The 7 Best Reusable Menstrual Pads of 2021

Save money and the planet with these sustainable pads

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The Rundown
"Replacing over 238 disposable pads across its lifetime, Aisle's Maxi Pad is your best friend in your monthly time of need."
"All reusable pads can pay for themselves in time, but these organic pads from Hesta are the most affordable."
"Designed for medium to heavy flow, this pad has more length at the front."
"These Night Pads include two extra-long inserts that you can use alone or together, depending on your needs."
"Extra breathability and impressive absorbency offer a healthy choice with minimal bulk."
"Five layers of soft, moisture-wicking organic cotton are built into these eco-friendly pads."
Best Underwear-Pad Combo:
Aisle Bikini at Periodaisle.com
"If you want a 100 percent reliable panty, look no further than a bikini and booster combo."

How you choose to handle your period is a deeply personal choice. Going zero-waste isn't possible for everyone, depending on your body, comfort, job and other circumstances. However, it's undeniable that single-use menstrual products can have a huge environmental impact. People with periods can use anywhere between five and 15 thousands pads or tampons during their lifetime. The average pad containing the equivalent of four plastic shopping bags.

If you're looking to reduce the number of disposable products in your life or even avoid them altogether, there are a number of great options available. You can consider a menstrual cup, period underwear, a DIY pad, or one of the reusable pads recommended here. These pads should last for years—and save you hundreds of dollars to boot.

Another issue associated with plastic menstrual pads is that they create a moisture-rich environment where yeast and other infections can thrive. So for people prone to these issues, choosing a fabric pad may help reduce your risk. Look for “reusable pads that use only cotton–and even better–certified organic cotton,” recommends Dr. Stephanie Culver, a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist at Pandia Health. “The cotton-only fabric allows for absorption and less skin irritation, as well as breathability, air flow, and odor control.”

Dr. Culver also recommends using reusable pads alongside “menstrual cups on heavier days” and notes that “reusable pads need to be changed as often as disposables, every two to five hours as needed for hygienic concerns as well as safety.”

Pads come in a range of sizes depending on your flow, including extra-absorbent overnight pads designed to ensure you don’t wake to a leak. Many products also come with their own wet bag for storing used pads until you can pop them in the wash.  

Sold by the idea of switching to reusable pads yet? Here are our seven favorite reusable menstrual pads aimed at saving you money and keeping Earth a little bit greener.

Best Overall: Aisle Maxi Pad

Aisle Maxi Pad

Replacing over 238 disposable pads across its lifetime, the Maxi Pad from Aisle is our top choice. Measuring 10 inches in length and offering the absorbency of up to four tampons, this reusable menstrual pad gives protection from leaks and won’t bunch or shift during the day. Aisle’s pads are available in various lengths to match your flow and body type. 

Available in a range of fun print designs and more subtle, panty-matching colors, these pads combine a layer of moisture-wicking, technical cotton that sits next to the skin, layered on top of an ultra-absorbent recycled polyester core. These pads can go in your washer and dryer.

All materials are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified for enhanced confidence that Aisle’s products are safe safe for sensitive areas. Even better, this company a certified B Corporation that has been proactive in supporting access to hygiene products for communities across the world—something we can all get behind.

Cleaning Tip

To keep your reusable pads clean and hygienic, laundry instructions do vary across products but most are designed to fit into your regular laundry routine. Give them a quick rinse with cold water, followed by a wash as part of your next load. Due to numerous layers, some can take longer to dry than you might expect, so make sure you have a few extra clean pads on standby—or mix and match with a menstrual cup or period underwear—to get you through your period.

Best Budget: Hesta Organic Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads

All of the reusable pads on this list will pay for themselves over time, but if you’re on a budget, these organic pads from Hesta are the most affordable. Three layers of breathable organic cotton are supported with a layer leakproof made of non-toxic polyurethane, plus wings that snap in place to keep these pads secure and unnoticeable. 

Extremely soft to touch, there’s no way you’ll be missing your disposable pads after a few hours with these. Although they come in an unbleached white design, they don’t stain, so every use will feel as fresh and comfortable as the first.

Best No-Shift: Party in My Pants Delphi Pad

Delphi Pad

“Cute” is certainly not a word anyone would expect to use when it comes to menstrual pads, but it really does apply to Delphi Pad. Pick from dozens of pattern designs across their range, with the Delphi Pad also available in everything from flannel to cotton and organic cotton, for a wider range of ethical designs. 

Intended for medium to heavy flows, this pad has more length at the front than conventional designs, making it a good fit for active days. You can rely on it to provide the protection you need while walking the dog, out hiking in the mountains, or taking your favorite exercise class.

Best for Heavy Flow: GladRags Organic Night Pads Plus

Night Pads from GladRags include two extra-long inserts that you can use alone or together, depending on your needs. Measuring 14 inches in length and wider than conventional pads, they work for both heavy flows and provide overnight protection so comfortable it has been described as like “sleeping on a cloud.”

Cotton flannel on the outside makes these pads especially soft, and the highly absorbent cotton terrycloth on the inside makes them a good choice for heavy-flow days. These adaptable can also be used post-partum. Manufactured in the USA using 100 percent unbleached, undyed, GOTS-certified organic cotton, these are an all-around green choice.

Doctor's Pick

These Night Pads from GladRags are a favorite for OBD/GYN Dr. Stephanie Colver, who says "the most effective style of reusable pads are the envelope-style pantyliner and holder.” They allow you to “select and customize pad inserts according to menstrual flow needs.”

Best for Light Flow: Smartliners Regular Pad

Smartliners Regular Pads

Easy to fit into your underwear thanks to their velcro hook and loop closure system, these plain black pads are made entirely from organic cotton, without even a whiff of plastic. This means extra breathability and impressive absorbency for a minimum of bulk. Measuring nine inches in length, this reusable pad is good to go for lighter days or people with a light flow. It also is sold with a handy travel pouch, where you can discreetly store fresh pads between washes or used pads on the go.

"I have a slim build and a light flow, and these pads work well for me," says Treehugger editor Maggie Badore. "In a pinch, I could use one of these pads for an entire day. I also like that they come in a cardboard tube, with no plastic packaging."
Black-Owned

Best Organic Cotton: Rael Organic Cotton Reusable Pads

Rael Organic Reusable Pads

Five layers of soft, moisture-wicking organic cotton are built into these eco-friendly pads. Rael says you can wash and reuse these pads up to 120 times, but we suspect you'll be able to use them long after that. The organic cotton offers breathability, air flow, and odor control, to help your intimate parts stay free of any irritation or infection associated with the materials and ingredients found in conventional pads. 

If you’ve found pads sometimes bunch or slip, Rael’s use of wings are there to give you extra security and coverage to prevent leaks. They’re also surprisingly thin for the coverage they offer.

Best Underwear-Pad Combo: Aisle Bikini

Aisle Bikini

Aisle’s unparalleled range of period underwear can hold impressively high flows: we’re talking over four tampons’ worth. It’s for this reason they’re one of our favorites when it comes to sustainable period wear. Therefore, if you’re seeking a 100 percent reliable panty, then look no further than a bikini and booster combo. 

This cute bikini underwear is made from quick-wicking mesh, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certified fibers and breathable organic cotton. Take it up a protective notch by combining with their specially-designed boosters: washable pads that will increase the absorbency of the undies the equivalent of additional two tampons.

Final Verdict

We love everything from Aisle, which is why we recommend the Maxi Pad. There isn’t a whole lot separating many of the pads we suggest when it comes to cost, but Hesta’s organic reusable menstrual pads are a particularly affordable option.

Why trust Treehugger? 

Treehugger writers have tried dozens of zero-waste period products in the effort to help our readers learn about all the choices out there.

Steph Dyson spent months debating the switch from conventional, single-use pads and tampons to reusable period products, only to find that the latter were easy to use and made both her conscience and her nether regions feel great. She’s used a range of period underwear, pads, and cups for the past four years and loves helping other people make the switch.