I have been thinking for a long time, about how to start introducing this topic on my blog. It’s something I am really passionate about, and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It has literally changed my life, and how I view what I used to see as a monthly curse. I still don’t enjoy having my period (who does?!), but I don’t dread them like before. When I buy new pads, I can’t wait for my next period to arrive so I can try them out! Me, looking forward to it? Who’d have thunk it?!
I should perhaps share a little personal history about my menstrual cycle (TMI ALERT!). Compared to most girls, I am blessed with fuss-free periods. I have a 26-day cycle, and it’s like clockwork, really. Punctual, and predictable, so I don’t have accidents, like waking up and finding out that I’d bled everywhere because I wasn’t prepared. When day 26 arrives, I get a feeling like I need to go to the toilet, I do my business, and BAM I start bleeding a couple of hours later. I cramp a little, only on the first day. My periods are usually heavy on the first day, light on the second day, and by the third day all I get are some drops. On the fourth day, I can get away with a pantyliner, and that’s pretty much it. I have friends who, during the time of the month (TTOTM) curl up in their beds in agony due to the severity of their cramps, and their periods last over a week. OVER A WEEK! In comparison, my 4-day mini-period seems pathetic. All I have to put up with is a pimple or two on my face, which isn’t too hard to deal with.
Everyone knows about how poisonous disposable pads and tampons are, but at that time, I didn’t know I was putting chemically bleached fibres on my intimate lady bits. Despite getting a nasty rash from the disposable pads EVERY damn month (I don’t ever use tampons… they hurt like a MF and Toxic Shock Syndrome? Thanks but no thanks!), I had no clue! As if trying not to scratch while you’re out in public was not bad enough, I stained my underwear all the fucking time – the sides, the back… you name it, sometimes even the front! Additionally, the bad odour made me self-conscious about being around people. What I dreaded most was having to open the lid of the sanitary bin in the public washrooms – the stench was unbearable and nauseating. I didn’t think too much of it though, because well, it was a monthly ordeal and it had been this way for the past many years.
It was a couple of years ago when I had stumbled upon a website about cloth pads. I remember my initial reaction was one of shock and repulsion. I thought it was practically the most disgusting thing I’d ever heard of. And I have to wash it after? WTF?! It also sounded too good to be true, when I read that there would be no discomfort from rash, no bad odours (in fact, no odours at all), and less cramping. I was pretty sure those claims were highly exaggerated.
Curiousity got the better of my disgust. I was really curious, and started reading up about it. The thought of actually using cloth pads never did occur to me, I never wanted to try it. However, I kept doing the research. The different types of cloth pads available, what kind of fabrics are good, how to wash them, the kind of sellers out there… I wanted to know more. I even found a Singaporean supplier, Apple Milky, who was (and is still) gingerly trying to introduce environmentally friendly menstrual products to our skeptical society.
I had casually mentioned cloth pads to my friend, who was into ‘natural stuff’ like I was. She too, was curious, and I supplied her with a tonne of links. The next thing I knew, she told me she had ordered from Apple Milky, and she loved using cloth pads! I asked her a lot of questions about it – whether the pads were comfortable, did they leak, but most importantly, how the heck to wash them – and she reassured me that it was much simpler than she had imagined.
So, I hesitantly placed an order, and holy shit it was expensive! I spent hundreds of dollars on Sckoon pads, and each pad cost over SGD$20 (overpriced, I know!). I knew there were people who made their own pads, but I hadn’t heard of Etsy then, and I mistakenly thought that it was better to buy from ‘Big Established Companies” than some SAHM bent over the sewing machine with scraps of cloth. Boy, was I wrong and I’m still kicking myself for being so ignorant! There are many good Etsy/handmade shops (reviews to come) which sell the pads for much cheaper – I’ve bought many of them for less than USD$10. The initial investment may seem quite hefty but it’s so much cheaper in the long run, and you’re not stinking up the environment with all the plastic non-biodegradable rubbish.
Anyway, when my pads arrived, I was dizzy with glee and so excited, I couldn’t wait to have my period. THEY WERE SO PRETTY! I was practically begging for my period to arrive early so I could try out the pads.
This is not a review on the Sckoon pads (that’s a post for another day), but my first time using cloth pads? AMAZING. The Sckoon pads were made of Organic Egyptian Cotton, which as far as I was concerned, was The Softest Material Known To Mankind. It was so luxurious and comforting, and I’d never felt anything as soft before. I HAD NO RASHES. Honestly, I was shocked. THERE WAS NO SMELL WHATSOEVER. I’m serious – no smell at all. And because the cloth pad was so absorbent, I did not bleed all over the back or the sides of the pad! It was all contained in one line, and stayed that way. Of course, to remain stain-free, especially at work, I invested in some good waterproof Amy’s Rag Bag pad linings made from PUL (again, a post for another day). I remained dry and haven’t stained the bedsheets since.
Washing the cloth pads aren’t as yucky as you’d think. There are people who handwash their pads on the spot after each change, but I find it such a drag and totally unnecessary.
My way – the easiest way, in my opinion – is to invest in a bin with a lid (those with an inner pail). Fill the inner pail with water, and whenever it’s time to change your pad, just throw the pad into the bin (the one with water… not the dustbin!) to soak and shut the lid. The reason the bin should have a lid is because when blood is exposed to air, it oxidises and starts to smell. I know ladies who put a few drops of Tea Tree Oil or anti-bacterial detergent in the water; there’s really no hard and fast rule. You may throw as many pads in there as you want, doesn’t matter, as long as your pail is big enough and there’s enough water to cover them all. Change the water once a day (I do it twice a day – when I take my shower in the morning and evening), and throw all the pads into the washing machine when it’s laundry day. I do my laundry every Saturday so it’s okay to wash the pads a week later, as long as you keep them soaked.
Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be advocating cloth pads, but there you have it, I’ve been a cloth pad hippie for 2 years! Like I said, making the switch to cloth pads was the best decision I’ve ever made, and it has benefited my health, my finances and the environment. TTOTM isn’t so bad after all. I’ll never ever go back to the disposable, poisonous crap.
I wanted to introduce the different types of pad options and fabrics out there, and the pro and cons of each, but I’ve already written an essay, so I’ll just leave you with some really helpful links:
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