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Help! Why Do My Period Pants Smell?

Period pants are truly 'gamechanging' for periods.

They're comfortable, convenient, and sustainable too. If you haven't considered them and are a pad wearer, give them a go. Why would you choose to have plastic against your delicate vulva skin instead of cloth period products?

However, like any clothing item, period pants require proper care to prevent unpleasant odours. And of course sometimes this goes wrong and we get customers contacting us for help.   Here's a couple of emails we received which prompted this article:

Smelly Period Pants Help

Luckily the whole team here at Cheeky use our products themselves so are well placed to answer all questions and nothing is TMI!  

Why Do My Period Pants Smell?

Here's why your period pants might smell:

  • Long drying time
  • Need to be changed more frequently
  • Washing Routine needs tweaking

1. Long Drying Time

If your period pants take too long to dry, they may develop a musty smell. This can happen if you hang them in a damp or poorly ventilated area. Moisture trapped in the fabric creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, leading to odours.

Always turn your pair of period pants inside out before drying as they'll dry MUCH quicker. A sock airer is great for this!

2. Need to be changed more regularly

Wearing period pants for extended periods or not changing them frequently enough can result in odours. When menstrual blood and other bodily fluids linger on the fabric for too long, it starts to smell from a build up of bacteria which can be unpleasant.

Even though many period undies are absorbent enough to be worn for 12 to 24 hours, you''ll probably wish to change them more frequently.

Change your period pants every 4 to 6 hours ideally, especially during heavy flow days.

3. Washing Routine

Proper cleaning is crucial for eliminating odours from period pants. If they aren't cleaned thoroughly or dried properly after washing, bacteria or ammonia can accumulate, leading to persistent smells.

Always rinse your period pants thoroughly after wearing in cold water, ideally until the water runs clear.

Alternatively, you can also soak your period pants in cold water overnight, but don't forget about them as this can also leads to smelly build up!

Wash at 30c and on a long wash cycle in your washing machine, using bio washing powder ideally. Add oxi type stain remover or dettol antibacterial laundry liquid if smells are an ongoing issue.

Hand washing alone usually isn't sufficient to prevent period underwear smells. It's fine to wash period underwear with your clothes, so just pop into the washing machine.

"My experience of Cheeky Pants: They are great quality, easy to wash, don't have that 'smell' that seems to come with using disposables & feel so much more comfortable, only a tiny bit thicker than normal undies! Thank you Cheeky. Great products :)" Claire, Trustpilot

How to remove smells from period pants infographic

How to Get Rid of Period Pants Smell

To get rid of the smell in your period pants :

  • Soak the pants in cold water with a scoop of bicarb of soda overnight before washing.
  • Wash them in the washing machine on a cool or cold cycle (30℃ or lower) using your regular detergent and some stain remover. Avoid hot water to prevent staining
  • Use a longish wash cycle, not a rapid or eco wash
  • Adding something like dettol anti bacterial laundry detergent can help remove any bacteria which may be causing the smell
  • Avoid using fabric softeners that can leave residue and trap odours.
  • Hang the pants to air dry inside out a well-ventilated area, ensuring they are completely dry before storing or wearing them again.

If you notice more of an ammonia smell and suffer with incontinence leaks, this could be a build of up ammonia trapped in your absorbent undies. Our blog post 'how to remove urine smell from pants' has more details, but in summary:

To remove ammonia smell from period pants:

  • rinse pants thoroughly in cold water after wearing
  • soak in a solution of bicarbonate of soda and warm water
  • wash with bio detergent on a long, warm wash cycle

How to Prevent Period Pants Smell

To prevent your period pants from smelling, you should:

  • Change your period pants regularly, especially during heavy flow days.
  • Rinse or soak to remove blood on removal or wash them within 24 hours of wearing them to prevent blood from drying and causing odours.
  • Alternatively, so in cold water for maximum 48 hours
  • Use a decent bio laundry detergent, avoid eco balls
  • Oxi type stain remover or dettol anti bacterial laundry liquid in your wash is eco friendly and will boost stain removing power without damaging your clothes
  • Avoid using fabric conditioner
  • Hang your period pants to air dry in a well-ventilated area, avoiding direct sunlight
  • Tip: turn your period pants inside out before drying as they will dry much quicker

Shop Intimate Wipes

Top tips to keep you feeling fresher for longer on your period

Use Reusable Intimate Wipes

Using reusable intimate wipes during the day can help you feeling fresh and clean. Just use with plain water for an on the go freshen up and pop back into your wetbag and wash when home

Try a reusable period pad

If you are out of the house all day and find it tricky to change your period undies during your menstrual cycle, pop a reusable pad in first thing. Then at lunchtime, remove the pad, popper closed and into your wetbag for washing at home. That way you'll have that fresh knicker feeling for longer!

Proper care and maintenance are essential for keeping your period pants fresh and odour-free. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can enjoy the comfort and convenience of period pants without worrying about stinks and smells. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to us, the team all use the products themselves and LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods.

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About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, internal period protection such as tampons or menstrual cups were no longer an option for her and she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable sanitary pads.

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.