Homemade Menstrual Pads: First Try
I first tried to make my own pads a couple years ago. Most of my family has some oddball allergies, and I happen to be allergic to the chemicals that are in menstrual products. By the end of my period, I’m always swollen and a bit itchy — in spite of never shaving and thus having a bit of a buffer between my skin and the pad.
I did some research into fabric pads and homemade pads. Everything was either way out of my budget or assumed you had serious ability with a needle. Frustrated, I talked about it with my sister, and with her encouragement, decided to go old-fashioned — I took a ragged old towel, ripped it into strips, and had some workable pads. Fold to an appropriate size, insert into panties, and go.
So, let me say that this is a workable menstrual tool. I stopped using them primarily because I wasn’t healthy enough to wash them right after use. Leaving them waiting to be washed later… let’s say it got nasty.
That aside, it has some issues.
I was okay using it at home, but when I went out, I was looking for a bathroom every fifteen minutes to be sure I wasn’t leaking through. Not fun times.
And that shredding at the sides? Threads knotting into little balls and shit? Not very comfortable.
Of course, there was no way to keep it in place. So when I was active, like taking my daily walk, it might end up shifting around uncomfortably or (worse) out of position for catching the blood flow.
Finally, while it wasn’t a problem for me, folks who shave might find the nap of the towel fabric uncomfortable.
If all that’s okay with you, grab an old towel and go to town. Or if you need an emergency pad because this will absolutely work for emergencies.
Superior Homemade Menstrual Pad: Second Try
Not only am I still dealing with these allergies, but I’ve had my nose rubbed in how destructive our current production setup is to the environment. I always meant to come back for another try, and here I am.
Before trying again, I need to address a few issues.
The two big problems last time (as far as I was concerned) were cleaning and possible leak-throughs.
Cleaning, I’m still not healthy enough to guarantee immediate cleaning on the majority of pads. What I do have is a giant bottle of cleaning vinegar and a smaller bottle of hydrogen peroxide. (I usually use vinegar for my cleaning, hence the big bottle, but it looks like hydrogen peroxide works better on fabrics. I’ll be experimenting.) I also have a good-sized mop bucket.
The current plan is to set up the bucket with a disinfectant solution of vinegar and/or hp when my bleeding starts, put the pads in the bucket as I finish with each one, let them all soak (emptying and refilling the bucket every other day?). Then when my bleeding is down, put all the pads in a plastic bag and take them down to the laundromat for a run-through with hot water and a load of towels.
Preventing leak-throughs took a bit more thought.
I eventually had a ‘well duh’ moment when I remembered that just as there’s fabric (like towels) designed to be as absorbent as possible, there’s fabric designed to prevent water from soaking through. The big ones historically were felt and canvas. And as it happens, I have a good-sized pile of felt leftover from other craft projects.
Towel, folded to the right side, backed with felt, might be the answer I’ve been looking for. A friend suggested three layers — a loose woven cloth (I’m going with cheese cloth) on top. It’ll be a quick-absorbing layer to suck in the moisture and pass it through to the terry cloth of the towel.
My current period is ending, and I’m about out of plastic pads. I’ve got about three weeks to whip up enough fabric pads to last me 5 days of moderate bleeding.
The big question: Will gluing the cheese cloth, towel strip and felt together work, or do I need to whip out my meager sewing skills?
Obviously, this experiment is in-process. Check back next month for updates!
Unfortunately, I got sick in December and January, and my dyspraxia has kicked in fairly hard. That means holding a needle isn’t in the picture right now. I’ll need to shelve this one and hopefully come back in a couple months when my fingers are listening to me again.
The good news is — back in April I finally managed to get one of these made.
It worked well, though I never found the cheese cloth (it’s around somewhere?)
Because my flows tend to be extra heavy, I left and opening between the top layer of towel and the felt that I could stuff more padding (other towel scraps) into.
It worked really well, was surprisingly comfortable (if bulky), and survived a trip through the washer and dryer.
Unfortunately, the one thing that this project proved to me is I am not able to do big (or even medium) thread craft projects anymore. At least not in any reasonable time frame.
So I turned to the obvious solution: Etsy.
My fam sent some birthday money this morning, and first thing I did was pop on Etsy and find a threadcrafter selling reusable menstrual pads. Got my needs met while supporting a someone else who is actually good at this stuff. Is a win.
In the meantime, once my hands recovered, I decided to pull out my fave skirt that got a small tear and see if I could mend it. Small project still took me a month, but I did it. Got a pile of stuff waiting to be mended, and that seems to be a threadcraft project on level with my ability right now.
So… that’s the conclusion of my menstrual pad project.
If you want to make your own and not worry about how nice/pretty/colorful your pads are, you can copy what I did — it does work. But be real about what you are able to do. Yeah, money is tight, but sometimes it really is better paying another crafter and focusing on the skills you are best with.
(I had pictures of the final pad somewhere. If I find them, I’ll add them here. Not at all pretty, but it worked.)