Menstruation isn’t a choice but using which menstrual product is always a choice. In this article, we are going to explore how cloth pads can be one of the growing alternatives for disposable sanitary napkins which are creating problems to our body & in the ever-growing waste management crisis of the world. The heavy campaigning by the Indian government since 2011 has portrayed the use of traditional cloth as ‘unhygienic’ and restricted to lower socio-economic strata of the society . The marketing strategies lead to a belief that only disposable sanitary napkins are hygienic. What actually needs to be done are adequate guidelines for good hygiene and the distribution of reusable menstrual products.
Why Cloth Pads?
Cloth menstrual pads are one of the reusable, sustainable and eco-friendly products that will make menstruation a healthy and guilt-free experience. Cloth pads are made up of natural cotton fiber which helps to absorb your flow. It does not have any chemicals unlike disposable sanitary napkins, hence, reduces your risk of infections in one the most intimate parts of your body. The cotton is much more comfortable between your thighs and provides the much needed air circulation down there. Cloth pads can be expensive but should be treated as an investment. Once purchased, they can be used for three to five years with proper care. We all carry a social responsibility with us and using cloth pads will help fulfill that goal easily. Let’s keep our bodies and the environment clean together!
How to use it?
Cloth pads work exactly like your disposable sanitary napkins however instead of sticking on your underwear, they have buttons around their flaps and are fastened to ensure they don’t shift from the desired position. It can be used for four to six hours according to your flow. The soiled pads (used pads) can later be stored in a wet bag or pouch for later washing. At home, dip the cloth pads in cold/normal water for an hour. No hot water should be used in this process. After an hour, rinse the pad in running water to ensure no menstrual blood is left. You can use natural disinfectants like lavender oil for extra precautions. After washing, let it dry under the sun like the rest of the clothes. Viola, you can use them again and again.
Then why don’t people use them?
Since cloth pads are devoid of any chemicals, they tend to make us uncomfortable down there with its smell. Usually, the smell isn’t strong and can be felt personally. This can be easily avoided by changing the pads after the desired time. The other reason is the reluctance of women in washing menstrual blood due to the myth that this blood is ‘dirty’. However, it is not ‘dirty’ blood but one the purest blood of the body which came from the uterus because the egg didn’t fertilize.
Another reason which prevents women from using cloth pads is their inability to dry it in the open under the sun due to menstruation treated as a taboo subject. Drying the pads on the outside is treated as an embarrassment by members of the society who believe menstruation as a taboo. We just need to educate everyone irrespective of their gender that it’s a biological process.
The only drawback that can be seen is that the exchange of cloth sanitary napkins cannot be done. Once used, cloth pads are to be a personal hygiene product that each menstruating person has to carry for themselves.
Where can I buy it?
There are few small companies like Peesafe, Ecofemme and so on which sell personal hygiene products online. They ensure the quality and choices of these products. Finding these in public health centres is a difficult task as all the government schemes have been selling the disposable pads. However, there have been efforts for innovative biodegradable sanitary napkins that are being tested. 
Switching to cloth pads may seem a drastic change to many women, especially for women in the workforce. What can be done is a gradual shift by investing in them and using it whenever at home to have an experience. After, being comfortable with them, they can be used to completely replace the disposable sanitary napkins. This way pressure on the menstruating person is reduced and on the environment as well. If you have any difficulty in making that decision, Hidden Pockets is always there.
1^ Garikipati, Supriya. ‘Thousands of women have ran out of tampons and pads under lockdown – time to talk about sustainable products.” The Conversation, 25 June 2020, https://theconversation.com/the-future-of-periods-can-now-be-sustainable-and-cheap-133025
2^ Sharma, Neetu Chandra. “Biodegradable Sanitary napkin at Re.1.” Livemint, 27 August 2019, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/bio-degradable-sanitary-napkin-now-at-re-1-1566905303307.html
Eco Femme cloth pads
About the Author: Vidhi Gada
She is a 4th-year law student from ILS Law College, Pune, who firmly believes the law can be used as a weapon of change in our country and thus began her journey in the field of law. Apart from trying her best to be updated with all the legislations, her interests lie in Human Rights & Intellectual Property Rights. The best way to connect with her is to suggest a song that sets her mood and also, dogs. No! Kidding, she loves all the animals! She really likes dancing, writing and making puns!
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