sanitary pads 15

Your 11 Fears about Cotton Sanitary Pads, Fixed!

with You know that I make them but – Lordy! – I had no idea that you had so many fears about cotton sanitary pads! Y,see, I asked you if you had any concerns here and you told me EVERYTHING. Thing is, your fears are hardly surprising. We’re so used to being told that our periods make us leaky, smelly and dirty that moving fto cotton pads feels like agreeing to watch clots trail down our legs. How can anything natural compete with pads so rammed with chemicals that they’d soak up entire tsunamis?

Well, the fact is that cotton sanitary pads are easily able to cope with periods, regardless of the panic that’s stoked by the shop-bought variety. That’s why I’ve taken each of your fears about cotton sanitary pads and done my best to fix them. So read on if your fretting has ever stretched to absorbency, leaks, clots, stain, germs, movement, smells and even money. Prepare to be calmed, kraken lovers. Shhhh, now…

I’m worried they’re too expensive

First, this isn’t an either/ or situation. You don’t have to stop using shop-bought pads altogether if a full range of cotton sanitary pads is too costly. You can use them alongside each other, phasing in cotton sanitary pads when you can afford them. In fact, this is a brilliant way to do it. You get to know what suits you and when you order more pads they’ll match your needs. And if cost if still one of your fears about cotton sanitary pads, listen up because I’ve done Proper Maths.

Now, I sell my pads for £10 – £12 each depending on their size and absorbency and while I write this Tesco is selling packs of 16 Always Ultra Normal pads for £1.90.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that one of these packs equals one period. Each pad has one use and in a year you’ll use 192 pads, setting you back £22.80. Over the course of seven years that’s a cost of £159.60 and a whopping 1344 pads (that’s a LOT of landfill).

Compare that to cotton sanitary pads. My equivalent to Always Ultra Normal pads are £11 each and if you needed 16 for a period (you probably won’t) it would cost £176. Yup, it’s a ‘bit’ more than £1.90 per period but remember, over seven years it’ll cost you, well, STILL the original £176, because they last roughly seven years. Once you’ve bought them you don’t have to buy them again. Oh, and because they’re washable you don’t use another 1328 pads/ send them to your dump to be pecked by gulls.

So over seven years you’ll spend just an extra £20 on cotton sanitary pads, while saving a boat-load (technical term) on landfill. That’s essentially one family trip to Starbucks. And yeah, if you spill your coffee you can even use one of these pads to mop it up. What’s not to love?

I’m worried they’ll leak

I hear you. I’ve ruined sofas and trousers enough for all of us. That’s why I always err on the side of caution, adding an extra layer to my pads if I think a customer’s periods might go off on one. This is one of the most common fears around cotton sanitary pads, though, so you’re not alone.

If it helps, my pads have an outer layer of printed cotton, inner layers of flannelette and a hidden core of towelling depending on the absorbency. That’s up to nine layers for insanely heavy periods, all stitched with channels to keep them really thin.

And don’t forget that my pads also have wings, each with at least three layers of cotton and flannelette. That’s an extra six layers between your uterine output and your white hot pants. Believe me when I say that your fears about cotton sanitary pads should never include leakage.

With skilled sewing and the right fabrics cotton pads are as good as anything you’ll pick up in Sainsbury’s. Except for a duvet but if you want to go to work with 13 tog’s worth of king size bedding in your pants, you go for it..

I’m worried they’ll smell

I was surprised to hear that this is one of your fears about cotton sanitary pads. Even if you’re able to detect a smell from your period there’s no way anyone else will be able to smell it (well, unless that someone else is face down in your crotch which, I desperately hope, is a consensual thing. Please tell me it is). You can learn loads more about the potential niffiness of your blood here but there are a few things to remember when fretting about this stuff.

First, we’ve been convinced that our periods stink by pad manufacturers so we’ll buy their products to protect society from our alleged inherent filthiness. Secondly, many women who switch to cotton sanitary pads believe that any previous smell was from their blood mixed with the chemicals in the pads.  They also say that this smell disappeared with cotton pads. Third, if your period creates a lot of pungent aroma it could be because there’s another issue lurking within so get yourself checked.

Rest assured though, I’ve been having heavy periods for 35 years and not once have I been stopped on the pavement by someone with a twitchy nose. Mind you, I was unable to shower for three weeks when I trekked to Everest but that’s a different blog post altogether…

I’m worried that my gusset might be bigger than ‘normal’ so the pads won’t fit

This should never be one of your fears about cotton sanitary pads (and don’t get me started on what’s ‘normal’). Anyway, it’s why I make my pads to order. When we chat about what you want you can tell me if you want the width of the pad to be wider or narrower than what you usually use. It doesn’t matter if you are size 6 or a size 26 and I routinely get really precise requests for pad widths. That’s the joy of cotton sanitary pads. They are made to fit YOU and nobody else.

I’m worried that the pad will wander

Well, no one wants a sanitary pad to drop out of their shorts while they do squats. It’s why all of my pads have wings with poppers to hold them in place. If this doesn’t feel like it would be enough, though, I can make wider wings with velcro. This’ll increase the security of the pad in your pants and give you more absorbency to boot.

I’m worried about carrying a used pad in my bag

Yeah, I hear you. There’s a distinct ick-factor to the uninitiated, not least because we are routinely told to bin our sanitary pads. That’s why I make wet bags. They are zipped pouches with a water-resistant lining that contain two or three used pads. These do a great job of keeping your pads secure until you get home and I’ll happily add a flap and clasp to your pouch for extra safety.

I’m worried about what to do with my, ahem, clots

Well, they won’t be absorbed into the pad. The difference between shop-bought pads and cotton pads is that the bought ones get binned, clots and all. We just don’t think about them. The trick with CSP is to just wipe the clots off your pad and flush them down the toilet. You don’t have to carry them about with you (unless you need them for some rather fascinating art or science project). For those of us who are well acquainted with clots this is nothing compared to finding them clinging to a thigh or the bathroom floor. Of all of your fears about cotton sanitary pads, this shouldn’t be one of them.

I’m worried that the pads harbour germs

Well because they go in a regular wash they are germ free. If you had a nosebleed on your fave top you’d not consider it germy after it had been in the wash and the same is said for your pads. Just make sure you care for your pads in the correct way and you’ll be more likely to get germs from the snotty bloke in front of you in the queue than from your cotton sanitary pads.

I’m worried that the pads will stain

Well, take care of the pads in the right way and there’ll be no staining. In fact you can find entire discussion threads on the fears about cotton sanitary pads and the best ways to care for them. In the first instance though, soak your pads in cold water once they’ve been used. This stops the blood from staining. Do not plonk them in hot water because this bakes in the blood. Yum! And if this doesn’t allay your fears, you can always opt for fabric prints that are darker or busier. I’ll even order in black fabric for you at no extra cost!

I’m worried they’ll be bulky

I know, when I talk about the layers in my pads it sounds as if you’ll have an entire haberdashery wedged against your gunnels. You won’t. I use fabrics that are thin yet absorbent and methods of stitching that reduce bulk. I also stitch channels into the inner core, making it thinner, and use a method of stepping so that it’s not discernible. And OK, my pads may not ever be super thin but that’s because they don’t rely on chemicals to do the absorbing. The fabric does the work instead and any extra depth to the pad is worth it if you don’t have unpronounceable compounds in your gussetry.

I’m worried that I’m still not convinced

That’s Ok too! Even if I’ve allayed all of your fears about cotton sanitary pads they should also suit you and your lifestyle. If you’re doing it because you think you should and not because you are invested in the idea, then don’t do it at all. If it’s going to leave you sobbing in a bathroom find another way of going green or chat to other women who use them to learn about their experiences. And when you are convinced to try cotton sanitary pads? Then I’m yer girl. Now, measure up that gusset. We have a planet (and your flange) to save!