Way back in 1996 a friend's mom came to me with a flyer for Glad Rags, it talked about how using a cotton washable pad was good for the environment and saved women money... I politely read it with her (cause she was very enthusiastic about it) but secretly was like GROSS! It wasn't until I was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue in 2001 that I began to really question what my maxi pads were made of and how they might be effecting me & the planet. The first concern I had was the glue used on the maxi's to hold it in your panties, since glue has gluten & chemicals in it. Then I found out about the deodorizing chems added which had made one of my friends break out so bad down there she thought she had an STD till the gyno realized she was allergic to some of the new 'innovations' happening with disposable pads. She was cured of this as soon as she stopped using them. Of course then there's the issue of plastics, waste and bleached cottons and synthetics filling them up.
I remembered the Glad Rag flyer from way back and immediately got a box to try out. They actually smelled like nothing (unlike perfume-y throw away pads), they were made from organic cotton, the fabric was soft & smooth and there was no glue or creepy fillings. They snapped on really easy, didn't move around when I wore them and shockingly they weren't that hard to wash. I quickly overcame the gross out factor and became totally comfortable with seeing my own blood - something that is absolutely a bunch of brainwash cr@p many women (and men) are still taught today!
Learning to care for your glad rags may take a little trial and error depending on your situation. It's super easy if you have an electric washing machine and dryer, which will get them perfectly clean. But I didn't always have that and sometimes had to hand wash and hang dry...
Here's some suggestions to help make washing your pads easier :
1. Soak them first - This allows most of the blood to release from the pad and keeps staining to a minimum. Make sure to keep the container you soak them in very clean. (If you are feeling a wee bit hippy water your house plants with the blood water, it'll make them awesomely healthy!)
2. Use vinegar - Obviously you don't want to bleach the pads (dioxins are not good for your vagina), so if you take issue with some discoloring from the blood you can use vinegar instead! It totally works, it even takes out some of the older stains before you discovered it's magic. I use apple cider vinegar.
3. Boil them - Maybe you soaked them a day too long and you are afraid they are now funked out and don't want to shell out the cash for a new box? Try boiling them with some baking soda in a pot (that you don't use for food). If they still don't smell right after being boiled and washed, you may have to let them go... cause rank smelling germs and vagina don't mix. But at least you can rest at ease knowing the organic cotton will safely biodegrade into the soil with no ill effects.
Glad Rags might not be as convenient as a throw away pad, but reusable pads really are easy to take care of. They are a great alternative for women who want to use the diva cup but can't do to allergies to the material it's made of. And for those of us who want to keep some waste out the landfill, and keep chems & glue away from our precious V!!!!
PS - The average woman will use 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in her lifetime. Now that is way gross!