What can I reuse to make washable sanitary pads?

In honour of International Women’s Day yesterday, we’re having a week of women’s health and sexual health themed posts here on Recycle This – with lots of related giveaways.

Yesterday, we were talking about how great reusable, washable sanitary towels are – much better for your body, your wallet and the environment than plastic disposable ones. Rachael from Moon Times has given us some wonderful handmade, super-soft pads to give away – if you’d like to be in the draw, just leave a comment on that article before Friday lunchtime (GMT).

But I know there are a good number of crafty people here who would prefer to make their own – and would prefer to make them by reusing and recycling old fabrics that might otherwise go to waste. Our grandmothers would probably have made them out of old sheets and the like but jersey cotton fabrics from old tshirts or baby clothes are probably better now – very widely available, thicker more absorbent and softer too.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen knitted or crocheted pads too – although I can’t any details now — does anyone know anything about making those?

Has anyone got any patterns or had any experience of making their own? Anything to try? Anything to avoid? Is it worth adding wings and if so, what fixing works best? Any suggestions welcome!

Oh and stay tuned – I’ve got another giveaway for later today!

(We all wear white jeans while on our periods, don’t we?)

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8 Responses to “What can I reuse to make washable sanitary pads?”

  1. Cipollina says:

    I use pieces of old and stained terrycloth towels and worn-out t-shirts as inserts in homesewn pads with “wings”. I cut the terrycloth ones so they can be folded twice and make three layers, while the t-shirt ones can be folded a couple of more times.

    I made the pad pattern on the inside of a a cerealbox following the shape of a commercial pad, only made the “wings” so long they overlapped and stitched in tiny snap fasteners to close them (no, I don’t feel them at all). These are made from bits of left-over cotton flannel.

    To keep the insert/s in place I have sewn a cotton ribbon across near each end on the “inside” of the pads under which I tuck the ends of insert/s. At the end of the period I can use only the pad without any insert/s.

    Bonus recycling: my garden is happy to receive the diluted blood that I rinse out of the inserts before washing them.

    • Cipollina says:

      Oh, forgot to mention that I am about to buy a new bunch of underwear to wear during period (big, soft & snug as opposed to the minimal lacey string I wear the rest of the time), and am actually thinking about fastening the inserts directly to them using snap fasteners or velcro or something.

  2. Alice says:

    Just a reminder for anyone switching to a Mooncup or other reusable sanitary wear.

    Your local woman’s refuge often gives shelter to women who have had to leave their homes in minutes, with no chance to take anything and no possessions other than what they’re wearing at the time.

    Any unused tampons or sanitary towels you still have when you switch, PLEASE donate them to Women’s Aid or similar – find your local service here – http://www.womensaid.org.uk/landing_page.asp?section=000100010024

    Also please don’t be embarrassed to donate unused sanitary products to shelters for the homeless or destitute asylum seekers. Yes they do need them!

  3. Kara says:

    Anything you can use to make baby diapers (nappies), you can use for menstrual pads – including actual nappies. I like cotton flannel and fleece, with a windbreaker nylon backing to prevent soaking through. Any reclaimed fabrics need to be at least 80% cotton, bamboo, or wool to be absorbent enough, and polyester will either repel or wick moisture without absorbing it at all.

  4. Rachael says:

    I started with my daughters old terry nappies just cut up and folded to fit in my knickers and then bought some :) its nice to treat yourself to some made by someone else and to support a small business.

    Moon Times have a charity on thier site too- supporting a maternity Hospital in Rwanda and pink pads for a cancer support centre…what a lovely idea!

  5. jaun says:

    I’ve got a good idea and good business opertunity to sell reuseable pads for effordable prises. Just need good envesters to get in on the shelfs..

  6. laila says:

    I am considering setting up a charity for syrian refugees in algeria,
    these people have lost everything, I will be concentrating on washable sanitary pads , nappies , soaps, packs of razors , the reason for choosing washable is simple , hygiene in camps and disposal , reducing risk of disease .
    Any one with patterns for these items the pads and nappies that is please ….
    The idea is that each family member would get a pack, and some fabric for underwear then try to get a couple of sewing machines over there so the women can start making things up
    any ideas please .

  7. Kelvin says:

    Hi, i am an Enactus member here in Nigeria, this year we’re trying to get an alternative solution to girls from the rural communities who cannot afford the conventional sanitary towels, we need something that would be favourable to them financially. So, i’m requesting you let us market your product here in Nigeria for you guys for free. Please message me if you accept my offer.

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