Is Using Cloth for Your Period Unhygienic?

SochPads are our eco-friendly cloth pads, meant to be used for white discharge, period flow, mild incontinence, as well as to absorb the heavy sweating during vigorous exercise. However, every single time we talk about our SochGreen cloth menstrual pads, we get a lot of criticism from women about how it’s unhygienic and unsafe. This is usually accompanied by a grimace and a facial expression of disgust. This article deconstructs the myth that using cloth for your periods is a bad idea.

The Case of India

If one were to wonder what women from the previous generations used to manage their periods, one would definitely think of cloth. Cloth, of whatever kind, is easily available at home. Women, for the longest time, have used cloth to catch their menstrual flow. Our grandmothers and their ancestors definitely used cloth before the later generations had to bear the horrendously designed sanitary napkins with belts to keep the pad in place.

Source: Museum of Menstruation

With sanitary napkin manufacturers flooding the Indian market and promising a “modern” way of managing your periods, things changed. From a product that was hesitatingly being used by women in urban areas, it slowly became an aspirational product. It was something that women and young girls aspired to use in their near future. The ones who used sanitary napkins were considered modern, forward-thinking, civilized, and hygienic, while the ones that still used cloth were now suddenly looked down upon; they were considered traditional, unclean, rural, and backward.

Today, it has come to such a point in India that any program that talks about raising awareness about menstrual health and hygiene is almost always about giving away free sanitary napkins to women from underprivileged backgrounds.

Is Using Cloth for Your Period Unhygienic?

Now that we know the background in which this transition from cloth to sanitary napkins happened, let us understand why one would still consider cloth as being unhygienic.

Using cloth to manage your menstrual bleeding is completely hygienic, provided one uses it the way it is supposed to be used. It is wrong to blame cloth as infection-causing when, in reality, cloth is not the culprit. Cloth, if and when used correctly, is a great eco-friendly and waste-free alternative to sanitary napkins.

So, how does one use cloth/cloth pads?
  • While using cloth, it is important to remember that one must use a clean piece of cloth. The cloth must also be cotton or other absorbent material.
  • Cloth, just like any other sanitary product, must be changed once every 4-6 hours, or earlier, depending on the flow.
  • Once used, it must be washed well, while making sure that the stains are removed. To remove stains, it is advisable to soak the cloth/cloth pads in cold water before washing/rinsing with detergent.  
  • Use a mild soap/detergent while washing the cloth/cloth pad.
  • And last but not least, it is important to dry the cloth/cloth pad out in the sun.

The sun is the best disinfectant there is, while also being free of cost. Washed cloth/cloth pads must be dried in the sun to make them germ-free. Young girls and women who use cloth fail to do this bit out of hesitation and embarrassment. This is where the problem sets in – if one does not dry it in the sun or at least in a well-ventilated place, the cloth/cloth pad will be unhygienic to use and will increase the chances of infection.

Therefore, it’s clear why using cloth is not as unhygienic as it is made to be. By demonizing cloth, it is easy for large-scale sanitary napkin manufacturers to promote their own products that ensure repeat purchase – meaning, one has to keep buying sanitary napkins every single month.

For several women, using cloth/cloth pads connects them to their own menstrual cycles in a more natural way. Some women also feel that the softness of cloth/cloth pads give them feelings of safety and security. For other women, it reminds them of their mothers, grandmothers, and generations of women before them.

Our SochPads are made of absorbent cloth and come with a leak-proof layer; they can be washed and reused for years. They are made keeping in mind user comfort. The best thing about our cloth pads is that they offer the best of both worlds – the comfort of cloth as well as the modernity of leak-proof technology. SochPad Quick Dry is designed in such a way that one can simply dry it in a well-ventilated area; women who live in colder climates or those who can’t dry it in the sun for personal reasons can use this version.

SochPads come in a variety of sizes to meet your needs. Should you have any further doubts about which SochPad is the best for you, you can take our quiz here.

Have a happy period!

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