How Do Reusable Period Pads Work?

9 July 2024  |  Admin

Welcome to the sustainable and more comfortable periods! If you haven't considered reusable period protection before you might be wondering 'why on earth would you'?

We understand. Big companies with HUGE marketing budgets have spent a lot of money over the years persuading us that we NEED single use products to deal with our periods. And that period blood is something to be ashamed of...hence why they always use 'blue liquid' to demonstrate their absorbency rather than actual blood.(Yep, we're looking at you Libra, Stayfree, Always....)

Here at Cheeky, we've been all about 'Simple Reusables' since we launched our bestselling reusable wipes kit, way back in 2008. We started developing our range of reusable pads and period pants in 2014. That was after I'd had four children who knackered my insides and could no longer wear internal period protection!

Reusable period pads were a revelation.

They were super comfy to wear, unlike itchy, plasticky sweaty disposable pads.

They were more absorbent.

They were EASY (and quite satisfying) to wash.

Plus of course, they're eco friendly, WAY better for the planet and saved a load of cash too.

Let's take a look at reusable cloth pads together and answer some questions that tend to come up a lot if you're new to the concept:

How do period pads work?

How Do Reusable Period Pads Work?

Reusable period pads work because they're made up of layers of cloth plus a waterproof layer which absorb period blood and prevent leaks. They look similar to disposable pads and many pads have poppers which popper under your knicker gusset to hold them in place.

Reusable period pads are made up of layers:

Top Layer

Made from soft, skin-friendly fabrics like cotton, organic cotton or bamboo, this layer sits against your skin, designed to wick moisture away to keep you feeling dry and comfortable.

Absorbent Core

Typically consisting of several layers of absorbent materials such as microfiber, cotton, bamboo or hemp, this core traps and holds your menstrual fluid, ensuring effective leak protection and absorption.

Waterproof Backing

The bottom layer is usually a leak-proof material such as PUL or TPU. This layer prevents any menstrual blood from seeping through to your clothes, giving you extra security during your period.

How Often Should You Change Reusable Period Pads?

This is a 'how long is a piece of string' question. We always recommend that customers prewash new period pads 3 or 4 times to boost absorbency before wearing. Then wear the pads at home, so you can see how your new pads perform with YOUR periods.

To give some context I would say my periods are 'regular'. I would wear a fresh one in the morning, and on my heavy days would change lunchtime, dinner time and again at night. On lighter days, I might drop the lunchtime pad swap. It depends!

How often you should change reusable period pads depends on:

Heaviness of Flow

Lighter flows might only require changing every 4-6 hours, while heavier flows might necessitate changes every few hours to prevent leaks.

Pad Absorbency

Different pads come with varied absorbency levels, suited for light, medium, or heavy flows. Choose a pad that matches your flow to optimise the duration of use. In addition some fabrics are more absorbent than others. For example our bamboo / bamboo charcoal pads are heavier absorbency than our cotton or organic cotton pads.

Personal Comfort

Some may prefer to change pads more frequently simply for a fresher feel, regardless of flow.

How Absorbent Are Reusable Period Pads?

Reusable period pads are just as absorbent (or possibly more absorbent) than similar disposable pads. They're available in different absorbency levels:

Light Absorbency

Panty liners tend to be best for light days and spotting or as a backup for menstrual cups or tampons.

Medium Absorbency

Regular cloth menstrual pads, ideal for 'normal' flow days.

Heavy / Night / Maternity Absorbency

Designed for heavy flow days, overnight use, or as maternity / postpartum pads. These reusable sanitary pads tend to be longer and wider and provide extensive coverage and absorption.

Explore our Bestselling Period Pads:

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Cotton Sanitary Pads - Reusable Menstrual Pads  - Day use

How to Use Reusable Period Pads

Using reusable period pads is easy and similar to disposables, but with the added step of washing and drying. Here's how to use reusable period pads:


Place the pad in your knickers. Withe Cheeky pads, the plain grey or natural coloured side should face up against your skin and the coloured or patterned side should face down. Snap the pad around the gusset of your underwear and adjust for comfort.

Check Regularly

Depending on your flow, check the pad every few hours to assess if it needs changing. If you're out at work or school for the day, our reusable menstrual pads popper closed and can be kept in a wet bag for easy transport.


After use, rinse the pad in cold water to remove as much blood as possible. Alternatively soak in cold water overnight before washing. You can add salt or stain remover to this to improve stain removing abilities. Cold or cool water should always be used as water over 36c can 'set' stains.


Wash cloth pads in a washing machine on a max temperature of 30c. Air dry to preserve the longevity of your pads.


Thanks for exploring the ins and outs of reusable period pads with us! For more information, to view our full range of products, or if you have any questions, visit our website or drop us a line. We're here to help you make confident, informed choices about your period care.

Alternatively, if you enjoyed this article, you may also appreciate these: making the most of sustainable period products, check out our informative blog posts:


About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable sanitary pads. Both she and the rest of the leadership team are now navigating menopause, with all the joys it brings!

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.

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