Are Reusable Pads Hygienic?

Are Reusable Pads Hygienic?

For thousands of years, women have been using sea sponges, rags, and pretty much anything absorbent to care for their menstruation. The female body works as nature intended. And even so, our periods and menstrual blood are often considered shameful, dirty, unhealthy, and even poisonous. 

The idea that women should conceal their periods, keeping them a shameful secret has persisted for centuries. 

But let’s face it – if your period caused you harm by the pure function of it, nature wouldn’t have designed you that way in the first place. You’re meant to shed. And ideally, there's a natural solution for this natural process, a natural productmade by nature, for nature.

Which begs the question: What’s the most hygienic way to care for your monthly menstruation? 

Before we answer that question, perhaps it’s best if we understand what “hygienic” means, and what practices and products aren’t hygienic.

What Does “Hygienic” Mean, Anyway?

A simple google search of “hygienic” gives the definition, “conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially by being clean [and] sanitary.”

In other words, maintaining good hygiene combines good health, disease prevention, and 

sanitary practices.

So, how do you do that when caring for your period?

By doing the following:

  • Avoiding harmful chemicals
  • Preventing excess moisture
  • Keeping your lady bits clean
  • Using clean products

If you’re like many, you might think that by using a disposable sanitary menstrual product, you would have all those bases covered. Right?


That fact is, your disposable menstrual products may very well be what’s keeping you from the most hygienic period possible.

Which begs the question ...

How “Sanitary” Are Disposable Sanitary Pads, Anyway?

Disposables are considered to be “sanitary” because, well… that’s what the name implies. And when you buy a box of sanitary pads, the packaging itself gives the illusion that they are, indeed, safe.

But here’s a dirty little secret.

Even though pads and tampons are regulated as medical devices, the FDA doesn’t require brands to list any ingredients used (even though they “encourage” it).¹ 

Want more proof? Consider this: 

  • Even though they’re individually packaged, they aren’t sealed. They are merely folded over.² 
  • Like all other products sold in big box stores, they are produced in factories and not in sterile medical conditions.² 
  • Even though they’re called “Sanitary Napkins,” their packaging never claims to be sanitary

Topping off those reasons, most disposable pads are made of plastic. Meaning they trap in moisture and increase the risk of bacterial infection. 

They’re made of chemicals which can leach into your system. Keep in mind, your lady bits are extremely porous and sensitive – giving those nasty chemicals more access to your body.

And speaking of chemicals, conventionally produced cotton is considered one of the most toxic crops out there. In fact, of all the insecticides used in the world,16% of them are used to grow cotton.³

When it comes to safety, no research declares disposable products – be it pads or tampons – are actually safe for you.⁴ Which is quite alarming since they’re considered a medical device.

Speaking of tampons...

How “Sanitary” Are Tampons?

Tampons are wrapped in plastic

Enclosed in plastic applicators

Made with polyethylene (plastic) strings. 

And contain plastic in the absorbent material. 

Included in that plastic tampon chemical storm, other hygienic problems arise when you use tampons:

  1. When inserted, they not only absorb menstrual blood, but also natural vaginal secretions. These secretions contain “good bacteria” meant to moisturize, maintain a healthy PH balance, and fight off infections.⁵
  2. There’s a chance of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) – a rare and life threatening condition that’s often related to tampon use.⁵ For more information on TSS, check out our blog How to Work With Your Cycle and Harness Your Womanly Power.
  3. There’s more of a chance of exposure to toxic chemicals often found in tampons such as bleach and dioxin.⁵ Again, check out the above blog for more information.

Much like disposable pads, tampons are packaged with features that are not only unsanitary, unhygienic, but can also be downright dangerous.

With these less-than-stellar options, you may ask yourself what benefits there are to using reusable pads.

Are Reusable Pads Hygienic?

In a word: Yes!

But let’s take a look at why.

First, reusable pads, like our LillyPads, aren’t made of plastic. Ever. Nor are they produced using harmful chemicals. Instead, we produce our pads using ultra-soft, ultra-absorbent bamboo.

Instead of creating the illusion of being “sanitary” by wrapping a folded pad in unsealed plastic, our pads are packaged in 100% recyclable, chemical-free cardboard packaging. This guarantees that no chemicals will be leached into your pads.

Plus, they’re reusable. Meaning they’re treated like your laundry and cleaned on a regular basis. 

And speaking of proper care, you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your pads. This will increase your odds of a chemical-free experience. (To learn more about ways to clean your pads, check out our blog Reusable Pads: How Long Can I Use Them? And Why Does It Matter?.)

But using pads goes beyond what type to use. You also need to consider how long you can wear them.

How often should you change your reusable pads?

When you purchase a LillyPad, you can typically use it for 10 to 12 hours. A single use pad lasts much longer than a disposable pad – which has to be changed out every 6 hours on average. Plus, there’s little to no risk of infection!

The reason?

Our reusable pads contain no plastic, which means moisture is able to evaporate. And with less moisture, there’s less of a chance of bacterial growth.

To Be Hygienic Is to Be Natural. Period.

Chemicals and one-and-done products were initially produced by way of convenience. Society taught us that adding chemicals and producing cheap throw-away products would make our lives easier. It’s become a habit to use wasteful single-use products to grow our crops, preserve our food, make things taste better, and moisturize our hair and bodies. Nearly everything we purchase is created cheaply and unnaturally. 

But things are changing!

Due to the increasing evidence about what harmful effects unnatural practices can cause, it’s been made clear that these practices create a less-than-stellar impact on us and our planet.

More and more, we are coming to understand the importance of living naturally. 

And this includes our health. Adding chemicals, plastics, and toxins in the name of cleanliness and freshness leads to quite the opposite.

Consider, for instance, practices that are preached regarding your diet: For stellar health, you should eat as naturally and as close to the earth as possible. The same is true for your menstrual health.

You shouldn’t need a magic, man-made bullet to “conquer” something that doesn’t have to be conquered in the first place.

Nature created you to function in a certain way for a reason. And nature is quite brilliant in her simplicity.

There is nothing to fix.

There is nothing to hide.

There are no “magic chemicals” that will make your period more hygienic.

Quite the opposite.

You are as you should be. It’s time to care for your menstrual health the way nature intended. By using natural chemical-free products such as LillyPads – your health, and your hygiene, will no doubt benefit. Your body will work at it’s best.

So do yourself a favor. Give LillyPads a try!