Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She is also a fitness enthusiast who enjoys yoga, and has an interest in health and wellness.
Why Would Anyone Want Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads? YUCK!
I know the idea of reusable cloth pads might be strange to most women in the modern world. Isn’t using cloth a step backward? We have disposables that don’t need to be washed now!
I’m no stranger to the idea of reusable menstrual products. I’ve used the DivaCup for close to a decade. I made the switch to a menstrual cup from tampons primarily because of my hatred for tampons, and my hatred of using pads on their own, rather than for any health or environmental reasons. While I’ve had much, much better luck in using menstrual cups than tampons, I still prefer to have a pad as a backup on the heaviest days.
When I first heard of reusable cloth pads, I immediately discounted them as something I would never be interested in trying. They seemed like something only the most hardcore, crunchiest of hippy types would ever want to use. I had no interest in having extra laundry to deal with, and the idea of having to wash something like that sounded gross, even though I had no problem with cleaning my DivaCup (emptying and cleaning a cup still didn’t seem as gross as dealing with a tampon to me, though I know some women would disagree). I knew that disposable menstrual products were bad for the environment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to switch to cloth pads yet. Yes, disposable pads are piling up in landfills by the millions, but what can you do? I hate doing laundry.
Eventually, I started reading about the health issues associated with disposable pads and tampons. These products are unregulated and are filled with all kinds of harmful, carcinogenic chemicals, such as dioxins, which can cause ovarian cancer. I immediately switched to more natural brands of disposable pads, still unwilling to give cloth pads a try. After close to a year of trying different, more natural brands, I still hadn’t found one I was completely happy with. The natural brands were still just as uncomfortable as the traditional brands, and they still don’t break down in the landfill anyway. That’s when I started looking into cloth pads. After comparing several brands, I settled on Party in My Pants pads because they had good reviews, cute patterns, and most importantly, offered a free sample pad for just the cost of shipping. They are also made in America, which is always a huge plus.
First Impression of Party in My Pants Pads
I received my free sample from Party in My Pants just in time to be able to try it out right away. The free samples are pantyliners in your choice of several different sizes and cotton or flannel fabric. I opted for a flannel “luxe liner” and received it in a cute red with black polka dots pattern, which I later found out is called “ladybug.” My first impression upon opening the package was that it is very high-quality and felt way nicer than the disposable alternatives. These pads seemed, dare I say it, stylish!
Upon trying it out, I was blown away by how comfortable it was. After using disposable pads for so long, it was a little weird because it didn’t even feel like I had a pad on. It’s like wearing nothing at all! (Nothing at all… nothing at all…) Within a half-hour or so of using it, I immediately placed an order for a few more Party in my Pants pads and liners in various sizes so I’d be ready to go entirely reusable the next month. I ordered six limited-edition Halloween designs for my first order. My favorite is Dracula. It still makes me laugh every time I see it.
Since my first order, I’ve expanded my collection of Party in My Pants Pads (or PiMPs, as they are playfully referred to on their website) to make sure I don’t run out before doing laundry. I’ve found that my favorite size is the luxe liner that I got as my freebie, so the majority of my collection is in this size. I have some in cotton and some in flannel. The flannel ones are nice and soft, and perfect for cold days, but probably won’t be as nice on warmer days. They also offer organic cotton options at an extra cost if that is something you care about.
Aside from Dracula, my favorite designs that I have are the ones that are “punny” or seem inspired by double entendres. I have one featuring the periodic table of elements, one with beavers, one with mustaches, and several featuring cats! I also have a couple different unicorn designs, because sometimes you want to feel magical, instead of just crampy and bloated. This company definitely seems to be targeting a different, younger demographic of women than some of the other cloth pad companies, which usually refer to their products as “mama cloth” (eww). While cloth pads as a whole tend to be marketed to moms who are into the “crunchy parenting” scene, Party in My Pants is more accessible to other types of women (not that you can only use products marketed specifically toward you, but the implication that only moms who are comfortable dealing with cloth diapers would want to use cloth pads is a bit alienating).
Party in My Pants Pads are much thinner than similarly absorbent disposable pads. When you first see them, you might be skeptical about their ability to hold the amount claimed. While I only use them as backup for my menstrual cup and have mostly liners in my collection, the pads should work great on their own for women who usually use pads only. The pads only feel a little bit thicker than the liners but are available in longer sizes.
They are a little bit more pricey than some of the other cloth pads out there, but they appeared to be better quality and more professionally made than some of the other options I considered. After using them for a few months, I would say that they are worth it. I haven’t tried any other brands yet, so I’m not sure how they compare to others, however.
How to Use PiMPs and Other Cloth Pads
PiMPs, and most other cloth pads, have wings with snaps that hold them onto your underpants. They work just like traditional disposable pads with wings, except there is no adhesive to worry about and they don’t get bunched up the way disposables tend to. Most Party in My Pants Pads are also available with an extra snap for people who want to wear them with thinner styles of panties. They also have a thong liner available to give you more options (I have one, but haven’t tried it yet).
If you have to change your PiMP while away from home, you can keep a wet/dry bag in your purse to store your used one in until you get home. Party in My Pants offers several styles of single-compartment wet bags on their website, or you can find double-compartment options elsewhere if you want to keep your stash of clean pads in the same bag. If you’re just using cloth pads as a menstrual cup backup, you usually won’t need to change your pad for the 8 or 9 hours you’re out at work anyway (which can’t be said about disposables, which have a bad habit of getting bunched up and weird, and usually need replaced long before they are even soiled if you’re just using them as a backup).
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You can store them in any place that is convenient for you, preferably where other family members won’t find them if that is a concern for you. I already had a separate drawer in the bathroom for my menstrual cups and disposable pads and liners. I just swapped out the disposable boxes for a little plastic basket to keep my cloth pads in.
Washing PiMPs: Not as Scary as I Feared
One of the biggest barriers of entry to wanting to try reusable cloth pads is washing them. When I lived in apartments and had to use a community laundry room or go to the laundromat, there was no way I was going to use cloth pads. Now that I own my own home and have my own laundry machine, this isn’t an issue at all. Looking back, it would have been easy to discreetly wash them in public facilities by putting them in mesh lingerie bags before heading out to the laundromat, and waiting to fold the clean laundry until I got home, so you don’t necessarily have to let fear of public laundry facilities prevent you from trying cloth pads, though it is completely understandable if that is a big reason for not wanting to use them.
Party in My Pants Pads can be washed and dried with your regular laundry, though some people prefer to wash them separately or wash them by hand. Some women prefer to let them soak in a bucket of cold water before washing, but the product website says that this isn’t necessary. I just rinse them in the sink as needed and toss them in with my regular delicate laundry. Their website recommends using Oxo Brite to get stains out of lighter colored pads if needed (but not harsher chemical stain removers like OxyClean or bleach. These can damage the waterproof nylon backing and make them start to leak after a while).
The easiest way to wash them is in the laundry machine with your other laundry. Their website recommends washing in cold or warm water. I wash mine in cold water on the delicate setting when I wash the rest of my delicate laundry. I prefer to put mine in small mesh lingerie bags (3-4 PiMPs per bag) to make sure there is less wear-and-tear, though you don’t necessarily have to. I already use lingerie bags for a lot of my laundry anyway. It’s best to use eco-friendly laundry detergent, though you should really be using eco-friendly laundry detergent for all your laundry anyway. I use Seventh Generation, just because it is the most available where I live, though there might be even better brands out there.
Some people prefer to hang-dry cloth pads, but the website recommends just throwing them in the dryer with the rest of your laundry, on low or medium heat. They claim that hang-drying can cause them to dry too stiff and be less comfortable than if you use the dryer. I use low heat since that’s what I use for all of my delicate laundry. You also shouldn’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets because they reduce the absorbency of the pads over time (the same reason many people recommend not using softener or dryer sheets for towels). I already stopped using dryer sheets for most of my laundry anyway, so that is a non-issue.
You can wait to wash all of your pads until the end of your cycle or wash the used ones every couple of days. It’s up to you. These pads should last around 65 washings or 5-7 years, whichever comes first. If you have more than you need for one cycle in your collection, they will last longer. If you only have a few and have to wash them mid-cycle, they won’t last as many years. If I do laundry mid-cycle, I set aside the ones I just washed to make sure I don’t reuse the same one twice in the same month to keep them lasting longer, though it doesn’t really matter that much.
A Final Word
After finally getting the courage to try cloth pads, I’ve found it isn’t as gross or inconvenient as I feared. Dealing with cloth pads is actually much less gross than dealing with disposable pads because of the materials involved. There isn’t any smell, you don’t have to worry about burying anything in your garbage can, and you don’t need to run out and buy supplies if your period sneaks up on you. Washing them isn’t a big deal at all since they can be washed with your regular laundry. At the end of the day, cloth pads are a healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more comfortable alternative to disposable pads. I may try different brands of cloth pads in the future to see if there is something else out there that I like even more, but for now, I am happy with Party in My Pants pads.
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The pads in the photos in this article are fresh, unused Party in My Pants pads from my personal collection. I am in no way affiliated with the company. I just wanted to write a review to help other women who are interested in trying cloth pads.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 08, 2018:
I've never heard of this before! But I'll definitely check out the website.
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on January 08, 2018:
They definitely aren't for everyone, but if she can get over the original "ick" reaction that most people have to these, they are a lot nicer than traditional disposable pads.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on January 08, 2018:
I didn't even know this was a popular option! I will keep an eye on this. My girlfriend might thank me.