Cloth Pads (and menstrual underwear)

Preparing for use

New pads

Cloth pads only require one wash with detergent prior to use, this can be with your nappies or normal laundry. No matter what fabric they are made from, they don’t absorb the same amount of liquid as nappies, so one wash is more than enough. You don’t need to soak them to build absorbency.

Second-hand pads

For second-hand pads, strip and sanitise them as you would for second-hand nappies. If they are cotton or flannel topped, they will run the risk of fading in the bleach sanitise – but this is the easiest, cheapest and most effective method.

Wash routine

Rinse after use

Rinse your pads in water until it runs clear, do this immediately after use or at the end of the day. You can do this in the shower if you prefer. You can use cold or hot water to rinse them. While it is commonly said that hot water sets blood stains, we have not experienced this. Menstrual blood has a different make-up to vascular blood as it has other substances mixed in to it (eg cervical mucus and endometrial tissue).
Read more about hot vs cold water.

Pre-treat for stains

You may or may not need to pre-treat your pads, depending on if you are experiencing stains. We recommend using Sard or Sunlight bar soaps for stains – these have proven very effective on cloth nappies.

If you can’t remove stains using this method, you could try these alternative ways:

  • Vanish/Napisan soak for 1-2 hours (max 4 hours). Some cloth pads contain PUL, these should be soaked for minimal time so the PUL doesn’t degrade.
  • For persistent stains, try a warm/hot pre-wash. This is a 30 minute cycle with a small amount of detergent. You could also try adding a laundry booster produce (eg Vanish) to this pre-wash. See our nappy washing guidelines for more details.

Minky is very stain resistant. Cotton or flannel may be more prone to staining.

Dry-pail

As with cloth nappies, dry-pail until wash day.

Main wash

The same principles for clean nappies apply to cloth pads:

  • Use an adequate amount of a good strong detergent since these are heavily soiled items. See our Detergent Index for more info.
  • Use warm or hot water.
  • Ensure you have good agitation.
  • Use a long cycle.

You can wash your cloth pads with your main nappy wash or general laundry.

Dry

Dry using your preferred method – hanging or in the dryer.

Yeast infections (Thrush)

Visit your Doctor or Pharmacist to confirm you have a yeast infection and get yourself treated.

If you have a yeast infection before or during your period, you’ll need to sanitise your cloth pads to kill the Candida fungus and prevent reinfection. Use a bleach sanitise for this. Follow our sanitise instructions.

You may want to switch to disposable pads/tampons for the rest of your cycle, or you’ll need to add bleach to your main wash.