Saturday 20 April 2019

cloth sanitary pads: how women can make a difference and rule the world!

Malaysia homemade cloth sanitary pads

Yeah I'm like airing my pretty underwears (cloth sanitary pads, really) for the world to see WTF.

Early March I finally, finally tried CLOTH SANITARY PADS. Been wanting to do this mostly for environmental reasons and gearing towards a more sustainable lifestyle. If you're more adventurous, feel free to try vagina cups which require a bit more technique to use but definitely with benefits compare to tampons. You risk Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) due to bacteria build ups if tampons are not change frequently! I don't feel comfortable inserting things up my vajayjay so nope, I'll pass for now!

Anyways, this post focuses mainly on cloth sanitary pads, so moving on! I have been holding back on getting these pads mostly because I thought I'll have to get them overseas and they're usually pricier at RM60-80 or more each and that is without the delivery fees yet!! Then I remembered of course there's Instagram shop these days and true enough, with a quick search I found By WiWin, a local cloth pad maker selling at more affordable price range between RM25-RM35 where I got all these pads from. I later found out there are more local cloth pad makers on Facebook! You can also get the cloth pads on Lazada or Shopee but a friend who has bought them showed them to me and I find them unusually bulky and fabric seems uncomfy so doubt I will get any from these platforms.

My total haul cost me RM219.30 for 8 pieces of cloth sanitary pads ranging from 9" to 12", with the cost of 2 separate deliveries included. Obviously, the shorter ones were meant for lighter days at the end of the cycle while the longer ones for the heavy first few days. Yes, it is going to cost you a lot to get your starter pack but cheaper on a long haul and with lower pollution to environment. With proper care (I will get to that soon!) and depending on how frequent you use them in a cycle, these cloth sanitary pads may have longer lifespan. From the seller's IG, some of her customers have remarked the pads could last up to 4 years! That'll worth your wallet! Perhaps, I should have a follow up post in 2 years to share the conditions of my pads then.

I did bought several pads on 20% off, those are the ones listed as 'defects' due to "un-neat sewings" but they can be barely noticeable. Actually I haven't figure out where the defects were, I guess I can be quite cincai (unobservant)... Wasn't trying to be cheap but that don't bother me because I know I probably will buy more if I spot any pretty designs online *grin*

You can get them from ByWiWin on Instagram, Minus Zero Waste Store or The Hive BulkFoods.

My first impression when receiving the pads were how cute the fabric pattern is and how fluffy the minky, backing layer is. I thought the minky felt warm to the touch but it feels comfy when you put it on without the warm feel. The fluffy part there is minky. I appreciate the different colors but love the lavendar and blue/turquoise tons better, they make me feel calm

The other colors, not so... *sigh*

When I told my friend about it, she went, no one will see (then agreed some colors are actually weird)! I retorted, I will see it and so I don't feel fun about it. I actually prefer if they're all just come in nude, pastel pink or purple or blue, nothing else. Maybe if you want to order you can specify which shade you prefer to WiWin. Moving on!

To bring them around you can fold them and snap them in place with the snap buttons. That way, they're just like carrying disposable pads. When travelling, you can stuff them all together in a makeup bag and have another smaller, waterproof wet bag that fits 1-2 pads in case you need to change them during the day. You can find lots of pretty waterproof pouches these days from Kaison or Daiso.

To demonstrate how to fold it, simply fold the lengths one over the other and snap the buttons on top of them. For the 12" one, you can choose to fold it once which is easier to snap in place but the pad will be longer compared to the others. Otherwise, you can decide to fold once or twice, this will make the pad bulkier to snap the button close but will fit nicely into shorter pouches or wet bags.


on my first time trying 
cloth sanitary pad

So far I have only used the 11" ones, they were the ones I first got to experiment on. I wore them on only at night because I wasn't sure how well the pads can absorb the blood. Definitely didn't want a mess during the day! I am also still quite reluctant to have to change at work because that meant having to carry a bloody pad in my bag unless I am super sure they are absorbent enough to last me throughout the day. So far no problem throughout the night but I will have to try during the weekends first.

Surprisingly, despite using on my heavy nights there were no leaks. In fact, when I checked the following morning, instead of having blood covering most of the pads like on those disposable ones, there was only little blood. Only when rinsing, I could see there was actually more blood coming off. At this point, I cannot be sure if its because my period was lighter the past cycle or the pad is just being amazingly absorbent. More trials needed before I can be truly sure!

The other good thing with cloth pads are while you'd know it's there, you won't feel overly conscious about it. Compare with the thinnest disposable pads I've tried, these definitely feel less bulky and rigid. You girls know sometimes when disposable pads 'fold' and that can be uncomfortable, you don't get it with the gentle cloth pads. Besides that, I do not experience the pads shifting even though I'm pretty sure I toss and turn a lot at night.

How I wash the pads:

#1 Rinse with running water. I read a blogger suggesting to throw on floor and step the blood off while you're bathing, great idea! Can save water :)

#2 Scrub the pads lightly to remove the drier blood. Will happen especially if you wear throughout the night so no biggie! By now it's practically stain free

#3 Squeeze dry and chuck into bucket until next laundry day

Sometimes, if I left the pads for 2-3 days I will soak for 20-30 minutes in a bucket with detergent before chucking them together with my other laundry. Other things you wanna take note while washing the pads as advised by WiWin

One most common questions I got from my friends are how sanitary are reusable pads? IMO the best way to 'disinfect' the pads is to hang your laundry under natural sunlight! No thanks to global warming we all play a stupid part in, you know what's it like to have heat wave and temperatures hitting over 30 degrees Celcius the past weeks! It's laundry field day but no fun! Some things to note include AVOID dryer or boiling the pads as these will destroy the leak proof layer in the pads. Other than that, avoid softeners, bleach or brushing the pads with hard brushes.



By the topic of reusable sanitary pads and blood, I bet you people start cringing already, maybe from the start of the post LOL. I know because when I shared this with my friends, 6 reacted exactly that way, 3 are open to trying or showed interest in getting to know more, only my bff was the most accepting of them all while one friend has tried cloth liners from Lazada.

A very common perception is that period blood is dirty. I think this traditional mindset was passed down by older generation when no proper sanitary products or they were too pricey and uncommon. This forces women to use other alternatives that may 1) not be the most sanitary or absorbent, 2) uncomfortable, 3) just a super messy affair that brings personal shame or 4) all of the points mentioned to the point they could not leave home! 

I even read some people had to give up tertiary education back in the days because they couldn't afford menstrual products! Even today in rural India women are forced to live in makeshift hut, many of which are unsafe or lack the comfort of a home, as they are regarded impure or 'dirty'. Literally they're banished for menstruating, ridiculous! If us ladies go ewwww, reiterates how period is dirty and unable to accept our own bodies (and bodily discharges aka period blood), how are we going to convince the guys to be open and respectful about the topic?

On top of that, lack of education or awareness of the sexual reproductive organs and Aunt Flo may be another factor. Even today, sadly, menstruation nevermind sex ed is considered a shameful subject at school. While we do have a chapter covering the human reproductive organs, the syllabus have been diluted over the years when the syllabus keeps switching from being taught in English and Bahasa Melayu. I don't remember them covering topics like menstruation cycle, sex or pregnancy during my schooling year and I am unsure what is it like now.

The great thing with the Internet these days is that it is a great learning platform. You can start teaching your children about periods and things like that. These are some I found on Instagram!

Cloth pads have come a long way. We now have super absorbent fabric and sanitizing or laundry detergents available. They don't cause discomfort nor is anything to be ashamed of. Will it need to take hitting the big 3-0 for women to finally accept and appreciate menstruation? Or worse, until menopause hits. Facts, our monthly cycle actually slows aging!


The Reasons to Choose 
Cloth Sanitary Pads:

#1 You have high appreciation for aesthetic values ahem and want pretty, pretty pads without needing to sacrifice comfort

#2 You want to save money on a long run. Not applicable if you keep eyeing to add more pretty cloth pads every now and then.

#3 You want comfort for your vajayjay. Cloth pads are more breathable.  Some say the ventilation helps prevent less cramps, but I cannot guarantee. For one, I do light exercise everyday and very rarely experience period cramps or discomfort. Exercise works wonders! Share your opinion if you've tried cloth sanitary pads and do find they help reduce period cramps!

#4 Lesser exposure to toxic chemicals in disposable pads. 

#5 Lower your risk to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) This is especially true for tampons users.

#6 You want to play a part in saving the environment, this is the main reason I converted. If I agak agak, I use about 15-20 pads per cycle and started my period when I was 11. Assuming I won't hit menopause until I'm 50, it will be 7,020-9,360 pads in my lifetime! Though the Internet states a higher number between 12,000-16,000, ALL going to the landfill and not able to decompose for 500 years!

Some may argue that we should be targeting to reduce the use of plastic straws, bottles and packaging. Why go all the way out with cloth sanitary pads? Unfortunately with the scale of damaged we are doing to the environment in such a short period (Read The Guardian's article and The Washington Post's article about Earth's possible 6th mass extinction cause and accelerated by us humans), we cannot tackle just a single object like plastic straws, as Nas from Nas Daily calls this "Selective Empathy". If possible, this needs to be done on a large scale and very quickly.

The Plastic Straw Dilemma (Selective Empathy) by Nas Daily

To sum it up, we have done so much damage to the environment. I am not saying women are sole contributors but we did contribute (monthly!). Women also have the capability to help mother nature in little ways but with huge impacts. So tell everyone that #PeriodIsPretty and join the #PeriodMovement for better period awareness!

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