Pantyliners are the slimmer, smaller sisters to feminine napkins (AKA maxi, or menstrual pads). Often used when a woman is NOT on her period, pantyliners can help keep you feeling fresh and clean. While not typically super absorbent, pantyliners are good for capturing cervical mucus, spotting, or minor incontinence. Commercial pantyliners tend to be very skinny, thin, and have an adhesive layer that helps hold them in place on your panties. There are many vendors online that make and sell homemade, cloth pantyliners. Is it worth it to make your own pantyliners? And do they actually work?
- Better for the Earth – homemade pantyliners are washable and reusable, no waste going into the landfill
- Saves Money – after making up the small upfront cost, pantyliners are free
- Easy – easy to make (if you have a sewing machine) and easy to use
- Pretty – can be made with cute fabrics that make you smile
- No adhesive that sometimes can catch a stray hair. Ouch!
- Washable with your regular laundry – no need to do a special load
- Slight odor of unwashed liners can make the laundry basket a little stinkier (but not a lot)
- Fabric pantyliners tend to slip a little when wearing silky, fancy, or less than “sensible” panties
Let’s be real for a moment. Cervical mucus and other types of vaginal discharge are just a fact of life. In fact, cervical mucous is a good thing, and can be a very important tool in tracking your fertility. But it can also goop up your panties.
Since puberty, I have been a must wear a pantyliner every day kind of girl. Well, I suppose “must” is a relative term. But I’ve found it more comfortable to always have a pantyliner in place to capture moisture and keep the rest of my clothing dry and fresh. I cringe a little as I think of all the little liners and adhesive strips over the years that I’ve been personally responsible for sending to a landfill (pushing 7500 at this point in life…).
I didn’t know there was another option, other than having damp or goopy panties until I ran across the concept of “mama cloth”. This is the same idea as cloth diapering, except for women: reusable cloth menstrual pads. Most mama cloth is made at home by crafty gals and sold under small brand names online. I think there may be a couple bigger companies in mass production. They are also super easy to make at home, if you are at all familiar with a sewing machine.
While I am not at a place where I feel ready to commit my entire period to cloth (and I do so love my Diva Cup), switching to homemade pantyliners seemed like an easy thing to do. The big question was, should I make them myself, or purchase them already made? I used this nifty “Make It or Buy It” flow chart from Modern Mrs Darcy to decide:
I had the skills (it’s a pretty simple project), I had the time (I thought…), I would enjoy making it (I love working on a project just for me!), and I could afford to make it (homemade price ~$1 each vs $5-$10 each pre-made online).
The pattern it seems most everyone is using is here, including detailed instructions with pictures. I picked up some pretty fabric: 1 yard of pattern 1 + 1/2 yard of pattern 2 was just enough for a dozen pantyliners. I used the “snuggle flannels” from Joann fabrics for a nice soft touch (these pantyliners are not intended to be 100% moisture proof). I also picked up iron-on Velcro squares instead of snaps. I don’t own a snap press, and couldn’t rationalize spending the money on one for just this project.
I got started on a quiet Saturday afternoon, and found them very easy to make. You could probably finish off a dozen of these over a quiet weekend. YOU could, probably. Somehow, with my two kids, growing belly, full time job, husband traveling for work, etc, it took me about a month to make a dozen of them. That’s life, I suppose…
FINALLY, I got them done and was able to use them! The switch was practically unnoticeable. From a comfort perspective I didn’t notice any difference in feel. They were neither more or less comfortable, bulky, or anything else vs the commercial liners I had been using. In fact, they felt so similar, I was a bit startled by the sight of them whenever I used the bathroom for the first few days.
From a protection perspective, the fabric pantyliners were just what I needed. They captured my typical mucus, extra pregnant mama discharge, and those little incontinent drips that seem to be a normal part of life during a third pregnancy. (remember, we’re being real here… and yes, I did just admit on the internet that I may occasionally pee my pants. A tiny bit. Ahem.) Anyway, even though these did not have a specific moisture proof layer, I found the four layers of flannel to be adequate in keeping my clothing dry.
The only downside I found was that the pantyliners worked best with sensible cotton undies and pants. They tended to slip and slide around on silky fabric. And when wearing silky panties and a skirt – forget about the pantyliners staying in place at all.
Washing the pantyliners is really easy – I just toss them in with the regular colored wash, without any pre-treatment. They always come out clean. I wash them with tabs together to keep the Velcro tangle free, and reshape them flat before putting them through the drier. I’ve noticed there is a slight odor to them after they’ve been sitting in the basket with all the other dirty laundry. I don’t find this odor offensive, but if it bothers you, or the “ick” factor gets to you, you could easily just toss them in a separate fabric bag for storing and washing.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the switch to fabric, reusable pantyliners, and I highly recommend them! They feel as comfortable as disposable, keep me feeling fresh and dry, and are easy to wash. With a dozen in my drawer, I’ve never run out. I like the pretty colors, and had fun making them. These could even make a fun gift for a like minded mama!
Have you ever tried out mama cloth of any kind? What was your experience?
awesome article! I made the switch a few years ago and will not go back! and they are so pretty 🙂
I use them mostly at home (with sweats and chocolate!) and when I am out and about a diva cup. more women really need to be using more green, not to mention healthier means when we have our cycles!
Thank you for this honest review. I’ve seen the tutorials and have been curious. I can no longer wear tampons–they make me itch horribly inside after I insert them. I have the sewing skills and the fabric and fleece. Nice to know you can use Velcro instead of a snap. I may be making a few to test out soon.
I wanted to post an update. I made about six pads and wore them at the end of my period. They are lovely and I hardly noticed them at all! Thank you–I’ll be making more soon.
Love this post! Such a great idea! Thank you for sharing this!
I would like to invite you to my linky party, Thrifty Thursday!
You would fit right in and we would love to have you!
Hope to see you there!
I’ve never even thought of something like this. It’s definitely something I am going to bookmark and ponder. Thank you for such a thorough evaluation.
Of course, in the old days, everyone had to use cloth which is why that horrible term “on the rag” came to be. I’ve contemplated this over the years but the blood quantity always turned me off. I had never thought of just panty liners in cloth. As far as making your laundry smell, it would be no different than underwear would be as underwear catches the same “goop” you’d be using these panty liners for, so I think it’s a non issue. I just wonder about them bunching in my undies that already sometimes bunch! The colorful fabrics are a great touch and totally make me laugh!
Good info! I would love to have you share this on The HomeAcre Hop tonight!
Thank you for this review! I’m hoping to make myself some of these, and I’ve been wondering if I will like them. I’m glad you shared on Eco Kids. I’ll it on my Pinterest and Facebook this week too.
I love cloth pads, but getting blood out of them does take some work, so I use my Diva Cup most of the time. Cloth panty liners, however, are excellent! I think they are more comfortable than the papery ones.
Because they’re so small, they can get lost in the laundry, so I like to wash mine in a zippered mesh bag. It can go in the dryer, too, although I usually line-dry.
I made some of these for myself too after purchasing one from an Etsy seller and loving it. I used some thick wool fleece for the back and wings, then used several layers of flannel for the part touching my body. The wool is semi water repellant and manages to keep my clothing fairly dry.
I use Lunapads and Glad Rags. I love both but Lunapads are my favorite. I got a wet bag for mine, I keep the used ones in that until I wash them.
I know this is one of those topics people tend to avoid talking about, but we all do it! Why not talk about finding the better ways to do it that are healthier and more environmentally friendly??
I really haven’t tried any alternatives, but that’s because of some health issues that stopped my cycle for, well, far too long. Now that it’s back (thanks to real food and healthier eating), I’m back to digging up healthier alternatives. I have two Diva Cup samples, but would also like to try a product like this. Thank you so much for the insight and tips!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Homemade Pantyliners. I’ve used homemade cloth pads for a number of years, but never got around to replacing them when they got old and raggedy. I’m going to have to just plan out a weekend on my sewing machine and get some more made.
Thank you for linking up to Wildcrafting Wednesday over at Real Food Real Frugal!
Fantastic. I could have written everything about this article except I bought my liners only about a month ago. I love them. Love my Diva Cup too.
I own only one that I purchased a while back. Anyone know of an online tutorial on how to sew them?
Here you go Sherri!
I use cloth pads too! Thanks for sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! Hope to see you again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/02/bunnys-bento-box-eco-kids-tuesday.html
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I noticed several of you mentioned the Diva Cup … just wanted to chime in to say that I’ve recently started using the Instead Softcups (reusable, disposable) and LOVE them. They have made my cycles so much less messy. The Softcups are marketed as one-time use, but I use one for several days with no issues, rinsing when needed. Definitely give them a try. I would never go back to tampons.
Great post! Using cloth is such a wonderful way to reduce the impact on our Earth plus it feels some how more feminine, to me at least.
Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!
Thanks for the post! I just started using cloth panty liners made by Imse Vimse with my Diva cup. I have to say I love them! I think I am going to write about them on my blog… I’m just worried I’ll come off crazy because I love them so much 🙂
I do have a simple question. I see that it is easy to simply either place the “used” liner with the dirty laundry or in a separate bag for washing. That works fine when I am at home. But what about when you work or go out shopping and have to change in a public washroom? I cannot carry a smelly liner in my bag or purse. One option would be to bring ziplock bags to put the dirty one in. Another option would be to wash the dirty liner in the public sink (possibly running the risk of embarrasment of someone seeing me do this) then bring home the “wet/moist” to dry (still would need a ziplock bag for this). However, this defeats the purpose of reduction of waste. What do you suggest for “away from home” scenarios?
I would use a small wet bag like you use for dirty cloth diapers. Take a travel spray bottle and fill it with odoban or tea tree oil. When you remove the dirty cloth liner, mist it with your spray bottle, then fold it up and put it in the wet bag. A vinyl or plastic cosmetic bag would also work. then you can just toss the bag into the wash as well.
You may want to consider soaking bloody liners in peroxide and cold water before washing them in cold water.
If you are using it for discharge (rather than incontinence) there should not be enough odor or moisture to cause a problem. Cloth liners usually smell better than disposable ones because they don’t make you sweat as much. You can just fold the ends of a used one over the middle, then fold the wings over and snap them together to make a neat little packet. If that does not contain the odor and you can still smell it from outside your purse, you may have an infection; see your doctor.
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Your article is great. I have to admit it made me laugh a bit because now I’m in the same situation. Third pregnancy and everything. I found out about mama pads while researching cloth diapers, who knew. It seems logical to me that if I’m going to use cloth diapers on my babes, I should use mama pads on myself.
I made postpartum mama cloth, the top is minky (so soft!) then bamboo terry, then sorb, then bamboo terry, then a pretty cotton fabric for the wings, and backed with fleece. I love them! I used snaps for the wings, but used $10 snap pliers, a snap press would have been silly for the amount of snaps I was doing, but the snap pliers worked great 🙂
Soon they are going to be more than I need though, so I was thinking of making some panty liners, if I can find time without a baby on my lap or attached to my breast 😉
Hi! Thankyou for the article…it was great!
I’d love to make the switch… but I can’t seem to find a attern or a design that I like … yours look pretty good… would you mind doing an article for that??
(If you already have, I’m sorry, I couldn’t find it)
Do you have any extra tips (I’m about to start using a cup, so I thought making my own pantyliners would be good).
Thankyou very much!!
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I know I am late into this thread but with the advantages of time, are you aware you can now buy flexible, waterproof fabric. I expect it was developed to use in conjunction with the baby version of this principle, baby nappies. It is not cheap but it goes a long way and will last for years. With 3 very thing getting so expensive it is worthwhile making these. Also you can purchase the liners they use seperately in the nappies, which makes for a more absorbant option, when required. These liners have also been adapted by makers of the cloth liners and incontinence products that are now available. Thanks to eBay, there is little we can’t access anymore.
I’m trying this project. I think they’ll solve the problem of having the pantyliners with a sticky side from losing their adherence when getting sweaty on a long hike. I went on a Camino in Spain and just gave up wearing pantyliners due to this problem.
I also find some pantyliners cause itching.
I’m trying so bamboo flannel for breathability and zorb for the absorbancy. I have an vintage snap pliers but will have to see if I can find the snap notions.