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A woman of the cloth July 12, 2007

Cloth menstrual pads? Eww, isn’t that messy, wet and … well, gross? “We thought so too — at first,” admits pad maker GladRags. “Then we tried them and we’ve never gone back. Safe. Simple. Smart. Good for you, good for the environment — no plastics, no perfumes, no over-packaging.”

Sound good? We think so, too! We tested the leading cloth menstrual pads to bring you the inside scoop on today’s softest, most comfortable and absorbent pads. Read on to find out our picks for pads that pamper.

Clothwear

These mama-made all-in-ones are thin and compact. Flannel toppings come in bright, casual prints; fleece is also available. Three layers of hemp sewn inside handle the workload, and a waterproof PUL backing keeps the whole thing from leaking through to your clothing. The whole pad is stitched lengthwise, creating a thin, compact pad that works best for women with medium flows.

Our testers made Clothwear pads their choice for snug jeans and body-hugging clothes, since the pads offer absorbency without bulk. We also liked the ease of the all-in-one design for days on the go.

GladRags

GladRags are one of the most established cloth pad brands available today. Their experience shows: GladRags are a polished product, with quality production, packaging and information.

GladRags come in brightly-colored cotton solids (great for hiding stains) or natural organic cotton. They employ a cover-and-inserts design. The oval inserts are easy to use, and the full cover keeps them tucked securely inside.

Our testers loved GladRags’ softness and absorbency but found them to be fairly bulky, especially given the short length of the day/regular pads. GladRags night-time/postpartum pads, however, are the gold standard for heavy flow. Their extra-long hourglass shape heads off leaks and provides secure absorbency.

Harleyz Cyclez

If it’s all-natural you’re after, try Cyclez Naturalz, an all-in-one featuring a soft organic velour topper, thirsty hemp fleece soaker and super-felted merino wool moisture barrier. The entire pad is dyed with low-impact dyes. Moms who’ve used wool diaper covers can vouch for wool’s moisture-blocking performance — yet because it’s a natural fiber, you still get a breathable pad. Yes, it’s washable, though you’ll want to wash dyed items separately for a while and avoid high temperatures.

Standard Cyclez pads feature cute flannel, suedecloth or microfleece uppers, microfiber terry soakers and a PUL barrier (some encased inside the fleece liners).

While the thicker Naturalz are the more absorbent of the two styles, our testers found both styles comfortably slender, easy to care for and absorbent — a solid basis for a pad collection.

Happy Heinys

From the maker of Happy Heinys pocket diapers come these fabulous, fleecy leak-proof pads. Two layers of hemp (three, in the overnighters) nestle between a soft microfleece topper and a soft, leak-proof liner. These pads are completely enclosed all-in-ones, so there’s no customizing the absorbency, which seems best suited for light to medium flows — but the lining and design confidently keep leaks at bay.

“Soft as a cloud!” is the rave you’ll hear most often from fans of these plush pads. Even our dyed-in-the-wool hemp- and wool-loving testers flipped after trying these, extolling their fleecy comfort and leak-proof performance. If you’re doubtful about synthetic materials in your pads, you owe it to yourself to try these — you just might change your mind.

New Moon Pads

New Moon’s unique “lay-in” design can be used as a doubler for heavy flow days as well as a pad in its own right. The sherpa fleece backing keeps it from sliding around inside your underwear and acts as a moisture barrier. A soft flannel tops a soaker that’s different from the usual cloth pad, too: double-brushed, felted flannelette imported from China and India that’s specifically designed for high-absorbency products.

New Moons’ range of sizes is especially versatile. The huge hourglass-shaped Sleeper pads are great for overnight or postpartum use. Because of their flat, lay-in design, New Moon pads make good doublers and are a handy addition to your pad collection.

Our testers loved how easy these pads are to use — just lay them in your underwear and go. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to forget to hold onto them while pulling your underwear down, resulting in pads that twist inside clothing, land on the floor or in the toilet (and sadly, in one case, down the toilet and on to a fat plumbing bill). New Moon recommends holding the pad in place by pinching through the front of your underwear when pulling them down.

Sckoon

If you’re looking for a certified organic cotton pad, you want Sckoon. The entire Sckoon pad, from cover to absorbent liners, is made from 100 percent certified organic Egyptian cotton, all of it dioxin-free and naturally dyed. Even the thread is organic cotton!

This is a two-part pad: you fold the tapered liner and tuck each end under a tab at either end of the cover. Wearing the liner against your body allows you to change just the liner (unless, of course, you’ve waited a long time and soaked through). The liners don’t tuck into the end tabs very securely, which could be a problem if you’re active. If necessary, you could follow our testers’ lead by flipping the pad over with the liner away from the body (but of course that means you’re more likely to stain the cover, and you would need to change the entire pad when wet rather than just the liners). We didn’t have any problems with wiggly liners.

Sckoon’s bright, modern prints were hands-down our testers’ favorites, although the cotton does seem to grab stains relatively early in their lifespan. Sckoon also gets high marks for softness, which continues to improve with every washing.

Also Tested

Our testers also sent in their thoughts on pads already in their collections. Check out the maker’s web sites for new designs and alternate choices.

Lunapads are supremely soft and comfy — once they’re on. The soft fleece soakers have wings that add luscious comfort. Absorbency is solid, care is easy … But manipulating the tiny plastic snaps can be an exercise in frustration. If you’re ham-handed or generally hurried, these aren’t the pad for you.

Our testers reported a love-hate relationship with Pandora Pads. While the shape and garnet color of the organic cotton pads is just right, the hemp soaker inserts were a bear to re-insert after washing. And while Pandoras feel a little lumpy to sit on, their absorbency is superb. You’ll either love them or hate them.

Rhythm and Blues’ accordion-fold design is confusing and inconvenient. Absorbency and comfort are merely average.


© Lisa Poisso

 

One Response to “A woman of the cloth”

  1. dlalatalo Says:

    I’ve used Mommy’s Touch mama pads with great success. They are trim and have a stay dry microfleece like Happy Heiny’s, but the inner pad is sewn on all 4 sides. With HH pads, the inner pad could get twisted or moved to the side, causing leaks. Plus MT has the option of black microfleece, although the white hasn’t stained yet. And the pads are so comfortable & easy to clean. I just wash them with my underwear (no bleach or fabric softener). No leaks & no problems!

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