I don’t use tampons. I mean, sometimes I do. But mostly, I don’t.
This is weird but here goes: I wear reusable cloth pads. Like, they’re made of cloth. And they have little snaps on them so they snap onto your undies. And then you wash them and use them again next month.
How did this start? Well, like most young women, I was taught by commercials and ads that my period is a shameful and embarrassing thing. Women were always walking about fearful in these ads: “When will it arrive!?” “What if I’m on a date?” “What if I am wearing WHITE PANTS?!?!?!”
I was a very late bloomer, so I had many many years from that first sex ed class in fifth grade to decide what way I would manage this monthly burden which everyone acknowledged was a curse from above.
By the time I got my period, I was a holistic hippie and I wasn’t grossed out by it. I used maxi pads and occasionally used tampons but never liked the idea of “keeping it in”… the body is trying to get something out; why not let it? I never felt quite right about the amount of waste I was contributing to landfills with my “feminine protection.” Hmmmm.
I visited an old friend of mine who grew up in San Francisco (the home of all things hippie and holistic) sometime around this period of my life (ha.ha.ha.) and she was doing something absurd but truly amazing: She was ironing cloth maxi pads. What!? This exists?!
Off we went to Rainbow Market to buy GladRags. GladRags were simple and hygienic. They have been made since 1993 by a woman-strong company, and I’ve been hooked on reusable pads ever since.
There are now many other brands to choose from; I prefer to have mine made by a woman who runs her own business out of her home (Sadie’s Babies in Atlanta!).
The pads come in several sizes and thicknesses and all sorts of colors and patterns. You buy about six to 10 and that usually works for the week of your lady cycle. They also typically include a little bag to put used pads in. My favorite set of pads has little pandas all over them. Adorbs!
You snap them onto your undies. You change them when you want and need to. You won’t smell. You won’t look like you’re wearing a diaper. I mean, I don’t begrudge anyone wearing skin tight white leggings any time really, but during your lady cycle while wearing a pad maybe not so much?
When you take off a used pad, it folds up on itself and you can snap it closed. Put it in the bag or a ziploc. Put in a new one. Weeee!
When you get home, you can rinse them in cold water or you can be lazy and leave them in a pile until you’re ready to wash them. (They sometimes stain a bit but honestly, with the dark colors you don’t even notice and also who really cares?!)
I soak my pads in the sink before I wash them for about 30 minutes. Then I rinse them. Yes, the water is bloody. It’s ok. Relax. It’s not the plague. Then I wash them in the machine and dry them, too. You can add a little baking soda if you want. I dry them in the machine and don’t even need to iron them like my adorable hippie friend taught me to do.
I love not hurting the environment. It makes me very very happy. I love not being all up in my vagina with tampons 24/7 while holding blood and the uterine lining that needs to come out IN. I love supporting a mom making pads out of her house. And I love being in touch with my body.
I feel empowered by my cloth pads. Like a natural woman!