*This post contains affiliate links*
What is Mama Cloth?
For those of you who clicked just to find out what mama cloth is, let me explain…
You know how some people use cloth diapers on their babies? This is basically the same concept, but for a woman’s menstrual cycle. Reusable cloth pads in place of disposable. Some people even use menstrual cups or cloth tampons, but admittedly I am NOT that brave.
I hear you. I hear your long and drawn out “EWWWWWWW!”
And you know what?
I cloth diaper, and I think it is gross. In fact, just yesterday I loudly proclaimed to my husband that our Wet Bag smelled like a zoo.
I think blood is gross. I’m not going to go crazy hippie dippie and tell you that menstruation is totally normal (or even beautiful) and we shouldn’t think it is gross. It is normal and natural, but a lot of normal and natural things are disgusting. The exaltation of human waste is wayyyy beyond my crunchy level.
Here is the catch…I think my toddler’s poop and my menstrual blood are disgusting regardless of what method is used to prevent it from announcing itself to society (don’t wear white around shark week, it is perceived by the uterus as a challenge). The disposable aspect of paper feminine products doesn’t make menstruation any less gross, it just makes it more convenient.
Why I Started Using Mama Cloth
Mama cloth is just a better way for some people to deal with menstruation (besides copious of Dark Chocolate and Disney Movies). Some people use mama cloth (and cloth diapers) to help the environment and reduce waste, but for others, it is a matter of health.
Did you know you can be allergic to disposable pads? Or at least, their ingredients?
I am. It isn’t fun, and for a long time, I didn’t realize I was. I just knew I was in a lot of pain on my period and I had no idea that it was unnecessary and caused by my feminine products.
Two months ago, I tested my theory and used some all natural organic cotton pad (can you say EXPENSIVE?) to see whether it was the type of pad I had used before (some are scented…your period shouldn’t be scented), or if I genuinely was just better off using mama cloth. I told myself the investment in a few disposables I could use was worth it, and that they could be backups when I hadn’t gotten all the cloth laundry done. As it turns out, I was allergic to that one too. After months of using mama cloth after the birth of my son and having no pain, and lighter, shorter periods (Hallelujah!), the pain, cramps and nausea returned with a vengeance. My periods went from four to five days long and relatively moderate using mama cloth to the normal seven to nine days long and heavy the entire time with disposables.
I can’t even begin to describe how shocking the distinction was for me. With the mama cloth, I didn’t even remember I was on my period for all but one day (the heaviest) of the week. With disposable, every waking moment was filled with excruciating pain akin to the worst UTI of your life, multiplied by a thousand. It was awful, and I never realized how horrible it had been to go through that every months until I was introduced to a different option.
What Are The Benefits of Mama Cloth?
Mama cloth is a great alternative for folks like me, who are allergic to ingredients in disposable products. It is also great for those of us who are conscious of certain toxic substances like dioxins. You might be surprised to find that dioxins are in A LOT of menstrual care products (though most commonly the concern is about them being in our food), even the ones from more natural brands (they are in diapers too, by the way). Why should you be worried? Well, here is an excerpt from the World Health Organization on exactly what dioxins do to the body.
“Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.” Source
That sounds like a GREAT thing to put right next to your lady bits, doesn’t it? Oh, and just in case you think a little exposure won’t impact you…
“Once dioxins enter the body, they last a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be 7 to 11 years.” Source
Like everything else, the dose makes the poison (although in an argument for cloth diapering, newborns and unborn children are more sensitive according to the WHO website). Our skin is highly absorbent, so even if it is just a little exposure every time you use a pad or tampon, overtime that adds up. For me, I prefer not the have any exposure and have the luxury of the necessary resources (time, energy, motivation and an easily accessible washer and dryer) to be able to use mama cloth.
Mama cloth can also cut down on the cost of having periods (unless you get addicted – don’t get addicted!) because the pads last for many years. My initial investment for my stash that I have personally paid (some of my stash has been gifted to me) has been around $75 USD. That is around four months of disposables for me since I have heavy periods, but instead of only lasting four months, it will last for years (especially if you take good care of them).
Otherwise, the benefit of mama cloth is getting to choose cute patterns (or Disney princesses in my case) to bleed on every month. It is surprisingly fun and makes your period slightly less sucky, or maybe I’m just crazy. I’m probably just crazy…
Where Do You Get Mama Cloth?
You can get mama cloth from a lot of different places! If you join any RUMPs groups (reusable menstrual product groups), they may frown on you if you decided not to go with a homemade pad because the community generally likes to support work-from-home moms, but ultimately you need to make the choice that is right for you.
My mama cloth is from two different places. One shop is called MotherMoonPads on Etsy and the other is from Pink Lemonade. Now, Pink Lemonade is by far and away my favorite. I love my MotherMoon pads, they are the only two Disney inspired ones I have, but they just aren’t as absorbent and I don’t feel as secure with them. I still wear them every month, but only for lighter days like the first and last day of my period. Pink Lemonade pads are super comfortable and make up all of my stash apart from the MotherMoon pads.
One thing about mama cloth is that it is an expensive upfront investment. Pads from good manufacturers run anywhere between $5 USD to $14 USD per pad depending on the size, quality, absorbance, material and pattern on the pad. If you are looking to build up a stash quickly, I would check out some less customized ones (my Disney princess ones were custom orders because I couldn’t resist…) on Amazon. They have starter sets on there with six pads for a very decent price! There are some pretty cute prints too, you can check it out here: Mama Cloth Set of 6. If you are a super thrifty and crafty person, you can even make your own!
How Do You Take Care of Mama Cloth?
This is a controversial question because everyone has a different answer for this. Special stain stick brands, laundry detergents and other potentially expensive product that are, in my opinion, largely unnecessary but are generally recommended for taking care of mama cloth. Ultimately, you’ll have to figure out what is best for you on your own depending on how hard your water is, what type of fabric is in the mama cloth and how prone it is to stains. If you bought the pad, you choose how you take care of it, so don’t let people push you around trying to get you to buy their product.
For me, I started out using a special water softening powder to try to keep hard water from building up and ruining the pads, but quickly found out it was a waste of money because it didn’t work. Now I just use Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent and the occasional splash of Cleaning Vinegar and haven’t had any more problems.
To prevent staining (especially on my MotherMoon pads that are prone to it), I thoroughly rinse the pads in cold water as soon as possible after use. If there is indication of staining after that, I break out my big brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide (controversial practice to some, but again, never had a problem with it and trust you to make your own decision) and apply it to the problem areas. After all, I could never forgive myself if Ariel had a permanent stain on her!
After I check and treat any stains I’ve found, I put my pad in my wet bag until I can wash it. I have a limited edition Disney Little Mermaid wet bag for my mama cloth, and unfortunately it is sold out, but you can check out other Disney print wet bags here: Disney Wet/Dry Bag.
For my mama cloth routine, I just rinse, use hydrogen peroxide as needed, throw them in the wet bag and then wash once a day during my period and then wash them all again at the end of it so they are ready to go for next month. I always turn the washer setting to hot (and then add the soap and vinegar) for my own piece of mind to make sure they get sterilized. Some people recommend the warm setting due to hot water reducing the life of some pads, but I’d rather be on the safe side. I wish my washer had a setting between warm and hot, because that work be perfect, but unfortunately it doesn’t. I have found it good practice to check the pads before throwing them in the dryer to prevent any stains from becoming permanent. If I catch a stain I missed I’ll just use a little hydrogen peroxide and then send it through the wash again.
What Should I Know About Mama Cloth?
Mama cloth is easy to use! If you are used to using pads, the only difference really is that you aren’t throwing it away and there are snaps instead of sticky wings. A lot of people get confused about which side goes up because they don’t think you are supported to bleed on the print, but usually that is exactly how it works. If you have moral qualms about bleeding on the faces of Disney princesses, you can order solid colored pads or even black ones! You should also know, you can be allergic to the material mama cloth, so be careful when choosing what your pads are made of (especially for those with latex allergies).
Mama Cloth Can Be Political
It might surprise you to learn that a lot of mama cloth makers are in danger of being turned in to the FDA because they don’t have the money to pay for registering with them (the most recent price I heard for this was $4,000 USD). Mama cloth, along with disposable tampons and pads, are considered “medical devices” and are required to be registered with the FDA.
The fact that many shops are not registered does not necessary mean anything for you, other than that they might not know they need to be registered or that they are intentionally not registering in order to “stick it to the man”. A lot of small shops just don’t have the money to pay for such a fee.
Either way, I’ve chosen to support two shops that are registered so that they can cover the cost of registering and stay in business without fear of being shut down. While the registration fee is not a new development and has been around for years, I’ve found this topic to be highly political and generally try to avoid groups with heavy discussions on it. If you are getting into mama cloth, be prepared to hear about it!
Mama Cloth As A Collectible?
Perhaps what I have found to be the most quirky and strange thing about mama cloth (apart from that people sometimes buy used, which I am not knocking, but it is beyond my comfort level), is that a lot of the custom pads are considered collectible! Yes, people collect cloth pads. Certain fandoms (like Frozen and the Walking Dead) are popular and some people buy these just to have. Stash shots and limited editions prints are all the rage with mama cloth addicts. 😉
My Mama Cloth Stash
A lot of people ask, “How many pads should I have?” and the answer is different for everyone. It depends on how often you think you can realistically do the laundry, or how often you want to. It also depends on how many pads you’ll be going through, especially if you have heavy periods like me. I wash my pads every day and have eleven of them in different sizes. Here is a video of my entire stash, the absorbancies and lengths of my pads and how much each of them cost me.
Have A Question I Missed? Ask Me In The Comments!
Disclaimer: I may receive compensation in the form of products, services or money to review or include a link to a product on this blog. If you would like to know more about this, please see my Disclosure & Policy. I will accept offers and/or promote products that I use and love. All opinions are my own and given honestly regardless of compensation.
*Rebecca Lemke is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.*
Love what you see? Join the community!
Sign up for the Rebecca Lemke Newsletter to be in the loop about important announcements and community updates!
Thank you for subscribing!
Something went wrong.