This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Melanie Dhar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Thinking Of Switching To Cloth Pads? Here’s Literally Everything You Need To Know

More from Melanie Dhar

This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

Lack of access to menstrual hygiene products is a problem that affects menstruators all around the world. With limited knowledge about and access to safe and sustainable menstruation products and practices in India, many menstruators resort to using unhygienic and unsustainable alternatives. According to this survey, disposable sanitary pads are the most common product choice among menstruators in India, with 71% confessing to using them. 

However, disposable sanitary pads form a veritable amount of waste as they are generally neither compostable or biodegradable. With new innovations in the field of menstrual hygiene products, many brands have come up with alternative and sustainable alternatives to the disposable pad, the cloth pad being one among them.

What Is A Cloth Pad?

Cloth pads are a type of reusable menstrual hygiene product made of multiple layers of absorbent fabric (usually cotton or hemp). Like conventional sanitary pads, they are worn in the underwear but can be washed, dried and reused.

Credits: Eco Femme

Why Should I Choose A Cloth Pad Over A Disposable Pad?

For the environment:

An average person uses around 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads in their lifetime, and each sanitary pad takes around 500-800 years to decompose. If you do the math, that sums up to a lot of waste piling up in landfills and water bodies, posing a serious threat to sanitation workers and marine life. A cloth pad, being reusable for up to 5 years, is a sustainable choice for the environment as it significantly reduces the amount of waste produced and can biodegrade easily.

For a pocket-friendly investment:

While the upfront cost of disposable pads may seem less in terms of monthly expense, you actually end up spending thousands annually on pads that end up in the trash after each use. On the other hand, cloth pads are a one-time investment that last you for up to 5 years without spending any more money.

Bonus: you can make your own cloth pad following this tutorial

For your health:

Super-absorbent pads pose a risk of contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria releasing toxins in the bloodstream Conventional sanitary pads often contain unwanted ingredients like fragrances, dyes, adhesives, chemical gels which can cause irritation and may even be potential carcinogens. Switching to a cloth pad means choosing a natural, organic, chemical-free and safe alternative which is good for you and your body.

For comfort:

Using a cloth pad means saying goodbye to uncomfortable itchiness, pad rash, and soreness as they are made of breathable fabric and will not dry out or disrupt the pH level of your vagina. The best part: they feel just like wearing regular underwear!

What Are The Cons Of Cloth Pads?


Cloth pads are comparatively harder to maintain than disposable pads as they need to be washed after each use and require drying before they can be used again. In addition to that, menstruators may also find it ‘shameful’ or embarrassing to dry cloth pads out in the open due to the ubiquitous stigma surrounding menstruation.


Trans-men and non-binary people may undergo gender dysphoria with regard to menstruation, which makes it difficult for them physically and psychologically. Cloth pads are generally not tailored to fit boxers or briefs, as they need to be buttoned around panties. A better alternative, in this case, would be gender-neutral period underwear, sold by brands such as Thinx.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do cloth pads leak? How often do I have to change?

Cloth pads are designed to hold the same amount of blood as regular disposable pads. If you undergo heavy flow, choose a night pad as it can hold more blood than a day pad. Just like any sanitary pad can become saturated and leak after a long time, cloth pads can too. They need to be changed every 2-6 hours, depending on your flow. 

  • How to wash cloth pads properly and remove blood stains?

Cloth pads can be washed easily under cold water with a mild soap or in a washing machine. An easy trick is to keep the pad soaked in cold water for around 30 minutes before washing, as most of the blood comes out during the soaking process.

  • Are cloth pads safe and hygienic to use?

Cloth pads are absolutely safe to use when they are washed properly, dried in sunlight and stored in a hygienic place. Any infections arising from cloth pads could be a result of poor maintenance, such as improper washing or drying.

  • What if clean water is not available to wash cloth pads?

Cloth pads require the same amount of water for washing as any regular undergarment. If clean running water is scarce in a region, then cloth pads are not a feasible option for menstruators. In most rural regions of India, menstruating people use old rags or cloth during menstruation. 

  • Where can I buy cloth pads online?

A few sustainable menstruation brands sell affordable cloth pads on their websites. Eco Femme has a wide collection of cloth pads and panty liners made of organic cotton (starting at Rs. 235). Pee Safe also sells reusable cloth pads along with a wide range of other sustainable menstrual hygiene products (starting at Rs. 449 for a pack of two cloth pads). 

You must be to comment.

More from Melanie Dhar

Similar Posts

By The Bleed Eco Project

By Lubna Ismailee

By The Bleed Eco Project

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below