Caring for cloth pads is very simple. Perhaps as simple as throwing away a disposable. It just requires you to follow a new set of do's and don'ts.
Washing the stain off of cloth pads is one of more frequently expressed concerns. But, if you soak used pads in cold water and rinse them properly before washing in hot water, you will get a clean pad in about an hour’s time.
How to take care of your cotton pads
Taking care of cotton pads begins much before you start using them. Since cloth pads are made of layers of cotton, you should wash new pads prior to using them. This will prime them to absorb more as the absorbency of cotton increases after the first few washes. Washing pads two to three times before using is also highly recommended. You can also soak them overnight before washing.
Your cotton pad can shrink or lose shape after washing. Just pull your new pads into shape before hanging them out to dry in the sun.
Easy-to-follow washing tips for cloth pads
Reusable pads can be washed either immediately after use or after your period. Here’s the correct way to wash them to prevent staining:
1. Soaking- Soak your used pads in cold water for about 40 minutes before washing them in hot water. Use a rust-proof container for soaking. The soak will ensure that the menstrual blood drains out completely. If the pad is extremely stained you can rinse the stained water and soak the pad again in fresh water.
2. Rinse used pads completely to remove blood before actually washing them with soap or detergent. The secret of stain-free cloth pad washing is to keep rinsing till the water comes out clean and clear.
3. We recommend that you soak used pads for no more than two-three hours. But, if you want to soak them overnight, do remember to change the water every day otherwise it will begin to stink. And we don’t want that.
4. A couple of friends I know also don’t like to wash their used pad straight away. If you feel the same, just fold your used pad and store in a bag or container in which air can pass. This is a great way to avoid bad odour. Also, make sure the pads don’t get wet.
5. A few friends have reported that if they let their pads dry, they stain and if they soak immediately after using, they don't. So, you could try out both methods and see how they work for you.
6. You can either hand- wash or machine- wash your rinsed-out cloth pads, but do use warm water. You can use a small quantity of laundry liquid and that’s it. We don’t recommend stain removers.
7. You can tumble dry or line dry in direct sun. We recommend drying them in direct sunlight as the UV rays in sunlight are an excellent natural disinfectant.
8. After drying, store them flat so that they don’t lose their shape. After this, it’s time to store them in their bags till you need them next month. But do remember, they should be totally dry before reuse or storage.
Things to avoid while washing cloth pads
-Avoid using too much detergent as, if not properly rinsed, it can build-up and affect the absorbency of your pad.
-Also keep away from fabric softeners or whiteners as these too can inhibit the absorbency of your cloth pads.
-Similarly, avoid the use of any other soap except those recommended for textile washing.
-Bleach is also a no-no for washing cloth pads. Why? Because bleach wears your fabrics down.
-Vinegar is to be avoided too, as just like bleach, it can also break down fibres and shorten your pad’s lifespan.
-Fabric softener- This coat your pads leaving a film/residue and often fragrance.
-Ironing should be avoided as the high-temperature damages the fleece lining used for making cloth pads.
Caring for cloth pads if you have an RTI
You can use a cloth pad if you are suffering from a reproductive tract infection or urinary tract infection.
Water-based cream to fight the infection can also be applied while you are using cloth pads as these don’t harm or spoil your pad.
Spreading the pads out to dry in the sun becomes all the more important at this time.
This is not really necessary as soap and the sunrays kill the bacteria in stained pads.
But, you can use a few drops of essential oils like Tea tree oil or Eucalyptus oil. This will sanitize them and also keep them sweet smelling.
Read wash instructions on your cloth pads carefully before using essential oils, though.
To sum it up, your cloth pad is hygienic if it is cared for hygienically. When cloth pads are washed well, dried in direct sunlight and stored properly, they are perfectly hygienic and long-lasting. Do follow our simple wash steps and have a happy, eco-period!