What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
So I've decided to take the leap from temporary pads and tampons to the reusable world of menstrual pads and cotton liners because, let's face it, the temporary stuff is expensive when you're re-buying them every month. And the chemicals freak me out a little — yes, everything is made of chemicals, but reusable pads do not have odor neutralizers, adhesives, BPA, and other unnecessary chemicals that I don't or need want anywhere near my vagina.
I've been researching reusable pads since early 2016, and after combing through countless websites (including ones that sold reusable toilet paper) I found five affordable and adorable Etsy stores where you can find everything you're looking for, period-wise: pads, liners, cup spots, pouches, and some interesting miscellaneous items you wouldn't think you even needed — but after reading this you might.
So let's start off with the most obvious reusable menstrual product: reusable pads! These are by far my favorite, as I just like to slot them in my underwear and go, forgetting about any leftover wrappers. They also always feel so soft and cozy compared to the weird plastic feeling of their disposable cousins. MonoMio is a cloth pad store that sells various types of menstrual pads for pretty much every point of your cycle. Medium flow pads, night pads, thin pantyliners, with wings, and without. The single pads and pantyliners I usually find on Etsy are all well and good, but I can't really be expected to buy one at a time for those prices, as if I'll only bleed for a few hours. So this is where a nice-'n'-cheap Mystery Pack comes in! For $12.01 plus shipping (£8.44) you get a randomized pack of 10 cotton pantyliners, so that equates to just over a dollar (85p) per liner. And they just look cute as heck too.
How does one even hang up a reusable pad? A menstrual cup pad? They're so thin and small that they're bound to just slide off a clothesline. I know I had trouble knowing what to do with mine before I thought of hanging them up. CrabbyPaddies has the solution with $2.25 (£1.59) drying straps. It's great to stock up on the essentials like pads and cups, but the main charm of this shop, for me, is the accessories: the straps, the menstrual cup spots, the wet pouches. And, pssst, check out the sale section! I think my favorite part is that the cup spots double as coasters pre-use.
As someone who is pretty set in her period pad ways, I admit to never having tried a menstrual cup before, but if I ever do, then I can totally see myself messing up a few times before getting it perfect. So I think I'd need a menstrual cup spot, like the adorable ones from PiecesByPenguin (the cup bags are even cuter). People often forget that even with a tampon or a cup, leaks aren't always avoidable, but forget about shoving a big pad or pantyliner down there. A cup spot is more than enough for the occasional drip. And for a single dollar (69p) per spot, it's a steal. PiecesByPenguin isn't a period-only store, so if you feel like taking a look at some sweet crochet plushies, kids' shoes, or kids' hats too, then PBP is the place to go.
If I do ever try the menstrual cup, I'll need a safe way to sterilize the cup without burning myself. I know, I know, just pour the water out of the pot, but I've lost too many pasta bites and boiled eggs doing that, so if I ever get a cup I'm not risking it falling into the sink. So whenever (or if ever) I make the switch, I know AnnieSewCrafty will have my cup literally covered: This Menstrual Cup Sterilizing Pouch for only $2.86 (£1.96) is perfect for that. Menstrual cups aren't really a homemade Etsy thing, but the accessories are everywhere on the site. Annie also sells nifty little holding tubs, pad wrappers, and some non-period-related things that have the sweetest patterns. It may not be as inexpensive as the rest, but my favorite has to be this pouch with the most-unoriginal-yet-always-accurate period pun: Just go with the flow.
Back to the staple item of the menstrual lineup: the pad. There are cheaper items on this list than what ETHEREALpads has to offer, but for a quality pad, I'd say $6.40 (£4.40) is a pretty good price, particularly since most Etsy items are not only miles more expensive, but also because of how much love and attention has gone into making each pad. These sturdy cotton pads, also lined with fleece, come in different absorbencies, sizes, and wacky patterns. The KAM snaps make it easy to attach the pad to your underwear without that irritating stickiness of a temp pad that can rip off threads from your beloved briefs. They can even be machine-washed on a low spin, so you don't have to worry about standing over a bucket of bloody soapy water every day during your cycle.