Look what's just arrived from Silly Panda!
This is a set of five cloth sanitary pads. I'm so glad I chose the "random" fabric selection, because look at these hilarious beauties! The first two (left to right) have llamas, the yellow one is the cutest dinosaur ice creams, the pale blue has bees, and just look at those gorgeous geometric rainclouds. Well worth the wait!
(Silly Panda's production time is around 8-12 weeks, so if you're in a hurry, choose something that's already in stock. That'll be with you in a few days.)
I've been meaning to get around to trying out re-usable sanitary protection for the longest time. Because of my endometriosis I used to have extremely heavy periods, and going through an entire pack of night-time pads every single day was not good for either me or the environment, as they all ended up in the bin. I shudder to think how many disposable pads I've chucked away in my 32-year (so far) history of heavy periods, and every single one of them is still sitting in a landfill site somewhere, taking hundreds and hundreds of years to biodegrade.
I did try out a menstrual cup - a Mooncup, although there are lots of other kinds available now - but because of the particular placement of my endometriosis, it didn't work out for me. (Although, incidentally, because the Mooncup has millilitres marked on it, I was able to go to my doctor and say "this is exactly how much blood I'm losing every day", which finally galvanised her into helping me to do something about it, so that alone was extremely useful!)
Fast forward about ten years, and I have no idea why it's taken me so long to get around to making the switch to re-usable pads! There are loads of different brands to choose from, many of them made by fellow individuals running tiny businesses, and they come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, materials and absorbencies. They might seem expensive when you look at the initial outlay, but once you've built up enough of a collection to last through the duration of your period... that's it! You don't need to buy any more.
In terms of washing, I just rinse them out in cold water, then hand wash them in hot-and-soapy water, rinse the soap out, and bung them over the bathroom radiator (or hang them in the garden in the summer) to dry. Really, it only takes a minute or two longer than washing your hands. When my period's over, I'll give the whole lot a run though the washing machine - usually on a hot wash with the bath towels - before I put them away. Easy peasy! I do work from home, so I don't often have to deal with changing them while I'm out and about, but most makers also offer "wet bags" that you can safely pop your used pads into until you get to a place where you can wash them.
As for comfort and practicality... again, I really like them! The ones I've chosen are pretty big at 10.5" long (about the same as a super or night-time pad), but you can choose much smaller ones if you prefer. They're very comfortable because the fabric is soft and breathable and not plasticky. The wings pop safely around your underwear, and can't peel off and stick themselves to your damn leg and annoy you all day. Even without an adhesive strip to hold them in place, I haven't found them to move around at all. I'll admit I haven't tried cycling in them, but they have survived several hours of dashing around a sports hall wielding a sword (as you do), so I imagine they'd be good for most activities!
In short: I'm really, really pleased with re-usable cloth pads, and as soon as I've got enough to last through my entire period there'll be no going back to disposable ones.