I’ve never been a fan of tampons and as such, never had a desire to try menstrual cups either. I’ve always used pads as my preferred menstrual product. However, a few years ago, I was starting to feel annoyed with disposables. Having a period is nothing to be embarrassed about – but I still hated that everyone in the bathroom knew I was on my period by the ripping sound of those loud wrappers. (People who don’t menstruate: if you’ve never heard it, think of being in a house where everyone is sound asleep and you are trying to sneak cake from one of those plastic domes.) On top of that, it was so wasteful. And they aren’t even comfortable! I made the switch to cloth menstrual pads and haven’t looked back.
When I first started, I went with a bundle from amazon – but once I got pregnant and decided to reach for them again postpartum, I wanted to do more research into other brands. I’m a big fan of research (hi, history major here!) so I have my opinions as well as some stats for each. (Note: all prices are CAD.)
Amazon: It’s Cheap for a Reason
- Cost per pad: $3
- Sizes available: 2? 3?
- Number of snaps: 1
- Fabrics: PUL, Charcoal, Microfiber
- Wash routine: To quote: “machine washable”. Suspiciously easy.
Amazon pads are the ones that everyone likes to compare the rest with and there’s only one reason: the cost. A ten pack (plus wet bag) is only $30. A lot of people choose these because they’re so cheap; however, in comparing it with others, there’s a reason.
First of all, these are so thick. They are at least as thick as a regular flow disposable pad and thicker than the “super thin” type that was my go-to. On top of which, the snaps bother me. Even before I tried other cloth pads, this was something that bothered me about my amazon pads – after a couple of days of wearing them, I was very aware of the snap and it was not comfortable. It’s very bulky. On top of this, you have to really search for different sizes. They seem to carry overnight and liners now (something not available when I bought mine), but again you have to buy a large pack. There doesn’t appear to be an individual option for trying different sizes to see what works for you.
Now for the TMI: absorbency. These pads are the worst on this list for it, and microfiber is the reason. It was not uncommon for me to find clots sitting on top of these pads – something much rarer in the other three. Any cloth diapering parent who has tried microfiber will tell you it is hit and miss at best. The charcoal on the top protects your skin but it isn’t the main absorbency. I’ve been slowly replacing my Amazon pads with others (spoiler: HyPs) as I can afford it.
La Petit Ourse: So Basic
- Cost per pad (CDN): $5-$6
- Sizes available: 3
- Number of snaps: 2
- Fabrics: outside PUL/Polyester; interior bamboo/charcoal
- Wash routine: Rinse, air dry, machine wash, line or machine dry
LPO is a decent-price and an okay quality. One of the cute things is that some of their prints match their cloth diapers – so you and your baby can match cloth, which is cute! They have three standard sizes: liner, day, and overnight. I only have a liner by them right now. Compared to a disposable liner or light flow pad, it holds about the same and is roughly the same thickness as the latter.
Their wash routine is a little odd. The fact that you have to air dry them before main wash adds a step I don’t always have time to take – and means more time between wears, which means more pads. I’m also not a fan of their website’s navigation. To find cloth pads, you either have to search them or find them nested under “mom and baby accessories” (which isn’t very descriptive or inclusive), alongside car seat covers, blankets, bibs, etc. They are sold in packs of two in the same size and different patterns. There is no mixing and matching patterns; bulk discounts apply when you buy five or more packs.
As for the pads themselves, there isn’t anything wrong with LPO, they just didn’t wow me. There isn’t anything that stands out about them. They still slip around a little (almost all of them did), they weren’t softer than any of the others, or more absorbent. They are okay, but there are better options in my opinion.
Note: since purchasing mine, LPO has added silicone dots to the bottom of their pads to help stop the pads from slipping around, a problem most cloth pads face. I have not been able to test this feature, but have heard silicone dots wear in the wash, which is why they aren’t typically included in cloth pads.
Illum (formerly Hannah Pad): Not Worth It
- Cost per pad: $11 - $37 for cotton; $13-38 for bamboo/cotton
- Packages: can be purchased individually or in discounted bundles
- Sizes available: 8
- Number of snaps: 1
- Fabrics: Organic cotton (shell also contains 8% TPU).
- Wash routine: Rinse out, use their branded probiotic soap to wash spots, soak in their branded soap for 6 hours minimum, hand wash in running water, air dry
I was given a postpartum sized Hannah Pad (now called Illum) when I was well, a few weeks postpartum. This is the only size I had available to test, but it gave me a good sense of the relative absorbency and quality. These are really, really soft pads. This giant beast is also still smaller than the one they give you in the hospital, yet still extremely absorbent. They also have a lot of different sizes available, including thong!
This pad is the only one on this list which is white, something I’m on the fence about. This comes down to taste and necessity. When I was freshly postpartum, I needed to monitor my bleeding closely, and white pads were how to do it. Now that I’m back to monthly cycles, I’m more annoyed by how much I have to work to get the stains out.
Speaking of which, did you skip over or read that novel of a wash routine? These pads are fussy. They require six hours of soaking in addition to the main and prewashes. (Yes, that is three washes.) Again, that means longer time between wears, which means more pads. Illum also only recommends their probiotic and liquid soaps, which will run you an extra $14 and $12 respectively (and yes, you are supposed to use both in one wash cycle). I find it immoral when companies push multiple, unnecessary products on you. They make it seem like you need a lot of new stuff instead of using what you have and is readily available to you. It just creates an accessibility barrier and wasteful spending.
On top of which, the price of these pads is astronomical. Yes, they are organic, vegan cotton (and now bamboo optional) but this is a lot. The pad I was given is $37 if bought individually and it’s just not worth it. There are so many other more budget friendly options.
HyPs Don’t Lie
- Cost per pad: $12-$14
- Sizes available: 3
- Number of snaps: 2
- Fabrics: PUL, bamboo terry, wicking stay dry bamboo
- Wash routine: Rinse until clear water, wash, line dry
First of all, what is this magic? Is this rocket science? Why is this pad so thin and so absorbent? These are the thinnest of all the pads I tested, yet they hold a deceptive amount. [TMI alert] There have been times I think I must have had a lighter day than I realized because I see nothing on the blue pad – then I go to rinse them and it’s the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones.
These are so soft and dry too! That stay dry bamboo material is a favorite of both my son and I (for diapers and pads respectively). The dark color doesn’t show stains either. The price is quite reasonable: a trial kit (including wet bag and one HyP of each size) is $53. They are super easy to wash, which means you need fewer pads. I think I could probably get away with two trial packs personally, but I have more just to be safe.
One common complaint is that they sometimes move and honestly, this was an issue with all the pads I tried (except the giant Illum pad because it covered almost all of my booty). One tip I found that worked with HyPs was turning them backwards so that the longest part faced the front. For whatever reason, this keeps them in place much better. I never had leaks due to absorbency for these, but I did have one or two because of fit.
I’m a cost-effective person. When I needed a new car, I had spreadsheets (plural) of budgets, costs, pros/cons, etc. I like to do my research and I like a good deal. However, over the years I’ve learned a good deal doesn’t always mean the cheapest item (looking at you, Amazon) – but at the same time, the best quality item isn’t always the most expensive. Because I don’t want to waste these pads, I still keep all four in my rotation – but, bottom line, whenever I need more in a certain size, I always find myself at lilhelper.ca buying HyPs, without a second thought to the others.
About the Author
Grace is a Lil Helper Ambassador, a mom of one and a high school teacher on mat leave. She loves board games, reading, and has a mini-zoo.