A zero-waste option for the anti-cup crowd.
Spoiler Alert: This review might be considered by some to be TMI-heavy. You have been warned.
Look, I have absolutely nothing against menstrual cups. They’re just not for me. I was never really a tampon person anyway. I gave it a shot when I bought the Diva Cup on a whim at Whole Foods. I tried and tried and tried again to use it successfully, but it just wasn’t for me. I came to find out later that there are literally DOZENS of brands of menstrual cups out there, each offering several shapes and sizes to choose from. And while they will last years once you find the perfect fit, each one will cost you an average of $30. No returns (generally speaking) when it’s not the right one for you. That just seems like a lot of money and frustration that I’m not up for.
I’ve always preferred pads, and that’s OK, but I’d really like to minimize the waste of them. My disposable pad of choice has always (ha) been the Always Ultra Thin Overnights, so I started looking for a product to give me a similar coverage. There are many period panties on the market, but most are either pricier than I wanted to try straight away, or not actually a pad substitute. A more economical option is reusable pads. Based on reviews and my knowledge of my own menstrual needs, I started with a set of three of these 14″ overnight pads, knowing that if I liked them, I could scale down in size at a later time. I would have preferred something made in the US, but I really couldn’t find anything as well-liked. I also got these wet bags, one for my purse and one for backup. Since they came from China, I impatiently waited for their arrival.
Even though I knew that I was ordering 14″ ones, I was still surprised by how long they were. I’m very much a plus-size woman, and they still were super-long for me. But hey, better too long than too short for overnight, right? They are shockingly thin, though of course bulky compared to the disposable ones I was used to (but about the same bulk compared to other brands of disposables I’d dabbled in). They have snap closures to hold them in place, but the one flaw I find with them is the the fact that, on me, they tend to inch their way backwards in my underwear. I’m very much a “front bleeder”, so much so that I would always (ha) wear my Always back-to-front. Luckily, they are so long that I only ever felt the need to adjust them on the occasion of going to the bathroom anyway.
Long story short, they’re fantastic. You know when you’re on a heavy day, and you’ve been in the same pad for a long time, how the surface is just completely covered in blood? Not with these. They are so absorbent that you feel no gush. You take it off to wash it and think to yourself, wow, my flow must have been really light today! Then you start rinsing it and see that this was definitely not the case. They absorb and keep absorbing like an absolute champ. No leaks at all.
So now that I decided that I absolutely love them, I decided to try out a smaller size. As I said, the 14″ are quite a bit on the bulky side (not uncomfortably so, simply unnecessarily so on lighter days). I skipped the 12″ and went for these 10″ ones that came with another bag that they all fit in for storage. I wish that they offered a 3-pack in the 10″ like they do with the 14″ because, frankly, my period is so short these days that three is really all I need. The 10″ were slightly trickier so me to get used to. They still slide back on me like the 14″, but because they are so much shorter, I once didn’t catch it in time and had a tiny leak. Luckily my flow was so light at that point that it didn’t do much damage. They did include some fabric tape to hold them in place with the 10″, but I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t want to get to used to tape because, although it’s less waste than a whole disposable pad, it kind of negates part of why I’m doing reusable in the first place. I’ve also thought I might try using Velcro along with a handful of dedicated pairs of panties, but I haven’t tried that, either. Looking back, I probably should have gone for the 12″, but the 10″ are by no means unusable.
Washing is very simple. Like I said, I rinse them in cold water until the water runs clear, then just a tiny bit of detergent, and rinsing again until suds-less. If I lived in a dry climate, I’m sure I could get away with line-drying, but because I live somewhere so humid, I dry them on low heat with no fabric softener (I don’t know why, but I feel like it would make them less absorbent) after wringing them out very, very well. At this point I should say that, although the pads never leaked during use, a couple of the lighter-colored ones that I have actually stained while being washed. Obviously that doesn’t change their effectiveness, but it may or may not be something you’ll want to consider when choosing your patterns.
On the whole, I’d say they’re pretty perfect. Yes, they have that sliding issue, but that’s only an issue because I bleed so far forward. If you don’t, you probably won’t even notice, and if you do, it’s really not the end of the world to readjust every once in a while or use tape. I still have a half a packet of Always in my closet, along with a couple of tampons should the need arise (this travel pack of 3 tampons will probably last me the next 5 years), but I’m forever on the reusable bandwagon. My rating: 5/5
Do you have any experience with reusable menstrual products? What are your favorites? Let me know!