Here's how I've re-purposed my ceramic crock pot liner and its lid. I sprinkle a little baking soda, add a bit of vinegar and boiling water (no more than 1/3 of the way full), and let it foam up and then cool down. Then I add a couple of drops of tea tree oil. Sometimes, instead of baking soda and vinegar, I just use the tea tree oil, or a little hydrogen-peroxide, or Oxy-Clean, or biodegradable detergent, depending on what I've got in the house. (Whatever you use, make sure it's biodegradable and safe for plants.)
Now, how to use the thing: I use that as a soaking post for my cotton menstrual pads. It loosens the blood and kills at least some of the bacteria. Every morning, I pour off the water into a watering can and use it to water my garden, and the nutrients help my plants to grow really well.
"Hey, wait a minute!" I hear you cry. I know at least a few of you are going "Ew, re-use a menstrual pad?" Here's the thing: your grandmother did it, and so did every other woman who came before her.
I did the calculation, based on a woman beginning to menstruate at the age of twelve and continuing to menstruate until she's 57 (that's 45 years of cycles), one could spend up to $10,000 on disposable pads. Alternatively, one could spend about $200 to buy a startup kit of re-usable overnight, regular, and mini/panty-liner sizes, then buy another two or three re-usable pads at $8 to $15 each every year or two, as they wear out, and wind up spending about a tenth of what one would spend on disposables.
By Chayil from Chicago, IL
Editor's Note: We are aware that this is an extreme measure for most of us but it is a frugal and green option, similar to using cloth diapers. There are several companies that sell different brands of reusable menstrual products.
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I am sorry but since no one else said it, I will be the first to say it! I find this really appalling and gross, the whole idea of making menstrual pads! I don't like pads at all because they are bulky and inconvenient and there is the smell factor but at least the store pads have absorbent layers where the fluid goes and some have a deodorized scent.
I am thinking the grandmas did it because there were none around to buy in the stores at that time. Sorry if I offend!
The idea of the smell is the main objection most people seem to have, I've noticed. The thing is, the disposable pads have a far stronger smell to them, because you wear them for so much longer, four to six hours, in many cases. The cloth pads, you change every two to three hours, so the smell doesn't have a chance to build up. I've worn these while training attack dogs, and the dogs didn't behave any differently from the way they normally do. No one's ever noticed a smell on me or on my belongings -- and yes, I have friends that are honest enough to mention it if they did notice. It's no different from cloth diapers.
There is also an option of a menstrual cup--a soft, silicone cup that is worn internally (like a tampon), removed, emptied and rinsed several times during the day. A re-usable cotton pad could be worn simply as "back-up". (There are sewing patterns for re-usable pads with wings, that use velcro on the wings for secure placement.)
It may all sound "gross" to some, but it is certainly worth thinking about! Saves both money and "carbon footprint" impact. (Because that impact is felt not just in the landfill, but in the manufacturing process, packaging, transportation, and so on!)
KimmyLynn, I whole heartedly agree with you.
You stated that a woman has her period till age 57! I don't think so! The average age that a woman reaches menopause is 51 I believe. I am one of those who is past needing to buy pads and sure am glad!
I will pass on this one, When I first needed them, you had to use some kind of an old cloth. I remember what a difference it made when you didn't have to do that anymore. Some things are better to stay in the past and that is one.
As far as I'm concerned this is no different from babies cloth nappies (diapers?). Less land fill less expensive and just a little more labour intensive but I did it when I was younger and yes, I worked full time, so I know what it's like.
Well, somehow the whole rest of the planet manages, with reusable supplies, but I will do some other green thing rather than give up my wonderful feeling of clean. And did you know that over 60% of supposedly menstrual products are actually purchased for urine? Those of us well past menopause will still fill those landfills.
I've been doing this for about 10 years but I occasionally use disposables for situations where I can't change often. I also have a sea sponge which works like a tampon and have purchased reusable tampons here: www.etsy.com/
I have to say that reuable ones are SO MUCH more comfortable than those nasty plastic ones. When I am home, I have special towels that I use. I find doing this rather liberating (Read a book by Inga Muscio called "Cu*t"), she inspired me! I find that women these days are so scared and grossed out by their own period, it's really very sad. I celebrate my period and don't mind it. I find it cleansing and feel so feminine! Anyone who is grossed out by this should reexamine themselves. It's part of how our body works and being a woman, celebrate your moon cycle! :)
An Alternative to the Alternative:
I've been using a diaphragm instead of Tampons or Pads since the early 1980's. A Diaphragm is reusable each month over & over again & it holds much more than even a super-heavy pad or tampon which is a bonus because I have/had heavy periods (I'm starting menopause). At night I'll use one WITH a pad. I also use a store bought soft-cup that looks exactly like a diaphragm. They are made of plastic & the makers say you have to use a new one each time, but I've found that if I bleach & clean it each month & store it in a baggie, I can use one over & over for several years or more. They go in & fit just like a diaphragm so you can still have sex with them when you are on your period with little or no mess. They're not the hard plastic menstrual "Cups" I've seen. They are just like a diaphragm made of plastic not latex (so no allergies). I swear by them! I've used them for over 15 years & before that I used a diaphragm, which is the very same thing! I never have to buy tampons. I can use my little cup over & over again saving me tons of money!
They were off the market for a while & are back on the market again! Here's the link:
PS: I'm 54 & I remember my grandmother telling me how back in her day (she came from a poor family, sometime around the 1930's) she grew up using white cotton socks or rags for menstrual pads) & how she was so very pleased the first time she got to use one of the new "Kotex" brand pads. She couldn't believe how soft & comfy it was! We like to complain how bad things are with our periods, but once you realize just how bad the women of days gone by had it & how women in 3rd world countries still have it. We shouldn't complain! Back then, I doubt there were any clothes dryers & I would have be embarrassed to put these socks out on the clothes line each month but I bet the UV rays help keep the odor & bacteria away if you don't use bleach. I would recommend pouring peroxide on the reusable pads once a while to clean & disinfect them.
Great post, Chayil. I have been using homemade menstrual/incontinence pads for about a year now. And would never want to go back to paper pads again. I only wish I had discovered this 20 years ago! I made mine from flannel & they are so comfortable. I am only 47 but have had an incontinence problem for years & my pads double for both. There is NEVER an odor, as some may suggest. I rinse the blood out in the sink using a bar soap & then soak them in a bucket until I am ready to do a load of laundry.
Since I am an avid recycler & reuser, it really seems quite natural. Anyway, thanks for posting & hopefully encouraging other women to do the same & free themselves from paper. God Bless, Trish in CT
Please reconsider using the Insteads and the Dive/Moon Cups. Your period blood is supposed to come out of your body. Using those products could risk toxic shock and possibly death. Peace!
I just started making my own pads 2 weeks ago. I have made 6 for myself and 6 for my daughter. They are so soft. I make the outside with flannel and the inside pad is flannel with terry cloth. I wash them on the gentle cycle and dry them on low heat. My daughter and I were going through about $12 a month in pads.
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