things start to get heavy. The pad is quite thick, so you’re definitely going to feel it. But in saying that, it wasn’t uncomfortable in the slightest and I didn’t get any chafing. It also comes with these little silicone dots on the pattern side, to keep the pads securely in place. The Extra Grip layer is only available in the pantyliner, small, and medium sizes.
Now I know what you’re thinking, how did the washing go? Honestly, not that bad. I just followed the instructions. When it comes to intimates, I prefer to hand wash. So I did what the instructions said: I rinsed the pad under cold water to remove discharge, I chucked a whole heap of laundry detergent on top, soaked it overnight, then I hand washed it – concentrating on the cotton side – and then I hung it outside to dry. You can skip the hand-washing step and put it in the machine instead. The machine will cut down this process by heaps. You do you.
IMPORTANT: Absolutely do not bleach, dry clean, machine dry, or use fabric softener. It’ll just ruin the pads.
And please do not do what I did and automatically rip the pad out of your undies because you’re used to the adhesive wings. You have buttons now. Do not rip the buttons.
Hannahpad’s overnight pad is big. I used it going into day 4 of my period (so much blood) and there wasn’t a single leak. This baby has ultimate coverage, which is perfect for me because I am incapable of sleeping in one position and move around constantly. There have been moments in the past where I’ve had to pad my entire butt because the overnight pads I bought just didn’t have the coverage I was looking for. It’s a struggle. But anyway, hannahpad‘s ultra reusable cotton pads are very good. They also stock the Super Ultra Pad which is even bigger.
I LOVE MY PERIOD UNDIES. I’m straight up embarrassed I didn’t Google the undies earlier because it is a game changer. I tested the light/moderate absorbency period undies on day 1 of my period, when my flow is at its lightest / I don’t know when it’s going to hit. ‘Cos otherwise I can go through a handful of those thin mini pads for nothing.
I would attach a pic, but it is literally just undies with three layers of padding in the crotch area. The first layer quickly absorbs the fluid, the second holds it down, and the third is extra waterproof protection. Modibodi uses a blend of natural and breathable fabrics like bamboo, merino perform wool, and microfiber.
According to Modibodi, the undies with moderate absorbency can hold up to 10 millimetres of blood, which equates to 2 tampons or 2 teaspoons. Like the pads, you can either cold wash or machine wash (in a delicates bag if you have one). Again, don’t use fabric softener. Fabric softener bad.
This has absolutely become an essay.
In conclusion, reusable cotton pads are bloody doable. I wish I had something more dramatic to say but going from disposable pads to reusable pads was a lot less work than I expected it to be. I think it’s because I was comparing washing my sheets – when blood stains it – to washing much smaller pads. An extremely dumb comparison, now that I think about it. At the very most, I spent some time I usually use scrolling through my phone at night soaking pads. And to be honest, I’m not mad about it. Disposable pads are undoubtedly easier, but just subbing in three reusable items cut down on three pieces of personal waste for me. And that’s a start.