Cloth Menstrual Pads; Green, Money Saving, Healthy


Today, I’m thrilled to present a guest post by Paula from Wholeintentions.com on why we women should consider switching away from our chemical laden, feminine paper products. This is an issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention because of it’s personal nature, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it!

Why? Well, read on!

I’m going to warn any male readers that today’s subject is one you may want to skip as it’s very personal in nature…unless of course you’re concerned about the health of your wife and/or daughters. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The first time I heard about cloth pads, my sister-in-law brought it up, “I want to show you what I’ve been making.” Crystal is who I’d want to be if I ever became talented in the crafty department. She comes up with all sorts of neat ideas: cloth diapers, modest swimwear, knitted hats and mittens, etc. I, on the other hand, haven’t sewn for ages and I can’t read a pattern to save my life! She opened her sewing bag and pulled out miniature diapers. Except, if you tilted your head just right, they didn’t really look like diapers… “I’m making my own cloth pads.” I’ll be honest. My first thought was, ewww!

She went on to tell me about the absorbent material she’d found, the pattern she’d discovered, and all the details my very non-crafty brain didn’t quite understand. However, talking about homemade pads made me do more reading up on the subject. In the end, I found 5 EXCELLENT reasons to make the switch.

Health Concerns

Most of us have heard about Toxic Shock Syndrome in tampons, but it was news to me to find out that there are just as many health concerns with pads. Dioxin is a byproduct used to make tampons, sanitary napkins (pads), incontinence pads, and diapers look white and ‘pure’. But did you know that:

  • Dioxin is easily absorbed into your body – and guess where our pads and tampons are…
  • The effects of dioxin are cumulative and may stay in the body for 20 years after exposure (House Resolution (HR) 890, named the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1999)
  • The World Health Organization lists dioxin as one of the “dirty dozen – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants” (The World Health Organization)
  • Dioxin is a known human carcinogen

Cloth menstrual pads can aid in pain relief during your period!
Pain Relief

What do cloth pads have to do with pain relief? Let me first ask you a question. Have you ever been sore on your outer vagina when wearing pads or panty liners? How about internally when wearing a tampon? Does the skin in that area become chaffed and tender – even to the point of burning? Most pads and tampons are bleached with chlorine and contain chemicals that increase absorbency. But these substances irritate sensitive skin. For instance, when removing a tampon, it rubs against the sides of the vagina. This rubbing, combined with the chemicals in the fibers of the tampon, can lead to ulcerations – “the chemicals are almost eating away at the vaginal tissues”. (source) Many women (including me) found that their cycles became lighter and their menstrual cramps decreased after switching to clothes. This may be due partly to the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea I drink, but I noticed a huge difference after I began using cloth pads. I remember hearing/reading that a chemical in the pads/tampons actually causes more blood to be pulled from a woman’s body – but I can’t locate the source again. Anyone?


LOL. My husband simply looked at me with a raised eyebrow when I exclaimed, “Cloth pads are soooo comfortable!” While he might not understand, I know you ladies out there know what I mean. Just as I mentioned above, the burning, chafing, and irritation are not an issue with cloth pads. I can even say I enjoy wearing them. I don’t shift uncomfortably or sigh with relief when I can wear plain cotton underwear again. They really are very comfortable.


Just to have a ballpark figure, let’s say the average woman has a 28-day cycle, making her period come 13 times a year. If each cycle lasts about seven days and she uses an average of 4.5 pads (not tampons) each day, she’ll have used 410 pads in a year’s time. Your average cost is about $11 for a pkg of 48 regular absorbency pads (according to Wal-Mart.com). This makes the yearly cost of disposable pads around $94. If you have a period for, oh, about 38 years, you’ll be spending over $3,500 on disposable pads alone. Sure, there’s a bit more cost upfront if you switch to cloth pads. When I considered making the switch, I didn’t want to waste money if I didn’t like them, so I bought a few at a time until I had what I needed. In the end, it’s a huge savings.

Environmental Benefits

Did you know that, on average, a woman has about 500 periods in her lifetime? That means she’ll use about 15,700 pads or tampons before she’s done. It takes 1-5 months for a cotton rag to biodegrade, so it would probably take a bit longer for cotton material to be sewn together, but compare that to 500-800 years for a pad to break down! You may or may not be a green go-getter, but the impact is the same. I hope these five reasons have at least made you consider looking at the option of cloth pads. I’m so glad I switched – and I don’t ever plan on going back!  

Paula Miller is a child of God, wife, and mother. Several years of family health problems created a passion for learning about whole foods, candida, fitness, and healthy alternatives to modern medicine. When she can, she likes to mix in homesteading, gardening, writing children’s books, and Lilla Rose. She’s been married to her calm and laid-back husband, Travis, for 16 years. By God’s grace, they homeschool their 5 children, who are a wonderful mixture of them both.

Linked with: Small Footprint Family

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