Cloth pads and menstrual underwear

How to care for cloth pads and menstrual underwear.

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.

There is no need to soak pads to build absorbency.

Secondhand pads

Sanitise secondhand pads 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.

Washing cloth pads

Wash cloth pads with your main nappy wash or general laundry.

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. Menstrual blood has a different make up to vascular blood as it has other substances mixed into it (for example, cervical mucus and endometrial tissue).

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. 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:

  • Soak in laundry booster 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 30-60 minute pre-wash with detergent and laundry booster. Learn more about pre washing.

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


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.
  • Use warm-hot (40-60°C) 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 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 treatment.

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 our bleach sanitise instructions.

You may want to switch to disposable pads/tampons for the rest of your cycle. If you continue to use reusable cloth pads during your infection you’ll need to add bleach to your main wash.