If you’re new to reusable menstrual pads, or cloth sanitary pads (CSP) as they are also known, it can be a bit of a minefield. This page will hopefully clarify things for you.
Cloth pads have been around for many many years, our great grandmothers used them way before disposables were even considered. Modern cloth pads are much more advanced than the older generations, made using advanced fabrics and fastenings to hold them in place. Cloth pads are washable using normal domestic laundry practices and are easy to look after.
When you first look to buy cloth pads, consider the level of your flow, and the length of the disposable pads that you may currently use. Cloth pads are generally at least as absorbent as disposables withe the same flow level, so if you use regular disposable towels or tampons, you’re pretty safe with regular cloth pads. If you use tampons and don’t have disposable towels to measure, a 9″ or 10″ pad is a good place to start for regular flow. With a hevier flow I’d aim for a 11 or 12″ Heavy pad.
The following information is related to the materials used here at Ngozi Sews. There are others used by other makers of reusable pads.
Evolved over 23 years, my pad shapes are carefully considered and thoroughly tested, and designed to meet the needs of a wide range of women and girls.
The Linear pad shape is my original design, available in superslim, slim and standard widths. It’s a great shape if you don’t like bulk, or much of a flare to your pad. The Super Slim is perfect for younger pad users with a narrow snapped width of 2.25″ and small wings. The Slim has a snapped width of 2.5″ and small wings. The Standard has a snapped width of 2.6-2.75″ and larger wings.
A more recent addition to the Ngozi range is the Contour shape. It has curves in all the right places for those who bleed in all directions and away from the centre of the pad. It has a greater flare than the Linear and smaller wings. Available in 2.5″ Slim, 2.75″ Standard and 3″wide widths, it really is a great pad to meet your individual body shape and flow.
ABSORBENCIES AND CORE FABRICS
Ngozi menstrual pads are available in five different absorbencies, each made with carefully selected absorbent core materials.
Liners are made with a core of 100% cotton flannel. Perfect for the very beginning or end of your period. They are also great for daily wear and as a backup for a menstrual cup or sponge. Liners may be backed in either a slim polyester polar fleece, or a cotton needle-cord which is a really breathable option but lacking in water repellency.
Light pads are made from a core of either bamboo-hemp fleece, or heavy bamboo and organic cotton fleece.
Regular pads contain a layer of super heavy bamboo and organic cotton fleece
Heavy pads are made with a layer of super heavy bamboo and organic cotton fleece, and a layer of heavy bamboo and organic cotton fleece. This is a great slim combination for handling a gushy, heavier flow, without compromising on comfort.
Ultra pads are perfect for overnight use, postpartum use, or those with a very heavy flow. They are made with a layer of Zorb 2 over a layer of super heavy bamboo fleece and a further layer of heavy bamboo fleece. The middle layer is tapered slightly for improved comfort.
FABRIC FOR PAD TOPS
The top, pretty layer of the pad is very much a personal choice. Depending on your flow, you may favour one particular topper fabric that other users would avoid. Here’s a quick summary of the options:
Cotton Lycra / Jersey – A great all-rounder and a really good starting point for all flows. Jersey is the most accessible and there are a wide variety of prints available. Jersey is reasonably quick to absorb blood into the pad, without leaving the wearer feeling dry. It’s usually pretty soft too, although may pill over time.
Woven Cotton – Slower to absorb blood than Jersey, and often feels cool and a bit damp to the wearer. Many people love it as a pad topper for all absorbencies, but due to its absorption speeds, I only recommend it for pads up to Regular flow, and do not offer it on an Ultra pad. Woven cotton is often hard wearing, does not pill and comes in some lovely prints.
French Terry – A cushier alternative to Jersey. French Terry has a knit side, and a side with terry loops. A pad made with it looks exactly like a Jersey topped pad, but the loop back gives it some extra body, and a bit of an absorbency boost. One of my favourite topper fabrics for night time pads.
Cotton Velour – Usually hand dyed by a WAHM dye artist, CV is a lovely topper for heavy flows and night pads. Lots of people use them for lighter pads and even liners, but the velour pile does add some bulk to the pad.
Bamboo Velour – Usually dyed, as with cotton velour. Softer and slinkier due to the bamboo content and feels very luxurious. Great for heavy flows and usually has a shorter pile than CV so slightly less bulk.
Bamboo Jersey – A slinkier, more absorbent alternative to cotton jersey. Fairly rare, but worth trying in your stash because its soft and lovely!
Minky / Plush – A synthetic alternative to bamboo and cotton velours. Made from polyester and has a raised pile that makes it great for catching gushes. Many people find pads topped in minky to be too warm in the summer.
FABRIC FOR PAD BACKS
I use several different backing fabrics for reusable pads, depending on suitability for the absorbency, and availability.
Polar Fleece – The unsung hero of pad backing fabric! Lots of users reject it in favour of other options, but its cheap and cheerful, and whilst is water repellent rather than waterproof, providing that your core absorbency matches your flow, you are unlikely to get leaks. That said, if you saturate your core, your pad will leak through the back. I use two different polar fleeces on my pads. A slim fleece for liners, light and regular pads, and a slightly thicker, more dense fleece for heavies because it stands up to pad saturation slightly better.
Waterproof Softshell – A slim, but stiffer fleece, made up of three synthetic layers. The inner layer of polyurethane makes it waterproof, and very secure on a pad.
Cotton Needlecord – On its own, needlecord is a lovely, cool and breathable option for daily liners that do not need to absorb or hold liquid.
Hidden PUL and Cotton Needlecord – PUL is hospital grade ‘breathable’ waterproof fabric, that works really well inside a needlecord backed pad. It’s thin, but some users find it can get sweaty despite its porous nature.
Earthkind pads are backed in cotton needlecord with a hidden layer of Ventile, a highly water resistant natural cotton textile. This is a more expensive, but plastic free option that will help to save the world!
Essentially, with all of the fabric options and combinations, as well as pad lengths and widths, its down to trial and error to find your perfect pad. The best advice for a new pad user is to try a few and see how it goes. Good luck and please ask if you have any questions.