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How Long Do Reusable Sanitary Pads Last?

how long do reusable sanitary pads last

You’ve been toying with the idea for some time now. You’ve been crunching the numbers. Your body/bank balance/concern for the environment keeps reminding you that something’s got to change, and quick. But buying the recommended stash of ten pads sounds expensive and before you proceed, the one thing you need to know is, “How long will my pads last?”.

It is safe to say that you can expect your pads to last for an average of five years. However, there are some very important factors which will influence this figure.


Thickness of your reusable pads will affect their shelf-life. Sanitary pads which have several core layers of fleece or terry cloth for example may be more prone to collecting residue between the layers which, after several years, may become stiffer and less comfortable to wear.


The quality and style of your reusable sanitary pads will have an impact on how long they last. Reusable sanitary pads which contain high-quality materials which are suited to their purpose will likely last longer than pads which aren’t. Many online sellers of reusable sanitary pads are small domestic craft businesses where the materials used will vary according to what is available to the seller at the time. This can mean variations in quality and suitability, so it is worth reading the seller’s reviews and ensuring that you are purchasing materials which have been tried and tested by other buyers.

The style of your reusable sanitary pads is also a good way to ensure longevity. You can opt for pads which have detachable parts (such as a removable top layer or a pocket insert), which means fewer washes and wear-and-tear for certain parts of your pads, which can exponentially increase their life-span.

How you wash them

This is the biggest determiner of how long a reusable sanitary pad will last. For optimum use, each sanitary pad should be washed in the manner and temperature outlined by its care instructions. Washing all your reusable pads together at the same temperature can cause visible damage to those which require a cooler wash either through stretching, fading or just excess wear-and-tear. Equally, thick sanitary pads and those made from more durable fabric may not get a proper wash if washed in temperatures cooler than that recommended and so residue may build up.

The lime content of your water will also contribute to the stiffening of your reusable sanitary pads. In the same way that towels can become stiff in lime-rich areas (even when fabric softener is used), pads too will be affected by a build-up of lime residue.

Another residue which can affect your reusable sanitary pads is powder detergent. Most stores that sell reusable pads will recommend that powder detergent should not be used, as it builds up readily between your sanitary pad’s core layers and in addition to stiffening them, may also begin to cause irritation, which nobody wants, particularly down there.

A magnaball used in your machine in place of fabric softener will help to keep your pads softer for longer and counteract some of the residue caused by lime build-up and general use.

Frequency of use

This is the easiest variable to predict. If your reusable sanitary pads are only being used as a back-up for a menstrual cup, or if you’ve splurged and bought twenty sanitary pads instead of the ten you promised yourself you’d stick to, it goes without saying that they will last much longer than pads which undergo a rigorous wash every month.

Overall, five years is roughly the minimum life-span of a reusable pad. Having said all of that, I wash all my pads monthly in a forty degree wash without detergent or softener and have only recently binned one, which was thick and stiff due to a residue build-up between the four layers of bamboo fleece at its core (I was nervous, it was my first pad). With a little bit of research and clever buying, and a washing routine tailored to the pads you’ve selected, there’s no reason they can’t last even longer.

RELATED: Are Reusable Sanitary Pads Good?

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