I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding washing pads. There are three really important things to remember: NO fabric softeners, use a smaller amount of detergent and don’t prerinse with hot or warm water. Let’s start when you first get your pads. I always make sure to prewash all materials in a warm wash using soap nuts followed by a medium high heat in the dryer. The more times you wash your pads before the first use, the less chemicals will remain on them from manufacturing.
In terms of washing after use, there are some different options, you just need to find what works best for you and your lifestyle.
Rinse immediately with cold water and use a stain stick- this is a very easy way to ensure that your pads don’t stain, and that they don’t have to sit soaking in a bucket of water. After rinsing you can squeeze them out and place directly in a wetbag or hang to dry and then place them in a dry laundry bag. Then wash in low residue detergent and dry on medium/high heat or hang to dry.
Soak pads in a jar/bucket/shallow tray- this method only works if you have somewhere to put the container holding your soaking water and that you don’t live with someone who would be grossed out by it. Make sure the water is cold, and rinse after they have soaked for an hour or so. After this, follow the steps mentioned above.
Postpone the rinse/soak- this can be done accidentally or on purpose. I’ve actually use pads at work, put the pads in a wrapper without rinsing at all and then rinsed them and used a stain stick a few days later with very good results. It is advised to treat your pads the day they are soiled, and wash within 2-3 days to avoid stains, stinks and material deterioration.
A great stain stick is Lift by MilkHoneySoapery on Etsy. This stain stick has gotten every blood stain out of my pads, and even works on other stains for clothes or dish cloths. Every purchase from my shop includes a code for 20% off two Lift stain sticks.
Pads can be washed with cloth diapers, towels, just about anything, since they are rinsed in some way before they actually see a washing machine. Of course if you aren’t comfortable washing your pads with anything else, you don’t have to. The reason why no fabric softener and low residue detergents are important is because you don’t want chemicals building up on the surface of your pads. Obviously this will decrease the amount of liquid it will absorb. You also don’t want to prewash in warm or hot water since this will actually help the blood set into the material. If you are worried about stains but don’t want to put in as much effort, minky topped pads are extremely stain resistant, as are bamboo charcoal fleece. I find that flannel is actually the hardest material to get stains out of.
Finally, if you have a stubborn stain or just want a little extra freshness, you can sun dry your pads. I find though, that this makes them a bit stiffer and obviously isn’t possible in some weather.