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How To Use Cloth Pads When Living with Others

Winnie’s experience (hannahpad Aus & NZ team member):

What is/was the living situation?
In my final 2 months living in South Korea, I wasn’t able to extend my lease on the apartment closer to my departure, so my best mates took me in (so thankful!). My mates are a married couple and luckily had a spare guest room they could allow me to stay in. It so happens that when I was moving in, so was one of my friend’s cousin who landed a job nearby. There we were 4 people, two ladies and two gents living in one apartment together. 

Did you tell the people you live with about your cloth pad use/ How did you tell them?
I had well and truly made my switch to reusable menstrual products using the combination of both a menstrual cup and hannahpads. I didn’t want to go back to disposable pads for two main reasons:

  1. Spending money on disposables as I was trying to save as much money as possible before heading home for good.  
  2. Uncomfortable feeling of plastic disposables rubbing against my skin.

I vividly remember asking my girlfriend into the guest room for a chat and immediately started whispering (not sure why I did that). Now I think back on it, me pulling her aside and making it seem like such a scene made the chat unnecessarily serious as her husband tried to listen in from the other side of the door that was ajar. 

“I use a menstrual cup and cloth pads for my periods. Would it be okay for me to wash and hang them up?” Yes, that is exactly what I asked.

My favourite hannahpad pattern: Antique Pink. I use the pattern to tell the sizes apart.

How did they react?
My girlfriend had heard of cloth pads but didn’t know much about them. I went on explaining and by her expression, she was intrigued and I felt comforted and relieved with each question she had for me. She told me that I could do whatever I needed to get them washed and dried. I remember also feeling encouraged and empowered by her responses and reaction. In part, it was nice to know someone was trying to understand the change I’ve committed to and mainly because I didn’t want any disruptions to my new routine of managing my periods. We finished up our 'highly secretive conversation' and walked out of the room with her husband asking us “so what’s this about cups and pads?” He had heard every word and bless him for being just as cool about it as his wife. 

How was it using cloth pads through the months living with others?
My girlfriend actually made the cloth switch immediately after I introduced her to hannahpad and we were both using them for period management. Living together for 2 months, our periods didn’t sync up, but we were about a week apart (hers came first, then mine). We each had our own container/tub and bar of natural soap that we would use for pad washing and soaking. When it wasn’t needed, we simply stored cleaning supplies out of the way under the sink in the bathroom. It was an awesome experience I had with my bestie as we learned the ropes of cloth pad use and openly talked about our periods, how best to get out stains and realising how stains really didn't bother us. I was proud to have converted a dear friend to something healthier and sustainable. Good things are really meant to be introduced and new experiences shared with people close to you. 

Here’s how we made it work:
We each had our own bar of soap, own container/tub, own set of hannahpads (of course). You would know when one of us were on our period when you see a tub of pads soaking in the corner of the bathroom. We were both keen overnight soakers to ensure most stains were lifted before proceeding to hand wash the pads thoroughly the next morning before heading off to work. We would hang them out on the balcony clothes line where all our washing hung together. And honestly, the men in the apartment didn’t care one bit what they were. Frankly, no one cares (neighbours and all) what’s hanging on your own clothes line.

My cloth pads hanging on the clothes line indoors (Melbourne home) next to a big, wide window where the full afternoon sun shines through directly onto my pads.

I leave them hanging for at least 2 days (3-4 days in winter) turning them over each day to ensure both sides get dried.

How do you feel about being discreet with your cloth pad use now?
I’m certainly a lot more comfortable and open about using cloth pads then I used to be (no more whispering). Truth be told, I feel good about my decision to completely switch to reusable menstrual products 3 years ago because what I choose to use for myself, on myself is honestly no one’s business. I tell and speak to people about every aspect of my experience as long as they are willing to listen. The bonus is having people in my life such as my bestie in South Korea make the switch too. 

If your living situation (with housemates, a partner, family, in a dorm etc.) is stopping you from switching to cloth pads or any reusable menstrual product, there are ways around the routine. You can be as open or as discreet as you'd like to be about using your choice of reusable menstrual products. Just do what's best for you always. 

June 04, 2018 — hannahpad Australia & New Zealand