Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home sewn reusable sanitary pads

Two items that I think are absolutely essential to my lifestyle, and save me a crap ton of money are my soy milk maker, and homemade reusable sanitary pads.
That's right! I've been using them since I was 17 and haven't looked back. Unfortunately for most of us, periods are unavoidable. But I decided I can prevent the bazillions of throw away pads I'd use each month (and the bazillions of dollars I'd spend on them) going into landfill and/or the ocean and waterways by using these ones I've made myself at home using a simple pattern and a sewing machine. These things last forever. I've still got and am still using the first one I bought at Woodford Folk Festival in 2006.
I make them from nice soft flannelette material that I've either got from op shops (I got 3 single bed sized sheets for $2) or found lurking in the cupboards. You could also recycle old flannel pyjamas you don't wear anymore, or any sort of other cotton clothing really, or even towels.
This website has the basic pattern I used, I just made mine square. At the bottom of the page are a few other resources for patterns/information too. Just type in 'homemade sanitary pads' into and heaps of results will come up. I like these because they have a pouch like thing that I can put extra layers in on heavy days. I think people may be uncomfortable using these because they may think that the blood would just go right through - and this may be too much information - but I bleed like a banshee and have never had any leaking problems.
Omg! my nails are clean!
If you don't want to bother/can't sew/whatever, there are hundreds of different cloth pads on (support artists!). You can even get g-string shaped ones if that's your style. There are also commercial companies that make them: Moon Pads (almost 100% sure this brand was the one I got at Woodford). 
This is the insert layer, I usually make it from three layers of material and quilt it so it doesn't go out of shape.
Now, cleaning. The part that turns people off. I've tried many different ways of cleaning them. I started by just hand washing (since I lived at home and didn't want anybody else to touch them or think I was weirder than I already was!) which works, but stains will remain. Now I soak them in a bucket of cold water (hot water sets stains apparently) with salt . Vinegar and eucalyptus oil is good (stops any smells and helps remove or prevent staining). You can aslo try baking soda. If you have pets, it is perhaps a good idea to use a bucket with a lid (this is also handy for when visitors arrive unexpectedly). Keep it in your bathroom next to the loo. Apparently, the soaking water/blooood is good for plants (obviously make sure whatever you add is safe too! For instance, I wouldn't pour baking soda on my garden, or vinegar). Just drain the soaking water and throw them in with your normal laundry. We do laundry every second day anyway, but they'd be ok soaking all week if you want.

I can't really praise these enough. I go to work with these (I just have a plastic bag in my bag to put used ones in to wash when I get home - I intend on making a proper pouch for them though). Perk - I don't have to touch the rank sanitary bin that people always seem to get blood all over when disposing of their plastic ones. I run/yoga/pilates while wearing these and they don't go anywhere. They don't get in the way at all.

Not into pads? Give a cup a go. The Keeper is one kind, but I've seen others. I've always hated tampons anyway so I just go with the pads. I might try it one day when I have a million dollars. They are expensive but apparently they last over 5 years. That's a lot of laundry saved. I couldn't find anything on the keeper webpage but you could probably swim with the cup. I don't swim very often anyway/afraid of sharks eating me so I don't really care about being able to swim on my period.

I use these for a few reasons: to save money, to help the environment, and I believe they are healthier for my body. Commercial pads itch me like crazy and cause shafe (I think I'm just allergic to plastic), so these nice material ones fit the bill perfectly. Give them a go :)


Cindy said...

Good on you for (1) doing this and (2) writing about it! The clean-up and maintenance information is especially handy for a n00b like me. I feel much better equipped to give this a go myself. :-)

jess said...

Great post! So many people get iffy when it comes to these things, but disposable sanitary pads & tampons really are killing the earth!

I use a keeper myself, have for 2 years and never looked back.

Emma said...

@Cindy: Thanks :) I hope you do try it :)

@jess: Thankyou! Yes, people always look at me with disgust if the topic comes up, but hey, at least people won't be digging up my pads in a million years. I'll try a keeper one day :)

Theresa said...

Excellent post! I am a fan of the cup myself -- I use a divacup, which is silicon so can be boiled for hygiene, and I have had for more than 5 years and is still going perfectly. Just rinse it out twice a day (usually in the shower) and then I can basically forget that I have my period!

Vegan SJ said...

Thanks for sharing this Emma.
I have thought about these pad and cups, and I think I may have to invest.
I've just never known anybody who has used them before, so I've never heard any feed back.
So thanks again :)