Originally posted by cupcakescarly
at New to Cloth Pads?
So you decided to switch to cloth pads? Or perhaps you're just in the research phase (if so, good for you!! this is an important step). I'd love to help. I just recently switched to cloth after being a tampon/liner user. (I'm trying the meLuna cup my next cycle:) ) I realize why people say that they can never go back!
Here's a few tips that I think are important when considering/starting to switch to cloth. Take 'em or leave 'em, and comment with any of your suggestions!
1. Do your research. I can't emphasize this enough! I know you might be excited, especially if you have heavy, painful periods like me and have heard that cloth makes them shorter/lighter/less painful (which it did, in my case). But halt! Don't try to build an entire stash before your next period starts! I know it might be tempting, but take your time, build your stash through at least 2-3 cycles, seeing what works, how your flow changes, and what kind of pads you need the most of.
2. Length matters. I happen to be fairly tall and slim (5'8", 125) and so I feel like I'm wearing a diaper in anything longer than about 9 inches. Of course the exception is with overnight pads, which I need to be diaper sized :). Also, don't be fooled by pads that claim to be 'heavy' and are simply longer than a 'regular' pad. Many regular and heavy pads have the same inner core but are longer, this is no help for a heavy, gushing flow that goes straight down.
3. Research fabrics. I know, again with the research, but you should know what you're getting into! For example, I was all into the natural fabric pads and all cotton pads, but you should know that flannel and cotton have shorter lifespans than synthetics like minky. Don't be closed minded, and try before you bash on a specific fabric. Many cloth pad brands claim your pads can last upwards of 5 years, and they very well might performance wise, but I'm the kind of girl who likes to look at pretty things, and not pilled flannel or stained cotton. Oh, and the issue of maintenance, certain fabrics are easier to clean and prevent staining better than others. Just consider these things, take your time picking brands and fabrics. Oh, while we are on the subject...
4. PUL. Ahh, the controversial PUL backing. Most pad companies (I'm mostly referring to Etsy, stay at home mom companies, etc.) offer or already contain a hidden layer of PUL. Some love it, some hate it. I personally have a few with PUL and well, there's much to be said on the subject. I figured I absolutely NEEDED it due to my heavy straight-down-gushing flow; but now, I'm not so sure. Try it out if you are into wearing pads for a long time, I personally change mine every 2-4 hours or so on heavy days, so the PUL really isn't needed, because I like fresh pads before it is completely saturated. I'm not saying don't try it, but I am saying don't build an entire stash with pads containing PUL until you've tried a few. Windpro fleece is extremely water resistant and might be more breathable for you. I found my overnight pad with PUL made me very sweaty near my bum, and I changed it in the middle of the night even though it had little blood on it, I just felt 'wet'.
5. This is pretty obvious, and many cloth-newbie-help sections tell you this, but just in case you havent already heard it...Do not buy a 'starter set' or spend tons of money from one seller. Again, you may not like the fabric, design, fit, length; there are so many variables! And lets not forget that the point of this is to use the pads for a long time, not just a few cycles. On that point...
6. Make sure you like the pad! This may sound trivial, but you're going to be looking at it a lot. Sitting in your drawer, in your panties, when you wash them (especially if you hand wash), dry them, etc. Make sure you like looking at it and won't get sick of the pattern/color! Also, make sure you see a pic of the pad snapped and unsnapped, front and back, etc. There's no reason to gamble, especially because most pads are NON-RETURNABLE, for self-explanatory reasons. ;)
All this being said, don't be afraid to be loyal if you find a brand you like! Many people recommend trying one or two pads from tons of sellers, but if you find a brand you like, I say stick with it. Those shipping costs can really add up, and who doesn't like a loyal customer? You can always give other brands a chance later if you find a specific need not being met (i.e., many like different fabrics/shapes for hot seasons vs. cooler ones).
I hope this helps, and please let me know any tips any of you seasoned pad users might have!:) Pad reviews of individual companies, like MamaBearBabyWear, Pink Lemonade, LadybugCreations, ecoAlternatives, and more, to come!