Disposable Pads VS. Reusable Pads

I have always used pads but they were not my preferred products for my periods. I was way more into tampons and found them so much easier to use and I liked the feeling of them better but I was not comfortable using them because of TSS (which I know is very rare but I was constantly worried - and that's not a healthy state of mind to be in) and the more I learned about them in terms of bleach and other toxins the more I used them less and less - and now, not at all. Pads were okay but had more problems than they did positive qualities. I hated the feeling they gave, like wearing a diaper, I hated how they always made me itch and (TMI alert) whenever I could feel the blood pouring out.

I was looking for an alternative to disposable period products and I already knew of the menstrual cup but then I also discovered the reusable pads. I was super intrigued and the fact that I could find them with organic cotton just made them even better. I ordered a pack of three to try and I wanted to find out the pros and cons of the disposable pads vs. the reusable pads.

On an average women use 3600 pads or tampons on a ten year period (lol) and a woman menstruates during an average of 40 years which means that she roughly uses 14.000 pads or tampons in her life - that is crazy!! All that money and resources! Let's look more into the money aspect of disposable pads vs. reusable pads:

I use an average of 12-15 pads pr. period which means that:

For the disposable pads I used:
  • A pack of 12 normal pads costing 20 kr.
  • 3 pads from a 10 pack night pads costing 40 kr. which means that the 3 pads cost 12 kr.

This means that for one period I spend 32 kr. and for a year that means I spend 384 kr.

If I were to continue to use disposable pads that would cost me 3840 kr. for ten years.

For the reusable pads I use:
  • 4 packs of three normal flow reusable pads (12 pads in total) costing me 99 kr.
  • 2 packs of three night/heavy flow pads (6 pads in total) costing me 129 kr.

This means that for a one time purchase or a purchase every 10 years (some say they last more if you take good care of them) I spend 654 kr.

Note: with the duration of the reusable pads it depends on the rotation and how many you use. Having enough pads for an entire period rather than having less and needing to wash and use them again during your period gives them a longer duration period. 

The difference:
This means that for a ten year period I would spend 3840 kr. on disposable pads and 654 kr. on reusable pads. That means a difference of 3186 kr. every ten years - that is a lot! And I am not even sure you need to change the reusable pads every ten years or at all if you take good care of them.

Not only is there a price difference with the disposable and reusable pads but there are also pros and cons for both.

The disposable pads:
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to dispose of (for you - not the environment however. A sanitary pad takes around 500-800 years for the planet to decompose, that's even if all the plastic is gone because plastic does not break down it breaks up into smaller plastic turning into toxic micro plastic)

  • Cost a lot of money in the long run because you have to keep buying them
  • Filled with plastic hurting the environment (in 1 disposable pad there is as much plastic as in 4 plastic bags!)
  • Filled with toxins and chemicals, like GMO, bleach, plastic and other nasty stuff you do not want near one of the most sensitive areas on your body and not to say inside you if you use regular tampons
  • Incredibly itchy
  • You need a place to dispose of them (you can be in bathrooms where there is no place to dispose of pads and tampons - therefore I always had a plastic bag with me in my period bag and I have been in the need of it a handful of times)
  • Some people find the fact that they are noisy to open a con. I myself have been in a public bathroom and slowly opened a pad many, many times - but why this is something to be embarrassed about, I don't know
  • The area is not able to breathe because of the material and the plastic not being breathable
  • They can start to smell when wearing them for a while

The reusable pads:
  • Easy to use
  • Sustainable, good for the environment
  • Reusable which means you save money in the long run
  • They are not itchy to wear like I have experienced with the disposable pads. I like the feel way more because it is fabric and not plastic and paper
  • When you buy them with organic cotton you do not get GMO filled fabric and other toxins
  • There are no noises like with the disposable packaging
  • Fabric has a better soaking effect that plastic/paper
  • I did not experience a smell when using these even though I wore one pad for a whole day and night

  • They can be effort filled, not as easy to 'deal' with as disposable pads (again for you, not the environment) because, well, you don't just throw them out
  • Can be time consuming to clean for some people (which I did not really find them to be, it was a nice break from to do something good for myself and the environment)
  • You have to carry a (wet) bag with you to store the used pads when you are out
  • You do have some water waste when you need to wash them

I would definitely prefer to take the effort to get a hold of reusable pads and get the hang of how to use and clean them - which is not that hard and it does not take a ton of effort. It may take a few periods to get used to but the cons of reusable pads vs. the cons of disposable pads are definitely worth it in my opinion! And there are so many amazing pros of reusable pads than the two not that huge pros of disposable pads.

How to use reusable pads:
Before using them, give them a quick wash in the machine - the instructions for my pads said to wash them at 40 degrees C and then hang them out to dry so that's what I did. Follow the instructions for your pads. 

When it was time to use them I just pop one on to my underwear and then that is it. If you are on the go and you use the pads have a bag with you with some pads you can change with but also have a wet bag for pads that have been used. Then when you get home you can place the used pads  in some water and rinse them afterwards.

When you are done with a pad rinse them in cold water to get the excess blood out (if you are on the go, place them in your wet bag and do this when you get home). If you do not want to wash them individually after use which I would not recommend because of the water waste, soak the used pads in cold water in a bucket until your period is done and you need to wash all of them - do not soak the pads for more than 2 days in the same water. 

Wash all of them in the machine without bleach or fabric softener at the end after your period has ended. Let them dry and they are ready for the next period. You can wash them with the rest of your underwear if you want to.

These are the pros and the cons of disposable vs. reusable pads and I hope it can help you towards a more sustainable period. It has been so much fun creating this post and I cannot wait to share more period posts in the future - they are definitely coming.