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Best period pants for a comfortable and zero-waste period

Confused about how period pants work and which ones are best for you? Fear not. We’ve put our big girl pants on and have found the best period pants for a zero-waste period.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Dec 21, 2021

three women in period pants

There’s no doubt about it - period pants are a menstruation game-changer. Over the last couple of years, they’ve gone from a novelty we were all slightly suspicious of to a wardrobe staple for most women.

We’ve taken a look at the ever-growing market, scouring the Mumsnet forums for tried-and-trusted recommendations, and double checking expert review sites and customer feedback to come up with a list of the best period pants for That Time of the Month. In fact, some were so comfy we think you’ll be wearing them every day of the month.

What exactly are period pants?

Period pants are knickers that are worn like any other pair of pants, but they replace the need for other sanitary protection, such as pads or tampons. They’re made from an extra-absorbent material, which absorbs blood, and are usually anti-microbial too, so there’s no risk of unpleasant odours. 

They’re more expensive than ordinary underwear but are washable and reusable and should last a good few years, which will save you money long-term. They are also are better for the environment, preventing hundreds of thousands of sanpro going into landfill each year. 

Do period pants actually work?

Yes! You’ll need to make sure you have the right size - you could end up with a leak if they’re riding up between your cheeks - and the right absorbency for your flow. Period pants tend to be marketed as light, moderate or heavy flow.

Most have lots of information online about what the ‘tampon equivalent’ is, so you’ll know that if you get through five tampons in a day, you’re looking for at least that level of absorbency. 

Lots of people use period pants as a back up too, particularly girls new to the whole menstruation thing, and women who have very heavy periods.

Many also wear them to protect against urine leaks or vaginal discharge throughout the month, as they’re good at absorbing dampness and drawing it away from the skin. 

So which pair is right for you? Here are the best period pants to buy right now. 

1. Best overall period pants: Modibodi Classic Bikini Period Briefs

Modibodi period pants

Price: £18.50 | Buy now from Amazon

“I use Modibodi. I have heavy periods (copper coil) so I use a Mooncup and I wear the pants mainly to prevent embarrassment if my Mooncup leaks, and they've never let me down. My period can be irregular so I wear them most of the time anyway. I actually love them and feel they've made a very positive difference to my life.” RNBrie

Many a Mumsnetter swears by Modibodi period pants for their reliability and comfort. The lining is super-absorbent, as well as stain- and odour-resistant, and the fabric is breathable thanks to the bamboo fabric and Modifier technology, so you don’t get that sweaty feeling you do from some sanitary products.

Modibodi fans rave about how dry the pants feel and they’re easy to wash too - just cold rinse them and then put on a cool wash.

These classic bikini pants carry up to half a tampon’s worth (up to 5ml) so they’re good for the very beginning or end of your period. But Modibodi does a huge range of styles, sizes and absorbencies, including a pair that can be worn for 24 hours. 

Need to know

  • Material: 80% viscose (from bamboo), 10% elastane, 5% polyester and 5% wool (Merino)
  • Sizes: 6 to 18
  • Absorbency: Light to moderate
  • Machine-washable: Yes (rinse first and wash on cool)

2. Best budget period pants: M&S High Leg High Absorbency Period Knickers

M&S period pants

Price: £12 (buy three, get the fourth free) | Buy now from M&S

“The M&S ones are comfortable. Also they dry pretty quickly. One downside of the other brands is that they are so thick they can take a while to dry.” aliasname

You know you can rely on M&S for sensible underwear that does what it says on the tin and, if you want to see before you buy, it’s sometimes helpful to be able to shop on the high street.

Mumsnetters say the M&S Period Knickers are practical and reliable, but they’re a really good price too. These high-legs are only £12 a pair - more than half the price of many of the top-end brands - and they’re often in a 'buy three, get a fourth pair free' deal, so you can mix and match different styles and absorbencies. 

The ‘Confidence’ knickers are so named because you can rely on them not to leak, even on really heavy period days. They have a gusset with three layers: a protective outer layer, an absorbent middle layer with anti-odour properties and a top layer that draws moisture away from your body.

They’re really comfy, with plenty of stretch in the cotton and StayNew technology which keeps them looking in good condition. We also liked the fact that you can simply throw them in the washing machine and they can even be tumble-dried. All this for just £12 seems like a pretty good buy to us.

Need to know

  • Material: 91% cotton and 9% elastane lycra
  • Sizes: 6 to 28
  • Absorbency: High
  • Machine-washable: Yes (at 40 degrees)

3. Best period pants for tweens and teens: Innersy Teen Girl Menstrual Underwear

Innersy period pants

Price: From £14.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“My daughter has the Modibodi ones and some from Amazon (Innersy brand). She uses pads with them too as she has only recently started her periods and is still getting used to it all. I bought them so that if she forgot to put another pad on she wouldn’t leak everywhere. She has forgotten a couple of times and the pants did hold the leaks well.” chickensafari

These period pants are a little bit different to most in that they are meant for preventing leaks rather than to entirely replace sanitary protection.

For teens and tweens, this is a great idea - they might not feel comfortable enough to go straight for period pants, so these are a bit of a halfway house, but they do offer a really good safety net while they’re getting use to wearing pads or tampons and knowing how often to change them.

Between the outer layer and the cotton gusset, there’s both an absorbent and waterproof layer that should prevent any leaks. The absorbent gusset comes up really high to catch anything that spills over the edge of a sanitary towel and the gusset itself is designed to accommodate a pad better than normal knickers.

Mumsnetters report that the pants are really comfy and breathable, and feel like ordinary pants, making them ideal for girls and young women getting used to the joys of menstruation.

Need to know

  • Material: 95% cotton and 5% Spandex
  • Sizes: 10 years, 12 years, 14 years and 16 years
  • Absorbency: Very light (a third of a pad)
  • Machine-washable: Yes

4. Best period pants for a heavy flow: WUKA Ultimate High Waist Heavy Flow Period Pants

WUKA period pants

Price: £25.99 | Buy now from WUKA

“I haven’t tried too many different pants but with the WUKA ones I have. The absorbent bit goes all the way up the front and back.” jellyfrizz

WUKA are a big favourite with Mumsnetters and these high waist heavy flow period pants are ideal for anyone who needs something fairly heavy-duty during their period.

Holding 20ml, they can be worn for up to eight hours at a time, so could get you through a whole working day. The Tencel fabric is really soft and super comfy, and the pants have a lot of stretch so they stay comfy all day, even if you’re feeling bloated - the waist has up to 45% stretch.

They’re also extra cooling and breathable so you feel clean and dry all day, and they’re easy to wash - simply rinse them in cold water and then machine wash without fabric conditioner. 

Need to know

  • Material: Sustainable Tencel Modal
  • Sizes: XXS to 4XL
  • Absorbency: High (four tampons’ worth)
  • Machine-washable: Yes (at 40 degrees)

5. Best period pants for nighttime: Bambody Absorbent Hipster Period Pants

Bambody period pants

Price: From £12.90 | Buy now from Amazon

“Bambody overnight pants are really good. I bought them for my DD as she was always leaking onto the bed sheets. They're thick and very soft breathable material.” Fferny1

If you’re very active, these bamboo period pants are made for you. They’re soft and breathable but designed to offer maximum protection for times when you’re more active, such as running or going to the gym.

They have a leakproof layer that goes all the way from the front to the rear to prevent leaks, no matter how much you’re leaping about. And in the middle is an absorbent gusset for added protection.

This design means they’re also great for sleeping in. They are guaranteed not to rustle, have an anti-odour layer, and the bamboo fabric makes them cooler to wear than other period pants. So it's safe to say that you’ll be a period pants ninja in these in no time. 

Need to know

  • Material: Bamboo/cotton/Spandex
  • Sizes: S to XL
  • Absorbency: High
  • Machine-washable: Yes (after soaking in warm, soapy water)

6. Best period pants for odour control: Thinx Hiphugger Period Underwear

Thinx period pants

Price: From £35.18 | Buy now from Amazon

“Thinx work for me - either as a backup for heavy days or as an alternative to liners either end of the period. They're really comfortable.” terrelontane

Totally reliable and lasting for years, Thinx period pants are pricey, but so much clever design has gone into them that we think they’re worth it.

The gusset is made up of four layers: a moisture-wicking top layer, a layer that contains an odour-control treatment which neutralises bacteria as it passes through, an absorbent core that locks the liquid in and then a waterproof outer layer that prevents leaks.

The Hiphuggers have a really comfy and generous cut and sit high on the hips, without rolling down. They’re also available in a range of cool colours that don’t scream 'period pants.'

Need to know

  • Material: ‎Body: 89% nylon and 11% elastane; gusset: 95% cotton and 5% elastane
  • Sizes: XS to 3XL
  • Absorbency: Moderate (up to three tampons’ worth)
  • Machine-washable: Yes (on cold)

7. Best thong-style period pants: Cheeky Wipes Feeling Limitless Thongs

Cheeky Wipes period thongs

Price: £37.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“Highly recommend Cheeky Wipes. Their period pants are brilliant - I am a total convert after trying them last year. Haven't looked back. I have the lace top mid-rise ones but they do a higher waist one too. They are comfy and wash really well. Game-changers and not as expensive as some brands.” Batinahat

These light-absorbency thong-style period pants offer extra peace of mind for you on lighter period days.

Of course, some women have a very light flow generally, so as well as not needing the super levels of absorbency that period briefs offer, they also may not want to be encased in Bridget Jones-style big knickers for five days a month, so we were pleased to see something on the market for those people.

The Cheeky Wipes Feeling Limitless Thongs are ideal for the beginning or end of your period or to wear as a backup with a menstrual cup. Despite their less generous cut, they still have four layers of absorbency to draw moisture away from your skin and lock it in without leaks.

Mumsnetters buy them for themselves as well as their daughters and say that they’re excellent value for money too. 

Need to know

  • Material: Cotton/elastane (95%/5%)
  • Sizes: 4 to 20
  • Absorbency: Light
  • Machine-washable: Yes

8. Best shorts-style period pants: Flux Undies Classic Boyshort Period Pants

Flux period pants

Price: From £27.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have Cheeky Wipes and a pair from Flux. Flux are more like Modibodi in terms of both absorbency and price and I would recommend them or Modibodi if using without a cup or additional pad. I can use Flux on my heaviest day/night without anything else and no leaks at all.” coffeechocolatecoffee

Sometimes, comfort is all you need and these shorts-style period pants from Flux make you go ‘aaaaah’ as you pull them on.

The wide waistband has loads of stretch and there’s excellent bum coverage from the soft fabric. Flux’s signature technology draws moisture away from the skin, locking it into the core of the gusset, and has a leakproof outer layer for total confidence.

The combination of that nice, thick fabric and all-round coverage makes you feel really safe during your period and they hold enough fluid to allow you to go up to 12 hours without changing them, making them great for nightwear too. 

Need to know

  • Material: 95% Tencel and 5% Modal
  • Sizes: 4/6 to 28/30
  • Absorbency: High (up to four tampons’ worth)
  • Machine-washable: Yes (rinse first and no fabric softener)

9. Best period shapewear pants: Cheeky Wipes Feeling Confident High-Waisted Shapewear Pants

Cheeky Wipes period shapewear pants

Price: £22.95 | Buy now from Amazon

“I've been using the Cheeky [Wipes period] pants for the last few months and think they are brilliant, but I haven't tried any other brands to compare them to. I went for the Cheeky [Wipes] pants as they were a lot cheaper than the Modibodi ones.” NannyR

Life doesn’t stop when you have your period. So we were impressed by these shapewear period pants from Cheeky Wipes, which will make a little black dress look even lovelier even if, inside, you’re bloated and feeling anything but lovely.

These pants are only designed for a light flow, so they don’t completely negate the need for sanitary protection if you’re in the middle of your period. But if you’re about to start or are at the tail end of one, they’ll more than see you through.

They have a moisture-wicking layer in the gusset, then an absorbent core that holds up to two-and-a-half tampons' worth of fluid, followed by a waterproof layer and a breathable outer layer, but they don’t look or feel bulky at all. We are impressed and think that these might just be your new plus-one for nights out. 

Need to know

  • Material: 75% nylon and 25% elastane
  • Sizes: 4 to 24
  • Absorbency: Light
  • Machine-washable: Yes (soak in cold water first)

10. Best period pants for peace of mind: Yoyi Fashion Bamboo Fibre Period Pants

Yoyi Fashion period pants

Price: From £14.43 | Buy now from Amazon

“For my DDs, I bought [period pants] on Amazon. Yoyi Fashion are the ones we are currently using -  really good and not expensive. These are very useful for added protection and peace of mind (especially for my DDs at school), but you still have to use pads with them. These have no real absorbent layer (only a very light absorbent one over the waterproof layer) and, honestly, I think it's the way to go.” Mary8076

These colourful period pants feel really comfy when on and the breathable bamboo fibre fabric gives them an airy feel.

Like some of the other period pants on our list, such as the Innersy Teen Girl Menstrual Underwear, these are more useful as backup for anyone just getting used to periods, or to wear with sanpro at night for peace of mind.

They’re really good value at less than a fiver per pair and we like the bright colours and the simple design too. Some reviews say they come up small so it might be worth ordering a size or two up for a comfier fit. 

Need to know

  • Material: 95% bamboo viscose and 5% Spandex
  • Sizes: 8 to 18
  • Absorbency: Light
  • Machine-washable: Yes

Can you wear period pants all day?

It depends on which you choose and how heavy your flow is. Period pants work in the same way as tampons and sanitary towels. They come in various flow capacities: usually light, moderate and heavy. You choose the ones that suit you and your period best, and judge how often to change them according to your flow.

Let’s be honest, which of us could estimate how many tablespoons of blood we shed on any given day? Helpfully, most period pants tell you how many tampons’ worth of ‘menstrual matter’ they hold as well as how many millilitres. 

So, if you know your period pants can cope with five tampons’ worth, you can work out how many times you’d usually change tampon and change your period pants at the point at which you’d be on your fifth. If you have a moderate or heavy flow, you'll likely need to change your period pants every four to six hours. 

If you’re using lighter flow period pants, you may want to take a clean pair out with you (and carry a waterproof bag to bring the old pair home in for washing), but there are some period pants on the market that are good for up to 12 hours.  

Are period pants unhygienic?

No, period pants aren't unhygienic as long as you change them regularly enough. They usually contain anti-bacterial and anti-odour layers that deal with any yucky stuff.

As always, when on your period, you’ll want to practise good hygiene anyway, but period pants are just as hygienic as tampons or towels. They wash just like new too. 

Are period pants good for incontinence?

Yes, lots of older women and postpartum use them for incontinence and find they do the job really well.

Period pants won’t take a huge volume of liquid but, for leaks, sneezes and ‘really-shouldn’t-have-got-on-that-trampoline’ moments, they’re an ideal choice for peace of mind.

How many pairs of period pants do I need?

If you want to use them as your regular and only sanitary protection, it’s wise to have around seven pairs of period pants, including a couple that are good for sleeping in.

If you don’t want to be washing them every day or so, you might want to get 10. But if you’re just starting out, buy two or three pairs to try out and you’ll soon get a feel for how quickly you go through them. 

How do I choose the best period pants? 

Go for a well-known brand or one of those listed here - period pants aren't something you want to skimp on. Otherwise, which you choose will be personal, dependent on your cycle and lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Style: Do you want ‘big’ pants to retreat into for comfort or something more like what you normally wear?
  • Sizing: You may want to go up a size for added comfort, so check what sizes are available.
  • Materials: Some period pants can feel a little like swimwear or be slightly crunchy. Look for fabrics like Tencel and bamboo that have a soft, silky feel. Bamboo and cotton will also add breathability - no one wants to feel like they’re suffocating their undercarriage during their period. 
  • Care and washing: Check the care information to see if you can machine-wash and tumble-dry your period pants, and that they don’t have complex care instructions. 
  • Think about flow: You might want to buy a mix of light and heavy flow period pants, or you may know that your periods tend to be either on the light or heavy side and know which you want to go for.
  • Check out the gusset: Particularly if you’re quite heavy or want to sleep in them. A leakproof layer that goes up quite high at the front and back will give you added peace of mind. 

How do I wash period pants?

Most period pants can be machine-washed, but always check the label as some may require you to soak them in cold water or soapy water first. Also check laundry products you can use as some period pants don’t take well to fabric conditioner. Some also can't be tumble-dried. 

What pants are best for periods?

Mumsnetters and experts think the Modibodi period pants are best for periods. We like the bikini style of the Modibodi Classic Bikini Period Briefs, but the brand has a huge range for every woman and every period.

How we chose our recommendations

We looked online at both consumer and expert reviews to help us find the most lauded period pants on the market.

We then headed to the trusted Mumsnet\ forums to find out which of those brands we had shortlisted were most rated by Mumsnetters - and which weren’t.

From here, we honed our shortlist down to 20 pairs of period pants and then we picked the 10 that we felt would cover all eventualities. 

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents, particularly women, make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends.

If you decided to buy something that we recommended as a result of our research, we usually (not always) get paid affiliate commission from the retailer where you make a purchase. But, if you weren't impressed with the product and decided to return it, we wouldn't make a penny.

Main image credit: Thinx

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