Simple washing tips for cloth pads!

One of the most common questions we get at Lunapads is “How do I wash and care for my cloth menstrual pads”? Indeed, this unanswered question is often the thing that holds many back to making the switch to cloth. So, in addition to the washing FAQ’s on our website, here now is a short video with some of our top tips for washing your cloth pads.

A summary of key points:

  1. Washing cloth pads is not a big deal and isn’t gross at all. Caring for your monthly period in a gentle and earth friendly manner is rather liberating!
  2. For lightly soiled pads and pantyliners, simply toss them in with your regular laundry; no pre-rinse is necessary.
  3. For moderately to heavily soiled pads: pre-rinse in cold water to remove as much blood as possible; then add to your regular laundry.
  4. Cleaning tip: make a concentrated pre-rinse solution to remove as much blood as possible during the pre-rinse phase.
    Stain removal tip: immediate cold water pre-rinsing helps. BunchaFarmers stain removal stick works like a charm too!

What I didn’t explicitly cover in the video is how to discretely deal with your cloth pads when you have housemates who might not want to see your Lunapads mixed in with their laundry. That’s where our super handy Mesh Laundry Bags come in. These bags conveniently allow you to separate your pads from the rest of your laundry, and hang and store them discreetly.

These are just a few tips.  Please tell us how you launder your cloth pads. What washing tips do you have to share with your fellow Lunapads users?

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  • Astarte

    And… if you just soak them in cold water, you can conserve that water, dilute it and water your plants for fabulous growth. Works very well, though I found that it is not great for plants that flower.

  • Honestly, it’s really not that big of a deal. I just soak them in an ice cream bucket, change out the water morning and night and toss them in the washer with my regular load. I think the only thing that bothers me a tiny bit is carrying my soiled pads in a baggie if I have to change at work. But even that’s not really a big deal.

    I posted about my experiences with cloth pads on my blog, and now it’s posted on BlogHer:

    • Romy

      washing pads or anything with blood in warm water will create blood stain..because blood stain becomes permanent when in contact with hot water, so cold water is always

  • emma

    I have using tide i hope that’s not bad for my pads. I use a cleaned out yogurt container. Although, I did win the soaking bag giveaway . I have yet to see how it works. Bac-out is great if you accidentally left your pads soaking for too long. It makes them smell like lime.You can get it from the [ gladrags] store.

  • em

    P.S. Alicia Silverstone’s name was pronounced wrong in the other video.

  • @Stephanie: what a great blog post you wrote (and amazingly timed with our video post, how cool is that?) You are no longer a hole in the wall… now we know who you are!

  • Jadea

    …or just throw them in your regular laundry. Full stop.

    I’ve NEVER soaked my pads – they get exactly the same treatment as my panties or any other item of clothing; thrown in the laundry basket (they cause no excessive odour, FYI) then washed with the rest of my laundry as normal.

    I have VERY heavy flow but I’ve only had light staining on my plain white pads – I’m the only one who sees my sanitary pads so it’s no big deal. I use a low-cost washing machine, have hard water, and use normal detergent – I found eco-balls were of no good for washing cloth pads.

    Other people may be different, but it’s worth saying that for some women cloth pads are no extra work.

  • Jadea, thanks so much for saying this. I totally agree and almost never soak my pads prior to washing them with pretty much anything else. One of the perceptions that we have to deal with is that washing pads is some big crazy hassle that requires extra time as well as special preparations – it’s not necessarily true, ladies! The point is to just go for it and trust that you will find a way that works for YOU 🙂

  • Britt

    I’m going to be moving out of my parents’ house eventually, and I really do want to start using lunapads as soon as I have funds for it.

    My concern is with laundromats – what if I move into an apartment and I don’t have a personal washer/dryer situation?

    Does anyone have to do their laundry with lunapads in a public space? Is that totally inappropriate – would I have to go back to disposables for the duration of that sort of situation?

    Regular pads really bother my lady parts. I really would love to go cloth – but don’t want to spoil myself if I have to go back!

  • Hi Britt! An excellent question. I would recommend a thorough rinse or soak at home, then using a mesh laundry bag to isolate your pads in the laundromat. That way, it’s discreet and you reduce the risk of losing stray liners. Let us know how it goes!

  • Julie

    When I was getting started, I quikly learned to launder my pads in a mesh bag due to an embarassing moment my husband had, one of the liners found it’s way into a leg of his pants and fell out when he was at work! As many times as this happens with socks I should have been prepared.
    I use a mesh bag to line an old ice bucket and toss my pads and liners in. When it is time for laundering I simple close the bag and toss it in the machine. I use soaking water on the first days when my period is heavier and after that I just rinse,wring and toss.

    I agree that a good rinse before using public laundry would be the way to go for you.

  • Maggie

    While I don’t use a public laundromat, my apt has a small room for coin operated laundry. Putting them in the bag is the best bet–I’ve left socks in there before and ran back and got them the next day (or so), but I really don’t like the idea of strangers touching my clean pantyliners!

    Also, generally people aren’t looking at your laundry when they’re there (at least, that’s my experience)! If you make it look like a big deal, then they’ll pay attention. But if you play it cool, then people usually think they’re the weird ones for noticing.

  • Lola

    I agree with Jadea.  I just roll up my pads, put them in the hamper, and wash with my regular clothes.  No rinsing, no soak bucket.  It is just like washing underpants.  I have a very heavy flow and sometimes I do a soak cycle in the washer with just the pads, then add the rest of the clothes, but I have never had a problem with staining, etc. either way.  I have my own washer now, but I used to use a laundromat and I just washed my pads in there, no sweat.  People aren’t staring at your laundry when you are in there washing your clothes–and if you do like me and just wash with your regular laundry, nobody will be able to tell that some of the wash is pads.  I did it for over a year and never got so much as a raised eyebrow.  I think it is a disservice to imply that all this extra work is required.

  • Samandnevaeh

    When it says to add to the machine with the rest of your laundry, is that assuming that you’re washing on a cold cycle? Or do you have to wash them with a hot cycle?

    • Lisa

       hi samandnevaeh, we typically recommend a warm or hot water wash, but the choice is ultimately yours. my tip? just think of your lunapads as cotton underwear and wash accordingly. no biggie!

  • what if you need to change it when you are in a public place?

    •  Lunapads offers a blue envelope-like bag which I use for a spare pad, and then when I change it, I put the soiled one in there until I can take it home. It looks like the kind of pouch you might carry tissues or hankies in, and I just tuck it in my pocket or purse. It’s very discreet. It can be washed with your pads if it gets dirty.

  • Curious

    I read from a blogger that she just puts the pads on the floor of the shower while she’s showering, and that is sort of like soaking them – it cleans them a good amount before throwing them in the hamper. Any reason this is a bad way to soak?

    • Lisa

       not at all! super useful if you share a bathroom or live in a dorm, etc.

    •  I also do this. It works well. I think it makes more sense than having a bucket sitting around.

    • Mel

      This is the most easy way to clean them I think as we have to shower anyway. I also stomp on mine to get everything out.

    • Marianne

      Perhaps if you take very hot showers the hot water may set the stains.

  • kate

    Can they go in the dryer too?

  • drmom21

    I wash all my clothes in cold water- regardless. although i wash cloth diapers in hot. i’d prefer to throw in with my regular clothes because I wash daily in my house, diapers are only once per week. is it really ok to wash them in cold water? or should I just throw them in with the diapers. Funny thing is I wash all the clothes and my husband washes the diapers. What do you suggest?

    • LunapadsCS

      Hey there! I always wash my pads in cold water and with my regular laundry. It works just fine. I would suggest making sure that you wash them with similar colours, though, because some of our dyes (especially the darker ones) can leach a bit into the water, potentially colouring your other items. Hope that helps!


  • Andi Armstead Brown

    Pretty much what I do. Most of the time my pads are just cup backup so they really don’t get dirty. When I don’t feel like wearing a cup, I do rinse them. I don’t stress much about stains. I bought them for a purpose!

  • try soap … any soap will do

  • Catherine Bailey

    Hello, I have a quick question.
    Would just washing them in warm water with soap (no-scent, for sensitive skin), like they would normally do with soiled underwear, work the same way with the Lunapads? Would that be safe? Thanks! 😀

    • LunapadsCS

      Hi Catherine!

      That’s absolutely fine, and how I almost always wash my pads personally. I do recommend that you at least give them a good rinse and a thorough ring-out at the end of each day if you’re going to be waiting to launder them though.

      ~Christa (Customer Service)

      • Catherine Bailey

        Thank You! 🙂

      • Diane

        Hi there. I was wondering if it’s ok to just hand wash my pads and then hang em to dry. I don’t know what I should use to wash them with, though.

  • Bigpeople80099

    Can I wash my pads with apple cider vinegar to reduce staining or smell?

    • LunapadsCS

      Yes, you can! We recommend using about 1/2 a cup of vinegar in the rinse water to help with odors. Vinegar can also be applied directly, undiluted to spot treat stains. Hope that helps!

    • I wouldn’t recommend apple cider vinegar for cleaning, but white vinegar works well!

    • Erin

      I use white vinegar, you can buy it in big jugs for really cheap. I also use it as a multipurpose cleaner, I mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and a few drops of lavender essential oils. It’s great for preventing mold/mildew and unpleasant odors. I would save the apple cider vinegar for consumption.

  • Diane Dolan

    Hi everyone, i have a question, what is a good way to air dry lunapads without takeing up much space? Thoughts and ideas welcome and appreciated thanks

    • Erin

      They make hangers that are similar to pants hangers but with much more clips. Those would be great just hooked to a shower curtain rod when not in use. I dry mine on one of those cheap drying racks set up in front of my heat vent, I secure them with clothes pins (by the wings). It folds up and stores easy when I’m not using it for pads or other garments.

  • Jayne

    Okay, I forgot about my pads in the soak water for a couple days…they smell like death. Is there anything I can add to the laundry or soak them in to make them not reek? I’ve tried antibacterial soap but then I have to rinse them a ton before washing so I don’t mess up the machine. Any suggestions?

    • LunapadsCS

      Hi Jayne! Fret not! Your best bet is to soak your pads for a day in a diluted white vinegar (3:1 water to vinegar is a good ratio). Then give them a regular wash with your normal detergent. If they still have a lingering odor you may want to “strip” them (Google “how to strip cloth diapers” and choose the method that will work best for you). Another great odor-buster is to sun your pads (yes, let them lay out in direct sunlight for a day or two) as this is a natural anti-bacterial (and the source of odor is always bacteria!). Hope that helps!

    • Lilly

      Use white vinegar in your wash. It’ll take out the smell.

    • TLK

      Thank you for asking this question, Jayne! I *thought* I had changed the soaking water regularly but… “smells like death” is a description I recognise. OMG the smell persists on my hands even after a couple rounds with hot water and Nellie’s Washing Soda. And thanks to the previous responders. I’m trying the vinegar soak now. Will post the result.

  • Amanda Skinner

    I use a small tupperware container with a lid that locks in place to soak them in laundry soap and cold water. Then I wash what pads are in the container at the end of the day alone. I have a setting on my washing machine that is for small loads so I don’t use a ton of water.

  • Hopeful

    What happens if you leave them soaking too long and you see what looks like mold? Any tips for removing those mold spots, or are they a lost cause?

    • LunapadsCS

      I’m sorry to hear about the mold on your pads. Luckily it should be easy enough to remedy. You can do an internet search for how moms who use cloth diapers deal with mold/mildew and follow most of those instructions for Lunapads, as well. I would not recommend using chlorine bleach, however as this can reduce the lifespan of our pads.

      Here is a link I found with several helpful-seeming suggestions:

      Hope that helps.

  • A.J. Lowik

    Do I need to put them in the washing machine – or can I hand-wash them? Soak and then hand-wash the lot at the end of my period? Or hand-wash one at a time, as I use them?

    • LunapadsCS

      Hi AJ!

      Lunapads are pretty resilient and can handle pretty much any cleaning routine
      you choose to use with them. The only things we really warn against are
      using bleach or fabric softener, and being pretty discerning with
      when/how you use any kind of hydrogen peroxide-based treatment (most
      often used as a stain-buster).

      is totally okay to both soak, or not soak, your pads. It is also
      totally okay hand-wash or machine wash, to put them through the dryer, or hang them to dry! Because
      they are cotton you can expect them to shrink slightly with
      washing no matter what method you use – anywhere from 5 – 10% in length,

      Everyone develops their own washing routine
      that works for them and their lifestyle. Mine is pretty
      low-maintenance. In the evenings when I got home, I give all my inserts
      and pads a good rinse in cool water, and do spot-treatment
      on anything that looks like it might stain. Then I rinse them again,
      wring them out very well, and toss them in a mesh laundry bag until
      laundry day (usually on the weekend after my period is over). The entire
      mesh laundry bag goes into the washing machine
      with a load of darks (I have a lot of the black & red inserts in my
      stash, and I don’t want the colour leeching into the wash water), and
      then into the dryer. Then they get stored until next month!

      I hope that helps. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.

      ~Christa (Customer Service)