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How to use reusable sanitary pads - our easy guide

Updated September 2023

You probably know this feeling. Or something similar.

It's school run time, you're chivvying kids along to brush their teeth properly, put on their shoes without being asked again.  Suddenly you feel a familiar moist feeling between your legs and realise that your period has arrived. 

Normally, your heart would sink, but it's great news on this occasion because it means you can try out your new eco friendly Cheeky reusable sanitary pads which you're strangely excited to try.  

You quickly grab a pad and head for the loo. 

The panty liners are so soft to touch! Such a difference to crinkly, wrinkly, plasticky disposable pads which make you itch and chafe. You actually can't wait to give them a go.

But hold on. Houston, we have a problem.

'Which way round do they go? And which side faces up? What if I get them the wrong way round? I don't want to end up sitting in a puddle of blood.  AARRGGHHHH'

How to use pads - easy guide to using reusable sanitary pads

Duh, duh, duuuuhhhhhhhhh. <Or other suitably scary musical interlude....>

Thankfully, you aren't alone, this is one of the questions we most often receive from customers regarding how to use pads and it's a quick and simple one to answer. Wearing a pad, washing it and reusing are easy. In our easy guide to reusable sanitary pads we'll cover:

"Probably the best purchase I've ever made.

I've tried so many pads and they always leak, i was having to use 2 at a time and still was leaking through to my trousers....been wanting to try reusable pads for a long time but the prices I had seen put me off for something I didn't think would be much better.

When I see how affordable the starter pack was, I gave it ago.

The pants where a bit big and scary looking, but when I tried them they where so comfy and not noticeable, the pads I was worried about slipping as my disposable pads never stay in place but nope they fit perfectly and stayed where they needed to.

I was absolutely over the moon how much the pads and pants held, not 1 leak.

I didn't have to change my trousers multiple times and I didn't have to worry about getting up in the night to change.

I've recommended them to everyone I know and think they are amazing products with so many advantages, I now welcome my periods and have the confidence to leave the house and not worry about any accidents." Trustpilot Review

How to put on a reusable pad

The lovely Issie has done us an Insta video showing EXACTLY how to insert the pads into pants, but here's how to put on a reusable pad:

  1. Label down
  2. Narrow end to front
  3. Pattern down
  4. Popper under your knicker gusset

1. Label down

If there's a label on your pad, you want to place the label facing down into your pants. No-one wants a scratchy label against their vulva!  

2. Narrow end to front

This doesn't apply to all pads, really just our Fearless reusable incontinence pads, but if there's a narrower end to the pad, that should go to the front.  

3. Pattern down

With Cheeky pads, you'll find that means you'll be inserting the pad into your knickers with the patterned side down and the plain coloured side face up against your skin. 

Our pads come with either a grey cotton or bamboo charcoal top or a cream bamboo terry top.

4. Popper under your knicker gusset

Then it's just a matter of using the poppers to close the pad under your knickers. Cheeky pads have two poppers, allowing you to adjust the width which is super handy, as different knicker styles tend to have different width gussets.

How often should I change my pad?

You should change your pad in line with your flow. Most people find that every 4 to 6 hours is sufficient.  Generally, reusable pads tend to be more absorbent than their disposable counterparts but this is a bit of a 'how long is a piece of string' question as periods vary SO much from person to person.

I would say that my periods are regular. On lighter days I'll use fresh one in the morning and the evening and maybe a change at lunchtime.  On heavier days, I might change at lunchtime, after school / work and then again at bedtime. 

Heavier flow people (using our bamboo heavy flow pads) may need to change more regularly.

Every period is different, every person is different.

If this is your first time using cloth sanitary pads and you're a bit anxious about it, just use them at home until you get used to them.  

That will give you a chance to get used to them, see how absorbent they are for yourself and then be able to wear them with confidence when you need to:

'The cheeky wipe reusable period pads are great and nice to be contributing to landfill. The pads wash well and dry in no time on a radiator. I will never go back to using disposable period products. They do cost a bit to buy but think of saving of the years as you can reuse cheeky wipe period pads again and again.' Elaine, Trustpilot

How to fold a reusable pad closed

So now that you've tried your reusable menstrual pads out and been astounded and amazed at how well they performed. What on earth do you do with your used pad? 

Definitely not something to be left lying around for your mother-in-law to spot if she drops in for a cuppa.

Here's how to popper a pad closed

Here's where the handy poppers on your reusable cloth pads come into their own, especially if you're out and about. Here's how to fold a reusable pad closed:

  1. Take the pad off, continuing to hold it pattern side down / soiled side up
  2. Fold each end of the pad in on itself, covering the soiled area
  3. Popper closed over the soiled area to make a neat, discreet packet
  4. Place into your wet bag for easy transport home

How to wash reusable pads

Should I soak reusable pads?

Yes, you can soak reusable pads overnight or for up to 24 hours. Here at Team Cheeky, after removing our pads, we rinse in cold water in the sink. Alternatively, if that isn't possible, it's good to soak the pads in cold water until washing. We like to pop in some teatree and lemon essential oil to kick start the hygiene process (plus it smells great too!)

To wash cloth pads, choose a decent wash cycle length of at least an hour long. Wash at 30c with your normal detergent. Use a capful of stain remover to prevent staining. Oxi type is our favourite because it's ecofriendly and works really well.

The most important thing to remember here is cold / cool washing, definitely no higher than 30c. And line or air dry if possible.

Avoid hot water, 40c or above because blood is a protein stain and by washing in anything higher than body temp (36.5c) will 'set' the stain.

Avoid the tumble dryer too as the waterproofing on your pads is heat bonded, so the tumble dryer can damage it if too hot.

Avoid fabric softener as it can impact the absorbency of your pads over time. If your pads need softening, add some white vinegar to your wash

'Extremely comfortable and easy to use period pants and reusable pads. I’ve been trying to reduce my plastic use, but have had difficulties with menstrual cups in the past, so I generally rely on pads.

I love the designs on these and how soft they are, and once you get into a routine of soaking them after use and washing them, they’re really not too difficult to use.

I now have enough to go through a whole period without using disposable pads, but even if you start off with just a few, you’re still reducing your plastic waste, so I’d highly recommend trying them out. There’s also a lot of information on their website, so it’s a good resource too' Katherine, Trustpilot

We hope you've enjoyed our Cheeky guide to reusable pads. If you found this useful,  you may also enjoy:

Pad Rash: Causes and how to prevent it

How do you clean reusable sanitary pads

Heavy periods ruining your life? We may have a solution

As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch, please try our online quiz or questionnaire where you'll get a tailored recommendation based on your period needs - answered by a real person!  Or, 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:  Helen Rankin is the founder of Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. Champions of ‘Simple Reusables’, with 4 kids of her own, she appreciates that switching to reusable alternatives needs to be easy.

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