For the ladies: alternatives to disposable menstrual products

I use to spend a lot of time on Craftster. I would go through pages and pages of sewing tutorials, decor revamps, and clothing reconstructions. One day I came across a highly popular sewing project on cotton menstrual pads. Currently there is 70+ pages of comments. When I first read the post I thought it was pretty innovative. Never in my small world had I even considered any alternatives to the norm. Everyone else I told thought it was gross, but the idea still stuck with me. I felt I couldn’t do them myself though, because I was in college and my roommates probably wouldn’t appreciate me soaking them in the sink.

After I got married I finally revisited the idea of cloth pads. I’ve been making and wearing my own cloth pads for some time now and I would never go back.

Why use cloth pads?
You greatly decrease waste – you are no longer throwing away stacks of pads every month.
You save money – you aren’t buying pads every month. You can make or purchase a set of cotton pads and they will last you for at least a year.
You feel better – say goodbye to that awful plastic diaper feeling. Those with sensitivities to normal pads don’t have to worry about rashes or irritants when using cotton pads.
It can be fun – I like making pads, and it’s fun to be able to pick out fabrics.

You can buy or make pads in varying degrees of thickness and absorbancy. You can soak them before you throw them in your washer with a load of towels, but you don’t have to. I’ve thrown them in a load of colored clothing without presoaking and they were fine. Besides, stains aren’t really an issue.

There are lots of cloth diaper moms out there – you don’t want plastic on your child, why would you want it for yourself?

Here are some tutorials on how to make your own or where to buy:
Cloth pads with inserts
Easy, one piece pads
Another tutorial for insert-type pads
Various patterns and places to buy
Buy them on Etsy or see how others sew them

How I make my own:

This is an easier method than the insert pads. They don’t look quite as nice, but they are quick and easy to make. I cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a winged pad that I (use to) prefer. Fleece doesn’t fray, so no need to worry about hemming the edges.

It's kind of wonky, but it works. You can do better though!

I then cut a center piece of cotton or flannel, a scrap piece of towel or terry cloth, or layers of diaper cloth in the shape of a panty liner – the shape of the inside of your pad base minus the wings. 1 layer of towel or terry cloth and 2-3 layers of diaper cloth is usually works well. Flannel is more water-resistant and leak proof, but with the absorbent center and the fleece, the cotton works fine as well. For light days, the fleece bottom and a cotton or flannel top would suffice. Wash and dry your cotton or flannel before you use it.

Pin the layers to the fleece base and sew around the material with a tight zig-zag stitch around the edges to ensure layers are sewed on and to prevent fabric from fraying.

After layers have been stiched on and fleece has been trimmed.

Next, sew snaps onto wings. Try on pad to ensure snaps will be placed in the right spots where wings are not to tight or too lose around underwear.

A sewn snap pictured on an older pad

You’re done! Enjoy!

Other tips:
I prefer light colored fabric because I like to know how heavy or light my flow is
Self-adhesive velcro circles are really easy to use for pad wings, but the velcro will more than likely scratch the inside of your thighs. I have sewn little snaps instead.

Not a pad type of gal? There are reusable menstrual items for you too.

The Diva Cup comes in two sizes - the larger size for post-partum

Lots of people prefer tampons to pads. There are homemade tampon instructions out there, but I haven’t tested any of them or know anyone who has tried it out (one such thing involves rolled up baby socks…).

In addition to the cloth pads, I use a menstrual cup. There are two popular menstrual cups on the market (probably not the only ones, though):  Diva Cup or Moon Cup from the UK. These cups are made with medical grade silicone and can be boiled for a deep clean. The cups are malleable and hold about an ounce or so of liquid.Both websites have a lot of information and testimonials.

Just like reusable pads, you decrease waste and save money. You also do not have to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome. You can safely wear it to bed as well. Plus you can wear that cup no matter if you are having a heavy or a light day. Some people even use cups when they are trying to conceive. They are easy to clean too.

Whether you are a pad or tampon type of girl, there are multiple reusable options for your period. Look online for what might work for you. Save money, reduce waste, and feel better.



3 thoughts on “For the ladies: alternatives to disposable menstrual products

  1. I’ve been thinking about making my own cloth pantiliners for awhile now. I have so much leftover fabric that it wouldn’t cost me anything to do it. Thanks for the links.

  2. i haven’t set time aside to make pads yet but i have a couple that a “make at home mom” made and i love them. i really do needs a couple more. my diva cup is exactly what i have needed my whole life. i tell everyone about it 🙂

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