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?