I don't really need much in the way of feminine products anymore, since I'm on a pill that pretty much renders my periods the way of the Dodo bird. But I occasionally do need a pantiliner as evidenced by the fact that I woke up this morning with spotted white underwear. Of course it would have to be white. If I weren't such a free speech advocate, I'd say there should be a law against selling women white underwear, after all, it never seems to stay white. And if the idea of reusing cloth liners is gross, it really isn't any different than me soaking out my once again spotty panties in the hopes that I can salvage this latest pair. I mean, every girl has a pair of "not quite white" underwear somewhere and that isn't any more gross than being female in general. I figure having reusable pantiliners is on par with having "not quite white" underwear on a more or less continuous basis.
I'm not ready to switch to only cloth for any heavy days of bleeding. For one thing, I'd be too worried about leaking. When I do bleed, I BLEED. And having the reusable pads that have waterproof liners negates many of the supposed health benefits of reusable pads. It seems that just using cloth, since it doesn't trap all that moisture next to your skin, is really good at preventing things like yeast infections. I can't count the number of times I've followed a long drawn-out period with one of those. Ugh!
But I think it's time for me to finally make the switch to reusable cloth pantiliners. Which means, as with any new shopping endeavor, it was time to do some serious research.
One of the things I can't stand about all of these hippie girl products is their assumption that I want my ass to be covered in pink and daisy prints. I'm trying to soak up gross and smelly blood, not celebrate some kind of mystical phase of womanhood. Periods suck, period. There is nothing nice about bleeding and cramping and bloating and stinking every month, and covering my pad with frilly flowers and stupid girly prints isn't going to change my mind about that. I hate the color pink.
There are two mainstream manufacturers of reusable pads, LunaPads and GladRags. Sadly, a very promising and innovative leap in design was wasted in poor construction in LunaPads. The idea of stacking liners using their unique "rick rack" system seemed logical, frankly brilliant, but when I read through the reviews most people complained about shoddy construct, poor snaps, irritating seams, etc. I was sorely disappointed, because when you rely on an independent single mom on Etsy to make all your products, you never know when suddenly that product will disappear forever. It was my hope I could find a reputable, midsized company to supply me, so I would have a better chance of having my stock around forever. *sigh*
GladRags is a serviceable company, but again, more money seems to go into marketing than design here. They are okay, but not great. That was pretty much the best review I could get. Most of their designs are the despised flowery nonsense, but they do have some undyed organic cotton versions, along with a dark red "ruby" and dark green "fern" version that looked promising for hiding bloodstains. From what I gathered, you can get the basic idea of the reusables, or to fill up your stash of rags, but there were just so many better options that it was best to shop around.
So then we had to move on to independents, mostly on Etsy. The top reviewed seem to be WeeEssentials (who obviously makes other maternal and baby related products), The Silver Liner, Yurtcraft, and Quirky Quintessentials. One of the things you'll need to know when buying from an independent is the size of your ideal pad, both in length and width. And they come in a variety of fabrics, so you have to shop around until you figure out which top fabric is most comfortable for you, as well as how much bulk you like in your pad (today's girls like as thin as possible, but some older women tend to feel "safer" if the pad is a little thicker), as well as how much slippage they can tolerate. Since cloth pads are simply held on with a snap around the middle, and no adhesive backing, the bottom layer of fabric in a cloth pad determines how much friction exists to help hold the pad in place. Also of consideration is how easily the pad is to wash and dry, especially for those who don't use dryers (many women like to air dry their pads).
I ended up picking a brand called Domino Pads, partially because they had fantastic colors, were hand dyed and supposedly didn't fade, could easily be thrown in the dryer (really, I'm quite lazy and wanted this to be as little extra work as possible), and are PUL-free. They are also one of the few brands that featured thong liners.