Cloth Pads





Introduction: Cloth Pads

Apparently the average woman will use around 17,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime, the majority of which are flushed down the toilet, a terrible though huh? Just imagine the waste they produce, damage they cause and the money they cost us.
After having my second child i breastfed until she was around 15 months old therefore i didn't menstruate, it was great. Soon after i weaned her from the boob my cycle returned, ugh, i started using tampons again and i hate them. So, i have stared to make my own cloth pads.
Made from cotton flannel these can be made in many sizes to suit, panty liners, regular pads with inserts or night-time pads with inserts. They have 'wings' to keep them in place which fasten with a press stud.
Why not save money, create less waste and be kinder to your body (disposable's contain chemicals that can affect your body such as cramping) and make yourself some of these pads. You can find the pattern here.

Step 1: Step 1

You will need:
flannel for outer
flannel for inner
sewing machine

Wash, dry and press your fabric. I have used half a metre of flannel and folded it to cut out 4 pads at once.

Step 2: Step 2

Cut out your pattern pieces and taking each of the bottom pieces fold their opening edges over 1/4 inch, press then fold over again, press and sew in place.

Step 3: Step 3

Take each of the bottom pieces and fold the opening edge over 1/4 inch, press then fold over again, press and sew in place.

Step 4: Step 4

Press. Top stitch around the edge and sew down each side to form the wings. Add press studs to the wings.

Step 5: Step 5

Make a pad to fit inside, i have recycled a flannel bed sheet. I sewed 2 pieces together, turned right sides out and top stitched all the way around. I made it large enough to be folded into 4 layers and quilted it randomly to keep it in shape.

Step 6: Step 6

All finished!



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    51 Discussions

    I love this idea, but I'm a little afraid to try it out because I have a relatively heavy flow, and I was wondering how they hold up? Also, have you experienced any leaking with these? In any case, this is a very well-done instructable; keep rocking. :)

    3 replies

    I use clothies as backup for a cup. Very heavy, clotty flow, and the pads work wonders. I use them overnight and haven't had any issues. Bonus: no rash like I used to get w/ the plastic kind!

    I've used these since coming home from the hospital from my daughter's birth. I couldn't stand using the disposable pads that the hospital gives you! SOOoo uncomfortable and they make you more prone to infections too since they are not breathable. The cloth ones are really not as horrendous as most think. I can not stress enough about how comfy they are. I promise once you use cloth pads you will never be able to wear a disposable again! If you are really concerned about leakage you can always use an outter layer of PUL (Polyurithane Laminate) which is a breathable but waterproof material that is used in cloth diapers. has it really inexpensive compared to other sites. You can also check other cloth diaper sewing supply stores online and they should carry PUL. As long as you are using polyester thread they should not leak at all. Also avoid using flannel or cotton as your outter layer or you will get a wicking effect. That said they are super easy to make and will save you a ton of money over time and I promise MUCH more comfy. Cloth pads are as easy to wash as regular clothes just add a scoop of oxyclean to your wash load and 1/4 cup of white vinegar to your fabric softener ball and you are done! Also make sure you wash on a cold wash cycle. That is it!

    I forgot to mention also, DO NOT leave them soaking in water. If you soak them to get stains out, spray with peroxide first (used to break down proteins) and then make sure you change the water every day but I repeat do NOT leave them in standing water or you will be sorry they will smell disgusting!

    ***NOTE** Also by "wicking" I meant that they will wick onto other clothing if you use cotton prints/material on the outter most layer.

    If you want the most absorbency and you have a super heavy flow you can use microfiber the kind used for drying dishes etc (also found in automotive departments for drying after washing cars) it will be plenty absorbent enough with a couple layers and still trim so they wont be noticeable under clothing.

    I know it may come as a shock, but roughly half the world's population will menstruate over the course of a lifetime. So yes. For serious.

    Going to be making some for panty liners until I build up the courage to use the pads.

    I sew my own it has reduced my period I was using adult diapers it was so bad and I am not a hippie or a nut I was just sick of all the problems that came with my time of the month or what ever you want to call it thy carrying around a plastic bag with diapers in it that is a conversation starter I'll tell you oh whats in this bag is fun to explain to people now I just have this little piece of folded up fabric in my purse and a tiny little wet bag

    Rock on! I'm a happy cup user myself, more people need to know about all the alternative options. Thanks for spreading the word: there is more than just disposables!


    I just bought a sewing machine, and will be making this ASAP. Even though I try to buy the natural pads, I still have such bad problems with fitting and absorbency. Now I can save myself lots of $$$ and I will never have to send hubby out for emergency pads >_< THANK YOU!!!

    I just started making my own, and for the first time, I am anxiously waiting for my menstral to come on. LOL

    Okay, I admit: I'm a girl with a heavy cycle. But, I've been interested in trying these for the past while. I was wondering, though - what kind of fabrics can I use? And what would be the most simple way of cleaning them? I live in a house with two guys and a mother that would not do this kind of laundry for me . . .
    Besides that, I LOVE the instructable! Well-written and informative . . . I don't want 17,000 pads of mine in any landfill! Great job!

    I wish people would stop asserting that one has to be a hippie if they're using these. I am NOT a hippie. You don't have to be a hippie to give a crap about the environment. Or to eat organic. Or to want to refrain from smothering your nether regions with plastic and bleach. I went cloth a year ago. Yes, there are things you have to get used to. But seriously, it's not as bad or gross as people seem to think. and I gross out kind of easy. Thank you Nikkishell for the tutorial!

    You can use peroxide to take out the blood stains, clean & disinfect your undies and pads too. Great idea.

    Good pattern, easy for people who can't sew very well.  Another option is to have a closed pad with a piece of absorbent material in it, then use ric-rac braid or just pieces of fabric on either end.  you can then insert absorbent liners and if you need to change them frequently you can do so without having to change the whole pad every time.
    Kind of like Luna Pads

    I use a combination off pretty much all products available.
    I'm allergic disposable pads but I'm not comfortable using cloth ones when I'm at school or out.  Cloth pads are super comfortable and I use them when I'm at home.  I've pretty much cut down to one disposable pad per cycle and just use tampons.  I'm hoping to switch to the diva/moon cup but like...what do you do when you are can't rinse it out in a public bathroom sink...or you shouldn't anyway....

    Um... I'm probably not the only one wondering why you clicked on this article...? In any case, no, we are not the only ones, all female mammals menstruate. A lot of mammals only go into heat at certain times of the year, though, or only after they've nursed their young for two years or so... and then they promptly become pregnant again. We would follow the same schedule except that we simply refuse to get with the program! We're actually designed to have a baby, nurse for a year or two, get pregnant again, repeat until menopause... and by the way, that's how it goes in many, many areas of the world, so this is a pretty high-class problem. We ARE, as with so many other things, the only species that thinks about it so much, partly because of the refusing to be pregnant all the time, and partly because... we're the only ones who wear clothing and sleep on stain-able mattresses! Other mammals just sort of walk around, and furthermore don't really care if they get blood on them. We spend a lot of time and money trying to keep from ruining our clothes -- maybe naked isn't such a bad idea!

    Brilliant idea. I use cloth diapers folded into a long thing rectangle - and they work wonderfully well.

    BCK IN THE DAY, early internal cup designs dislodged ......For those of you who are not too easily grossed out- using natural sponges cut up into a tampon sized item was a godsend for me. I moistened/ softened it slightly first, prior to insertion. Rinsed out under tap water and reinserted. You get a feel for how long until needing rinsing. Used several and can be Tossed when period was over. Others “washed” them between cycles by rinsing well first, then soaked overnight in vinegar and water solution and air dried. I never had any ill effects and used these for 10 years, in conjunction with a cloth pad. Nurse Practitioner approved!

    I've been using the diva cup (love, love, love it after i snipped the pointy tip completely off) and cloth pads together for a couple years and my periods have been so much less painful. Before when i used disposables i had such horrendous cramps i would be on the couch or in bed for the first day or two. Anyone else with really painful periods should try these out. I swear there's a difference when you're not using all those nasty chemicals!

    not to mention, what would you do with a used one? put it in a ziplock bag, adn keep it in your purse? yikes.