Life Without Plastic: Cloth Menstrual Pads


Making the decision to go plastic-free the day before my monthly menstruation was…interesting. Quick action had to be taken and I was thankful for already owning a Diva Cup. However, I do not enjoy wearing the cup all the time because sometimes the cramping is so extreme that I don’t want to go rummaging down there in order to insert it. So I needed an alternative. I have been eyeing cloth menstrual pads for some time now but I have been slightly repelled by them and had many questions involving cleaning, changing them while at work, how long they last, etc. As soon as I made the commitment to rid my life of plastic I immediately started looking into this option once again and was able to view them in a much more friendly light. I did a lot of research, watched a lot of YouTube videos, and was able to answer many of my concerning questions. Goodbye disposable pads!


One hitch. I needed these eco gems immediately. My search switched from learning basic info to learning how to make my own. I watched some more videos, became crazy inspired, and went to the store to pick up a couple of everyday items. I didn’t want to spend a lot in case I did not like it so I basically bought rags: 1 orange absorbent cloth and 1 cotton cleaning cloth. I was excited to use my host families sewing machine and whip it up quickly but the sewing machine rebelled against me and I was left to hand sew the pieces. I wore it almost as soon as I had finished and I immediately loved it. It was so much more comfortable than disposable pads and I was excited about my choice to switch to the more sustainable option for more than just environmental reasons. Because the reusable pads are made from natural materials the blood dries on the pad instead of staying moist and accumulating odors as with disposable pads. They are also easy to change while out and about, you just need to carry extras in a wet/dry bag – which is useful for carrying clean and used pads. There is no smell and the used pad folds on top of itself and clips together like a little pouch. Easy peasy.

You can buy/make them in any size you need and there are many sellers that can be found on Etsy (along with major name brands such as Lunapads and Moonpads, which tend to be a little pricier). Another bonus is that these reusable pads can last from 5-10 years! So even if you have to pay a small chunk of money up front you will save a great deal in the long run. For example: if you spend approximately $20 a month on tampons and pads you will spend between $1,200-$2,400 over five to ten years (I don’t know about you but I can think of MANY things I would rather spend money on than sanitary products). Whereas, if you buy a stash of cloth pads you will spend between $100-$200 and they will last the same amount of time (while also cutting back on an extreme amount of waste!). This price is also more affordable if you have the time and resources to make them yourself 🙂

I will now demonstrate how I made my reusable pad with a few pictures and instructions. Enjoy!


First you will need to make a template. Take a regular piece of white paper and fold into fourths. Then draw the design I have on the photo below. This template will create around a 9″ pad and can be used as a liner/regular flow/heavy flow pad depending on how many liners you choose to place inside for absorbency.

fold in half design

Second, cut out the template and trim it so it is the size and shape you desire. Remember that the actual pad will be smaller than the template due to seam allowance when you sew. You will also cut a liner which is a little smaller than the center shape.


Third, trace the pattern on your pieces of fabric. For the large pattern, which will be the outer pieces, I used a simple cotton fabric. For the liner, the absorbent pieces, I used an orange rag (similar to those ShamWows they make), but you can also use an old towel, flannel, or any material that absorbs well.

cotton flannel

Fourth, sandwich the fabrics and sew all of the liner pieces together. Below you will see that I also cut a large orange piece. I did this to create more absorbency in case I leak unto the wing area. I sewed the large piece in the middle with two liners on each side to keep it balanced. It does not have to be done this way, it is just how I chose to do it.


Fifth, once you have the liners sewn together you will place them on top of the two outside pieces (colored blue in the pictures) and you will sew all other around – leaving a small area to turn it right-side out once done. The two blue pieces will be on the bottom and the orange liners will be on the top when you sew them together. The nice thing about the material I chose is that there is no right/wrong side, it is the same on both sides, so I didn’t have to worry about that when sewing. Pay attention to this when you sew yours.


Sixth, turn the cloth pad right-side out. Sew up the hole and top stitch around the edges to keep everything in place. I also added stitching on either side of the liner. Something that is not pictured are the fasteners. Use you can snaps or velcro ( I am currently using a safety pin) to fasten the wings under the underwear to keep the pad in place. Once you use the pad it can be folded up and the wings snap it in place to keep the soiled area on the inside.

sew 2

Viola! You are done! You can now enjoy your own cloth pad – or just buy one online if you are too scared to try it yourself 🙂

Much love everyone!

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