I often get asked about dealing with stains on cloth menstrual pads. Due to the nature of washable pads, it’s highly likely that you are going to have some stains to deal with from time to time. But, with a few little tricks up your sleeve, it shouldn’t be a big problem.
Washing hints for cloth pads
When it comes to washing cloth menstrual pads, cold water is your friend. This may seem a little strange, usually, when it comes to cleaning very dirty washing, warm water is ideal. The difference with washing menstrual pads is that blood is a protein. This means that hot water denatures it and causes the stain to set. It is a similar process to when you cook an egg. The heat causes the egg white to turn from clear to white and solidify. The heat has denatured the protein and altered it.
If you wash your pads in cold water, you have a much better chance of washing out blood and stopping stains from occurring in the first place. You don’t need to use any special powders or liquids, your usual washing detergent should be fine. As with cloth nappies, avoid fabric softener or those detergents that have it built in. This can coat the fibres and reduce absorbency.
Dealing with stains on cloth menstrual pads
If you are worried about dealing with stains on cloth menstrual pads, then one of the best things that you can do, is stop them before they even start. Washing pads regularly, rather than letting them sit for days before washing can help. You can wash with your ordinary clothing, but you may want to pre-rinse them first before adding the other washing. You can do this in your machine or in a tub before hand.
I often soak my pads before washing. Cold water works well and will remove a lot from the pads. Some people then use the liquid from this on their (non-veggie) gardens. There are actually lots of nutrients in there. It’s not for the faint-hearted and other people often prefer simply tipping it away down the toilet. If you are tipping the liquid away, then a small amount of salt or washing powder can help to stop any stains from setting. This will make the pads easier to clean.
‘The type of fabrics used on cloth pads does make a difference to stains and how likely they are. Dark colours such as our bamboo and minky pads, hide marks and stains. A lot of people prefer these as they don’t have to worry about marks. Natural fabrics such as cotton and bamboo are prone to holding onto marks, bamboo, in particular, tends to stain very easily.
This is one of the reasons that our white topped pads are made with microfleece. Not only is this soft to the touch, but it doesn’t feel damp against the skin and it doesn’t hold onto stains. Although it is white in colour, you don’t usually have to worry about dirty marks on the pads after washing. It can be handy to have a white pad, particularly if you are using them after giving birth so that you are able to easily judge how heavy your flow is.
Keeping your menstrual pads clean and stain free shouldn’t be difficult. If you are looking to give reusable menstrual pads a go, or add to your current stash, check out our range here.