Following my Zero Waste Llama Product Review on Reusable Sanitary Products a few years ago, I have now been producing my own Sanitary Towels for some time – both for me and my friends! You’ll remember from my previous post regarding making these, that, not only have these been much more comfy to wear than those purchased, but my homemade ones have proven to be strong, absorbent and easily washed!
Compared to the brand of disposable pads I used prior, I would never go back…. No irritation and excellent absorbency!
In this post I wish to expand a little more into the eco fabrics/materials you can use and where to buy them in the UK.
I have (after making many of the patterns offered) settled on one core pattern from The Happy Hippos (who also offer diaper patterns, by the way!) – The Curvy Classic.
The pattern can be downloaded – with instructions – from the Happy Hippo Etsy Site directly in PDF format. What I like most about The Happy Hippo Patterns, is that you can print off the templates and cut the pattern to suit a variety of lengths. Then there are all their other patterns…. anything from novelty shapes (bat cat!) to wider or narrower wings… Definitely worth a browse!
My tip is, to think of the (disposable) towels which you prefer, and aim to match the layout of those – that way you wont be left short!
Thread: 100% polyester thread to keep the pad from wicking/leaking.
Press Studs / Velcro / other fastening option for the wings
Top Layer: cotton woven, cotton knit, minky, cotton flannel, cotton french terry, cotton velour, bamboo velour…. Basically, raid your scrap/fat quarters drawer or even use up old/damaged clothing items that no longer fit!
Core (Absorbent layer): flannel, hemp (fleece, terry, or french terry), cotton french terry, cotton fleece, bamboo (fleece, terry, or french terry), terry, Zorb®, diaper birdseye. Based on a few years of making and using these towels, I recommend Zorb®.
Bottom Layer: windpro fleece, polar or antipill fleece, hidden PUL with a back layer of fleece, microfleece, or corduroy, and some use just PUL with knit side out for the bottom.
Once you have made a couple, you will find that they run up quite quickly! AND they wash amazingly well, with no staining – just soak with water for a few mins (if not going directly in the machine!) and wash with your normal load (I wash at 30°C and have no problems!).
Where to buy the Zorb® & PUL fabrics to make your Sanitary Towels
Cuddle Plush Fabrics are the Official EU distributor of Wazoodle and AKAS Tex brands – AND they are based in the UK! (They also have a “How to make a reusable cloth menstrual pad” series on Instagram at the moment!)
After several years of making these, I have some excellent tips for where to buy the Core and PUL for sanitary towel making! To be honest, there is little-to-no choice when it comes to sourcing decent, Cores (Zorb) and PULs – after all, both sustainability AND personal hygiene are at stake here! As someone with heavy periods, over 6 days, this remains incredibly important to me!
In July last year, I had a long conversation about what I was doing, and what I wanted for my own Sanitary Towels, with Ashrey from Wazoodle(a small family business). Wazoodle manufacture a diverse range of eco-friendly fabric brands including Zorb, ProSoft Eco-PUL, FoodSAFE PUL, ProCare, ProECO Organics, ProCool Performance. (They also partner with REPREVE, Lycra, CoolMax, Cotton Inc & Silvadur which enables them to offer the best & safest environmentally friendly fabrics.)
I need to note here that this blog post is in no way sponsored by Wazoodle or Cuddle Plush: I spoke to Ash after my most recent order, to find out more about his company’s environmental policies and efforts! He was very inspiring! Ash was both enthusiastic and interested in the things I was doing in my journey towards zero waste. As I spoke about my journey, we exchanged tips and experiences.
Zorb® – The safest core for you AND the environment!
Zorb®, the leading brand of super absorbent fabrics, is thin, cost effective, hypo-allergenic and baby safe. It traps more and holds more liquid and dispenses it quickly, to reduce compression leaks. It is perfect for reusable articles that need to be super absorbent: nappies, pet beds, cage liners, nursing pads, women’s sanitary towels, incontinence pads, absorbent mattress covers, yoga towels, mats…. well, pretty much anything your can imagine making with it!
This fabric soaks up to 20 times faster than other materials and absorbs 10 times its weight in under 2 seconds. It is created by Wazoodle/AKAS Tex with the environment and product safety in mind. It’s also designed to decrease customers’ production costs and to wash, sanitize and dry easily.
PUL – The waterproof layer to ensure that you don’t experience leakage!
PULis so safe you can literally eat off it, ProSoft ECO-PUL is very versatile and long-lasting with a life-cycle of 300+ washings. (Which means that your sanitary towels will last YEARS).
There are a number of styles you can chose, depending upon the nature of your project (PUL has sooo many applications in textiles!):
And these are available in over 50 different colors and/or prints, which are manufactured in modern, quality-controlled, Wazoodle textile facility, it is 100% CPSIA certified, 100% eco-friendly and Food Safe tested. A safe polyurethane film is permanently bonded it to their top-selling fabrics using a unique thermal process without toxic solvents. The process does not emit any toxic wastes or VOC’s that are harmful to the environment.
Don’t just take my word for it!
My best friend has quite a lot to say about the sanitary towels I made for her:
“I hadn’t really done much research into reusable sanitary towels. I have pcos, so I’m lucky if I have 2 periods per year. Because of this, sanitary products are never a huge priority of mine! When I met Cath (in my interview actually!) she spoke about making and using reusable sanitary towels. She was so passionate about them, I thought I should do some reading myself. It was really interesting as it’s something that had never occurred to me.
I was so shocked by how much waste is produced by disposable sanitary towels! Even in the short time that I bleed, I go through a lot of sanitary towels. So if you use them every single month, that’s a massive amount!
There are lots of more eco/sustainable options, but Cath introduced me to the world of reusable sanitary towels. She made me a couple, and I waited and waited to use them! By the time my period had come, I’d completely forgotten about them. Any periods I’d had had always been really heavy and very uncomfortable, because of this I’ve found that tampons wouldn’t be an option for me. And although I like the idea of them, menstrual cups are completely out of the question.
Anyway, when “the day” came I was a little bit excited. I could finally use the pretty sanitary towels! Cath had made red, flowery ones. You can’t get those at the supermarket!!
The first thing I noticed was how comfortable they were. The plastic around the sides of disposable sanitary towels had always irritated my skin making it very painful. That wasn’t an issue with reusable sanitary towels as they’re made from cotton which is so soft on the skin! They are also s
o absorbent, something that I was worried about. And even if you’re quite heavy, they don’t feel wet! They’re not in the slightest bulky when wearing them, which is surprising given how much they absorb. I didn’t know how I’d feel about washing them, as I’d never really had close-up contact with my own menstrual blood! But it was completely fine! They wash great too.
I’ve used 1 disposable sanitary towel once since I switched to the reusable ones (I got caught out whilst I was away- and hadn’t brought any others with me!) and the difference was so obvious! It made me sure that I’ll never look back! I couldn’t wait to get back home and change into my others. If you’re apprehensive like I was, buy one or two and see how you go. It’s so worth it!
– Sarah, 26 years old