I get asked all the time about how to wash your cloth pads, and it’s really pretty simple. There are a couple of options, but this post will cover using a washing machine.
When it comes to washing your cloth pads in the machine, there are a few methods you can use, but it depending on whether you stain treat your pads prior to washing and if you have a phobia/are squeamish about blood. Before we get into the actual washing process, let’s run through storage options.
When changing your cloth pad, you need somewhere to store your soiled/used pad. You have two options for storing which are wetbags or pail buckets.
Wetbags are as the name suggests – they are bags designed to hold wet items due to a waterproof later. This makes them excellent for storing soiled cloth pads. The bags are usually a woven cotton outer, lined with PUL (Polyurethene Laminate) as a waterproof membrane. Wetbags with the outside made from PUL can be solid colours or printed patterns. Soiled cloth pads can be stored dry. Or if you like to rinse and apply a stain treatment after changing, they can be stored slightly damp. Just make sure to not let the pads sit in the
Soiled cloth pads can be stored dry. Or if you like to rinse and apply a stain treatment after changing, they can be stored slightly damp. Just make sure to not let the pads sit in the wetbag for more than a couple of days, and always make sure the zipper is open to allow air circulation. If you can allow a pad to dry after rinsing, this is preferred.
If you’re blood phobic or squeamish: when changing your pad, just unsnap it, fold in half and pop intp the wetbag.
WET/DRY PAIL BUCKET
You can use a bucket or a bin with a lid/cover for it. The idea behind this storage solution is that you would ‘wet pail’ your pads by leaving them to soak in cold water until your wash day. It’s a good method if you want to try and prevent staining but don’t want to stain treat each individual pad. For this method you want to add cold water to a bucket/bin, and fill it with enough water that your pads are all submerged. Place face down in the water as this helps draw blood from the core. At the end of each day you need to replace this water to stop it going rancid. To save wastage, I pour the contents onto my garden as it’s a nutrient-rich drink for plants. Make sure you have the lid open or off to allow airflow.
You can also use a bucket/bin to store your pads dry instead of using a wetbag.
Please be aware that if you are unable to tip your pads into the machine, then you will have to manually handle them. This would not be ideal for people who have a phobia of blood and cannot touch or look at their used pads. If blood squeamish then I would suggest dry storing using the wetbag method mentioned above.
Tip: Use a mesh wash bag as a liner for your bucket. This will allow easy transfer of pads to the machine so you do not have to touch them.
WASH METHOD 1 – BLOOD PHOBIA/BLOOD SQUEAMISH
If you cannot deal with your blood at all, then I would suggest storing your used pads in a wet bag that’s large enough to hold a full cycle worth of pads. Just fold the pads in half and place into your wetbag when changing your pad without looking at it. When wash day comes along, follow these steps so you do not come into contact/have to see blood:
- Get your wetbag and open the machine door
- Unzip the wetbag and place inside the drum
- Close the door and put machine on a cold rinse cycle
- Your pads will come out of the bag and open up as the drum turns
- After rinse cycle, add your detergent (NO FABRIC SOFTENER)
- Optional – add a scoop of Oxygen Bleach (this will help remove stains)
- Set machine off on a warm cycle 40c with extra rinse
- After cycle has finished, hang pads up to dry or tumble low if the pad brand allows
As you can see, you do not come into contact with any blood or your soiled pads. I would definitely suggest step 6 to help remove stains since you would not have stain treated your cloth pads prior to washing.
WASH METHOD 2 – NOT BOTHERED BY BLOOD/PRE-TREAT STAINS
Store your pads in a wetbag or a pail bucket (dry or wet pail – it’s up to you) until the end of your cycle. If you want to pre-treat your pads for stains before washing, then you can do so. I would suggest using a stain stick such as Buncha Farmers/Living Naturally Soaps
- Stain treat pads that need it (Optional step)
- Place your your pads in the machine drum and close the door
- Put the machine onto a cold rinse cycle
- Once rinse is finished, add your detergent (NO FABRIC SOFTENER)
- Optional – add a scoop of Oxygen Bleach (if you need to shift stubborn stains/or omited step 1)
- Put the machine on a warm cycle at 40c with extra rinse
- Once cycle is finished, hang your pads to dry or tumble on low if the pad brand allows
It’s important to make sure you follow the care guide of the cloth pad brands when it comes to tumble drying, as some do not recommend it at all. But usually, you’re okay on a low setting. Hot/high will likely melt the KAM snaps that secure the wings around your underwear, so never ever dry on a hot setting.
If you don’t have access to a washing machine, then check out my post on how to handwash cloth sanitary pads.
I hope you found this little guide useful. Please do share it with anyone new to cloth and wanting to learn about washing their pads.