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How to clean Cloth Period Pads


We've been stocking and selling our eco friendly cloth sanitary pads since 2014 so we know a thing or two about how to wear them, wash them and store them.

Since then, our daughters have grown up and have all started their periods and we really proud that they are using reusable cloth pads and pants.

Now, you'd think that being the offspring of team Cheeky and having been at home for a couple of years in those formative, period beginnings that they would have seen how to clean reusable pads, how we help our customers get the best out of them and how to KEEP THEM IN GOOD SHAPE!

Apparently not....Exhibit A below is my 15yr old daughter's "stack" of used pads that I stumbled upon when collecting 10 million cups and plates from her room and Exhibit B is what I found when I opened them up as well as a lovely surprise in the strucket!

Exhibit A

Exhibit B


How do you clean smelly cloth pads?

To clean smelly cloth pads, ideally, rinsing in cold water immediately is the best start. This gets rid of all the blood and it is so satisfying to see it running down the sink. This also serves to show you how much they can absorb!

These reusable sanitary pads had been on the shelf for 3 days...I know! The water has to be cold as blood is a protein stain, so putting hot water anywhere near it will set the stain.

If you can't rinse immediately if you are at work, school or out and about, then folding them closed with their poppers is a great way to store your soiled menstrual products.

Pop them in a wet bag until you get home.

"Having already used the period pads, my daughter wanted to try the pants too. There was no problem exchanging for a larger size, and the pants arrived quickly. (Great fit this time!) Cheeky Wipes products give excellent quality and value for money. Reusable period protection is so much easier to deal with than I expected; my daughters tell me they are far more comfortable, and no bother at all to wash. I'd urge everyone to give it a go." Via Trustpilot

How do you get dried blood out of reusable pads? 

To get dried blood out of reusable pads:

  • Rinse the pads thoroughly in cold water
  • Soak them overnight in a sink, mucky box or mini strucket (shown in pic) in cold water with a scoop of oxy stain remover powder
  • Leave them there until you are next putting a wash on (no longer than a day or so!)
  • Machine wash at 30c or lower on a long wash cycle


What's the best detergent for reusable pads?

The best detergent for reusable pads is whichever washing powder or laundry detergent you normally use, but avoid eco washing products such as soap nuts or ecoeggs as they don't tend to have the stain removing power necessary. 

The most important thing when washing cloth pads is to wash reusable pads at 30c or lower as 40c or above will 'set' the bloodstain. I tend to squirt them with a bit of oxy stain spray to prevent staining.

Then just put them in the machine with everything else. Most of our pads are colourful so we wash them on 30 degrees with our colourful clothes.

The plain pads you can see in the pictures are my original ones from 2014 so they are still going strong and I WILL get them back to their pristine state! 

I put them on a good long wash with regular non bio liquid, and another scoop of stain remover but that is mainly because I am also washing my 12 yr old son's t-shirts!

NO fabric softener for reusable menstrual pads or pants. Fabric softener will coat the layers of the pad and pretty much render their absorbency useless.

A long wash will work hard to get through all the layers of the pads so removing all traces of blood. A rapid wash won't do this. 

Washing your pads at a higher temperature will set blood stains and can cause shrinkage on our cotton pads, so is not recommended.

How do you dry reusable pads?

To dry reusable pads, on a sunny day, the washing line outside is the best option.  If there are any lingering faint stains, the sun will also act as a natural bleach. 

When they are out of the machine and satisfyingly clean, gather the aforementioned teenager to marvel at the cleanliness of her pads and ask her to hang them out for thorough air drying!

On 99% of British days, this may not be an option so hanging them on an airer is the best option or use a socktopus. Avoid direct heat such as a radiator and AVOID the tumble dryer for your pads. The heat could damage the waterproof layer and there is no point wearing a pad that isn't leakproof.


As a team, we have all been using and washing our pads and pants for a number of years so are always happy to chat and advise on anything from how to stop pads moving around in your underwear, which pads are best for your flow and of course, how to wash them.

Check out our other blogs that may be of interest.

How to have a Zero Waste Period

Can you prevent leaks on your period?

Can you wash period pants with other clothes?


About the author: Jo van Huet is a mum of 2 and has been working with Helen, Cheeky founder, for over 20 years. She has been Head of Customer Journey at Cheeky Wipes for almost 8 years following a stint “helping out at some Baby shows” since 2008! Jo has used all the products from our wipes on her kids (now 12 & 15) to our period pants and pads. She is passionate about making sure our customers are happy, informed and feel listened too when they get in touch. Her team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! 






07 April 2014  |  20:01

H2ave recently received my sanitary risks, and look good, although not had chance to try then out yet. Have used cloth for years though so shouldn't be a problm. My only question is: do you wear then white side up, or colored side up? I for white but want to be sure.

11 May 2014  |  20:30

White side up, we've just done a top tips guide here:

08 April 2014  |  7:17

Bamboo side up, it's the most absorbent. The minkee on the other side helps keep it in place, although I also wear fairly tight fitting knickers.

10 May 2014  |  20:31

Can they be put in the tumble dryer? if so low heat or high heat?

Thank you :)

10 July 2014  |  5:59

We tumble dry on low, but line drying is best if you have time and space.

Rosie Besnu
20 January 2022  |  23:14

I never tumble mine, as itís not advisable, as it can decrease the life of the pads. In the summer, I hang mine on the line in the garden, during the winter, I put them on an airer (usually in the bathroom or in the kitchen)

Laura Fox
15 May 2014  |  16:50

Is it ok to use biological powder with these cloth sanitary towels ?as they contain bamboo and have learnt through using cloth nappies that bamboo apparently breaks down over time with use of biological detergents and non bio is a better option?

30 March 2016  |  10:56

We haven't found any difference here?

18 May 2014  |  7:39

We use an ecoegg (sorry not very helpful) but the bio / non-bio argument is unclear. As you're not likely to be washing the pads on a daily basis (unlike nappies) there is little chance of them being impacted by washing powder.

Lucy Smith
04 July 2014  |  9:46

Do the pads need to be ore washed before use? How many times?

10 July 2014  |  5:58

We used them straight out of the packet and they were fine, although will increase with absorbency slightly over repeated washing.

Polly Spencer-Vellacott
06 July 2014  |  7:49

Considering max size ones for maternity use but then I read your advice on tight pants - surely not best for postpartum use. Any ideas? (note I had a section last time so wore really big (above scar) pants but don't really know what the alternative would be)

10 July 2014  |  5:57

As long as the pants have a decent amount of lycra percentage and aren't baggy (and not thong sized!) , you should be fine. Sloggi type are good - they don't have to be the 'full brief' size, normal bikini brief is fine as long as they have lycra.

01 October 2014  |  8:52

Can I just soak them with my wipes? And then wash in with wipes and nappies?

02 July 2020  |  9:55

Yes, but you should only wash anything bloodstained at a max wash temp of 30c, as anything higher than that 'sets' the stains.

Tina B
22 February 2015  |  22:05

Are they ok to use after birth also I normally put witchazel solution on mine to aid healing will I be able to do this with these?

02 July 2020  |  9:59

Yes! The liner sizes are fantastic soaked in water and witch hazel, then frozen and used as a 'pad popsicle' to reduce swelling post birth.

23 February 2015  |  7:09

Oh, that is so soothing! Yes, you could do that, I tended to buy a pack of gauze packs and soak them in the witch hazel in the fridge - they are then cool which also helps with any swelling?

26 March 2015  |  15:22

HI, I am considering using cloth following the birth of my second child in September. Prior to getting pregnant I switched to using a cup and I am also considering using reusable nappies so it would make sense to switch to reusable pads as well.

I've been looking at the kit where you can get 10 of the maternity pads etc. Would this be enough? How often do you have to change cloth pads? Would I be able to wash them with the reusable nappies? Basically I know nothing so need as much info as possible before making a purchase! Thanks for your help.

02 July 2020  |  10:02

Hi Sabrina, 10 pads would certainly be enough to start with, if you're washing every other day or so? It really depends on how heavy your bleeding is after delivery. I tend to change mine 3 ties a day on my heavier days, but in the immediate aftermath of birth, this will be more frequent.

You can certainly wash with reusable nappies, but max temp for washing bloodstains is 30c (anything higher than that 'sets' the stain, so you would have to use a sanitiser like Dettol antibacterial laundry liquid for your nappies.

21 April 2015  |  15:21

Possibly a silly question but if you're using the pads over a long cycle (5-7 days) and rinsing them off in cold water then storing them in a wet bag for washing altogether - do they not start getting mildewy?

02 July 2020  |  10:04

Personally, I would only leave my pads for a couple of days before washing, but I have a wash going on at least every other day, so that's not a problem. In your situation, I would be aiming for a wash on day 3/4 and then a further wash at the end of your cycle if your washing machine isn't on as regularly.

Vicky H
24 September 2015  |  15:34

I work in an office and wonder how best to store/deal with used pads? Thank you

02 July 2020  |  10:05

We recommend using a wetbag to carry your clean and soiled pads around. Luckily we do sell a few variations here:

Rosie B
28 September 2015  |  20:33

I have week long monthlys (lucky me!), am I ok to leave the pads this long in the mucky box before washing or do I need to wash more regularly? Thank you!

02 July 2020  |  10:06

I would recommend washing once mid-cycle and then once at the end.

Good luck!

Cheryl Glinwell
28 February 2016  |  23:22

Off to the in laws for weekend what's the best way to still use daily towels?

02 July 2020  |  10:08

No problem...if it's just for the weekend, simply store your used one's in a larger wetbag, then soak and wash when you get home. Don't worry, they won't smell!

We sell medium and large wetbags here:

04 March 2016  |  21:10

I'm thinking of starting to use cloth pads, This might be a silly question but do you wash them in the machine with other items or do you wash them in the machine by themselves?

02 July 2020  |  10:10

Not a silly question, as long as you wash at max temp of 30c, you can wash them with anything else. I appreciate that some men have thrown strops over not wanting soiled pads washed with their shirts (!) but personally, if this is an issue, get hm to wash his own blooming shirts!

05 March 2016  |  7:06

You can wash with a normal dark wash, no problem as long as you use a cold / cool wash.

Lillie Van De Laarschot
26 March 2016  |  17:19

Can you wash the pads using aerial liqutabs ?

30 March 2016  |  10:56

Yes no problem Lillie.

Erica Griffin
02 September 2016  |  11:47

We cloth bum our baby, can we wash these in with her nappies and her cheeky wipes? ;)

Our routine is to do a cold rinse and spin before a pre wash and cotton 40 oc cycle with extra rinse. Does this sound ok? Will there be any transfer to her white wipes/nappies?

02 July 2020  |  10:12

You can wash the pads with wipes and nappies...BUT at a maximum of 30c because washing at 40c will 'set' the bloodstain as blood is a protein stain. If you're going to do this, we recommend using a sanitiser like mio fresh or dettol antibacterial laundry liquid to sanitise your nappies.

Patricia Struben
01 January 2017  |  15:16

I have to wear a pad every day due to oops moments. Mine are smelly. I soak them straight away in cold tea tree solution and wash once per week in 30C Eco egg wash. One I wore yesterday and washed today still really smells of pee. What am I doing wrong?

02 July 2020  |  10:15

Patricia, I'm sorry but I think it's your ecoegg. They are fine for washing lightly soiled clothes that just need a freshen up, but not much good for anything stained or potentially stinky. I used one for a couple of years until my Mum bought me some Daz and I realised what a difference it made to my laundry! Soap powder isn't the most eco-friendly, but it's also not very eco-friendly to have to throw items away because of stains and soiling. Especially kids white school polo shirts! I found that I got MUCH more longevity from them by switching to a traditional bio-powder for these.

Lesley Robson-Blundell
04 February 2018  |  0:05

What happens to any clots, that would be on them. How do we deal with them during washing

05 February 2018  |  17:30

You can either hold one end of your pad in your hand, put the other in the loo, then flush and soak as usual, or just soak them and tip the dirty water and clots away down the loo. Alternatively, just bung the whole lot into a long cold wash in the washing machine and any clots will again just wash away.

13 September 2018  |  15:55

Can you recommend a good eco friendly stain remover to use in the wash with the,?

14 September 2018  |  8:04

We like Oxy Clean from Astonish. It's eco friendly and made in the UK too!

08 November 2019  |  23:25

I have week long cycles and Iím currently tending to rinse off all my protections and then store them together soaking until the end of my cycle and then I wash them all together, but they start to get a bit smelly by the end of the week - is there anything I can do to stop this? Iím not in a position to wash them over two washes in one week and donít really want to because it wouldnít be a full wash so there would be environmental factors. Thanks!

09 November 2019  |  16:57

Hi there, I'd recommend soaking them in the tea tree oil and water solution and changing it every two days? Alternatively, soak them in some oxi type cleaning solution, again changing every couple of days.

01 July 2020  |  16:26

What do you do if you're out and about and need to change it? Wouldn't want to be rinsing it in a public bathroom?

02 July 2020  |  9:54

Easy! We recommend using a small wetbag to transport your clean and soiled pads. Just pop a clean one into your knickers and place the soiled one into your wetbag and then deal with it at home. The pads popper closed, as in the picture above, so there's nothing untoward to see from the outside.

04 July 2020  |  19:51

Thank you for the 4 kids/tampon problem comment, it did make me laugh (which in itself can be risky having also had four large babies!). I am using my cheeky pads for the first time today - I went with maternity/night time sized as my cycles are frequently heavy - and the first thing I have been struck by is how COMFY they are! The usual disposable towels cause me to itch unbearably and feel vile. These, it's like wearing your coziest pyjamas, but in your knickers! So thank you not only for this wonderful and affordable option but also for getting them here the day after I ordered so they actually got here in time for this cycle!

06 July 2020  |  10:32

Hi Nikki!
Thanks so much for the lovely feedback - we do try our best to be open and honest about how life is for us, so glad it made you laugh!
Also great to hear that you're loving your pads, that has just started my week with a big smile!

05 July 2020  |  8:41

can you tell me if this is correct?

Rince in cold water, in toilet or sink.
Store in mucky box which has cold water and tee tree oil in.
Wash every 2/3 day's on no higher than 30 degrees with powder and no conditioner.
Can put other items of clothing in the wash with them.

Can you please tell me if the charcol is charcol bamboo? I like the idea of not seeing stains etc but want the absorption of bamboo.


06 July 2020  |  10:34

Hi Becky,
Yes, you've got it bang on correct! You could also bung in a bit of stain removing powder into your mucky box when cold soaking them...but actually if you're going for the bamboo charcoal, that won't be necessary. And yes, the bamboo charcoal are the heavier absorbency option.

05 July 2020  |  8:42

Also I forgot to ask, can you use the smaller liners as daily panty liners for when you are not on your period?

06 July 2020  |  10:35

Hi Becky,
Yes, definitely, although I actually prefer the period pants for that sort of situation. I would definitely recommend that you try and pair and see what you think (and look at the reviews too...lots of people call them 'game changers'.

15 November 2020  |  18:37

Iím loving the bamboo towels but this month I forgot to wash for around a week and have been faced with a mildew sort of smell. Washed once on 40 with other clothes and they still smelled bad. Iíve just washed again on slightly hotter and have a faint smell. Have I ruined them forever?

Iíd really appreciate any advice for how to get them back to their former glory.

(Note: I wonít let myself forget to wash them again!)

17 November 2020  |  9:12

Hi Nadia, we have all done this at some stage. I recently just left damp towels in the tumble dryer (not dried) before being away for a few days and came back and they were humming. Try soaking in Oxi or with a mild vinegar solution overnight. Even if this doesn't remove the smell entirely, they are going in your knickers and should still be functional.

Noirin Montgomery
01 May 2021  |  11:12

My first time using this month and I feel better for it but I am finding they are moving a lot so ruining some pants in the process. Any advise?

04 May 2021  |  12:55

Hi Noirin, Tight-fitting pants are generally best, with a high percentage of lycra. Best thing to do is give our lovely customer services team a shout to '' as they have all used the pads and pants themselves and can give you good hints and tips. Personally I wear my pads alongside our period pants as that means I can change a pad easily during the day and just wear the pants by themselves overnight, but everyone is different. I know Jo and her team will be happy to help.

10 August 2021  |  12:07


My pads have q damp mildew smell that I can't get rid of. Can you reccommend how to make them stop smelling?

10 August 2021  |  13:05

It sounds like your pads have either been left soaking for too long before washing, or haven't been dried properly at some point and unfortunately it's very difficult to get rid of that smell.

Try adding a cupful of bicarbonate of soda to your next wash, using white vinegar to rinse.

Try washing them with a cupful of white vinegar in the next wash, or alternatively