A few years ago, the concept of living ‘zero waste’ hyped up everyone, from the emerging millennial tita, to actual titas, to moms with newborns. These days, the concept isn’t as shiny but many Filipinos have strived to stick to its principles. Of course, these zero-waste warriors know that it’s impossible to live life with absolutely no waste so they opt for the next best thing – minimal waste.
Some small sacrifices include refusing plastic straws and bringing your own cutlery when eating out, looking for product refilling stations, and gathering your minimal trash to stick it inside plastic bottles and make eco-bricks. But for women, you can take it a step further. For instance, you could trade your plastic sanitary napkins for reusable cloth pads whenever it’s that time of the month.
Enter the cloth pads
The idea of using washable cloth pads isn’t foreign. Ask your grandmothers, they’ve done it before and they called it pasador in the old days. The only difference is that our generation has found a way to make pasadors fancier.
Modern-day cloth pads boast multiple cotton-layers and waterproof base layers you can secure to your underwear with buttons. There are variations depending on the brand you choose from. Some even have bamboo-charcoal fibers that aid in eliminating odor and bacteria. And the best part is they come in all prints and designs. While nobody will see it while you’re wearing it anyway, it’s still nice to consider choosing designs.
Opting to switch to cloth pads has a number of benefits. First, you obviously get to minimize the waste you contribute to the world. Did you know that an average woman uses about 12,000 disposable napkins and panty liners in a lifetime? That’s just one woman. Now imagine the mountain of plastic waste all women contribute that harms the environment. Yikes.
Cloth pads are also soft and comfortable, they won’t give you rashes. Since they aren’t made with extra fragrance or all kinds of chemicals and toxins, they’re good for your body. Some women even report that they experience less menstrual cramps and blood clotting when they began using washable pads.
And best of all, once you’ve invested in them, they’re reusable for years which means you won’t have to shell out hundreds of peseos a month for disposable pads.
If you faint at the sight of blood much less cleaning your own, transitioning to cloth pads may be a challenge. The sad truth is unless you try to face your fears, you’re probably fated to use disposables your entire life. (But trust us, once you start using cloth pads, you won’t be as squeamish.)
Cloth pads also require a level of commitment. You will be responsible for washing them thoroughly, making sure they’re free from stains, and letting them dry properly.
These aren’t cons per se, but for women living a fast-paced life, that’s something to consider.
How to wash your pads
Hydrogen peroxide, soap bars, and cold water are your friends. You have two options: wait for your entire cycle to end before washing your used batch of cloth pads or rinsing them each immediately after usage. There are YouTube tutorials on how to wash cloth pads but they’re easy enough to do on your own.
The simplest method is rinsing them out until the water runs clear, soaking them for 3 hours to overnight in a tub of cold water with mild detergent, and rinsing them out. If there are stains, spray them with hydrogen peroxide or scrub them with soap until they’re removed. Once your pads are clean, you can either wash them again or toss them in a washing machine for a final wash. Don’t soak them in fabric conditioners; some chemicals might irritate your sensitive area.
Bunch the cloth pads from the base to the tip and squeeze. Don’t twist, as it might ruin the stitches. Hang them to dry, preferably somewhere in direct sunlight.
If you’re feeling a little extra, you can also disinfect your pads by soaking them in water and vinegar or baking soda.
But what about the smell?
No, using cloth pads won’t make you smell bad. Of course, you have to properly take care of your own hygiene by switching pads when you need to and storing used ones in waterproof bags. Cloth pads won’t smell bad. If anything, they will even help eliminate foul odor since they’re made from breathable material.
Here’s where you can purchase
Cloth pads range from Php 95 to Php 250 from regular-sized ones to heavy overnight flow ones. Here are some of the stores in the Philippines that can kickstart your cloth pads journey:
- Ka Nami Pasador (Php 120 – Php 195) – Choose from Cotton Flow Pads made with layers of cotton, terry cloth, and waterproof fabric, or Dona Pasador made from Athletic Wicking Jersey, layers of terry cloth, and waterproof fabric.
- Druid Things (Php 140 – Php 170) – Made with bamboo charcoal fiber, microfiber layers, and waterproof Polyurethane Laminate for the last layer.
- Simula PH (Php 150 – Php 200) – Made with bamboo charcoal fiber, microfiber layers, and printed waterproof PUL. They also have a Period Kit
- Aunt Flo (Php 195 – Php 245) – These cute and daintily printed cloth pads are made with a top layer of 3-ply absorbent cotton fabric, 2 middle layers, and a waterproof PUL fabric.
- Binibining Lakambini (Php 160 – Php 380) – They have been around for over 3 years and many women trust them. They can customize designs for you.
- Earth Baby (Php 150 – Php 180) – This Cagayan de Oro-based shop sells pads that come with layers of microfiber. You can also insert an extra liner layer for heavy days.
- Shopee (Php 95 – Php 200) – Be careful when purchasing from Shopee. Make sure you read up on the reviews and the materials used. You could buy pads from Period in Style or BYO Store PH.
Remind me again why I have to do this
Save the environment, sis! There is no time like the present to shift to cloth pads, there are a number of stores out there with designs that will suit your taste. No thanks to the pandemic, the already huge amount of plastic trash has become even more humongous with added personal protective equipment, face masks, and latex gloves waste. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help out the Earth in every way they can.
If you’re not comfortable with cloth pads…
Of course, there are alternatives if you aren’t too keen on cloth pads. You could purchase period underwear – they’re exactly what they sound like. You could also try purchasing menstrual cups if you’re brave enough or comfortable enough. Local brands such as Sinaya Cup and Aunt Flo have beginner-friendly menstrual cups you could start with.
Have you tried using washable cloth pads? How was the experience?