How do you clean reusable sanitary pads?

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Well done for making the switch to reusable sanitary pads!

If you have used tampons and disposable pads since puberty this is a big step. The planet will thank you, as will your wallet and your vulva!

Once you have made the decision to try reusable period products, the next hurdle is understanding how to clean cloth sanitary pads and if you haven't done this before, it can appear a little bit daunting.

I field Customers questions daily through our live chat

How to clean reusable sanitary pads

I have 11 yrs of experience - good and bad - that I would love to share.

And I guarantee by the end you will be excited for your next period and feel confident in how to care for your pads.

"All disposable pads have caused me irritation my whole life. I was only ever taught that disposable was my only option.

I have only used them once and I am never going back.

The only problem that I have with my purchase it that I didn't know about them sooner.

If these products were talked about at school I would have suffered a lot less. Thank you team cheeky" Jane Dec 2021 Trustpilot

Rinsing, storing and washing pads at home

This is the best place to start and have a few trial runs!

Our reusable pads can be worn as soon as they drop through your postbox BUT they will gain absorbency over the first 3 to 4 washes so will get better and better.

Popper them into your pants as you would have stuck a disposable in and go about your business!

Patterned side towards your pants and plain side towards your body. We recommend a tight fitting pair of pants with a bit of lycra to keep everything snug and close.

How to clean reusable sanitary pads - hint and tips from Kirstin

When you are ready for a fresh pad, make the switch, then rinse your used pad in the sink with cold water to prevent staining.

This will remove most of the menstrual blood or urine making them less likely to stain or smell!

I find this quite satisfying. TMI?

You can now dry store or wet pail until you are ready to wash them. 

The storage options are wetbags or our soaking box / mini strucket for dry storage, and for wet pailing our soaking box or mini strucket. I use a combination of all of these!

Washing Reusable Pads - Dry pailing

After you have rinsed your pads in cold water you can store them in any of our storage boxes with no water. Our mini strucket is perfect for rinsing then draining and using as a dry pail.

We also have a range of wet bags that can be hung on a hook or door handle for easy dry pailing. When you are ready to wash them, unzip and throw into the machine as a whole.

How to clean reusable sanitary pads - dry pailing

If you know you have a wash going on that day the washing machine is the easiest place for them to hang out once rinsed!

Wet pailing for cleaning reusable sanitary pads

If you're worried about stains, consider soaking the pad.

If you have a wash going on most days our soaking box is a great size for you and has a pop top perfect for dropping a pad through.

If you wash less often or have more than one person using cotton pads our mini strucket has a bit more space for soaking 2-3 days worth of pads.

How to use reusable sanitary pads - wet pailing

There are a few options for setting up your boxes, first fill with water. Don't use hot water as this will 'set' the stain. Fill to about 3/4 full then add: 

  • our tea tree essential oil - perfect with its anti fungal, anti microbial qualities
  • salt - age old blood remover
  • stain remover - napisan, vanish, anything oxi action but NO bleach
  • spoonful of washing detergent

When you are ready to wash them you can drain first into the sink, or toilet if you prefer! Then open the washing machine door, open the box, and dump it straight in the machine.

No touching required!

Our mesh bag fits inside the mucky box to make it even easier to avoid touching anything damp.

Soak your cloth sanitary pads in a Strucket

Washing cloth pads

We recommend washing period products at 30 degrees max with bio powder and a spoonful of oxi action stain remover (vanish, napisan, mio fresh etc).

Blood is a protein, like egg and will 'set' at high temperatures, (think scrambled egg) and this can cause a stain.

If you have rinsed effectively, there will be very little bodily fluid left on your pads and they are fine to go in with your everyday washing and the rest of the families clothes!

Ten years on and no washing has ever been contaminated here, the family are none the wiser to what I get up to with the washing. 

Just stick to 30 degrees for this one or two washes a month and add NO FABRIC SOFTENER as it will coat the fibres of the pads and stop them absorbing.

The pads will need a long wash (over an hour) in a machine that is around 4/5th full, this will allow time and room to agitate the pads, washing them on their own won't give them enough agitation so the wash will need to be bulked out.

If I haven't convinced you yet to pop your sons uniform in with them, then an old bath towel or bed sheet will do!

Washing your incontinence pads

The routine above should work well for you.

However if you find you are getting a build up of ammonia (you will recognise the smell) give them a wash on 40 degrees and use bio powder. This will ensure it is washed away as the bio powder enzymes will break down the ammonia.

How to wash reusable incontinence pads

"Wee pads! Absolutely delighted with the bamboo pads - so soft. Coughing or laughing can really catch you out in later years! Rather than incontinence pads, I prefer to call them laughter protection " Trudy, June 2021 Trustpilot 

Drying your reusable sanitary pads

The best way is to hang dry!

I have a couple of 'socktopus' pegged drying hangers and they can be left near but not touching a radiator, in your airing cupboard, on a window handle in winter sunshine or proudly flying out on the line for the neighbours to admire!

You can pick them up in most hardware / home shops, IKEA, even in the poundshop!

How to dry reusable sanitary and incontinence pads

Alternatively, you can dry them on a clothes horse, near but not touching direct heat and avoid tumble drying to prolong the life of the waterproof layers.

Using reusable sanitary pads when out and about

When out for the day, at work, or at school you can fold the pads up as you would a disposable and popper it closed, store unrinsed in a wetbag ready to deal with when you get home!

Easy Peasy! And so discreet, no rustling wrappers, no need for a bin just a pretty little make up sized bag.

Wet bags for reusable sanitary pads

If you are away for a few days on holiday they are still easy to use.

Rinse in the sink or stomp on them in the shower and give a quick scrub with soap or your shower gel, hang to dry in your room or off your tents guy ropes and give them a proper machine wash when you get home.

If you are only gone overnight, pop them straight into a wetbag save the rinsing and soaking until you are home.

Trouble shooting smells and stains

Don't panic if you slip up, I have made most if not all the mistakes over the years and most can be salvaged - 

  • Broken the NO fabric softener rule
  • forgotten about a used pad in a wetbag
  • left them soaking for too long
  • put them away for the month still damp
  • washed too hot
  • slipped one into the tumble dryer
  • dried them on a radiator
  • worn too long til I leaked
  • not washed for long enough
  • not rinsed then had smells
  • worn the wrong way up!

MOST if not all of these are fine as a one off as long as you head straight back to a good routine, even fabric softener needs a few washes to build up and can be removed with a few washes with detergent.

If you have smells, go back to basics and follow the routine above, don't leave them too long before rinsing clear, don't soak for too long before washing, don't have a short wash cycle, make sure they are fully dry before storing away.

To bring smells back from the edge try your machines longest wash with some vanish, white vinegar or soda crystals.

You risk them leaking if they have a fabric softener build up or if they have delaminated from too many trips in a tumble dryer in error, laying on radiators or accidental hot washes, so stick to the basic routine to prolong the life of your pads!

We hope you've enjoyed our Cheeky guide on how to wash reusable sanitary pads and one of the hurdles is a bit easier to jump! 

If you enjoyed this we think you would like this blog about sustainable swaps to make your life easier

As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. 

The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long, nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences...

About the Author:  Kirstin Scriven is part of the Customer Experience team at Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. She is mum to 3 and loves cloth nappies, the forest, the sea and the hills!

Along with the rest of our crack team, she spends most days talking about poo, pee and periods and loves a chance to overshare. The business was recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2021, celebrating their hard work over the last 13 years.

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