I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!
You probably don’t have a lot of your own money to invest in a collection of cloth pads since you’re a kid and all, so you’re probably gonna have to ask an adult in your life for some help with that – probably the one that’s already buying you your period supplies.
I know it might feel kind of awkward to bring the subject up with your folks, especially if they are already acting totally weird about you getting older and all the changes in your body and mind that go along with that; and especially if they haven’t talked with you about your period at all or maybe just pointed to a package of disposables tucked under the bathroom sink when you asked what to use.
Remember that 99% of the time the period products the adults in your house use are what adults told THEM to use when they were starting out on their own “menstrual journeys“. They might not even know an option like Lunapads exists! Sometimes it takes a fresh new voice (yours!) to break the cycle.
(That was a pun. A terrible one.)
So, I thought it would be a good idea for me to come up with some suggestions for you to refer to when you’re feeling ready to broach the topic of switching over to cloth pads. Basically there are a few really common questions people have when they first learn about washable cloth pads – here are my best answers to them!
Ew – washing and reusing cloth pads? Is that even safe?
Aren’t there, like, HYGIENE CONCERNS with period blood?
Barring a few exceptions due to (rare) health issues, the answer is no! Period blood is the same blood as any other kind! If you cut yourself in the kitchen, and get blood on your shirt, do you wash that shirt in some sort of special “hazardous materials” load of laundry? I bet not! It’s the same with the blood on cloth pads. Rinse them well as soon as possible after use, and wash them in your regular laundry; it’s totally safe to do so.
(Cool auntie REAL TALK: Period blood is only considered especially unhygienic because of its association with vaginas – and that’s misogyny!)
But what about…you know…smells?
It’s normal for the vagina to have an odor (which can vary depending on lots of different factors – like, what you eat, how active you are, how often you bathe, the type of underwear you wear), and that odor might change during your period. But if it becomes particularly powerful or unpleasant it might be because there’s a bacterial imbalance! And guess what can cause bacterial imbalance in the vagina?
Aside from active infections (for which you should definitely see a health care provider), the main causes are a lack of adequate air flow caused by synthetic materials like foams, gels and plastics trapping heat and moisture in that area, and exposure to chemicals and fragrances. Guess what they make disposable pads out of? Synthetic materials, chemicals and fragrances!
I know! It seems strange, because one of the selling points they always use in disposable commercials is they keep you feeling “clean and dry”. The key word there is “feeling” – not that you necessarily ARE “clean and dry” – especially not if their products are causing bacterial overgrowth.
So, one of the cool things about cloth pads is, they’re waaaay more breathable than disposable products and because they don’t have any weird gels or polymers or fragrances added to them you will probably notice less, not more, odor during your period. It’s kind of amazing!
I don’t want this to make extra work for me. Am I supposed to believe
that you’re going to take care of all that extra laundry by yourself?
Okay, kiddo. This is where you’re gonna have to get real with yourself, because it’s true. When you switch to cloth pads, there are some extra steps involved in making sure the system works well. It might take you a month or two to get it right, but you do really need to commit to making sure you are a) rinsing your pads/inserts out as soon as possible after use and b) washing them properly between cycles so they’re ready to go for next time. And you’ve got a few years of this ahead of you, so you might as well start off on the right foot!
It’s not really a big deal; especially once you develop a routine. You might have been looking around online already and noticed that folks have all kinds of elaborate rituals around taking care of their cloth pads – soaking them for days in special pails, DIY pre-treatments for stains, hanging them to dry on a Pinterest-style old fashioned clothes line in the countryside…
If that floats your boat then by all means, go ahead – but really the only hard and fast rules for cleaning Lunapads are – rinse as soon as possible after wearing (it’s okay if you only have a chance to do that at the end of the day); and when you wash them (either by hand or machine) don’t use any kind of chlorine bleach or fabric softeners.
It’s not a good idea to store wet Lunapads anywhere there isn’t adequate air-flow (see my earlier answer about odors and where they come from!), but if you’ve got a mesh laundry bag, and you’ve rinsed your pads and wrung them out really well, that’s a perfect place to keep them until washing day. Then you can toss the whole bag into the machine with some towels or bedding, and boom – done!
But really it’s like anything else where you want the opportunity to have some independence and take control of certain aspects of your life as you get older – with all of that comes some more responsibility. It adds up to maybe 5 or 10 minutes of care per day of your period – you can put down “The Snapchat” for that long, can’t you?
THEY COST HOW MUCH?
Oof, this one is the big one, because your adults see a price and don’t immediately make the connection to it being a *one time only* investment, rather than a need that’s going to have to be bankrolled every month like it is now, with disposables. So, it’s a good idea to have some facts on hand about what disposables cost every month.
Say you go through a package of 16 disposable pads a month, and that package costs $5.99. That’s $72 a year. That means a Starter Kit will pretty much pay for itself in the first year of use – and after that you’re paying nothing for the next 2 – 4 years you keep using them because Lunapads are designed to last for up to 5 years before needing replacement! That’s a savings of almost $300 over their five year lifespan – pretty great any way you do the math.
And, if your family is into the whole “save the environment” thing this is probably a good time to point out the hidden costs of using disposables – all the resources that go into manufacturing, and the garbage that has to be dealt with after the pads are used. It’s pretty intense. Lunapads keep tons of plastic out of landfills every year! ️
So, here’s the thing: adults are used to kids coming to them with all sorts of wild ideas and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what ideas are super legit things their kids are gonna follow through on, and which ones are just, like, passing whimsy. It’s normal for them to be skeptical and to have lots of questions for you. The best way to show them you’re FOR REAL about this is to have done your research and to be ready with good answers that demonstrate an already super solid knowledge base and commitment to change!
Hope that helps. Let Your Cool Aunt (Flo) know if you have heard other questions/objections when you’ve asked your folks to help you get started with cloth pads. Honestly, I’m so glad you are thinking about this! I’ve been using cloth pads since the 1990s. Things from the 90s are cool again, right? Remind me to show you my collection of hemp chokers next time we hang out.