Hello all! Today is a different kind of post, but it’s something that I hope to gain more knowledge and post more frequently about as I go. But before we get started, this probably will get a bit TMI, so if you’re a bit squicky about reading about “girl stuff”, I suggest you skip this post. You’ve been warned.
How did I get here?
Okay, let’s get started. I started looking into reusable products for myself and my home after stumbling upon cloth diapers on YouTube. How I ended up there, I’m not sure. I don’t have kids and as I posted back in April, we’re having some trouble in that department. I devoured hours upon hours of videos on the subject. I’m not talking like 10 hours…I’m talking probably 75+.
I heard about other reusable items from those videos but they really didn’t pique my interest until I read that disposable feminine hygiene products may be linked to infertility.
Wait a minute, so those things I’ve been putting near some of my most intimate areas of my body for over 17 years could be causing my problem? Why isn’t this bigger news? Why don’t more people know about this and alternatives?
Turns out there are thousands in the US and tons more around the globe who do know about reusable products and their benefits. Just because I hadn’t heard of it doesn’t mean that others hadn’t.
Okay, time to devour dozens of hours about this new topic.
That sounds gross. Isn’t that kind of disgusting?
Initially, I admit I was a bit grossed out by the idea. Washing and reusing things that were covered in blood and other fluids? Ew. Never mind that I’ve had leaks in the past and gotten those very fluids on underwear and pants and didn’t think twice about using those again. Putting a silicone cup up in my vagina? Um…how about no?
Well, the videos won me over, and I bought my first RUMPs (re-usable menstrual products). I bought some pads (1 2 3 4) and wet bags (1 2 3) from Etsy and Amazon and a Bree+Lena cup…and discovered how easy it is to make my own as well. I’ve made a handful of pads myself because they’re so simple to make. I started out using the free pattern from LunaWolf and find that they’re pretty easy to work with. I’ve also made some using the Versodile patterns and love the shape and how easy they are to sew.
How did that work out for you?
I just finished my fifth (I think) month of using them, and I can’t say enough good things about reusable cloth pads.
Some of the perks I’ve noticed (your experience may differ):
- Zero cramps. I’m talking zero. Not one, not fifteen, but zero.
- 2-day periods. Yes, after my IUD removal, I was down to 3-4 days from 9, but now we’re talking 36-48 hours now.
- No smell. You know that smell that wafts up at you when you pull down your underwear if you’re a disposable pad wearer? That distinct “period” smell? Yeah, turns out that’s not the smell of a period. It turns out that menstrual fluid is mostly odorless. Even pads that have been sitting in an open wet bag for a few days don’t have the “period trash” odor.
- No noise in public bathrooms. You all know what I mean. For some reason, wrappers have been designed to sound like we’re opening up a bag of chips in the bathroom stall. The only sounds I make now are the snaps opening and closing.
- They’re so soft! Seriously, you don’t know how itchy and uncomfortable disposables are until you try cloth. There’s no way I’d go back. My lady parts are pretty sensitive during that time of the month, and it’s much better to have padded cloth up against them.
Yes, I have to wash them. It’s one extra load of laundry per month. I’m personally not worried about staining lately and some of mine have some stained areas, but I did do stain treating in the first couple of months (using a Fels-Naptha bar and OxiClean) and the time investment is minimal. For me, the extra time is worth it. The extra money spent on laundry is worth it because I’m saving so much more in the end.
I haven’t tried the cup yet, but that’ll happen soon.
The small wet bags made it super easy to store dirty pads when at work or when I was out and about. Honestly, it wasn’t much more difficult than handling disposable pads. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but it doesn’t take long to get used to.
What else have you discovered?
I learned about things like family cloth (reusable toilet paper, something I don’t plan to partake in), unpaper towels, and unsponges.
I’ve sewn three sets of unpaper towels and love them so far. They’re doing a fantastic job of replacing paper towels in my kitchen. I rarely reach for the paper ones anymore and opt for a reusable one. Plus, the reusable ones are much cuter than any paper product could ever be. They’re made of flannel on one side and cotton terrycloth on the other.
My first set was made from some clearance flannel from a fabric store that’s closing near my brother and two unloved bath towels from our house. The 12 towels I made cost me only a few dollars to make and some time learning how to use my mom’s beast of a sewing machine and serger. I inherited her equipment and finally brought them home in September to start giving them some love. My second and third sets are made from clearance flannel and terrycloth found at the aforementioned fabric store.
Unsponges are just that: sponges made to be washed and reused. Mine are flannel on one side and cotton terry on the other, just like the paper towels. They’re stuffed with small bits of scrap flannel and terry for absorbency and can be tossed in the washer when they need to be cleaned. Unlike regular sponges, they shouldn’t get funky and gross and be thrown away and should last for much longer.
I also reduced paper waste in our bathrooms by adding bidet attachments to our toilets. It’s amazing how much less toilet paper we now use and how much cleaner we feel with a simple product. Get one, use one. They’re worth it. We use this one in particular.
Okay, I might be interested. Where can I learn more?
Seriously, just start by looking up “cloth pads”, “mama cloth”, or “unpaper towels” on Pinterest or watching YouTube videos from the following channels:
- Precious Stars Pads–this girl is the best! If you need information on RUMPs, she’s got it. If you only watch one channel, pick hers. She’s young (19 now?), but she knows her stuff.
- Amy Nix–also amazing and has sewing tutorials. Her videos tend to run long because she likes to ramble a bit, but she’s got a pleasant personality, so I don’t mind.
- Pad Thai–good RUMPs info, unboxing, and reviews.
- Flow Of The Goddess Cloth Pads–info, how-to’s, tips, reviews, and sewing tutorials.
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