*UPDATED TO INCLUDE FACEBOOK LINK*

Sorry this is so late in posting!

October Only: Stock-Up Sale!

Spend $100, get 10% off. Spend $200, get 15% off. Spend $300, get 20% off. Discount is applied at check-out. Not valid with coupon codes. However, all other discounts (sale/clearance items, buy 3+ and save, and $3 off moon pad bags with purchase of kits) are still applicable!

Fill out a Survey for Lunapads and get a FREE sample pantyliner (you still pay shipping & handling)

Be sure to check out the Clearance section for some good deals:

LUnapads is discontinuing some fabrics and are changing their snap style. What does that mean? Savings for you! Looks like up to 15%. Plus, I’m seeing a sale on the Diva Cup and on some Thong Pantyliners (genius idea, those!).

As always, spend over $75 and get free shipping.

Not sure what Lunapads are, or what the fuss is all about? Check out my post on reusable feminine products to find out more!  You can also find Lunapads on Facebook.

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If you’ve been looking to get some cloth menstrual pads after my write-up on Monday, Randumosity’s Etsy shop is having a sale for her Facebook fans. Head over to her page, Like her and find out the special code and how to use it.

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This is part of a new series of posts called Ditch the Disposables where I explore and educate about reusable options for common disposable items.

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I’ve had some questions come up from readers lately about reusable feminine products, both menstrual cups and cloth pads, so I thought I would write up a post about what is out there and what I use/recommend.  (Guys- you can skip this post, if you like, or pass it on to the women in your lives!)

My Story (or How I Discovered The Cloth World…)

For several years, I hated my monthly period. I mean, hated. It was just painful, a bother, and… gross. I would have at least 24 hours of debilitating cramps (the type that would leave me writhing in a super-hot bathtub, delirious with a pain fever, begging to die), followed by the next several days of dry and painful tampon changes.  I thought that this was just how it was. Deal with it. Pop a few Midol or Aleve and move on. Pray that next month it was better.

Never even considered using cloth. That had been extinct since the 1800s, right? Who uses “rags” anymore?  I don’t even remember now how I first saw cloth pads. It may have been when I was researching cloth diapers (even before I was pregnant!). But in any case, I bought a sampler pack from a retailer.

The Options

Cloth Pads

There are actually a few different “styles” of cloth pads available.

  • All-in-one: these are made where the absorbant layer on top and the water-proof layer on bottom are all sewn together as one piece. These need to be changed completely, as a whole, with each pad change.
  • Pocket: these have a pocket where can “stuff” absorbant material to your specifications. Water-proof later is again on the bottom. These need to be changed completely, as a whole, with each pad change.
  • All-in-two (well, that’s what I’ll call them): these have the water-proof bottom, sewn to an absorbant top. Then there will be another layer of flannel that is detatchable. This is held to the main pad with either snaps or a piece of rikrak. When you change these, you usually only need to change the top layer with each change, reducing the number of “pads” that you need.

Any of the above can be found as a) lay-in pads: your body holds them in place to your panties. Or b) “with wings” that snap around your panty to hold them in place (this is more common).

You can purchase these from well-established retailers:

Or, if you are so gifted, you can make your own. Here are some patterns available for free on the web (I just did a Google search – there were more!):

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are made from either rubber or silicone. They are designed to be inserted into a woman’s vagina during her period to collect the menstrual fluid. Depending on the brand, they can last from 5-10 years before they need replacing.  There CAN be a learning curve in how to insert, but once you’ve figured it out – easy! They are generally available in 2 sizes and choosing the correct size is important, because it is the muscles in your vaginal wall that keep the cup in place.

Popular Brands:

Sea Sponges

Contain no Dioxin or synthetic fibers, are sustainably harvested and reusable for three to six months or more. They can be custom trimmed to fit.  Sponges are naturally very absorbent, and can also be used during sex. They have been an option for contraception for years.

Where to buy: Jade & Pearl is a common brand. I have NOT used these, so this is the extent of any knowledge I have on these.

Accessories

Carry Bags are probably the most common, also known as “wet bags”. These are bags where you can store your cloth pads or diva cup between uses.  Some brands make a variety with a water-proof outer layer, perfect for storing used cloth pads until you can launder them. Essential for when you are “out and about”.

How This Works in Real  Life

Use

You use cloth pads the same as you would disposable pads. Changing as needed and recommended, according to the manufacturer. The biggest thing new users will notice is that a) you WON’T notice them after a while. No sticking to your skin. No drying out.  And b) your period may become lighter.  This was a big one with me. I always needed “maxi”, “heavy day” pads previously. Now, I can easily get by with lighter-day pads on most days, and maybe only one heavier day where I need the “big guns”.

With the cups, the biggest hurdle is learning how to insert them properly. Once that is done, you will never know how you did without it. They only need to be emptied once every 12 hours. It was amazing how little blood there actually was. Especially with how moist my girly-parts felt. I learned that I had been sucking my natural moisture out with the disposable products and this is what was causing most of my pain issues. When I do empty the cup, I wipe it out, reinsert it and I’m good to go.

Out and About

Everyone is always concerned with this part. What do I do when I’m out of the house? Well, what did you do before? Ball up the tampon/pad, wrap it in toilet paper, and toss it, right? Well, just omit the last 2 steps. 🙂 With the cup, there’s literally nothing to do: wipe it out, reinsert it, keep going. With the cloth pads, replace the top liner or the entire pad, depending on the system you’ve chosen, put the soiled pad in your carry bag. Replace with a new pad. When you get home, rinse out the soiled pad or soak it. Then come laundry day, wash them. That’s it.

Laundry

Just like with cloth diapers, people are seriously freaked out about the ick factor when it comes to cloth pad laundry. At this point, 2 cloth-diapered kids later, nothing really grosses me out anymore. Well, maybe spiders.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to cloth pad laundry.

  • Soak method: this requires you to have a soaker pot, or something in which to store you pads, covered in water, until laundry day.
  • Rinse method: This method has you rinsing out any soiled pads in your sink. And then placing them somewhere until laundry day.

I personally use the rinse method.  I tried the soak method and had an issue with my soaking pot seriously stinking. And I can’t take stink. People do recommend using essential oils, or even drops of soap, to combat the stink. But for me, it was just easier to switch to the rinse method. Works just as well for me.

After whatever method you’ve chosen, you can either a) do a load of just the cloth pads, b) add them to your regular laundry (some people choose towels. Doesn’t matter to me or my husband – so they’ll often go in our regular laundry), or c) if you have children in cloth diapers, you can toss them in with the diapers.  Some caveats: do not use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets. These will usually cause your cloth pads to repel liquid, which obviously defeats the purpose of having cloth pads. Leaks = Yucky.

I dry in the dryer as I do any other load, but have line-dried on occasion.

The cup is really easy in regards to care and cleaning.  I will give mine a good cleaning, rinsing, etc at night after using it. And then after each cycle, boil it to sanitize it.  Each manufacturer has different recommendations, so follow their directions. Once I’ve sanitized mine, back into its storage carry bag and into my purse for the next cycle.

My Final Thoughts

While my initial reasons for switching were completely personal – I was sick and tired of being in pain – I have come to realize there are so many more benefits. First, I am not spending money on disposable products any longer. More cash in my pocket! Love that. And I no longer have the dreaded moment when I’m in the bathroom and realize I am out of supplies! Who’s been there? Raise your hand. I see you! Everyone has. (In fact, I do have a limited supply still in my bathroom from pre-cloth days, but they’re for guests who find themselves in that same spot.)  Second, I am no longer throwing away products that are going into landfills. Huge bonus! And lastly, I am not introducing my body to toxic chemicals each and every month.  I know that should be higher on my list, but honestly, I had never thought about that before. Pain and money are usually higher on my list of priorities. So, shoot me.

And what about that pain? Gone. I have not suffered from significant menstrual cramps since switching. Minor annoyances, but nothing that impedes my daily life. And nothing that requires OTC medication.

Any questions? Please leave a comment. If I don’t know the answer, I will find out!

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I have made no secret of the fact that I love my cloth pads.  My journey with using them on a monthly basis started when my skin started to react to conventional “plastic” maxipads and tampons.  And they would dry out my skin so much that it would make the whole thing painful.  Looking for an alternative, I stumbled onto this entire world of softness, comfyness, and just utter decadence.  Pretty prints just for me?  It makes the entire process not so “icky” and just a part of my life.   There are several retailers out there, as well as several patterns for you to make your own, if you are so inclined. I am not so gifted. LOL.

Green Things

Because I have been so open about my love for cloth pads, I was contacted by Cindy at Gentle Cycle Pads and asked if I would do a review of her products for my readers.    I advised her I had recently stopped nursing my youngest and while my cycles were not completely back to normal, I did use cloth pantiliners most days and would love to review these for all of you.

She sent me this pantyliner in a stars & moon print.It’s made from a really soft flannel and has metal snaps to snap it into your panties. At first, I was a bit skeptical.  I’m used to pantyliners that seemed a bit more substantial.  But within a few hours of wearing this, I was convinced it would work fine for what I needed it to do.  The material was soft and comfy. The pad never moved and I wasn’t even aware it was there after a bit.

It was even possible to fold it into itself, with a little effort.  Which is an essential for me if I need to put one in my purse wetbag, or to have an extra.

It has held up after multiple washes and I am convinced it would continue to wear well in my cloth pad rotation for the next few years.

Cindy makes all of her pads by hand, so each may show imperfections or irregular stitching. This did not affect the effectiveness of the product in any way.

BUY IT:

Gentle Cycle Pads can be found on Etsy, as well as on Facebook.

Other Products:

You can also purchase AIO pads, as well as pads without wings from her Etsy shop.  Prices start around $10.  Personally, I am more inclined to use a pad system that allows for easy changing-out of a soaker pad, and not the entire pad, but you may like her system more. To each her own. For a pantyliner design, Gentle Cycle Pads work well and I am glad to have it in my collection.

Disclosure: Green & Frugal Mama received no compensation for this review. Gentle Cycle Pads provided me with a free sample of this product. However, I was under no obligation to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

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Some great deals this month:

Buy a 7Day Pantyliner Kit, get an 8th Pantyliner FREE! The 7-day kits start at $74.99.  These are super-comfortable and I use them most days of the week!

Sampler Packs are 25% off! $24.99. (Organic Sampler Pack $29.99) Each sampler pack includes:

  • One Maxi Pad
  • One Basic Liner
  • One Wing Liner
  • One Mini Pantyliner

These are great for someone just wanting to “check out this whole cloth thing.”  It’s how I got started! Let me warn you,… you will never go back. 🙂

And lastly…

Organic Sateen Seconds

Two options:

Each Pack includes 3 Factory Seconds Pantyliners or Pad & Liner Sets, made of 100% organic cotton sateen and 100% cotton fleece. Organic sateen is silky, lightweight, and cool to the touch – making these perfect for warmer climates. Save $15 off regular priced pads and $10 off regular priced Pantyliners!

Note: These Pads & Pantyliners been designated as seconds because of of a slightly “ruffled” effect that occurs after washing and drying, due to shrinkage.”

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Great video from Lunapads – learn how and why to switch to cloth!

Have you won anything recently?? I enter a lot, but don’t always win. BUT this is what I’ve won lately:

All of the above blogs run giveaways often, so please go check them out! Enter as many as you want, and enter often.  Be sure to follow any rules for entries these bloggers lay out.  This is important to make it fair for everyone.  Good luck!

And what I’m seeing today:

UVSkinz over at Look What Mom Found! Ends 9/1 and is open to US residents only.

Mimi’s Dreams Cloth Pads over at Momma Told Me. Ends 8/15 and is open to world-wide residents.

Happy Green Bee organic kids’ clothing over at All Aboard (the review & giveaway train!). Ends 8/26 at 11:59 PST. US residents only.

Win a Terracycle backpack and pencil case over at Life with the Lebedas. If you’re never heard of Terracycle, they take people’s GARBAGE and upcycle them into AWESOME stuff. Check out their website while you’re at it. 🙂 Giveaway ends 8/24 at midnight.

If you find any more green giveaways out there, leave a comment to let everyone know!

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