How to wash period undies and reusable pads

You’ve got reusable period undies or pads, but what now? How do you wash period stains? How do you stop them form smelling? Can you tumble try period pants? We’ve got the answers.

First of all, congratulations! Once you go period undies or reusable pads, you’ll never go back. Period underwear might just change your life and the way you connect with your body and your period altogether. 

Period underwear are game changers, and can be so useful particularly if you have irregular periods or before a period starts. It can be intimidating when you first get started, especially when you’re used to throwing your period products in the bin and being done with it.

There are a few different ways you can go about washing your reusable period products, but always remember to read the instructions for the particular period undies or cloth pad you’ve bought. For example, some instructions from sources in Australia say you can soak your underwear, while others like Modibodi suggest just rinsing them.

Depending on how heavy your flow may be most menstruation or period pants can be worn all day (hallelujah!) and don't need to be washed right away.

Before washing

Once you’ve finished with your period undies or reusable pad(s) for the day, you’ll need to give them a quick rinse, ready for washing.

The easiest way to do this is to shower at night and take them into the shower with you. Think about it, you’re already using the water, you may as well clean your undies or pad while you clean yourself! This is particularly helpful if you’ve had really heavy bleeding or aren’t super into having blood in your sinks, it is the lining of the uterus after all.

Just rinse by hand under the shower water (think wringing them out like a sponge) and keep rinsing and wringing until the water runs clear. But make sure it's not hot water, the colder the better.

If you don’t shower twice a day, rinsing in a laundry sink will do just fine. Just be mindful to keep the blood away from soaps and toothbrushes that are used for hygiene.

Now if you’re wearing period undies or reusable cloth pads day and night, you may be going through a couple per day, but this doesn’t mean you have to put a wash on every day. 

As long as your undies or pad has been rinsed, they can sit for a day or two until you’re ready to put a wash on. You might like to have a dedicated bucket or wet bag in your laundry that you can keep them in. 

Washing your period undies

Once all the blood is out of your undies it’s time to chuck them into the wash.

When you do get your undies or pad in the wash, stay clear of heavy detergent and skip fabric softener, this can affect how well they work. A great option is the old vinegar and baking soda trick. Most brands also recommended you wash on a cold wash - no warmer than 30 degrees celsius. 

Now depending on how much laundry you have, you can safely wash them with other items without worrying about them staining other clothes. 

But, keep in mind that some brands recommend washing on a delicate cycle and using a laundry delicates bag, as doing this will more than likely help your undies or pads last longer before needing to be replaced.

Drying your reusable menstrual underwear

Once your wash is finished, skip the dryer. Putting them in the dryer may shrink them or damage their absorbency abilities. Let your undies and reusable pads air dry, but keep in mind they’ll take longer to dry due to the thickness of the absorbency within them.

They should not smell after washing, so if they do, it might be worth a soak in cold water with diluted vinegar for an hour or so, before repeating the washing process. The smell should be less to do with the actual period and more to do with washing!

So wear your period undies and reusable pads with confidence, washing them is easy and wearing them is even easier!

Want to discover more?

Explore our database of everyone working towards menstrual equality in Australia.

Inclusivity note

Within this article, we may use the terms she, her, woman, girl or daughter. We understand that not all people with uteruses who are assigned female at birth menstruate, and not everyone who menstruates identifies as a female, girl or woman. For more information on this, please see our article about the importance of gender inclusivity when discussing periods and menstruation.

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