How to Go Camping with Your Pads
Reusable cloth pads are easy to use, even when you’re on an outdoor adventure! Read on for pro tips about changing your pad out in the wild, how to store your pads until you’re ready to wash them, which sizes are best to wear on your adventure, and more!
Tips to get you started:
- Pack your extra cloth pads or cloth pantyliners in your bag or a zippered pouch like our laminated totes. It’s a good idea to always bring a couple more than you think you’ll need, just in case! Pack anything else you might need to feel comfortable on your period, like ibuprofen tablets, wipes, or a favorite snack. Bring extra water, because getting dehydrated on your period can make symptoms worse!
When your pad feels wet against your skin and you’re ready for a new one, just fold & snap your used pad around itself (see picture below) and toss it back in your bag. It won’t drip out- we promise! And it doesn’t even look like a menstrual product when folded & snapped like that!
There usually isn’t much blood on the ends of the used pad, so you can use that space to do an extra wipe before stashing it away.
You actually don’t even need to take off your pants or undies to change your pad! Just scoot your pants or shorts down a little past your hips and reach your hands under the gusset of your undies so you can unsnap the pad you’re wearing. Then slide the fresh pad sideways in the gusset of your undies and snap it in (see video for a demo)!
If you’re a fan of the menstrual cup too, then bringing your cup and a few cloth pantyliners is a great option for extra comfort and security! The Luxe Liner with the extra snap added or the Skipper Liner are great sizes to pair with a cup. Some people like to just wear a cup during the day, but pack Overnight Pads for nighttime.
Reusable cotton pads are actually one of the most efficient options for outdoor activities or camping trips. Why? Disposable menstrual pads generate a lot of more waste that is simply garbage; like plastic wrappers, plastic sticky tabs on pads, disposable pads that are full of plastic and chemicals, plastic tampon applicators, and the actual used tampons. All of that garbage needs to be packed away and carried with your for the rest of your trip, and the plastic-y, fake perfume-y materials can get pretty stanky and add add extra bulk to your bag.
What should I do with my used pads if I’m not going home right away?
Your used pads can stay folded & snapped in your bag for the rest of the day. When you get home (or to your campsite) unsnap them so they can dry out a bit- it’s only when cotton pads sit wet and aren’t able to dry out that they will get smelly.
You can rinse your pad out, but don’t do so unless you’re able to dry it thoroughly afterwards (like if the weather is sunny and breezy, and you feel comfortable hanging them out to dry). It’s okay for washable padsto chill with dried blood on them until you’re next able to do laundry, just don’t keep them wet and crumpled up in the bottom of your bag, or they might get funky!
What if I want to handwash my pads while I’m on my trip?
If you are on a longer expedition, or if you just prefer to wash them right away, that’s also an option! Here’s how:
- First, rinse your pads with regular water or pre-soak them for about 10 minutes, if you have a container you can use for that.
- Grab your eco-friendly, biodegradable camp soap (an example would be Dr. Bronner’s soap, an eco-friendly dish soap you may have packed for kitchen use, or a gentle bar soap that you use for your body).
- When your pads are thoroughly wet, squirt or rub some of your soap into the cloth and get it sudsy with your hands by massaging the fabric and squeezing the pad to work the soap through the fibers. Don’t use anything rough to scrub the fabric!
- After your pads get thoroughly sudsy, rinse them out by running water over them or dunking them in your soaking container. Repeat until the water that squeezes out of them runs clear.
- Hang your pads on a line, lay them out (make sure they don’t blow away!), or hang them from your backpack while you hike if you feel comfortable doing so, until they are thoroughly dry and you can’t feel any moisture when touching them with your fingers.
- Important to note: Your pad will dry out best in sunny, warm, breezy weather. If a day is humid, overcast, or chilly, your pads will dry much slower. Do not pack up your pads unless they feel thoroughly dry- because you have fully saturated the pads with water by washing them, they are more likely to get musty if they are folded and packed away while damp.
- Menstrual blood is NOT dirty or toxic, and there’s no need to feel weird about washing your cotton menstrual pads in nature. If fact, many people like to give a little watered-down menstrual blood to their houseplants or garden, because it’s so rich in nutrients like iron! When using soap or washing anything outdoors, it’s best to do it over a patch of soil or rocks, rather than directly in a river or body of water, because soil microbes are best are breaking down organic matter.
What if I want to do a deep clean with my pads once I get home from my trip?
If you took your washable pads on a long trip, or if they totally dried out with blood on them- no problem! Just add a few steps to your normal laundry routine to give them a deeper clean.
- Hydrogen peroxide (available widely in grocery stores and drug stores) is wonderful for lifting bloodstains. Soak your pads for 10 minutes in cool water, then dampen the surfaces of the pads with hydrogen peroxide and massage the pads to work it in (it will bubble up). Let them sit for 5 minutes, and then move on to the next step.
- Toss your pads in the washing machine, and add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the pre-wash cycle (if applicable) or to the wash cycle. Add in your laundry detergent, and wash in warm or cool water on the longest cycle available on your machine.
- Dry your pads thoroughly in the dryer, or hang them on a line. With cloth pads, the drying step in an integral part of the laundering process, and drying them thoroughly removes any smell or mustiness still present after washing.