Cloth Pantiliners, a Review

EDIT: I made this blog post before I found my favorite maker for cloth liners, Wee Essentials, who make super comfortable and most importantly thin liners. Below I described the liners as bulky, but if bought from the right maker they are definitely not. An updated review to come soon for Wee Essentials :)

Hello, dears! I decided to write a blog post here today, because it has been rather neglected lately. Also, recently a couple of companies have contacted me to do some review work for them. So stay tuned for more review posts and giveaways!

a striped cloth pantiliner from Pixadoodles

The subject of today's post is cloth pads, or more specifically cloth pantiliners. When I first heard of this product I was rather grossed out. To begin with, I am very much a fan of internal products, because I dislike sitting in my own menstrual fluid. One of my favorite things about switching to a reusable cup was that I could wear it while I slept and avoid overnight pads, which always leaked on me, stuck in unmentionable places, and felt like huge diapers. Cloth pads doubled the "ick factor" because after they have been used and are all bloody, you have to wash them. Suffice to say, the idea of washing cloth pads did not seem appealing at first.

fun flamingo liner from eBay

I still don't have full-sized cloth pads, but I use cloth pantiliners on a daily basis. Since I started my period, I have always had a lot of vaginal discharge. And I mean a lot! If I don't wear protection some days it will seep through my pants. So the first solution I found for this problem was to wear a disposable pantiliner every day. I always had a pack or two of the purple Always brand, unscented, pantiliners stashed away in my room. I would have to restock fairly frequently, which was annoying, and my trash can was always full of old pantiliners and wrappers. Every time I went anywhere, I had a spare liner in my purse or backpack just in case.

When I switched to using a menstrual cup, I naturally started to feel a little guilty about wearing my Always liners. What's the point in using a cup, if you're still throwing away liners every day? At one point I did switch to using organic cotton pantiliners, because I had heard way too much bad information about non-organic pads and pantiliners. (They are usually made with a lot of plastic, are not biodegradable in the slightest, are made of bleached cotton, and spread bacteria to the various different lady parts down there. More on this later.) But I still felt guilty about using disposables, and disposable liners also have that annoying problem of peeling off and sticking in unmentionable places. I had the option of using my small meluna continuously to catch the discharge, but I like to let things air out down there when I'm not on my period.

small ring-style meluna menstrual cup

So I decided to take the plunge and order a few cloth pantiliners to see if I liked them. And lo and behold, these things were the answer to my prayers! I found my cloth pantiliners to be much softer and more comfortable than disposables had ever been. They could go a whole day without getting soggy and gross, so they had better absorbency as well. (If needed they can also be flipped over to the dry side too!) They didn't peel off and stick to unmentionable places, and I found that I could throw them in the washing machine and dryer like regular laundry. I still don't use full fledged cloth pads for my period... I primarily use pantiliners as back up for my menstrual cup, or I might use them at the tail end of my period when it's very light. But I found that even when I got a little blood on the liners, it washed out in the wash without staining anything else. And to boot, cloth pantiliners are made with colorful, pretty fabrics. My boyfriend even said they were cute...

adorable hello kitty liner from Pixadoodles

This isn't to say cloth liners aren't without their drawbacks. They are a bit more bulky than a disposable liner, so it takes a bit of getting used to, although this depends on the style of the liner. (The wingless style feels far less bulky.) You have to go through a bit of a trial and error process before you find the liners that you like. They require extra effort because you have to wash them instead of just throwing them away, but if you do laundry regularly that shouldn't be a problem. Lastly, like any reusable menstrual product, cloth liners are going to be more expensive upfront ($3-8 per liner, and more for pads), but they are going to be less expensive in the long run. Overall, for me the pros easily outweigh the cons! These are also a great option for someone who is not comfortable with trying out a menstrual cup, but wants to use reusable menstrual products that are better for themselves and the environment.

EDIT: Since writing this post I have found and fallen in love with Wee Essentials liners. They are very light and not bulky at all like I wrote about here. Updated post to come...

some Pixadoodles liners with stains

Next, I'd like to outline a few things someone should consider before purchasing cloth liners or pads in general. I recommend sampling a couple different types of cloth pads in different styles and fabrics before you buy them in bulk because they are a lot of factors to consider:
  • Material: Since they are made of cloth, the material is going to be a very important factor when deciding what to buy. Consider whether you want a top layer of flat, quilter's cotton, cotton flannel cloth, or another fabric on your pads. Cotton will tend to feel colder, while flannel feels warmer. If you associate coldness with wetness, flannel may be a better fit for you. However, cotton has a smoother texture more similar to most underwear. Personally I prefer flannel liners, because they seem to wick away moisture better. Another thing to consider is whether you want PUL, nylon, or another waterproof layers in your pads that will prevent leaking; if you're going to use cloth pads as your only menstrual protection, and not in combo with a cup, this is a good option.
a "Party in Your Pants" demiliner with nylon, waterproof fabric

  • Size: Before buying pads, you will want to take out a measuring tape and measure your underwear where a pad would normally sit. Normally, you want your pads to be about the same width or maybe a little smaller, so they stay nice and snug on your underwear. Also, measure the length of your favorite pads and liners. While this isn't as important, you won't want to end up with super long or super short liners. Keep these measurements in line, and compare them to descriptions while shopping.

some wingless liners from thecrazyelephant

  • Style: There are winged cloth pads, and pads without wings. I prefer the ones with wings, because they stay in place much easier. But on the other hand, the wingless pads feel far lighter and less bulky to wear. There are also lots of different styles of pads, such as thong shaped pads or pads built into liners. I do not claim to be an expert as far as all the styles, because I have shopped mainly in the low end of the spectrum. Choose a style that's best for your priorities.

In conclusion, I love my cloth liners and I will never go back to wearing a disposable liner every day! I now have a rather large collection of liners, so I can go a week or so without doing laundry. They are comfortable and cute, and they float my boat. For more in depth information on cloth pads, you may want to check out Reusable Menstrual Products.

my cloth liner stash! :)

As far as purchasing cloth pads or liners, here are some websites I would recommend:

  • Etsy.com - As the haven for beautiful, homemade goods, you can find some serious deals and some beautiful pads here. Just search "cloth pads" "cloth pantiliners" etc. My favorite liners are made by Pixadoodles. The extremely cute wingless pantiliners pictured above are from thecrazyelephant. Most esty sellers are more than willing to sell you one sample pad before you buy a whole pack from them--just send them a private message.
  • eBay.com - This is also a great place to find deals on homemade pads. I bought the flamingo liner pictured above from eBay... unfortunately I do not remember the seller.
  • Independent websites like Lunapads.com, FeminineWear.com, and Gladrags.com. These tend to be a bit pricier, but there are always coupon codes floating around.
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment about your experiences with cloth pads or if you have any questions for me.