The lazy guide to caring for your pads

A lot of people ask about how much work is involved in using cloth sanitary pads (CSPs). Are the used pads messy to deal with? Is there a lot of extra washing involved? Do they take ages to dry? They worry about all of these things and it can put people off from making the switch.

I’ve also seen threads on some of the AMPs (alternative menstrual products) forums talking about rinsing each pad immediately after use, then soaking in a pail of water (sometimes with extra cleaning products added) and having to drain and change that water every day until wash day.

Now of course everyone has their own way of doing things and whatever works for you and keeps your pads stain-free is absolutely ok by me. It’s really none of my business.

But I’m lazy. I have enough laundry to do with a husband and two kids (the youngest still wearing cloth nappies at night). So all this rinsing and soaking? Too. Much. Faff.

We are also on a water meter now, which means our bill isn’t estimated any more. We pay for exactly how much water we use. So filling a bucket with clean water every day for a week each month would make quite a difference to our bill.

So here is my lazy guide to caring for your CSPs. This is how I do it and it works for me.



While I’m on my period I have a zip-up wet bag hanging on the back of the loo door. When I change my pad, I fold the used one in half (messy side facing inwards) and zip it into the wet bag. Easy.


My period was always seven days long. For the last few months it has been five days long. Either way, I store my pads in the wet bag until the end of my period. Contrary to common opinion, they don’t smell, they don’t go mouldy, and it doesn’t set the stain into the fabric.



I unzip the wet bag and put the whole thing into the washing machine. I don’t have to touch the used pads at all. I also wash any out-and-about wet bags I might’ve used during the week. I can usually throw a load of nappies and washable wet wipes in at the same time so I’m not running a whole wash cycle just for a dozen or so pads. You can even chuck them in with your towels or do a separate wash just for your pads, if you prefer.

I wash the pads on 30 or 40 degrees, using half a cap of non-bio liquid and a tablespoon of soda crystals in the main wash section of the drawer.


NO fabric conditioner because it can cling to the fabric and reduce its absorbency. Then I set the machine to do a pre-wash, main wash, then an extra rinse cycle.



Occasionally when the machine has finished there’ll be a pad that has a slight stain. If this happens, I rub on a tiny bit of Ecover stain stick while it’s still wet and leave it for a few minutes before doing another mini wash cycle.


I’ve recently bought a bottle of Ruby’s Red Wash, which is an American product specifically for blood stains that is slowly being stocked by some UK sellers. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but my pal Tamsin has and had good results. You can read her review here.

If either of these fail, leaving the pad out in the sun for a good few hours can help to naturally bleach out the mark.



Most of the time I hang my pads out on the washing line. Even the heaviest night pads dry within a few hours on a clear day.


In the winter it isn’t always possible. As long as your pads don’t have a waterproof PUL layer, they can usually be tumble dried. Some makers say it’s ok to tumble dry their pads, even with a PUL layer. Many makers send out washing instructions with their products so it’s worth referring to that info if you have it. We don’t have a tumble dryer so I lay my pads flat on a clothes airer and they still dry fairly quickly within 24 hours.


So there you have it. Not as complicated as you thought? Using cloth has so many benefits for your health and for the environment so it really needn’t be a chore. Any questions?

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9 thoughts on “The lazy guide to caring for your pads

  1. bundlesmumma May 18, 2014 at 14:57 Reply

    Good Article hun! Nice and simple to follow!

    • The Pie Patch May 18, 2014 at 15:03 Reply

      That’s good to hear. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. veggiedieter June 30, 2014 at 08:23 Reply

    Fantastic tips. This answers a lot of questions I had. Thanks! X

    • The Pie Patch June 30, 2014 at 09:51 Reply

      You’re very welcome. There are other methods but this is the way I do it. Thanks for reading.

  3. Muff fluff | thepiepatch June 30, 2014 at 14:25 Reply

    […] I wrote a whole separate post about washing your pads here. […]

  4. Samantha November 28, 2014 at 07:47 Reply

    Hey, I just stumbled onto your post and have a question! Look at the next paragraph for the short version! I have been using cloth menstrual pads for a while now, but due to extreeemely long periods, and laziness/depression/something, I am really sick of rinsing them. Now, I live with my mum, and she does not put them in the washing machine unrinsed (I am the only one who uses them), so they get rinsed and then just hung over the bath rail until they are put in the washing machine (at which point they are crusty, but they are fine once washed and dried properly). They can also sit around for a while before being rinsed. Basically, it smells. Bad. In the washing machine and the tumble drier. And she is not happy about that. (I admit, leaving them folded in the sink when I cannot be bothered to rinse them yet – bad idea.) I have my mum not use fabric conditioner on my lots, though I tried bicarbonate of soda once and it was quite rough after. (I heard a certain type of vinegar (white? I forget the name) is good for removing odour but my mum thinks it would smell of vinegar.)

    So basically, how do you avoid smell in the washing machine? Are yours fine and not smelly unrinsed? (Stains I do not care about, the patterns faded anyway and frankly if they work I do not care.) Is it related to the washing machine products?

    Thank you for this too. Lazy and wanting to be less harmful to the environment, it is good these things can work.

    • The Pie Patch November 28, 2014 at 08:17 Reply

      Hi, Samantha. I haven’t experienced any bad smells from my washing machine. And this same machine was also used to deal with poopy cloth nappies! You can certainly add a small amount of white vinegar or tea tree oil to help with smells. You only add a v small amount so you shouldn’t get a strong vinegar smell.

      But I suspect the smells you are getting are more likely to be down to the length of time you are leaving the pads for. My period is only 4 or 5 days so I can get away with not rinsing & only doing 1 wash at the end of my cycle. If your period is much longer, I’d suggest doing a wash halfway through.

      I wouldn’t recommend leaving used pads lying around for any length of time. Although I don’t rinse mine, I do fold them in half & seal them in a wet bag or lidded nappy bucket.

      If it’s the rinsing that’s putting you off, you can always do a ‘wet pail’ method. Put cold water & a little salt or white vinegar in a lidded bucket. Then you can just throw your used pads in there. You will need to change the water every couple of days but it’ll be less effort than rinsing every pad individually.

      The benefits of using cloth pads are brilliant but they do take a little bit of effort if you want them to last & do their job effectively. I think once you establish a good routine, it should just become part of your life & won’t seem like such a chore! Hope that helps. Let me know how you get on!

  5. WIWTM (Nov 2014) | thepiepatch December 1, 2014 at 07:52 Reply

    […] blogged about my wash routine before in my Lazy Guide to Caring for Cloth. This time I added in an extra rinse before my main wash but the two pale blue pads in particular […]

  6. Lady Days: New design | thepiepatch February 23, 2015 at 08:04 Reply

    […] and extra rinse. You can read more about my minimum faff, lazy girl approach to caring for my pads here. I am a little nervous because bamboo velour is quite prone to staining and this is a fairly […]

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