Well Being

I Just Can’t Get Behind Reusable Menstrual Pads

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With the DIY movement going strong, crafty women have started making just about everything themselves, which delights my green, tree-hugging heart. But it's time I came clean on the sustainable something I just can't do. I admit it: I'm the worst body-positive, eco-friendly-living-espousing feminist of all time. Because, despite my best efforts, I cannot make myself be OK with reusable menstrual pads.

Reusable menstrual pads should be right up my proverbial alley. Less waste! More body-positive because they don't contribute to the period-shaming that most major manufacturers of feminine hygiene products do! Not made of plastics and other unsustainable materials! And yet, in practice, I've found that cloth pads are less reliable, hard to really get clean, and more than a little embarrassing to wash in a communal laundry situation.

I'm not coming at this without experience. I own exactly one cloth pad, which I received as a free gift from New Moon magazine when I was a pubescent hippie living in Eugene, OR and listening to a lot of Ani DiFranco. And from time to time, I have busted the old thing out (it has a really sweet little pattern on it and looks very friendly) and given it a whirl. And every time I have been disappointed and skeeved out and generally had a terrible time of it. It feels like walking through town with a rolled up yoga mat between your legs, and is about as effective at doing what it is supposed to do.

One of my chief concerns with The Little Pad That Couldn't was that one of the things it couldn't seem to do was actually get clean. Sure, it went through the washer and I even pre-treated it with green stain remover and soaked it in cold water. And yet, it has become repairably marred, and I always have a sneaking suspicion that it may be harboring bacteria dangerously close to my most precious of regions.

I've read up on other kinds, like the LunaPad, which features multiple pieces for easier cleaning and more effective use, but I'm still not entirely sold on the idea of having to take my soiled rags down to the laundry room of my apartment building along with the rest of my clothing. And because I'm on a limited laundry budget (i.e., I rarely have the $6 in quarters it takes to run multiple loads), I'd have to either hand wash every one (which I'm not super comfortable with–even though, I'm aware, it's my own body, but still), or throw them in with the rest of my clothing and hope that the janky old washers we have here will do the trick.

Am I missing something? Is there some big secret to washing and using cloth pads that makes them both effective and awesome? I'm pretty sure my misgivings don't stem from user error, but I'm always willing to give something another try. So go ahead. Suggest a brand to me. Maybe, maybe there's still some room for these to grow on me.

Are you a user of cloth pads? Do you have any sage words to help me get over it and give them another try? Let me know in the comments.

Image: Moon Pads