As a woman, sanitary protection, I know, is a subject women rarely discuss. We might complain about our periods, but we don’t talk about products or issues with them. We’ve been sold convenience in disposable products, but these may be having negative repercussions for women’s health, and you can bet that those who are making these products are not interested in anything but profit unless forced by evidence to change how they are made. In fact we aren’t even allowed to know the ingredients in these proprietary products!
I know that the thin, soft plastics that are used in the manufacture of pads are a source of potent hormone disruptors, and this is besides the issues caused by the moisture retaining gel crystals they also contain. Now it would seem there are further issues with them – yes that ubiquitous toxin glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) is being found in pads and tampons! (source)
Well a while ago I came across some articles on making your own pads, and I considered this very briefly before deciding that this was going to be a lot of faff. However, when I read and watched more on the subject, I realised there was more to this and that women report real changes to their menstural cycles because of using home made pads.
Women reported that they had less pain (yes me too), and they said their periods were shorter (well mine are definitely lighter, and are at least stopping on time now, which they hadn’t done for a while). They also said the pads didn’t smell, like commercial pads always do (a big yes on this one – no horrible funky smell).
The only downside is that they have to be washed – but as one lady pointed out, you don’t throw your knickers away if you happen to suffer a pad failure in the night, do you? No, you wash them.
So began my journey with pads, and I’m going to share with you my experience with making them, and maybe you’ll find this helpful – I hope so.
I began by watching a lot of videos by the lovely Amy Nix who has put together a lot of information about pads, with reviews and how toos. You can find her channel here: Link
I also realised that although all-in-one pads sound great, I knew that in the winter in my house with no electric dryer they would take an age to dry if they were going to be absorbent. I went for layers, which I can layer up, and each one is thin enough to dry quite quickly.
I loved that finally, I could have custom pads! I joked to a friend that I have go-faster stripes on mine! Lol! I knew where I wanted most coverage. I knew were I needed least. I knew what length I wanted. I could choose materials which suited me. And so I began to make my pads.
This base is made with a PUL waterproof liner, organic cotton top layer, and a plain cotton back. You can re-use any fabric which is of the right weight – flannel, light shirting materials or even an old pillowcase. These don’t have to cost much to make. My PUL came from here – I bought a fat quarter and I haven’t used it all up yet. The ribbons I just happened to have a length of that blue ribbon, and I machined them on with a little extra left each side so that they wouldn’t make any kind of rough edge which might rub. So far they have been completely unnoticeable, so I will stick with that design.
Here’s the base with a liner in place. I did buy a piece of bamboo velour for the liner tops, and as others have commented, it does feel dry to the skin – very soft and comfortable. It’s backed with towelling – this is from an old dressing gown. Yes really!
The reverse of the pad was part of an old pillowcase, or some curtain lining – I’ve used both. I tried to choose things I really couldn’t use for anything else. The curtain lining isn’t a great choice I’ve found since, because it’s just not designed for wear, and even just washing these they are not holding up as well as the pillow case ones.
Here’s the liner alone – these were a fiddle to sew – the velour is stretch and the towelling isn’t, so the machining was a challenge – nothing a lot of pins couldn’t solve, but still they are far from perfect. It doesn’t matter, only I see them!
Well I knew washing them would be a chore, and I’d watched Amy Nix’s video on that (Link). I have found though, so far, that I quite like taking care of these pads, because they are so nice to use. I don’t use her full routine to clean mine, I modified it and it works well for me, this is what I do with mine:
I recommend you get a bucket with a lid, and some decent stain remover powder, like the Oxy brand (I’m using Sainbury’s version of that and it works fine). Dump your pads into COLD water, and leave to soak for a couple of hours, then rinse and put back into cold water for 24 hours. Then drain and rinse, and put back into cold water with stain remover added, and leave again for 24 hours. Then deal with any remaining stains with a bar of Fairy soap, or Fels naptha (have I spelled that right? we don’t have it over here). Then dump into the washing machine and wash at about 40 degrees as normal with your clothes. The stains are gone by the time they get there, so there’s no issue with that.
I have found this quite satisfactory, and the pads have been a pleasure to use so far. I have found no downsides to them – I can use one base for a whole day, and just change out liners as needed.
If you don’t fancy making your own pads there are lots of makers out there on places like Etsy, but I have to say the only pad that has disappointed me was one I bought!
I’m still making liners – it’s only when you go down this route that you see just how many liner pads you need. I’m still adding a few now and then – I have a full set, but I will say it’s worth having a few extra.
To give you an idea, I use two liners together on the first two days, and then one liner for the remaining time, and this means I’m using approximately 14 liners during my period in total.
I also estimate that the heaviness of my period is now only about 60% of what it was – that is a huge blessing, but also shows how some pad companies are ‘padding’ their profits, and we don’t even realise the effects their pads are having on the amount we bleed.
So, have you tried this? What was your experience of home made pads? Do you have any questions you’d like me to answer about these?
God Bless you