If you're new to reusable sanitary protection, you'll understand the overwhelming feeling that comes with trying to find out which pads will suit your needs. As a maker, I often see people asking these types of questions so I want to use this post to address the things I see people considering when they research what types of pads to purchase first.
Your flow is something that should definitely be considered when looking into purchasing pads. Are you someone who experiences a lot of heavy days? Are your periods generally on the lighter side? Most makers will label pads by absorbency level (much like disposable pads) so this should be factored in when thinking about what might fit your needs.
Everyone is different in terms of which fabrics they like against their skin. Cloth pads come in a wide variety of fabrics including cotton, jersey cotton, polycotton and plush just to name a few (we generally only use cotton/polycottons here at House of Callaway). Some fabrics like plush or jersey cotton tend to absorb faster than standard cotton too which may be more appropriate for heavier flow. Other people tend to lean towards regular cotton as it feels similar to underwear. Fabric choices are a very personal preference so I always ask those new to cloth to consider their stance on this subject.
With regards to choosing pad length, a key place to start is by measuring your current, favourite type of disposable pad. From here, you can consider whether the length is suiting you well or whether you find you bleed off the front or back (meaning you might like to try something longer or flared). Other people may find that they fill very little of the pad, meaning they might like to try a cloth pad of comparable absorbency but shorter in length.
The design of a pad is also a personal preference. Some people prefer very plain pads which are able to hide stains well while others love cheerful, bright prints. With so many makers around the world, you are almost certain to find a print you enjoy.
Some fabrics are faster drying compared with others. If you are thinking of having a smaller stash of pads or want to build your collection slowly, how quickly you can wash and dry the pads you choose may be an important factor for you. From my personal experience, my terry towelling core pads tend to dry more slowly compared to those with zorb cores.
Cloth pads come with a range of different backing options such as PUL, polar fleece (which are both offered at House of Callaway), corduroy with hidden PUL, windpro and many more. It's useful to consider the differences between PUL and fleece as a starting point as well as other factors such as how thin you need the pads to be (windpro fleece and PUL tend to be thinner options).
Finding a reputable maker
I also feel it is important to mention about seller reputation. Before purchasing anything, you should exercise your own judgement to ensure the business you are buying from is legal (e.g registered correctly within their country, paying taxes if required etc), are insured and using safe methods of payment. Besides this, you should also check to make sure that they are transparent about how the pads are made and any waiting times.
What about those looking for a menstrual cup?
I often see people in the reusable community recommending the 'put a cup in it' quiz. I personally have not tried it or taken recommendations from it (I had already purchased a cup I was happy with by the time I learned about the quiz) but others have said it is useful.
The bottom line
I hope this post has been helpful in providing a quick summary of information I've picked up from being a member (and maker!) within the cloth pad community for the last 4 years. Beginning to use cloth sanitary protection is a very personal journey as everyone has very unique needs so regardless of how much research you put in, there will always be an element of trial and error. I hope that this post has given you more of an idea of where to start your journey!
If you found this post helpful but would like us to explore another topic on this blog, please feel free to message with your suggestions!