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Best reusable sanitary pads for an eco-friendly period

The number of women using reusable sanitary pads is rising, and there are more eco-friendly products to choose from than ever before. Here’s our pick of the best.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Feb 7, 2022

reusable sanitary pads in basket

With 200,000 tonnes of menstrual waste hitting landfill in the UK every year, it’s not surprising that a growing number of women and girls are shunning disposable sanitary pads and tampons in favour of a more eco-friendly alternative.

In fact, in spring last year it was revealed that one in 10 women have now made the switch to reusable sanitary products, including pads.

Not only are reusables better for the environment, but they can also save you money in the long run as the average pad can last five years or more.

So we’ve trawled expert review sites and the Mumsnet forums to find out which reusable sanitary pads our users recommend, and have rounded up our favourites below.

Here are the best reusable sanitary pads to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall reusable sanitary pads: Bloom & Nora Maxi Nora Reusable Sanitary Pad

Bloom & Nora Maxi Nora Reusable Sanitary Pad

Price: £17.99 (pack of 3) | Buy now from Amazon

“Bloom & Nora maxi reusable pads with WUKA period pants are my go to on my heavy day.” Frogshoe

“I’ve swapped to Modibodi pants and Bloom & Nora washable pads and they’re great - comfy, no leaks, no stink, and no rushing to the shop looking for pads.” Verbena87

“Bloom & Nora is the brand I have found best. They do lots of different sizes and have two main ranges depending on materials/styles you prefer. I have eight pads of varying sizes - they're all well used but [...] will probably see me through another couple of years before they need replacing making them super cost effective. They're much softer than normal pads and don't irritate as they aren't plastered in scent. They don't smell when soiled either.” BreadmanAndCake

Mumsnetters love Bloom & Nora pads as they’re comfortable, stay put and prevent any odours. 

The pads come in a range of pretty watercolour, floral and butterfly prints, and Bloom & Nora even do a trial kit so you can find out which size is best suited to your body and monthly flow. A bigger size, the Mighty Nora, is available for postpartum women.

And the best bit is that the pads are made from recycled bottles, so you can rest assured you’re doing even more good for the planet in addition to making the switch to reusables.

Pros

  • Made from recycled materials
  • Super soft
  • Easy to wash

Cons

  • Colours and designs are not to everyone’s taste
  • May feel bulkier than disposable sanitary pads

Key specs

  • Material: Polyamide and polyester microfibre
  • Absorbency: Heavy flow/overnight
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

2. Best value reusable sanitary pads: YIGO Washable Sanitary Towel

YIGO Washable Sanitary Towel (pack of 9)

Price: £15.99 (pack of 9) | Buy now from Amazon

“I love them! I got mine from Amazon. I have a really heavy period but find these are amazing and don't leak. They're fastened by a press stud but stay in place well. When used, I keep them in a little bag in my bathroom and then sling them in the washing machine on a cool wash when my period has finished. I also pop them in the tumble drier so I definitely don't take care of them and I've had them for about three years now.” anguauberwaldironfoundersson 

Buying reusable sanitary pads can be an expensive business, but this pack of nine from Amazon is a great buy if you’re watching the pennies.

YIGO sanitary towels rate highly for comfort and durability, and are great at neutralising unpleasant odours.

The only downside is that you can’t choose your pattern and designs may vary, but you may feel this is a small trade-off for such good value.

Pros

  • Everything you need in one bundle
  • Easy care
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Size may vary slightly to description 
  • No choice of pattern
  • Despite the wings, some users say the pads might slip if you’re wearing looser underwear 

Key specs

  • Material: Bamboo charcoal fibre and ultrafine fibre
  • Absorbency: Heavy flow
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

3. Best reusable sanitary pads for regular flow: Imse Vimse Classic Regular Sanitary Pads

Imse Vimse Classic Regular Sanitary Pads (3 pack)

Price: £15.99 (pack of 3) | Buy now from The Nappy Lady

“I've tried several brands and Imse Vimse is the brand that I like best.” NannyR

Available in a gorgeous range of colours and designs, the Imse Vimse Classic Sanitary Pads are reliable and have good coverage to prevent any leaks.

They’re made from a soft organic flannel, which grips to your underwear, so are less likely to shift during the day. But because flannel increases in absorbency with every wash, you’ll need to wash the pads around 10 times before reaching their max, which feels like quite a lot.

Pros

  • Stays securely fixed to underwear
  • Made of organic cotton

Cons

  • Requires 10 washes to reach full absorbency

Key specs

  • Material: 100% organic cotton and a layer of PUL (polyurethane laminated polyester)
  • Absorbency: Medium flow
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

4. Best reusable sanitary pads for heavy flow: Baba+Boo Cloth Sanitary Pads XL

Baba+Boo Cloth Sanitary Pads XL

Price: £4.25 (single) | Buy now from The Nappy Lady

“I use these ones: Baba+Boo. They're comfy, they work and they're easy to wash and dry so I recommend them.” BlowDryRat

As well as being great for women with heavy periods, the Baba+Boo XL pads are also ideal for postpartum women and general overnight use.

Poppers fasten underneath underwear gussets to hold the pad securely in place, with two options to allow for width variation.

We especially like that the top layer is made from super-soft and comfy bamboo charcoal fleece, which is great for hiding stains, not to mention gentle on skin post-birth.

Pros

  • Great for postpartum women
  • Two width options for attaching to underwear

Cons

  • Dark top layer hides stains, so it may make them more difficult to clean
  • Only one pad per pack

Key specs

  • Material: Bamboo charcoal fleece
  • Absorbency: Heavy/overnight and postpartum
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

5. Best cotton reusable sanitary pads: Cheeky Luxury Cotton Day Pads

Cheeky Luxury Cotton Day Pad

Price: £5 (single) | Buy now from The Nappy Lady

“I really struggle too but cloth pads from Cheeky Wipes have made a big difference.” PinkBuffalo

“Cheeky wipes do really soft comfortable reusable pads.” DobbyTheHouseElk

“I've got the Cheeky Wipes ones. Only brand I've tried but not had any problems with them. Very comfortable to wear.” stormelf

Mumsnetters love the Cheeky Luxury pads for their high level of comfort and the fact that they fasten securely and stay in place, so there’s no need to worry about your pad shifting or slipping during the day.

The pad is made from natural cotton, so it’s thinner than other pads on the market, but this makes it a good choice for the sweaty summer months and for those who like to hit the gym.

Cheeky Wipes offer a fantastic range of patterns, from pastel rainbows to turquoise leopard print. But each pad is sold separately, which could end up being pricey if you want a decent selection.

Pros

  • Thinner and cooler than other pads
  • Great design choice

Cons

  • Only one in a pack
  • Not much bigger in width than a panty liner, so won’t be suitable for women with heavier flows

Key specs

  • Material: Cotton
  • Absorbency: Medium
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

6. Best reusable sanitary pads starter kit: Eco Lily Reusable Sanitary Pads

Eco Lily Reusable Sanitary Pads six pack

Price: £22.99 (6 pack and bag) | Buy now from Amazon

“I bought some Eco Lily pads for my DD from Amazon. She really likes them.” IAcceptCookies 

If you’d like to make the switch to reusable sanitary pads but don’t know where to start, then the Eco Lily Reusable Sanitary Pads kit is the option for you.

The medium pads have three layers while the heavy flow pads have four layers for the ultimate protection. The odour-absorbing bamboo charcoal fleece layer also means the pads feel comfortable against the skin, with no rubbing or chafing.

And if that’s not enough, Eco Lily is currently donating one period pad for every box of reusable sanitary pads purchased to the organisation Freedom4girls, a UK charity fighting period poverty.

Pros

  • Suitable for postpartum women
  • Comes with a waterproof wet-bag pouch with two different compartments
  • Purchase supports a good cause
  • Good value

Cons

  • No design choice

Key specs

  • Material: Bamboo fleece and PUL
  • Absorbency: Medium to heavy flow
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

7. Best luxury reusable sanitary pads: Honour Your Flow Limited Edition Butterflies Regular Pads

Honour Your Flow Limited Edition Butterflies Regular Pad

Price: £9 (single) | Buy now from Honour Your Flow

“I love the Honour Your Flow ones. Pricier than some but I tried cheaper ones and didn't get on with them at all.” hedgehogger1

“Honor Your Flow are good.” SarahTancredi

Honour Your Flow offers a truly dizzying range of period protection with some gorgeous designs, which makes the brand a Mumsnet favourite. 

We particularly like this limited edition butterfly design pad. Lightweight and breathable, the pad is designed to be fixed securely to snug-fitting knickers and stay completely put throughout the day. But at £9 per pad, you may find a cheaper alternative more attractive if you’re a reusable pad newbie.

Pros

  • Vegan-friendly 
  • Beautiful designs

Cons

  • Pricey

Key specs

  • Material: Organic cotton jersey, cotton fleece and PUL
  • Absorbency: Medium
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

8. Best reusable sanitary pads for thongs: Imse Vimse Thong Panty Liners

Thong Panty Liners by Imse Vimse

Price: £13 (pack of 3) | Buy now from The Nappy Lady

It might be that time of the month, but there’s no reason why you should give up your favourite pants.

Imse Vimse has created perfectly sized pantyliners to protect your thong from spotting or to provide some backup when using tampons or a menstrual cup. You can also use it as a daily pantyliner.

These reusable liners come in two colours, black or natural, so are ideal if you’re after something a bit more discreet.

Pros

  • Discreet colours
  • Good value
  • Can be worn with small pants
  • Can be used as a daily liner

Cons

  • Not suitable for medium or heavy flow

Key specs

  • Material: 100% organic cotton and PUL
  • Absorbency: Pantyliner
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

9. Best ethical reusable sanitary pads: Hey Girls Reusable Period Day Pads

Hey Girls Reusable Period Day Pads

Price: £30.95 (pack of 5) | Buy now from Babipur

“I have just got the Hey Girls ones. I live in Scotland and the government is giving them away as part of a free trial to reduce waste so I’m looking forward to trying them.” EmmaC78 

Stylish, comfortable and ethical, this pack of five from Hey Girls is a great introduction to the world of reusable sanitary pads.

The ultra-soft charcoal bamboo fleece top layer is comfortable against the skin while the bamboo terry core means it’s also highly absorbent - ideal for medium flow and daytime use.

Hey Girls is also actively involved in the fight against period poverty, with a ‘buy one, donate one’ business model, with links to no less than 150 community partner organisations.

Pros

  • Wet bag included
  • Supports fight against period poverty
  • Quick drying as bamboo layers are microfibre
  • Can be washed at 30 or 40 degrees

Cons

  • No design choice

Key specs

  • Material: Charcoal bamboo fleece
  • Absorbency: Medium flow
  • Wings: Y
  • Machine-washable: Y

What are reusable sanitary pads made of?

Reusable sanitary pads can be made out of a variety of fabrics, including bamboo, cotton, synthetic fabrics and even recycled bottles or other materials. If you have any allergies, or are prone to irritation ‘down there,’ check exactly what the pad is made from before purchasing.

How do you keep reusable sanitary pads from smelling?

Rinsing or soaking your cloth pads before washing is the best way to prevent smells. 

However if you soak them for too long, or store them in a damp place, you may notice that a musty smell develops. Some pad users swear by adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to a warm wash to get rid of any unwelcome odours.

But smelly discharge can also be a sign of bacterial vaginosis or another infection so, if in doubt, get yourself checked out by a doctor.

How often should you change reusable pads?

You should change reusable pads as frequently as disposables, so roughly every four to eight hours. But this depends on how heavy your period is. If you bleed heavily, you’ll need to change them more frequently.

If you treat your reusable sanitary pads with care, they can last from five to 10 years before they need to be replaced.

How many reusable sanitary pads do you need?

This figure varies from person to person and the answer depends on the length or your cycle, how heavy your flow is and how your flow varies across the month. Women with short and light cycles may only need six daytime reusable pads and four or five overnight reusable pads, while women with a longer, heavier period may need up to 15 days pads and seven overnight pads.

If you’re currently using disposable pads and looking to make the switch to this eco-friendly alternative, try to keep a note of the number you use each month to give you some idea of how many reusables you’ll need to buy.

How do you deep clean a reusable pad?

Cleaning instructions vary from pad to pad. Most manufacturers recommend soaking or rinsing the reusable pad with cold water before putting it in the washing machine.

Some pads can be washed at 30 degrees, while others can take up to 60. You should avoid using fabric softener as this can affect the absorbency of your pads over time and shorten their lifespan. Ideally you should leave your pads to air dry, although some can be tumble dried. Always follow the washing instructions to help maintain the life of your pad.

Which is the best reusable sanitary pad? 

Mumsnetters love the Bloom & Nora Maxi Nora Reusable Sanitary Pad, making it the go-to menstrual product for heavy flow days. Leak and odour-proof, Bloom & Nora pads are built to last, but are delicate enough to protect all your sensitive bits.

How we chose our recommendations

We scoured Mumsnet forums to find out which reusable sanitary pads our users rate highly - and which ones they weren’t impressed by.

We also consulted consumer watchdogs and took note of what they looked for in reusable sanitary pads and which they were recommending to their readers.

Finally, we collated all that information and then looked at other online reviews to see which reusable sanitary pads had received the best recommendations.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

Main image credit: Eco Lily

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