Choosing reusable menstrual supplies ultimately saves money and helps reduce the need for waste disposal. There are menstrual products available online, or you can make your own.
Things to think about
The average woman has regular periods for a span of 35 years, which means about 450 menstrual cycles. When you make your own pads you save money, and reduce the amount of waste you send to a land fill.
You want a finished product that is soft, absorbent, washable and sturdy. These are the same properties that are desired in a cloth diaper, a washcloth or dishcloth.
Cotton is an absorbent fabric, especially certain weaves. Birdseye fabric is woven with a diamond pattern in 100 percent cotton and comes in 36-inch lengths. When it is newly woven, but before it is washed, it looks a little thin. As you use it and wash it, it gets thicker and softer over time. French terry cloth is a knit fabric that is smooth on one side and has little loops on the other. People chose cotton flannel for its absorbency and softness. These fabrics may come in solid colors, or patterns, or in a natural, organic series of tones.
People also make absorbent fabrics by blending cotton and some other fiber, such as hemp, or bamboo. Micro fleece is a recently developed product with fibers that absorb well. Some even wick the moisture away from your body. Other fabric has a waterproof side to minimize leaking. The references listed below offer a large variety of absorbent fiber options. Make sure to note the disclosures on the amount of shrinking to expect when you are calculating how much to buy.
Do it your way
When you design your own pads, take into account the shape that would feel best to you. You could pattern it after a commercial disposable pad that you have found comfortable.
Depending on the fabric, you can make something two or three layers thick, or whatever accommodates the amount of flow you have. You also know if you prefer colored or white underwear. You will want to avoid bleach and fabric softener, so if you chose a dark color, or a print with dark and light colors, stains will not be as visible.
You might chose a shortcut, buying ready-made pre-folded diapers, washcloths or dish clothes and folding or cutting them to a size that fits and feels comfortable.
Washing in cold water is the best way to get out the blood. If you have a very heavy flow, you might need to have one or two dozen available to get through an entire period. Alternately, you could wash the day’s supply out by hand with a gentle soap and dry them for the next day. Micro fleece would dry faster than a heavy flannel.