Last year, in the spirit of Earth Day, I made a resolution.
I must admit - it wasn’t something I was terribly excited about doing at first – I looked at it as taking a pretty big risk and did not have a lot of faith that it would work out well.
But as I look back over the past year, I can say with full confidence that I’m a total convert and wouldn’t go back for anything.
What I did ranges from being no big deal for some (and indeed, seems like nothing out of the ordinary to me now) to being a huge, potentially weird and disturbing deal for others.
In short – I made the switch from using disposable menstrual products (pads and tampons) to using reusable menstrual products – cloth pads (or as it is sometimes known – ‘mama cloth’), a menstrual cup, and sea sponge tampons.
I wrote all about my initial experiences in various posts you can find HERE – they include reviews of Moms Crafts 4 U (along with Earth Mama Angel Baby Monthly Comfort Tea), Lunapads, GladRags, the Diva Cup, Sea Sponge Tampons, and Party in My Pants.
Now that I’ve been using these products for an entire year, I wanted to share a bit more about my experiences. I’m not gonna lie – I’d love to help convert you too (I’m even sweetening the deal with a cloth pad giveaway at the end of this post)!
When I was first contemplating the idea of making the switch, my initial feelings were that it was just too yucky. It also seemed expensive, and like it would be a lot of work. I worried about what I would do outside of the house and whether the products would really work well for my heavy periods (I frequently managed to leak through super plus absorbency tampons!).
I made the decision to switch, as I said, without a lot of faith. But every single objection has been answered so thoroughly over the past year that I can now only wonder, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
It’s Too Yucky
Let’s face it – periods generally are not a pleasant thing. The easiest and quickest route to getting them over with is to flush whatever it is down the toilet (or throw it away) and think about it as little as possible.
There were a few things that came up for me in answer to that objection – the main one being that as a mom, there’s pretty much very little that can gross me out when it comes to bodily function. Changing diapers (and washing them, in the case of cloth), getting puked on, dealing with another little being’s constant snot streams during sickness…there’s not a lot we don’t have to deal with – it pretty much just becomes a matter of course.
And ultimately, it’s the same with our own stuff. It’s not nice – but it is natural. It’s not something we need to be ashamed of or really even disgusted by – it’s just something you deal with.
I’ve also come to something of a shift in my idea of gross. I’d much rather use a cup or sponge I’ve washed myself than inadvertently insert a moldy tampon (how I shudder to think that may have happened to me without me knowing it!). I’d rather know what I’m exposing my most sensitive parts to is natural and chemical free as opposed to pesticide, bleach and chemical filled. And I’d rather dump a little bit of blood down the toilet than have it hang around for hundreds of years in a landfill – talk about disgusting! :p
Cloth Pads Are Expensive
It’s true – there’s an initial investment (and if you’re looking at some of the bigger name brands, they can appear to be quite costly). But then you have to consider this: Disposable pads and tampons used in an average woman’s menstruating life will cost her $4500 compared to $200-$750 for reusable pads and tampons.
I haven’t bought disposable products in an entire year, and I’ve definitely seen more room in our budget (and all my products are still going strong). There are more intangible costs I’m avoiding as well – a particularly large one being in the area of my health. I’ve seen noticeable differences in my PMS symptoms, heaviness of my flow, and length of my period (all improvements) since I’ve started using reusables. I can only imagine how much all those chemical laden products were affecting my reproductive system! For the benefits I’m gaining health-wise I would be willing to pay a lot more than I did for my reusable stash.
They’re More Work
Yes – flushing or throwing something away is easy. But washing cloth pads really ain’t that hard. Some people pre-soak – I don’t because I’m not squeamish about such things (see above under ‘yucky’ ) – I just throw them in the wash and done. I sometimes find it mildly annoying to take the 10 minutes to boil the Diva Cup every month – but I would find it much more annoying to have to run to the store for pads or tampons. Sea sponges are even easier – you just toss them in some water and baking soda, give ‘em a rinse and that’s it.
I work full time – I never feel like I have enough time for anything – I’m always under the pressure of busy-ness – essentially I don’t take on a lot of anything I would consider a waste of time. Reusable menstrual products? Just not a problem in that area.
Outside the House
This was one of my biggest worries. When I first made the switch I was still on maternity leave and didn’t have a ton of reasons to leave the house regularly. What would I do when I had to deal with this stuff at work?
Once again – not a problem! I’ve gone swimming, taken airplane trips, and gone to work on a regular basis with my reusable products in use and never once run into a problem. In fact, I’ve been more confident, as the tampons I used to use frequently leaked, and I never have that trouble with my Diva Cup.
Some do worry about emptying it – but one, you can generally get away with several hours without having to do so, and if you don’t have a private sink available, you can just throw a pack of wipes in your purse and use them to wipe it out after dumping – easy peasy. You can get mini wetbags for carrying cloth home in your bag (even just folding the pad over on itself and buttoning it will work in a pinch). The only one I wouldn’t recommend for longer trips outside the home are the sea sponges (unless you have 2 and can just switch them out).
Finally – Do They Really Work?
Well, by now I’m sure you know the answer to that – but just in case – YES!
I’ve always had very heavy periods and ‘accidents’ were an exceedingly frustrating matter of course – especially at night. Now, I don’t have to worry. I generally use the Diva Cup during the heaviest days, with a cloth pad for backup, and as the days get lighter I go with just cloth. I also like to use the sea sponges at home as I find them slightly easier and more comfortable than the cup.
This, ultimately, is what makes me say, “I will never go back”. I trust these products so much more than I ever could the disposables – they work better for me than any brand of tampon or pad I ever tried. I believe that no matter what your period is like, there is a reusable product out there for you that will work better than any disposable you’ve ever tried either.
I’ve enjoyed and continued to use all of the products I bought and can happily recommend all of them (and there are many more available – if you are looking to get started, be sure to shop around!), but as I draw this post to a close, I want to highlight one that has pretty much been my favourite, and that is the cloth pads from Moms Crafts 4 U.
I love Veronica’s stuff! Her pads are cute, very affordable, and very well made. After using them for a year, washing and drying regularly, I haven’t noticed any frays or fading. Her customer service is excellent and you can tell she truly cares about her products and the people she’s making them for.
I even thought back to my original review, where I mentioned that I felt her pads were a little on the short side. Now, having used them regularly, I think I was wrong in that – compared to the other pads I purchased, hers are the most perfectly sized for most of my daily needs (though I do like the longer ones at night).
And because I love her stuff so much, I asked her to once again donate a giveaway for the Becoming Crunchy readers, which she has generously agreed to do.
Veronica of Moms Crafts 4 U is giving away a sample set of 5 handmade cloth pads – a $26 value – to one lucky winner. Here’s a little bit more about the prize:
You will receive 5 Pads in different prints (I will make sure there is a nice assortment). This starter kit will give you an idea of what you’ll love before committing to a large order of one type. Included:
- 2 Panty liners – approx 2.5″ x 8″ …Multiple layers of Cotton or flannel, Flannel and Fleece
- 2 Regular Pads – Approx. 2.5″ x 8″ when snapped … Multiple layers of Cotton or flannel, ZORB (An extra Absorbent Barrier) and Fleece
- 1 Heavy Pad – Approx. 2.5″ x 8″ when snapped … Multiple layers of Cotton or flannel, ZORB (An extra Absorbent Barrier), PUL (anti-leak barrier) and Fleece
These printed pads will put a little smile on your face every time you wear them!! They are 100% cloth pads, custom HANDMADE by Moms Crafts 4 U. Really soft and super comfortable. They are fleece backed so they stay in place well, they don’t slip around!!
Sewn with care and decorative top stitched for extra absorbency & leak protection. All fabrics are machine washable, so when you are done you just wash in cold cycle, & dry. These pads will last you for MANY, MANY years!! You can Reuse over & over. The winged pads in my store snap shut with Poly resin snaps.
I know this post has been a long one (phew!) but I truly hope it’s answered some of your own objections around the idea of starting out with reusable menstrual products – and if you still have questions, I would be happy to answer them!
Now, enter for your chance to win below – it doesn’t matter whether you want to give reusables a try for the first time or add to your stash! The only thing I ask is that you be honest – I do check entries and will not accept you as a winner if you don’t follow the rules. There are no mandatory entries – you may complete as many or as few as you like.
Good luck – and stop by again this week – we’ve got a great guest post and another giveaway coming up!